Mekong Damming a Major Blow

"The Swift Boats are long gone. The Mekong delta is peaceful now. Vinh Long, where Americans fought skirmishes with the Vietcong, is now a holiday resort. The Westerners heading off into the remoter regions of the enormous delta point nothing more threatening than a camera — and the only ambush they face is at the hands of traders at the nearby Can Tho floating market.

Vietnam is now a fast-growing, Westernizing economy. But, paradoxically, peace and prosperity is currently the biggest threat to what is one of the world’s last great wild rivers. Almost half a century of wars in southeast Asia kept engineers away from the Mekong. Their plans for giant hydroelectric dams on the river gathered dust. But all that is changing. And on the delta, they have reason to fear the consequences, for the tens of millions of people who rely on the river’s wildness for their supper could soon see their main source of protein dry up."

Fred Pearce reports for Yale Environment 360 June 16, 2009.

Thursday, June 18, 2009