Hot Issues of the Yangtze River
The Yangtze River provides very important ecological functions and services for China. Being the longest river in China, the Yangtze River is so prominent that any development and utilization activities on the river attract global attention. This chapter introduces the natural evolution of the Yangtze River and the utilization of water resources with four biggest hot issues of the Yangtze River. The first issue concerns itself with the following questions: has the development and utilization of the Yangtze been excessive, how should the relationship between utilization and protection be evaluated, and where is the equilibrium point of the utilization and protection? The answers to these questions depend on China’s level of socioeconomic development and the cognitive level of the majority. The second issue is associated with where the true source of the Yangtze River is, how people have gradually recognized the source of the river over the past thousands of years, why the Tuotuo River was finally determined to be the source, and what the controversies have been. Next, the third issue discusses how we should objectively respond to existing controversies regarding the planning, construction, and management of the world’s largest hydraulic project (the Three Gorges Project) while also describing the project’s main functions, role, and current social and ecological environment problems. Finally, for the fourth issue, the chapter provides an overview of the impact of human activities on the natural environment of the Yangtze River and discusses the current evolutionary phenomena as well as future trends of the Yangtze River in the context of climate change.
The Yangtze River, the longest river of China and one of the mother rivers of the Chinese nation, has not only been the cradle of the Chinese civilization for thousands of years, but it also currently shoulders the heavy burden of supplying water for production and life for more than 400 million people. Moreover, it has maintained the rich and colorful land, as well as the ecological cycle of the large river basin. As for the understanding of the Yangtze River, some aspects are commonly understood, such as the distribution of the aquatic system, hydrological characteristics, and important protected species, but other aspects are uncertain or disputable, such as where the balance point between watershed development and conservation is and what kind of river ecosystem should be preserved. There are still some unanswered questions, such as the long-term impact of the Three Gorges Project (TGP) on the ecology and environment of the Yangtze River, the response of the river’s ecosystem to the impact, and the future evolutionary trend of the Yangtze River. To begin with this book, this chapter discusses several hot issues of the Yangtze River.
KeywordsThe Yangtze River Changjiang River Evolution of river system Basin ecosystem Water resources utilization Floods and drought Ecological and environmental protection Basin management
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