February 22, 2010

Brazil will meet energy demand without emitting more carbon—but displace thousands of people in the process?

Solutions for the world’s problems sure are tricky!

If you’ve been following the development of Brazil in recent years, you may be aware that this massive South American country has witnessed incredible economic growth. It is posed to become a major international player as it seeks a permanent spot on the UN Security Council and develops alliances with other up-and-coming powerhouses (Russia, China, India).

bel monte dam

With this enormous growth, Brazil is seeing a big increase in the demand for energy, and the environment ministry as given the greenlight on building a controversial multibillion dollar hydroelectric dam in the Amazon (it would be the third largest in the world).

But many environmentalists and indigenous activists are concerned about the effect the Belo Monte Dam Project will have on native peoples in the area.  The government claims nobody will be displaced, and that local groups will see an improvement in quality of life…while activist groups are estimating that in fact, thousands could be displaced by the construction, and the damage to the eco-system will be enormous. Attempts to quell this type of dam project have existed since the ’70s by environmental activists…and Sting.

But it seems Brazil’s excessive growth has finally tipped the Government in its favor.

I suppose we can be thankful that this energy solution will leave a relatively small carbon footprint. In the long term, is that more important the the uprooting of these communities today? And what will it mean to the existing eco-system? Priorities, priorities….

Read more here.

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Caroline Clark  |  Contribution: 510