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Katrina Holcomb

student of biology, University of Oregon

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Will the Belo Monte Dam project on the Amazon River cause more harm to the environment or will it be a good source of energy for Brazil?

The Amazon rainforest is an internationally recognized epicenter of biodiversity. Countless campaigns to stop the cutting and burning these rainforests have fallen on deaf ears. Now the Brazilian government plans to build what would be the world's 3rd largest dam [1] on the beautiful and ancient Amazon River. The Belo Monte project would span the Xingu River with 3 different dams: 233MW Pimental, 233MW Bela Vista, and 11,000MW Belo Monte. In addition, two artificial canals must be built to divert the river, which together will span more area than the Panama Canal.

These dams will have a myriad of negative impacts on the local environment. Construction of the dam will cause about 400-640 sq km land upstream to become flooded for a reservoir - an area equal to the size of Chicago. The town of Altamira will be flooded as well as countless acres that house the region's tribal populations. The impact on biodiversity includes 6-8 species of fish endemic to the Amazon River that will likely go extinct as well as a 2% decrease in the total forested area of the Amazon rainforest.

Organisms endangered by the construction of Belo Monte cannot verbalize their traumatic destruction of their ecosystem, but the indigenous people of the Amazon can; they are currently protesting the construction of the Belo Monte project through an "occupy" movement.

Belo Monte project is the first of many dam projects planned for the Brazilian portion of the Amazon River. Do these indigenous people have a right to decide what happens to their ancestral homeland? Or is the Brazilian government in the right by providing power for the majority of their country? Will the Belo Monte become the Belo "Muerte" dam (aka dam of death)?

Here's a 10 minute video that covers the impact the Belo Monte dam on the Amazon:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-seAAIsJLQ [1]

Related articles:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/apr/03/brazil-dam-activists-war-military [2]


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    May 15 2013: Belo Monte Dam project is actually the project which will provide the enough electric power to brazilians, so it is benefit for the society. But for the nature and environment, it will bring a huge harm, because this project will submerge most part of Amazonas tropical rainforest, and damage tne local entironment. What's more, at least 30 thousands aboriginal will be forced to move. Some people who are against this project show more probale result if the project is carried out. As people know, leaves grab and absorb a lot of carbon elements, once they are submerge in the water, these leaves will produce huge amount of methane by methanogens without oxygen. Methane will casue global warming, and it will be more harmfulthan carbon dioxide. Even though there are some harmful to the environment of this project, we can't deny that this project will solve the electric power problem of brazillians. What's more, this project have an important water resource regulatory function, and it will transfer the damage of flood period to the resource of drought period. So this project will make the electric source like a renewable resource. Personally, I think the benefit of this project is more than the harmful, and just for now, people don't have a better idea than this project.

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