Entirely updated in the light of the recent World Commission on Dams Report, and responding to it, this new edition of Patrick McCully’s now classic study shows why large dams have become such a controversial technology in both industrialized and developing countries. The book explains the history and politics of dam building worldwide and shows why large dams have become so controversial. It details the ecological and human impacts of large dams, and shows how the 'national interest' argument is used to legitimize uneconomic and unjust projects which benefit elites while impoverishing tens of millions, describes the technical, safety and economic problems of dam technology, the structure of the international dam-building industry, and the role played by international banks and aid agencies.
It tells the story of the rapid growth of the international anti-dam movement, and recounts some of the most important anti-dam campaigns around the world. McCully shows how the dam lobby and governments have reacted to criticism by cosmetic 'greening' of the dam-building process, and through state repression outlines the alternatives to dams, and argues that their replacement by less destructive alternatives requires the opening up of the industry's practices to public scrutiny.