The Chinese have always had a knack for projects that should be impossible. Like building a 5,500 mile long brick wall. In the 15th century no less! Or displacing millions of people to dam one of the world's most treacherous rivers creating enough energy every day to power two New York City's. It seems no matter how preposterous the idea and however high the human and environmental cost may be, things happen in this country on an absolutely massive scale.
I saw the Three Gorges Dam in Hubei Province first and then a few weeks later saw the Great Wall at Mutianyu. I connected the two immediately. These are human endeavors the scale of which you really can't get your head around. Even seeing in person, they leave you somewhat in disbelief. What both have in common is an absolutely enormous human cost. In China the Confucian value of society before the individual is deeply ingrained and national development and progress will cost what they cost. The evidence of this is virtually everywhere here in 2014 with four megacities whose populations grew to over 20 million in the past thirty years, 160 more with populations over 1 million, air you can barely breathe in some places, water you can't drink without boiling, and innumerable scarred landscapes. I find it all to be equally inspiring and terrifying.
View of the locks at the Three Gorges Dam. From this altitude you really feel the industrial haze that hangs over much of central and northern China. You also get a sense of how vast areas of the natural landscape here have been radically altered by this project.
Pixel level of the previous shot. For scale, in the center you can see three men standing where the Yangtze river meets the lock.