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Hydro-Electric Plan Important Energy and Environmental Issue For Brazil, Its Neighbors and the World
1 messages - 1 authors - last updated 06/11/07 02:00 PM
Message #106/11/07 02:00 PM
This is an example of the real-world issues facing us today. Read the article please, it is un-biased, and not political. The point is, Brazil needs energy. They want to dam a large tributary river of the Amazon to produce "clean" hydroelectric energy. In their push for "clean" energy they have already cleared huge portions of the Amazon rainforest to grown sugar cane to produce ethanol for their automobiles.
There are great environmental and economic consequences to all of these actions. They not only affect Brazil, but the entire world. Is global warming occurring? Probably. Is man causing it? No, not to any significant degree. Should we be very careful in what is done in the name of trying to "stop global warming"? Absolutely.
Both Sides Say Project Is Pivotal Issue for Brazil
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Lalo de Almeida for The New York Times
One of the villages on the Madeira River in Rondônia State, Brazil, that would disappear if the Santo Antônio and Jirau dams are built. The dams would be part of an $11 billion hydroelectric project on the river. More Photos >
By LARRY ROHTER
Published: June 11, 2007
PORTO VELHO, Brazil — The eternal tension between Brazil’s need for economic growth and the damage that can cause to the environment are nowhere more visible than here in this corner of the western Amazon region.
The New York Times
More Photos »
More than one-quarter of this rugged frontier state, Rondônia, has been deforested, the highest rate in the Amazon. Over the years, ranchers, miners and loggers have routinely invaded nature reserves and Indian reservations.
Now a proposal to build an $11 billion hydroelectric project here on a river that may have the world’s most diverse fish stocks has set off a new controversy.
How that dispute is resolved, advocates on both sides say, could determine nothing less than Brazil’s vision of its future at a moment when it is simultaneously facing energy and environmental pressures and casting envious glances at faster-growing developing countries, like India and China.
Unhappy with Brazil’s anemic rate of growth, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has made the economy the top priority of his second term, which began in January. Large public works projects, including the dams here on the Madeira River, are envisioned as one of the best ways to stimulate growth.
“Who dumped this catfish in my lap?” was the president’s irate complaint when he learned recently that the government’s environmental agency had refused to license the dam projects, according to Brazilian news reports.
But the proposal is far from dead, and continues to have Mr. da Silva’s support. Additional environmental impact studies are under way, but the dispute now raging in Rondônia appears to have more to do with politics and economics than science and nature.
“My impression is that some environmental groups see the authorization of construction as opening the door to unrestricted entry to the Amazon,” said Antônio Alves da Silva Marrocos, a leader of the Pro-Dam Committee, financed by business groups and the state government.
“But if they are able to block this,” he added, “then every other Amazon hydroelectric energy project is doomed as well.”
Many of the arguments for and against the two dams to be built, Jirau and Santo Antônio, reprise those from previous debates in Brazil and elsewhere. Proponents talk of the thousands of jobs to be created if the dams are built and predict power blackouts if they are not. Opponents warn of damage to the rain forest and say cheaper, more efficient alternatives are available.
But the correlation of political forces is now much different than it had once been. Though Brazil’s environmental movement had a big hand in founding the left-wing Workers’ Party in 1980, it has steadily lost influence under Mr. da Silva, who took power in 2003. He has since courted the business establishment.
As environmentalists see it, the dams, one of which is to be barely 20 miles from Brazil’s border with Bolivia, will not only add to.......