Here is a report about progress, so to speak, in the construction of the Three Gorges Dam in China.
This dam, just as was earlier prophesied, is causing lots of environmental problems, as in real environmental problems, as in: people are finding themselves living in buildings that are collapsing, beside roads that are cracking up, on land that is sliding into the water. We are not talking imaginary rises in sea level here, but real damage to real human habitats. Earthquakes are now happening.
That Telegraph piece links to this Times report, which explains things thus:
As the water rises, it penetrates fissures and seeps into soil. Then it loosens the slopes that ascend at steep angles on either side of the river. Eventually, rocks, soil and stone give way. The landslides undermine the geology of the area. That, in turn, sets off earth tremors. It may be the world’s biggest case of rising damp.
The Times report also includes this choice little paragraph, concerning some crumbling building that was hurriedly vacated by government officials and allocated instead to mere people:
“What kind of dogshit government moves itself out and moves us into somewhere like this?” one of them complained.
A key point made by the Telegraph piece above is that less is now being done than you might expect by Chinese higher-ups to suppress such reports:
Three years ago stories were already emerging in the Chinese media about landslides, ecological deterioration and accumulation of algae further down the river. And less and less effort seems to be made to plug the leaks.
This all made me think of a book I read a year or two ago about the Western Way of War, or some such title, by Victor Davis Hanson (I think it was this book, although I believe I read a proof copy with a different title). The connection? Well, Hanson identifies one of the strengths of the Western Way of War to be the way that western war efforts are often preceded by almighty rows, often woundingly public, about how to set about, or even whether to set about, doing whatever it is they are attempting, which typically continue after the effort has begun. One of his major points being: this is not recent, it’s always been like this.
The result, for all the mess and unpleasantness and unfairly ruined careers, tends not to be the division and confusion that you might expect, or not only that, but also (a) better decisions, and (b) better understood decisions. Even the losers of such arguments at least understand the plan the others fellows are now making everyone follow, so even they follow it better. Both decision-making and decision-implementation are improved. Then, often with even greater doses of injustice, wars, even successful wars, are then raked over and argued about yet again, afterwards. It’s all very indecorous, and “debate” doesn’t do justice to the chaotic nature of such public rows. But the result is better decision-making and better informed and better prepared decision-makers, at all levels.
And for war, read: everything else big and dangerous also, like mega-engineering projects. Tyranny, aka dogshit government, in war and in everything big, imposes bad and un-thought-through decisions on baffled subordinates, decisions which still might have worked after a fashion if implemented properly, but not if even quite senior subordinates don’t really have a clue about what they are supposed to be doing and are just following orders blindly, or worse, perhaps not even doing that, because, you know, who gives a shit.
It must now be becoming clear to quite a few Chinese high-ups that had they had a big, messy, public ruckus about how exactly (or indeed whether at all) to build this damn great dam, then it might at least have been a damn sight better dam than it now looks like being. It might have been messier and more difficult and more stressful deciding about it all beforehand, but far better afterwards, once all the dust, and in this case also all the mud and all the various bits of collapsing land and roads and buildings that are now sliding and tumbling hither and thither, had settled.
And even if they failed to argue about the Three Gorges Dam properly beforehand, it would be better than nothing to at least have a bit of a public row about it now. At least that way, some harsh lessons might be learned and spread around, and such things might be done a bit better in the future.