One of the most recent and dramatic situations that is happening in the world right now is the building of a dam in Belo Monte in the Amazon. Why is it so controversial one might ask? This is because there will be a large scale impact on the environment as well as the indigenous people currently living in Belo Monte.

Belo Monte Dam is a proposal to build a hydroelectric dam on the Xingu River located at Para, Brazil. The planned capacity of the dam complex is estimated to be 11,233 megawatts which would make it the second largest hydro electric dam complex in Brazil and the third largest in the world. It is estimated to only produce 39% of that energy. This project has been halted and started over the last 30 years in which it was conceived due to the huge impact it has on the environment and the people living there. So far, it has been boiling down to the economical value versus the value of the ecosystem and the lives of the indigenous people. 

In this very moving picture, Chief Raoni who has long been a spokesperson for the indigenous people in the Xingu River is shown breaking down into tears as the project was given the green light to begin construction. The project was given the go ahead without consulting or informing the indigenous people and giving them no part of the corporate decision about destroying their homes. There is an estimated number of about 20,000 people that will be displaced from the region. Not only from the location of the dam but also halting of the water flow to places such as the the Juruna tribe.

About 10 species of creatures are expected to go extinct due to the high degree of endemism in the Xingu river. There has been no proof of the dam being environmentally friendly as an estimated amount of 112 million metric tons of carbon dioxide will be emitted and converted to methane by the forest over a period of 10 years. This is far more dangerous than greenhouse gases. Also studies have shown that the amount of carbon emission from a dam in brazil is equivalent to those from an oil power plant.

Many famous names have been known to speak out against the building of the dam such as Sting, Hollywood director James Cameron and the well known environmental group Greenpeace.

Here is a video with Sigourey Weaver narrating an video defending the rivers of Amazon.

This chart shows the pros and cons of the dam being built. Where do you stand on this matter?


– Amanda Koh


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