Thursday, March 3, 2016

A million people at risk?

A million people at risk?  That's one estimate of how many people might be killed if the Mosul Dam (in northern Iraq) collapses.  The official estimate is a half million people.  There seems to be a consensus by dam engineers who know the project that the collapse is something that could happen at any time, and only immediate action could possibly prevent it. 

The engineering behind this dam is particularly interesting.  The dam could only be built where it was if there was continuous maintenance, mostly for plugging holes in the bedrock it rests on.  The near-continuous state of war in Iraq since '91 – most recently the brief occupation of the dam by ISIS – prevented that from happening, and the result is a predictable disaster.  It's not clear at all that the Iraqi government will be able to muster the resources to save the dam, or all those people.

Wars have consequences, and some of them are really bad...

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