By Christopher Sneddon
Water could appear risk free, yet as a common necessity, it necessarily intersects with politics by way of acquisition, regulate, and linked applied sciences. whereas we all know very much in regards to the socioecological expenditures and advantages of contemporary dams, we all know some distance much less approximately their political origins and ramifications. In Concrete Revolution, Christopher Sneddon bargains a corrective: a compelling ancient account of the united states Bureau of Reclamation’s contributions to block know-how, chilly struggle politics, and the social and environmental adversity perpetuated through the USA executive in its pursuit of monetary progress and geopolitical power.
Founded in 1902, the Bureau grew to become enmeshed within the US kingdom Department’s push for geopolitical strength following global struggle II, a reaction to the Soviet Union’s expanding international sway. through supplying technical and water source administration recommendation to the world’s underdeveloped areas, the Bureau stumbled on that it could actually not just supply them with financial assistance and the USA with funding possibilities, but in addition forge alliances and shore up a country’s international status within the face of burgeoning communist impression. Drawing on a few overseas case studies—from the Bureau’s early forays into in a foreign country improvement and the release of its international actions workplace in 1950 to the Blue Nile research in Ethiopia—Concrete Revolution deals insights into this old damming increase, with very important implications for the current. If, Sneddon argues, we will comprehend dams as either technical and political items instead of tools of neutral technological know-how, we will be able to greater perform present debates approximately huge dams and river basin making plans.
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Extra resources for Concrete Revolution: Large Dams, Cold War Geopolitics, and the US Bureau of Reclamation
His concept of river basin development along this stretch of the river identified five potential sites for constructing the project’s centerpiece, a massive “concrete straight gravity dam” roughly 225 meters in height (fig. 3). He saw the need for “twenty combined diversion and power tunnels,” which could be located all on one side of the river or on both. ”44 Additionally, incredible improvements to navigation would be realized should the project move forward. ”45 The total cost of the project was estimated Building a “World-Wide Fraternity” / 41 at just under US$1 billion, and Savage projected net annual revenue after construction as US$154 million.
46 In mid-November of 1944 the Department of the Interior suggested to Savage that the NRC would be advised to make the formal request via the American embassy, and that the request should clearly state that the Bureau of Reclamation should be designated by the president to provide assistance to the NRC. Following a flurry of communications among Savage, the Bureau and its parent Department of the Interior, American embassy personnel, and affiliates of the State Department, US officials acknowledged that the Chinese Nationalist government had officially requested that the Bureau be appointed to design a dam on the Yangtze and, “when funds are available, to construct the Yangtze-Gorge Project outlined in Mr.
Savage’s efforts provided the original model, or script, for the subsequent activities of the Bureau of Reclamation in promoting water resource development in the cases examined in later chapters. While we must be wary of ascribing too much influence to a single person, Savage’s experiences as an engineering consultant—particularly his forays into China in the early 1940s—offer numerous insights into the origins of overseas technical assistance as a geopolitical instrument and the genesis of technopolitical networks that would eventually come to facilitate the proliferation of large dams.