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Community amazon water war  fires  hydro dams  climate change s o s  | Upload Society

Amazon Water War: Fires, Hydro Dams, Climate Change S.O.S.

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by: Sharai Hoekema
amazon water war  fires  hydro dams  climate change s o s  | Upload

The Amazon has long served as one of the world’s final frontiers. It covers well over 7 million square meters, largely comprised of rainforest. The vast size and the unfriendly terrain have led to portions of it still being uncharted, with entire indigenous tribes having only recently been discovered. This has led to an air of mysticism surrounding the region, serving as an active magnet in attracting adventure seekers from all around the world.

Amazon Water War

All the more reason why it is such a shame that this precious land is disappearing as we speak. Thousands and thousands are suffering directly from the development projects currently being executed in the Amazon. And in a few years, all of us around the world will be suffering from the loss as well. 

Why, you ask? There are some key developments that have put the future of the world’s largest rainforest at stake, along with the people, animals and plants that live in it. Some of these developments are initiated by Brazil, the country with the largest share of Amazon land, while others are indeed a truly global effort. Eventually, companies from all over the world will have a hand in the destruction of this glorious piece of nature’s glory.

Brazil Belo Monte Dam. Flooding Of Altamira Town And Displacement (2015)

Altamira Town people house on stilts
Altamira on the Xingu River, a staging area for the controversial Belo Monte hydroelectric project now nearing completion. Long time residents lament the loss of the forests and grittiness of the town.

One person who has made it their personal mission to stop this from happening, is Antonia Melo. This impressive lady was born in 1949 and has spent a considerable amount of her life in the Xingu Alive Forever Movement, a coalition of organisations and social movements that are fighting the construction of the Belo Monte dam.

Antonia Melo with protest sign

Her movement has rallied churches, schools, communities and NGOs in an effort to stop the Belo Monte from being built. This construction project will have far-reaching consequences for the town of Altamira, which will be flooded if the dam is finished. It is not surprising that the locals are speaking out against their forced displacement.

Projects like the Belo Monte are at the heart of the issue, showing everything that is wrong with the governmental treatment of the Amazon. Indigenous and non-indigenous communities alike will feel the consequences of this profit-driven decision. The Belo Monte project has been flawed with illegality and prosperous mismanagement, from the unlawful blocking of the river up to the failure to implement health services and the forgoing of demarcation of indigenous lands. 

demolished buildings
Dismolishing, flooding of Altamira Town and displacement

Ultimately, nature and local communities will be hit the hardest by this blatant display of governmental greed. The indigenous people will lose their access to clean drinking water and fishing waters, while the 400+ islands lost represent a disastrous loss of ecosystems, not to mention a drastic hit to the local economy.

Recommended: Asia’s Water War: China, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam

Brazils Amazon Dams Risk Destroying Heart Of The Amazon (2016)

The Belo Monte dam is not an isolated case. Across the Amazon, there are dozens of major dam projects underway that will irrevocably and irreparably harm its natural glory. Anyone arguing that the economic benefits to this are worth the loss of land and the negative impact that it will have on indigenous people will be hard pressed to find arguments to back up this claim.

Belo Monte Dam Construction

Just look at the multitude of dams occupying the Tapajós river, which have been hailed by the Brazilian government as the solution to the country’s pressing electricity shortages. They go a long way in fulfilling the country’s ambition to increase their hydropower capacity by 25 gigawatt, while simultaneously leading to the construction of a major waterway that will serve as the highway for the country’s export of soy and crops to Europe.

While this sounds like a great plan, the downside is considerable. There is much debate regarding the amount of energy that these dams will actually generate, while the ecological effects are significant. It will flood acres and acres of valuable forest lands, destroying millions of trees and opening the way for major exploitation projects. 

people yellow banner protest

Similarly, a project setting out to build the sixth largest hydroelectric dam in the world - the 8,000 megawatt São Luiz do Tapajós dam - will completely obliterate the land of the Munduruku people, once again flooding a considerable amount of the rainforest. Not just dangerous for the Munduruku people, but also for the rest of us, all around the world. Without wanting to sound obnoxious: these rainforests truly are the lungs of the world.

A member of the Munduruku indigenous group. The Munduruku people, with a population of 12,000, have lived in the region for centuries. They have been resisting hydropower developments on tributaries of the Tapajós for decades.
A member of the Munduruku indigenous group. The Munduruku people, with a population of 12,000, have lived in the region for centuries. They have been resisting hydropower developments on tributaries of the Tapajós for decades

The Munduruku and other people impacted by the construction of dams in the Tapajós river have called out the authorities for their blatant disrespect for nature. Unfortunately it looks as if they are not to be swayed, now that various international companies and banks have expressed their interest in projects like the São Luiz do Tapajós dam.


                                                          Stand for the Amazon - Keep Tapajós Alive
                                           Amazon Water War: Fires, Hydro Dams, Climate Change S.O.S.

Recommended: Water War Between India, Pakistan: Kashmir and Jammu

Not a Single Drop More of Indigenous Blood (October, November 2019)

As we speak, a group of Brazilian indigenous leaders is taking matters in their own hands. They will attempt to defend the rights of their people and territory by visiting a dozen European countries, starting in Italy and ending in Spain, via Germany, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, France, Portugal and the United Kingdom. Here, they will shed light on the violations and crimes committed by the Brazilian government, and most notably its highly controversial president Jair Bolsonaro. 

Recommended: Indigenous Blood: Not a Single Drop More

These leaders include Sonia Guajajara, Nara Baré, Alberto Terena, Angela Kaxuyana, Celia Xakriabá, Dinamam Tuxá, Elizeu Guarani Kaiowá, and Kretã Kaingang. Every single one of them impressive human beings, who want to establish a dialogue and gain the support of European citizens. Eventually, they hope to kickstart real political action, and highlight the violations of human rights in the region. 

Sonia Guajajara
Sonia Guajajara

By making people, companies and governments aware of the actual circumstances under which goods are produced, they are hoping to call a halt to the growing investments in the region. This is a very important issue, as data from an APIB report published back in April shows that companies from the United States and Europe are most definitely complicit in the destruction of the Amazon.

Nara Baré

Under the stress of increasing competition, rising demand and falling prices, we are looking at the ugly face of global trade rearing its head. This has now led to blatant ignorance and borderline criminal activities taking place in one of the world’s most sacred places. In the past, it has even led to the armed invasion of indigenous lands in order to exploit their natural riches.

Alberto Terena
Alberto Terena

Even criminal organisations and networks are playing a part in the deforestation and wildfires in the Amazon. With the impactful changes in policy made by president Bolsonaro, which have mainly served to loosen environmental regulations, illegal logging and other forms of exploitation of the land have taken flight. Once again, those living in the forest are suffering most from those often violent attacks on their land. The word ‘genocide’ has even been coined to describe this effect.

Angela Kaxuyana in the middle
Angela Kaxuyana in the middle

A shame, knowing that those indigenous people might play an important role in combatting global climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has actually credited those communities as being the ‘guardians of the forest’, with their sustainable practices and extensive knowledge of the land serving as the guiding principle for meaningful climate change action.

Recommended: Climate Change: Water Scarcity, Hunger, Agriculture And Food

Brazil’s Belo Monte Dam In The Amazon Poorly Planned (Nov 2019)

Coming back to the controversial Belo Monte dam example mentioned at the beginning of this article, the one that Antonia Melo and her people are fighting hard to prevent. It is not just the matter of preventing the flooding of Altamira town that should bother you. There is a critical flaw in the design of this massive hydroelectric project, one that could potentially threaten human life and global ecosystems in one go.

Belo Monte dam arial view

Insider documents and expert testimonies have indicated that the dam’s engineers may have underestimated the undeniable impact that water shortages will have on the Pimental dam, that is currently serving as a downstream barrier. Now, a choice will have to be made between a structural weakening of the dam or the reallocation of water in the reservoir or on the Xingu river. The latter solution will have a major impact on the indigenous communities who live here and rely on the water for their livelihood. 

There is a significant risk of the dam rupturing, something so alarming that it has led to federal prosecutors calling for a suspension of the project and emergency aid for those living in the fishing villages that are now faced with a major decline in fish, their main source of food and income.

Despite all of this, the dam is still scheduled to open this month, having cost a measly €9.3 billion thus far. While the last of its 18 turbines is being installed, the low water levels in the reservoirs have highlighted those structural problems. A section of the Pimental dam downstream has been exposed, unveiling its incapacity of dealing with major waves that might occur now that the Belo Monte dam is completed.

Deforrestaion by Delmo Dam roads sand planes
Deforestation at Belo Monte

Those living downstream of the dam are rightfully worried, with recent dam disasters in Brumadinho and Mariana still fresh in the collective memory. As of yet, the Brazilian government has not committed to any remedial action or acknowledgement of the risk to the public. 

Recommended: Water War Brewing Over New River Nile Dam: Egypt, Ethiopia

Save The Amazon, Save The World

It is once again testament to the unwillingness of Brazilian leaders and, indeed, world leaders to take action to save the Amazon. Paradoxically, the Amazon might just be what saves us, provided that it is well taken care of. Now that this appears to be unlikely, we will be facing increasing deforestation, as well as a disastrous loss of valuable ecosystems and a general decline of biodiversity. 

Amazone rain foers arial view

The Belo Monte dam actually serves as the personification of everything that is wrong with our management of the Amazon. Fuelled by corporate greed and political games, the project has been pushed through - despite obvious and pressing concerns for both human life and biodiversity. The loss of valuable nature has been deemed acceptable, while construction errors have made it obvious that the project is a big mistake. Yet this will most likely be ignored - consequences for the people living downstream be damned. 

A better metaphor for global environmental policies will be difficult to find.

Support, Support, Support: Amazon Watch

Before you go!

Recommended: Brazil Is Burning For Your Beef: Amazon’s Nature, Our Luxury

Did you find this an interesting article or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below.
We try to respond the same day.

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Click on 'Register' or push the button 'Write An Article' on the 'HomePage'

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Amazon Water War: Fires, Hydro Dams, Climate Change S.O.S.

The Amazon has long served as one of the world’s final frontiers. It covers well over 7 million square meters, largely comprised of rainforest. The vast size and the unfriendly terrain have led to portions of it still being uncharted, with entire indigenous tribes having only recently been discovered. This has led to an air of mysticism surrounding the region, serving as an active magnet in attracting adventure seekers from all around the world. Amazon Water War All the more reason why it is such a shame that this precious land is disappearing as we speak. Thousands and thousands are suffering directly from the development projects currently being executed in the Amazon. And in a few years, all of us around the world will be suffering from the loss as well.   Why, you ask? There are some key developments that have put the future of the world’s largest rainforest at stake, along with the people, animals and plants that live in it. Some of these developments are initiated by Brazil, the country with the largest share of Amazon land, while others are indeed a truly global effort. Eventually, companies from all over the world will have a hand in the destruction of this glorious piece of nature’s glory. Brazil Belo Monte Dam. Flooding Of Altamira Town And Displacement (2015) Altamira on the Xingu River, a staging area for the controversial Belo Monte hydroelectric project now nearing completion. Long time residents lament the loss of the forests and grittiness of the town. One person who has made it their personal mission to stop this from happening, is Antonia Melo. This impressive lady was born in 1949 and has spent a considerable amount of her life in the Xingu Alive Forever Movement, a coalition of organisations and social movements that are fighting the construction of the Belo Monte dam. Her movement has rallied churches, schools, communities and NGOs in an effort to stop the Belo Monte from being built. This construction project will have far-reaching consequences for the town of Altamira, which will be flooded if the dam is finished. It is not surprising that the locals are speaking out against their forced displacement. Projects like the Belo Monte are at the heart of the issue, showing everything that is wrong with the governmental treatment of the Amazon. Indigenous and non-indigenous communities alike will feel the consequences of this profit-driven decision. The Belo Monte project has been flawed with illegality and prosperous mismanagement, from the unlawful blocking of the river up to the failure to implement health services and the forgoing of demarcation of indigenous lands.   Dismolishing, flooding of Altamira Town and displacement Ultimately, nature and local communities will be hit the hardest by this blatant display of governmental greed. The indigenous people will lose their access to clean drinking water and fishing waters, while the 400+ islands lost represent a disastrous loss of ecosystems, not to mention a drastic hit to the local economy. Recommended:  Asia’s Water War: China, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam Brazils Amazon Dams Risk Destroying Heart Of The Amazon (2016) The Belo Monte dam is not an isolated case. Across the Amazon, there are dozens of major dam projects underway that will irrevocably and irreparably harm its natural glory. Anyone arguing that the economic benefits to this are worth the loss of land and the negative impact that it will have on indigenous people will be hard pressed to find arguments to back up this claim. Just look at the multitude of dams occupying the Tapajós river, which have been hailed by the Brazilian government as the solution to the country’s pressing electricity shortages. They go a long way in fulfilling the country’s ambition to increase their hydropower capacity by 25 gigawatt, while simultaneously leading to the construction of a major waterway that will serve as the highway for the country’s export of soy and crops to Europe. While this sounds like a great plan, the downside is considerable. There is much debate regarding the amount of energy that these dams will actually generate, while the ecological effects are significant. It will flood acres and acres of valuable forest lands, destroying millions of trees and opening the way for major exploitation projects.   Similarly, a project setting out to build the sixth largest hydroelectric dam in the world - the 8,000 megawatt São Luiz do Tapajós dam - will completely obliterate the land of the Munduruku people, once again flooding a considerable amount of the rainforest. Not just dangerous for the Munduruku people, but also for the rest of us, all around the world. Without wanting to sound obnoxious: these rainforests truly are the lungs of the world. A member of the Munduruku indigenous group. The Munduruku people, with a population of 12,000, have lived in the region for centuries. They have been resisting hydropower developments on tributaries of the Tapajós for decades The Munduruku and other people impacted by the construction of dams in the Tapajós river have called out the authorities for their blatant disrespect for nature. Unfortunately it looks as if they are not to be swayed, now that various international companies and banks have expressed their interest in projects like the São Luiz do Tapajós dam. {youtube}                                                           Stand for the Amazon - Keep Tapajós Alive                                            Amazon Water War: Fires, Hydro Dams, Climate Change S.O.S. Recommended:  Water War Between India, Pakistan: Kashmir and Jammu Not a Single Drop More of Indigenous Blood (October, November 2019) As we speak, a group of Brazilian indigenous leaders is taking matters in their own hands. They will attempt to defend the rights of their people and territory by visiting a dozen European countries, starting in Italy and ending in Spain, via Germany, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, France, Portugal and the United Kingdom. Here, they will shed light on the violations and crimes committed by the Brazilian government, and most notably its highly controversial president Jair Bolsonaro.   Recommended: Indigenous Blood: Not a Single Drop More These leaders include Sonia Guajajara, Nara Baré, Alberto Terena, Angela Kaxuyana, Celia   Xakriabá, Dinamam Tuxá, Elizeu Guarani Kaiowá, and Kretã Kaingang. Every single one of them impressive human beings, who want to establish a dialogue and gain the support of European citizens. Eventually, they hope to kickstart real political action, and highlight the violations of human rights in the region.   Sonia Guajajara By making people, companies and governments aware of the actual circumstances under which goods are produced, they are hoping to call a halt to the growing investments in the region. This is a very important issue, as data from an APIB report published back in April shows that companies from the United States and Europe are most definitely complicit in the destruction of the Amazon. Under the stress of increasing competition, rising demand and falling prices, we are looking at the ugly face of global trade rearing its head. This has now led to blatant ignorance and borderline criminal activities taking place in one of the world’s most sacred places. In the past, it has even led to the armed invasion of indigenous lands in order to exploit their natural riches. Alberto Terena Even criminal organisations and networks are playing a part in the deforestation and wildfires in the Amazon. With the impactful changes in policy made by president Bolsonaro, which have mainly served to loosen environmental regulations, illegal logging and other forms of exploitation of the land have taken flight. Once again, those living in the forest are suffering most from those often violent attacks on their land. The word ‘genocide’ has even been coined to describe this effect. Angela Kaxuyana in the middle A shame, knowing that those indigenous people might play an important role in combatting global climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has actually credited those communities as being the ‘guardians of the forest’, with their sustainable practices and extensive knowledge of the land serving as the guiding principle for meaningful climate change action. Recommended:  Climate Change: Water Scarcity, Hunger, Agriculture And Food Brazil’s Belo Monte Dam In The Amazon Poorly Planned (Nov 2019) Coming back to the controversial Belo Monte dam example mentioned at the beginning of this article, the one that Antonia Melo and her people are fighting hard to prevent. It is not just the matter of preventing the flooding of Altamira town that should bother you. There is a critical flaw in the design of this massive hydroelectric project, one that could potentially threaten human life and global ecosystems in one go. Insider documents and expert testimonies have indicated that the dam’s engineers may have underestimated the undeniable impact that water shortages will have on the Pimental dam, that is currently serving as a downstream barrier. Now, a choice will have to be made between a structural weakening of the dam or the reallocation of water in the reservoir or on the Xingu river. The latter solution will have a major impact on the indigenous communities who live here and rely on the water for their livelihood.   There is a significant risk of the dam rupturing, something so alarming that it has led to federal prosecutors calling for a suspension of the project and emergency aid for those living in the fishing villages that are now faced with a major decline in fish, their main source of food and income. Despite all of this, the dam is still scheduled to open this month, having cost a measly €9.3 billion thus far. While the last of its 18 turbines is being installed, the low water levels in the reservoirs have highlighted those structural problems. A section of the Pimental dam downstream has been exposed, unveiling its incapacity of dealing with major waves that might occur now that the Belo Monte dam is completed. Deforestation at Belo Monte Those living downstream of the dam are rightfully worried, with recent dam disasters in Brumadinho and Mariana still fresh in the collective memory. As of yet, the Brazilian government has not committed to any remedial action or acknowledgement of the risk to the public.   Recommended:  Water War Brewing Over New River Nile Dam: Egypt, Ethiopia Save The Amazon, Save The World It is once again testament to the unwillingness of Brazilian leaders and, indeed, world leaders to take action to save the Amazon. Paradoxically, the Amazon might just be what saves us, provided that it is well taken care of. Now that this appears to be unlikely, we will be facing increasing deforestation, as well as a disastrous loss of valuable ecosystems and a general decline of biodiversity.   The Belo Monte dam actually serves as the personification of everything that is wrong with our management of the Amazon. Fuelled by corporate greed and political games, the project has been pushed through - despite obvious and pressing concerns for both human life and biodiversity. The loss of valuable nature has been deemed acceptable, while construction errors have made it obvious that the project is a big mistake. Yet this will most likely be ignored - consequences for the people living downstream be damned.   A better metaphor for global environmental policies will be difficult to find. Support, Support, Support: Amazon Watch Before you go! Recommended:  Brazil Is Burning For Your Beef: Amazon’s Nature, Our Luxury Did you find this an interesting article or do you have a question or remark? Leave a comment below. We try to respond the same day. Like to write your own article about the Amazon, Hydro Electric Dams or Climate Change? Click on  'Register'  or push the button 'Write An Article' on the  'HomePage'
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