- Earth Sciences - Sep 28 Study links Texas earthquakes to wastewater injection
- Environment - Sep 28 Australia loses vital rain as climate change shifts winds
- Earth Sciences - Sep 28 Explanation for interacting giant, hidden ocean waves
- Life Sciences - Sep 26 Ancestor of arthropods had the mouth of a penis worm
- Earth Sciences - Sep 26 Sculpted by ancient water
- Earth Sciences - Sep 26 Life in ancient oceans enabled by erosion from land
- Earth Sciences - Sep 23 Link between Texas earthquakes and wastewater injection
- Earth Sciences - Sep 22 Seismic ’CT scans’ reveal deep earth dynamics
- Earth Sciences - Sep 22 Satellites help link Texas earthquakes to wastewater injection, Stanford scientist says
- Earth Sciences - Sep 22 ’Extreme sleepover #18’ - rebuilding earthquake- shattered Christchurch
- Environment - Sep 19 New study examines where and how climate change is altering species
- Astronomy - Sep 19 Titan’s flooded canyons
- Earth Sciences - Sep 19 New dinosaur mural adorns New Haven fuel tank
- Earth Sciences - Sep 14 Mercury contamination prevalent in western North America
- Medicine - Sep 14 University of Zurich launches initiative for the Digital Society
- Earth Sciences - Sep 13 Magma accumulation highlights growing threat from Japanese volcano
Could the Mekong’s water destabilise Asia?
South-East Asian nations surrounding the Lower Mekong Basin should put construction of hydro-electric dams on the Mekong River on hold if they want to avoid a human security disaster more reminiscent of sub-Saharan Africa than modern Asia, a University of Sydney PhD candidate researching the impact of hydro-electric development on the river says.
In a paper published by the Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies , Chris Baker calls for a holistic approach, assessing dams for their impact on the entire Mekong Basin rather than looking only at their effect on individual states.
The paper Dams, Power and Security in the Mekong says proliferation of dams could destroy the livelihoods of millions, devastate the economies of Cambodia and Vietnam, and force many to migrate: "The social ramification of such migration is often resentment in the receiving communities against new arrivals. There is documented evidence of this exacerbating ethnic or political tensions leading to violent conflict."
"The forced relocation of hundreds of thousands in the Mekong Basin, similar to that witnessed with the removal of 1.4 million people during construction of the Three Gorges’ Dam in China, is just the beginning," adds Baker, a student at the University’s Centre for International Security Studies.
"In the longer term, the havoc wrought on fisheries and the impact on agriculture brought about by these dams is likely to create a food security catastrophe."
Baker assessed the impact of the Mekong’s current and proposed hydro-electric dams on regional security and wants South-East Asian nations to heed a call for a 10-year moratorium on new dams.
Baker says the "hydropower gold-rush" sweeping the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB) - running through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam - is a serious threat to the peace and stability of the region. If continued unabated it raises the spectre of chaos like that of the Arab Spring.
His fieldwork took him around South-East Asia, most significantly to Central Laos where he witnessed first-hand the impacts of the Nam Thuen 2 dam. His paper also closely examines the controversial Xayaburi dam and the impact of 10 mainstream hydro-projects. Giving these dams the thumbs up will result in even more hydro-electric dams down the track putting the Mekong, its resources and its people under vast pressure.
The contentious Xayaburi dam, which has reportedly already begun construction in secret, would block the Mekong with a 49m high, 830m long dam wall. Baker says the environmental impact assessment for the dam is extremely weak, looking at a distance of only 10km downstream. No assessment of bank erosion, downstream hydrology, migratory fish and sediment loads - which would impact fish, fertiliser and water quality - has been made.
"Once they start building on the lower mainstream there will be little to stop a ’tragedy of the commons’, in which dams turn the Mekong into a reservoir up to 3000km long. If that happens millions of people will be affected."
Baker says, when measured against their electricity output, the cost of building the Lower Mekong mainstream dams is unduly high.
These dams would be "highly risky and experimental at best, reckless and irresponsible at worst," Baker observes in his paper. "The worst-case scenario could mean basin-wide losses of over a quarter of a trillion US dollars."
Baker’s research was done as part of a Fellowship with the Consortium of Non-Traditional Security Studies in Asia. He will present his findings relating to migration at an ASEAN -commissioned water security conference in Thailand this weekend.
Last job offers
- Earth Sciences - 22.9
Assistant Professors in Human Geography’ International Development Studies and Spatial Planning...
- Earth Sciences - 20.9
Postdoc international research project Follow the Food (0.8 FTE)
- Earth Sciences - 16.9
Professur für Anthropogeographie (W3)
- Earth Sciences - 16.9
Post-Doc / Research Associate
- Earth Sciences - 7.9
- Earth Sciences - 1.9
Research Associate (Fixed Term) - Mineralogy / Petrology/Isotope Geochemistry
- Earth Sciences - 7.9
Tenure & Tenure Track Positions
- Earth Sciences - 2.9