Dams and Development Threaten the Mekong

The Mekong has long held a mystique for outsiders, whether they be American G.I.’s in the Delta during the Vietnam War or ill-starred 19th-century French explorers who searched for the river’s source in Tibet. The earliest visitors realized the hard way that the river was untamed and treacherous, its waterfalls and rapids ensuring it would never become Southeast Asia’s Mississippi or Rhine.

But today the river, which courses 3,032 miles through parts of China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam before emptying into the South China Sea, is rapidly being transformed by economic development, the region’s thirst for electricity and the desire to use the river as a cargo thoroughfare. The Mekong has been spared the pollution that blackens many of Asia’s rivers, but it is no longer the backwater of centuries past.


This entry was posted in Development, Ecosystems, Freshwater, Global Issues, Resources, Water and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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