Rivers are not just large magnificent bodies of water but are also the veins of the earth. Dams are like blood clots, they block the natural flow of the river, they block a steady flow of cash that depends on the river, they destroy the environment and disturb people’s livelihood. If a dam is like a blood clot for our planet then why are we so keen to create them? Because they are “Green” which means they have less carbon emissions than traditional energy sources. Hydroelectricity might be the most renewable and green source of energy in the world but the environmental and social impact that is created means alternative energy sources are necessary. There are three main issues with hydropower dams, firstly dams have a huge environmental impact to the surrounding area. Second, the social impact on people living in the area which the dam affects. Thirdly, the recreational impacts which affect all river users.

The social or cultural impact that dams have is just one of the reasons we need to find alternative energy sources. How would you feel if you were told that your family, your house, your community, everything you know had no choice but to move? How would you feel if you found out that your local landscape would be gone in a matter of years, flooded by an enormous reservoir that a new hydro-dam would create? This was a reality for more than 1.24 million people in Yiling district in China when the Three Gorges Dam was constructed in 2003. 13 cities 140 towns and 1350 small villages were forced to shift due to a reservoir with a surface area 40 times larger than the Wanaka area. It is estimated that 40-80 million people have been displaced worldwide by dams ever. What I still struggle to understand is how any company or government could justify the creation of something like a dam. It seems absurd that any one company could dictate such a massive impact on so many people’s lives Another group of people that are affected when a dam is built are the people who live downstream. Imagine that a stream run through both you and your neighbors property and you both relied on the stream for food water, everything. If your neighbor built a dam on their section of the river and stopped your flow, how would you feel? What would you do? What could you do? This exact scenario is happening on a large scale right now. On the Mekong river in south east asia a small country called Laos are building dams, blocking the mekong and stopping the flow that Vietnam’s delta region utterly depends on. In many cases the people who live along the river bank rely on the river to cook, clean, farm and drink; When a dam is built both the consistent flow and regular floods are stopped which affects all regions downstream. The Delta region of the Mekong river in Vietnam is now lacking vital nutrient-rich sediment which is brought during the flood each year. This is because of the dams that have been built upstream by another country. The Mekong Delta is one of the most productive and densely populated areas of Vietnam, home to 18 million people it produces 50% of the country’s staple food crops and 90% of the rice exports. Scientists have warned that 27% of Vietnam’s GDP could be gone in the next twenty years if daming on the Mekong continues. A large portion of the country relies on the delta, taking away such a precious resource will result in Vietnam becoming a significantly poorer country.  Damming of rivers affects so many people who depend on them and it needs to stop.

Hydro-power is good for the environment right? Then you would be surprised to hear that one of my main reasons against having dams is their environmental impact. It’s not the carbon emission that threaten the environment but the habitat destruction that incurs when a dam is built. When a dam is built it can disrupt entire ecosystems, wipe out trees and plants and kill the many animals that live in the area affected.  Large dams can lead to the extinction of many fish, the disappearance of birds in floodplains, huge losses of forest, wetland and farmland, erosion of coastal deltas, and many other major impacts. The deaths of these animals and plants happen for many reasons but they all lead back to the creation of the dam. Firstly, when a dam is built the reservoir that is created by the dam destroys the habitat for all the creatures living there; It is important to note that it is almost impossible to predict the reservoirs size and depth. The creation of a dam is a destructive force against the ecosystems in its way. A local example of habitat destruction caused by dams is the Cromwell Chafer Beetle Nature Reserve which lies between Bannockburn and Cromwell. It is the only reserve in the world that was specifically created to protect invertebrates. This reserve was created because of the clyde dam and lake dunstan destroying the beetles habitat. If the beetles were not moved when lake dunstan was filled it would have extincted the chafer beetle. This is a good example of dams destroying wildlife and their habitats.again the end effect of the dam is that a corporation can walk right over anything in its way and let someone or something else deal with the consequences. The damming of rivers and the destruction of animals habitats has to stop before it is to late.

The final group that is affected by the damming of rivers is recreational river users. Everyone from kayakers to fisherman to rafters is affected by a dammed river. A good example is in Uganda on the White Nile. Uganda’s main source of income is tourism and the tourist attraction voted most popular is about to be forced out of business to the damming of the Nile. The White Nile has some of the most spectacular whitewater in the world and is sought after by kayakers and rafters from all over. Rafting on the white nile is one of Uganda’s most famous tourist attractions. Maybe it’s the sheer beauty of the river or perhaps the adrenaline of riding down the wild roller coaster that is the white nile.  As soon as august this year many amazing rapids will be flooded by the creation of the Isimba dam. Kayaking and rafting in Uganda is more than a passion, it is a way of life. If you can learn to kayak in Uganda it means a reliable job as a guide however taking away the amazing river will result in financial instability for all who depend on the river. A local example of the same thing is the hawea wave. How is that the same thing? Before the Clyde dam was constructed there used to be large rapids in the Cromwell gap. The Hawea wave which I’m sure you all know of. Was constructed due to a legal battle between kayakers and Contact energy to get compensation for the river that was destroyed by the dam.


Companies seem to be able to walk all over millions of people to build hydro schemes and ruin the rivers for everyone which is why it needs to stop. If something isn’t done soon to stop these damned dams then we will lose some of the most magnificent, powerful and life-bringing pieces of our planet. In conclusion we need to find alternative energy sources and stop locking our rivers, this is because of the environmental, social and recreational impact that i have just talked about.

Say no to dams



chapter 7

contrast is used in the text to show Joe’s conflicting feelings and experiences. the contrast between two things shows the differences between two different ideas, for example, dark and light and life and death.

In the text, the rope that connects the two men represents a bigger connection, It represents their strong bond, their friendship, their trust in each other with their lives. when the rope is cut these bonds disappear, the power that the bond that the rope represents is lost

chapter 9

  1. When Joe sees the light he literally ‘sees the light’.  When he looks up from the dark cold ice prison that is the crevasse he sees ‘the light at the end of the tunnel’, a hole at the end of the crevasse. Suddenly he goes from having given up hope, to having energy and enthusiasm. For Joe, the light symbolizes life, if he can reach the light he can escape the void. Seeing the light really is a turning point for Joe’s attitude towards his situation, It makes him extremely optimistic which helps him not give up.
  2. The other symbolism in the text is the Voice. the Voice controls Joe and tells him what to do. It guides him back to base camp and gives him the motivation to keep going and survive. I think that the voice represents Joes primal survival instincts and his optimistic side as it gives him hope. an example of this is:

Disaster – Chapter five

When Joe shatters his knee joint, it is one of the most climactic moments in the text.  Joe uses descriptive language and writing style techniques to draw the reader into the moment and to portray the immense pain he is going through.  The first sentence describing his accident is short and sharp and sets a high tempo to the event.”I felt a shattering blow, felt bones splitting and screamed.” this sentence puts the readers in the moment, this is important because it lets the readers feel the pain that the men are going through.  Another technique that Joe uses is repetition, “A fierce burning ball of fire coming from inside my thigh”, the fireball rushed from groin to knee”, “pouring on fire”. The repetition of the word fire lets the reader feel the ‘burning’ pain and draws them into the action.

Joe interviews Simon and includes his perspective in his book, he does this to show a different perspective of the action

On The Edge

The words “On The Edge” is a pun that can be viewed from many alternative aspects, this includes the literal meaning as in On a cliff face, it could also mean that they are ‘on edge ‘ and also mentally On the Edge. These are all displayed in the chapter.

Foreshadowing is one of the main language features used by Joe, this creates a tension because of the way it makes the reader think about the future forever wondering what will happen later in the text, for example, “I sensed that something would happen without understanding quite what it would be”. this gives the reader something to think about

Reaching the Summit of Siula Grande

These lines are included in the text as a sort of foreshadowing of things to come. Joe talks about coming up with harder more dangerous ambitions each time the last one is achieved what is to say that this adventure is the one that pushes the boundaries too much

Tempting Fate – Chapter 2

In chapter 2 of Touching the Void Simon and Joe have a very strong relationship which is why the climb together so well.  Although it is an unspoken thing both of them know that without the other they would be in trouble; they seem to have a full trust in the others abilities, they know each other’s limits and rely on their collective skills to overcome all obstacles or challenges in their path.one quote from chapter 2 that portrays this particularly well is: “I watched Simon’s progress, now agonisingly slow and hunched up, my hair bristling at the thought of a cornice collapse. I followed him as fast as I could. He too had realised the danger.”  The environment that Simon and Joe have to cope with in chapter two is full of danger and small challenges to overcome.  However, they act together always and struggle through to survive. at the end of chapter two, we learn about Joe past experiences which are similar to his current environment. this lets us know that he has the ability and the mindset to cope with situations like the one he is in.

The Role of the author and initial Characteriation

  1. To me the quote: “The dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” means that people who live their dreams are dangerous because the things that they do are things that we only dream of.
  2. Based on the opening pages of Touching the Void my initial impression of Joe Simpson (author) are that he is a man who can find comfort and safety in extreme situations. An example of this is when he says “ We were in the middle of the Cordillera Huayhuash, in the Peruvian Andes, separated from the nearest village by 28 miles of rough walking, and surrounded by the most spectacular ring of ice mountains I had ever seen, and the only indication of this from within our tent was the regular roaring of avalanches falling of Cerro Sarapo. I felt a homely affection and a warm security of the tent..”
  3. Firstly we can tell that Joe and Simon have a strong bond because Joe mentions that there would be few other people that he could have coped with for so long. They also seem to be able to joke with each other. Although they are very evenly matched Joe also seems to look up to Simon
  4. Richard was described by Joe as an avid adventurer and explorer, someone who drifted in the wind as such; going wherever the world took him. As far as it’s revealed in the text joe doesn’t think much of Richard as he offers nothing to him however he seems contempt to keep him around to look after the gear and camp.
  5. The distance from civilization is significant because if something were to happen to one of the climbers it would be hard to walk out, the prase is a distinct foreshadowing of something waiting to happen.
  6. Throughout the book, Joe seems to chant one phrase or another in his mind as it is a way for him to focus on the task at hand without being distracted by uncomfortable sensations like hunger, cold and pain. It also probably makes him think and focus on his goals such as reaching the summit.

This is your online portfolio

Hello and welcome to your personal online journal.

This platform has been created to enhance and enrich your learning at Mount Aspiring College. Its purpose is to provide you with an audience for your work (or work-in-progress) and you have the choice (by altering the ‘visibility’ of your posts) of whether your work on here is visible to the world, or only to your teacher.

Anything you post here in the public domain represents you and thus it’s important that you take care with that decision, but don’t be afraid to publish your work – as the feedback you may get from people at home, your peers and people from around the internet is only likely to enhance it.

Remember you can always access your class blog and all manner of resources through the Department of English main website – and by all means check out the sites of your peers to see what they’re getting up to as well.

If you have any questions for me, an excellent way to get an answer is to create a new private post on this journal. I am notified of any new posts and will reply swiftly to any queries.

Make the most of, and enjoy this new freedom in your English learning.



Chris Waugh