Sunday, January 27, 2013

Damn Dams?

David Warren writes about how Morsi in Egypt pulled a stunt to get power and will consolidate power despite the economic disaster that awaits him as the educated flee elsewhere and the 10 million Coptic Christian community is persecuted into either civil war or fleeing.

The Nile Valley, since the Aswan dam, no longer benefits from the replenishment of soil; the great river now only washes it away. (That, & not global warming, accounts for the accelerating recession of the Mediterranean coast: the Nile Delta is gradually dissolving.)
Someone must be blamed, & since Nasser, there have been no Jews left to kill. This leaves the Koran-denying Copts for the historical role of scapegoat. Lord have mercy on them.

When the dam was constructed, I remember a lot of ecological questions about the wisdom of stopping the yearly Nile Floods.

This 2002 article gives a pro and con  on the dam: And says the ecological worries of the west back then were purely "political" (read evil west, since Russia helped the Egyptians complete the dam and put their propaganda machine to work to stop complaints).

He notes that the dam saved Egypt from several years of drought and one year of floods.
Uh, yes. The Sahal has been drying up since 10 000 BC,... He also notes that the loss of the yearly fresh soil deposits now have to be replaced with fertilizers, although his estimate of 13000 tons sounds a bit low to me.

But he does get around to mentioning the real problem: the delta.drying up, the salinization of the soil, and the fish catch from the Mediterranean failing.

A lot of the problems may be exacerbated with the poorer upstream dams being built. Ethiopia's new dam  on the Blue Nile will provide both irrigation and electricity to help that country's people.

I worked in an area of the American west where irrigation allowed the desert to bloom, and here in the Philippines, our rice lands are irrigated by a system of earthen dams that allow us two crops a year (and the gov't is doing surveys if we could get three crops a year as in the Mekong delta). We get our electricity from upstream dams.

Yet I wonder why the tree huggers haven't put their three cents into the discussion of the Egyptian problems. Global warming has been a nice way to ignore other pressing problems, like pollution and natural climate cycles. A lot of these things are hinted at if you read ancient history ...

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