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The Dutch adopt a seemingly contrarian strategy for dealing with rising sea levels

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Historic maps of the Netherlands

American Experience: Hoover Dam

China Three Gorges Project

Catastrophes often have a way of mobilizing groups of people into action. Many cities have rebuilt after major fires, including London and Chicago, but certain natural disasters are harder to recover from. Rising sea levels across the world have forced many nations to rethink their strategies for holding back waters which could potentially inundate them over the coming decades. Perhaps no country in Europe knows more about this dilemma than the Netherlands. For the past one thousand years, the Dutch have created an intricate system of canals, ditches, dams, and floodgates in order to keep the high waters away, and in doing so, they have also reclaimed thousands of acres of land for other uses. Recently, the Dutch government has decided that instead of keeping all of the water back, they will now let some of it in. This particular scheme is know as the "Room for the River" project, and it will allow the water to go where it will by lowering the dikes. Dutch writer Geert Mak commented that while the Dutch are used to taming nature, they might have to "give part of the country back to the water."

The first link will take users to a piece from National Public Radio's Joe Palca, who reports on this revised strategy for dealing with the rising sea levels around Holland. The second link leads to a piece from the Guardian which looks at novel approaches to incorporating new structures in and around water from a number of Dutch architects and designers. Moving on, the third link leads to a delightful site which provides a host of images and information about the various engineering works that keep the Netherlands above water. The fourth link leads to a fun and pleasant site where visitors can look at 16th and 17th century maps of Maastricht, Leiden, and many other Dutch cities. The fifth link provides access to the American Experience site on Hoover Dam. Here visitors can read about the dam's construction and its place in engineering history. Finally, the last link leads to a site that provides ample material on the Three Gorges Dam in China, which will become the largest hydroelectric power station in the world by capacity when it is fully operational in 2011.
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Alternate Title NPR: In a Strategic Reversal, Dutch Embrace Floods
GEM Subject
Date Issued 2008-01-25
Required Software
Scout Publication
Date of Scout Publication 2008-01-25
Archived Scout Publication URL

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