Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Water management and crisis in China

While we are pondering about how to manage our floods within city, China is setting up/set up various projects across the Yellow River and digitally monitoring the flood level, pollution, sedimentation and other aspects across the total river and ensuring that the flow of water is uniform or atleast as per the expectation.
The level of automation and digitization has apparently allowed better flow through the Yellow River, and nowadays the Yellow River is called as the digital River!!
But, China in its ambition to control vast resources and in due course control nature may yield results un fathomed ever. Through its South-North water transmission corridor, it is planning to tap into the precious waters of the Tibetan Peninsula (In 2008, I wrote a blog stating China's ambition to Tibet's waters..!!!). The scale of the project leaves too many questions un-answered.
I was just wondering about the planning that has to go into executing projects of this scale.
a) As I mentioned earlier, Three Gorges is having to deal with huge sedimentation, and it may have to eventually incur huge costs similar to Sanmenxia Dam, whose potential is drastically reduced due to sedimentation.
b) As every one knows, the Himalayas are the most earth quake prone regions in the world. Hence, the river bed that originates from these regions. In an earthquake during the early parts of previous century, a huge earthquake in Assam lead to the increase of the Brahmaputra basin by as high as 22 cms. This has led to major devastation across the region.
Remember the Kosi river in Bihar, which changed its course as recently as 2008-09. While this is not due to earth quakes, but the inherent nature of rivers in the Himalayan and Tibetan regions make them highly prone to changes.
China, recently saw two major earthquakes, one in Sichuan region which moved a total mountain and the other in the same proximity leading to major flash floods and killing scores of people. Now, the planned corridor SOuth-North water diversion project goes through the Sichuan region.
Imagine $65 bn are spent on trying to divert water from rivers, and the earth quake leads to the change in course of the rivers. The total effort is drained and at the same time, the impact in itself becomes un-measurable. Since it is China, things may be kept under closed wraps and the impact would be shown as minimal, as is the case with the recent droughts across the Central Provinces. 
While, it is good and appreciable to plan for great engineering marvels, the ecological and the environmental impact remain un-certain.
During the previous century big hydro dams were considered to be the virtues of development. Not any more. For all the big projects planned, since the damage is calculated within the area of impact, the damage is quantified. But if the ecological damage is perceived from a macro perspective, the damage done by many of these projects render them un-viable and dangerous.
The solution, probably lies in better planning of the demand centers. Ensure development happens surrounding the river beds as used to be the case in earlier civilizations. Also, a group of small hydro projects are more capable of handling the situation better than a single large project. There by even the environmental impact is minimized. Hopefully!!

Monday, June 06, 2011

$24 bn project brings worst drought in 50 years..what would a $65 bn project bring???

An engineering marvel is created. Well thought about, well planned, well designed, well executed...well??? It cost $24 bn to build the World’s largest Hydro power project - The Three Gorges Dam by China. It was completed well before the schedule. It provides 18400 MW of electricity which is unfathomable by many other Hydro power projects. Its back waters created a reservoir of water which is as big as UK in length.

Now, the flip side..It displaced half a million population and thounsads of towns. The weight of the water stored in the reservoir is only adding to the woes of the land slides, tremors in and around the area. The river is getting more and more polluted since the 1.3 mile long concrete barrier diverted the migration of fish which otherwise would have preserved the sanctity of water in the river. Topping the charts are the facts that Central China, where the project is located is reeling under 50 year drought and that two of Southern China’s largest lakes have almost dried up.

China for the first time has accepted the fact that the dam is creating more problems than the ones that were envisaged.

If these were not enough, China is planning for a $64 bn cross country water transportation programme which would transport water through various canals, projects, tunnels to the thirsty Northern China where all the major cities like Beijing are located. Even before the dynamics of a single project of Three Gorges are well understood, this project worth $64 bn named as South-North Diversion project would certainly have such great impact on the economy that I can’t even think about.

This is the way most of us are headed towards. The development is happening only at the cost of nature and ecology. We are reveling about the engineering marvels that are being created and demonising the traditional methods of living. But we seem to forget that we cannot overcome nature and that the only way forward is to go along with the nature. Iam not sure how would the world look like, if the pace of growth in this format continues.

The only thing that I can think about is, as Dr. Malcolm in ‘Lost World’ says “Nature will Finds its ways”...

I can just pray that humans are considered in the grand plan of nature while it finds its ways!!!

Saturday, June 04, 2011

ayn rand vs Keyne vs Karlmarx vs John Nash

Was reading the book "Anthem"...Ayn Rand's first novel and her first narration of her philosophy of Objectivism. While Objectivism as a philosophy sounds really great and I would want to emulate it, the execution of the same across the society may not prove effective in the present situation. It sounds very utopian.

Her novels have been more than an inspration to me. But at the same time I like the various ideologies in Communism and that of Regulated Capitalism.

Did you ever wonder which ideology suits the present world? Hence I thought of comparing various philosophies proposed by certain great personnel.




Pre-dominant Philosophy

Karl Marx







Regulated Capitalism

Ayn Rand




John Nash



Game Theory

The three people mentioned here apart from Ayn Rand had a profound impact on modern society. I included Ayn Rand though more because of her Objectivism philosophy.

If we just see, what all the four philosophies stand for:
Who need to spend the Effort?
Who will reap the benefits?
When are optimum Results achieved?
Who Regulates the outcome?
Working for state's cause
Highly Regulated by State
Regulated Capitalism
Working for Individual's cause
Regulated by State
Working for Individual's cause
No Regulation
Game Theory
Working for Group's cause
Minimum Regulation
While Game theory per say doesn't state in explicit terms about the Group's simply states that the best results are acheived when individuals work for a Group's best outcome than for individual's best outcome.

Now...when we compare these philosphies don't know which can be rated better than the other..I guess that's quite a subjective thing...
Each philosophy has its Pro's and con's...while communism has had its days of glory it is the Regulated capitalism which is ruling the world.
While I'd love Objectivism to flourish, because it offers dignity of labour and also the individual stands to best benefits out of may beneft a lot only amongst the elite who are highly talented. What about the destitute and others who need the help of thers. Objectivism says not to wory about the society and only to worry about "I" and "I" alone. While this appears un-morale if every one of us believes in it., nothing better than objectivism.
Communism is losing the sheen, more because of its execution. While the theory of communism states that every one should benefit, only the people in the communist party seem to have benefitted.
Amongst all, Keynesian economics with regulations from state looks like the only best fit for the the existing conditions. Even this is having trouble with skewed regulations. It is probably because we are having semi communst-capitalist mind sets.
Even our own constituion says that we are socialist republic, but are we really socialistic in nature?
I guess we are still not an ideal world to follow on particular idelology..and may be multiple ideologies are the need of the hour.
Till that time, it is Keynes who may be declared the winner.