The great rivers of Southeast Asia — the Mekong, Irrawaddy, Salween, and others — are targets for dozens of major dams that will transform the region’s politics and ecology. The contest over the Mekong River is perhaps the most well-known, but conflict in the Salween basin is no less active. Fighting between the central government and ethnic groups has displaced thousands of people in recent years as national hydropower plans overlap with long-running political disputes.
In a HotSpots H2O interview with Circle of Blue reporter Brett Walton, Dr. Carl Middleton discusses the strain that hydropower development is adding to one of the region’s most politically, culturally, and biologically diverse watersheds. Dr. Middleton, director of the Center for Social Development Studies at Chulalongkorn University, in Bangkok, Thailand, also explores alternate futures for the Salween River.
Produced and edited by Cody Pope. Subscribe to Circle of Blue’s HotSpots H2O podcast on iTunes.
Brett writes about agriculture, energy, infrastructure, and the politics and economics of water in the United States. He also writes the Federal Water Tap, Circle of Blue’s weekly digest of U.S. government water news. He is the winner of two Society of Environmental Journalists reporting awards, one of the top honors in American environmental journalism: first place for explanatory reporting for a series on septic system pollution in the United States(2016) and third place for beat reporting in a small market (2014). He received the Sierra Club’s Distinguished Service Award in 2018. Brett lives in Seattle, where he hikes the mountains and bakes pies. Contact Brett Walton