BELO MONTE DAM: THE HUMAN COST OF BRAZIL’S ENERGY POLICY

FAB /AMAZON CHIEF – CRIES

While most people are Keeping Up With the Kardashians, obsessing over what is hot in the world of fashion, while working on perfecting their fist pumps and blow outs, the Chief of the Kayapo tribe just received the worst news of his life a few months ago and most of you have no clue about it.

Mrs. Dilma, the president of Brazil, recently gave her approval for the construction of an enormous hydroelectric power central (the world’s third largest one), dubbed the Belo Monte dam on the Xingu River.

Sounds innocent enough, right? Well. It isn’t. The construction of such a contraption brings a death sentence for all of the tribes living at the shores of the river, because the barrage will flood 400, 000 hectares of the forest — forcing more than 40,000 natives to flee the area if they hope to survive.

Besides relocating the natives from their land, the construction merits the disruption of thriving ecosystems located nearby, which is especially problematic since some of these species are endangered.

Furthermore; this proposed dam will only contribute a grand total of 5% of the energy demands of Brazille, at least it will when the dam is completed in 2015. Overall, the Jirau hydroelectric dam will span 8km across the Madeira river and feature more giant turbines than any other dam in the world. Then there are the power lines, draped along 2,250km of forests and fields to carry electricity to São Paulo — one of the largest cities in the country.

There is no space in the world anymore for those who live differently. In fact, there is no choice in the matter. Telma Santos Pinto, 53, a long time native of the area, received a meager $18,000 as compensation from the companies building the dam. Her home, Mutum Paraná, has flooded completely, uprooting the whole community.

To what cost must we go to to meet the ever increasing need for energy? Must we destroy all of our forests, native cultures and dam every major river. Or should we invest in clean, renewable sources of energy that are non-threatening to the environment?

Sound off.

(Not-so-fun-fact: Three Gorges Dam, which is located in China, is one of the largest hydroelectric power plants in the world. So large, in fact, that it actually slowed down Earth’s rotation by 0.06 microseconds. Read more: http://www.theenergylibrary.com/node/11435)

More Information;

“Brazil’s hydroelectric dam boom is bringing tensions as well as energy:”
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/12/brazil-hydroelectric-jirau-dam

“The human cost of Brazil’s energy policy:”
http://wwwp.dailyclimate.org/tdc-newsroom/2013/01/brazil-hydropower-energy

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