Building globalized dam$ to kill the Amazon

Globalization is all about control of the world’s resources into the hands of multinational corporations and their banks.

And the key to a globalized world is energy, without which the free flow of resources is impossible, absent a return to era of draft horses and sailboats.

Another key resource is water; without it agriculture is impossible. And, of course, human life itself.

With petroleum and natural gas reserves finite by nature, the world is left, ultimately, with hydroelectricity, wind power, solar, and nuclear, with the last being phased out in many countries because of its inherent and long-lived dangers.

Currently, hydroelectricity, generated almost exclusive by generators power by dam-enclosed water, constitute the world’s number two source of power behind the fossil fuel triad.

The dams providing the stored gravitational energy used to power the generators also provide a means of regulating supplies of water for agricultural and industrial uses, as well as for human consumption, making them especially valuable resources.

But by their ability to control the flow of water downstream, dams also prfoundly alter the environment, both by disrupting the natural flooding essential to soil renewal as well as by providing a source for agricultural irrigation.

Out a dam in one of the world’s last great remaining rainforest and savannah landscapes, and profound environmental changes are inevitable, both in the form of destruction of the natural environment and through the displacement of indigenous peoples never before exposed to a wide range of diseases or the disruption by an utterly alien way of life.

But just such a change is coming to the Amazon, fueled by a global consortium of multinationals.

From the Guardian:

Construction of 40 major dams in the Brazilian Amazon would destroy the heart of the world’s largest rainforest, severely affect indigenous people and is not economically justifiable, says Greenpeace in a major new report.

The five large dams and 35 others planned for the Tapajós river and its tributaries south of Santarém have been promoted by the government and global engineering and energy companies as a solution to Brazil’s recession and severe electricity shortages.


Plans for the dam are currently on hold after Brazil’s environmental agency, Ibama, suspended the licensing process over concerns about its impact on the indigenous community in the region.

“The Munduruku people have been fighting for the Brazilian government to formally recognise their land for many years. Greenpeace have sent activists to the Munduruku villages to assist in physically demarcating their land and installing solar power systems, as well as campaigning internationally in support of their cause,” says the report.

“This is an important battle not just for the Munduruku people, but for everyone around the world since we are talking about one of the biggest forests that still exist on the planet,” said Juarez, the Munduruku chief of the Sawré Muybu indigenous land.

From Greenpeace, a graphic depiction of the potential beneficiaries of just one of those dams:

BLOG Dam map

More from the Greenpeace report, Damning the Amazon, The Risky Business of Hydropower in the Amazon:

Many companies from a range of different sectors are involved in the construction of hydropower dams like the SLT project: utility companies that oversee the building of the dam and then operate it and sell the electricity it generates; contractors that undertake the construction work; suppliers of materials, equipment and services; and the project’s insurers and financiers.

The annex of this report lists all the main companies involved in the Belo Monte hydropower scheme, giving an indication of how broad the scope is of those that seek to profit from such projects. Although some of the companies listed have already made it clear that they want to be part of the SLT project, it is hard to predict how many others will join. Below, we detail the members of the two consortia that have already shown an interest in bidding to construct and operate the SLT project, and highlight some of the key players involved in the other critical sectors for new hydropower schemes. Some of these companies. . .have been linked to, or investigated in the context of, major corruption scandals, including around other large hydropower projects in Brazil. Nearly all of them have environmental and human rights policies that should oblige them to steer clear of the SLT project and the rest of the Tapajós hydropower complex. Will they stand by those policies and refrain from being involved in the SLT project?


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