I stumbled upon this article while trolling the back-pages of google for information about high tension steel cabling. Though tales of China’s excesses and human rights abuses are nothing new, this tale is particularly brutal. Two hundred and twenty thousand people displaced for a dam reservoir…

What’s harshest about this article is how hard it hits home. Displacing local populations for dams? Can you say Northern Quebec? Or how about the perils of fish-farming and tourism? Tofino perhaps?

How do two societies, allegedly so different, come up with such similar social problems? A first world democracy and a second-world cross between a Communist superstate and a banana republic? The answer lies, perhaps, in the technologies involved and the mentalities associated with them. Rampant industrialism and the drive to centralize services like water and energy (so as to centralize control over the people who depend on them) combine in ways which cause enormous damage in both human and environmental terms.

Another example, this time from Kulon Progo in indonesia. Indigenous farmers, operating autonomously having their meagre lands despoiled by state-sponsored mining initiatives. Sounds almost like something from Northern Ontario or Northwest Territories, doesn’t it?

Never forget that behind every inch of big urban landscapes like ours lies miles of “sacrificed” landscapes logged, mined, flooded, drained, used as dumps or just blown the fuck up, and that many of the poorest, most destitute city-dwellers, be it 1850s London or 2008 in Beijing, came here from landscapes like those.