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Hydro-power: Is it green if it devastates indigenous peoples?

June 22, 2010

Madre de Dios River in Peru; Photo: Marcin Nowak

Environmentalists and indigenous groups have come together to condemn a 15  million US dollar plan for six hydroelectric dams in the Peruvian Amazon, signed  last week by Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Peruvian President,  Alan Garcia. While the six dams would produce over 6,000 megawatts, mostly for  Brazil, critics say the dams will flood tens of thousands of hectares of rainforest,  devastate the lifestyles of a number of indigenous groups, and only serve big  Brazilian corporations. See full article by Jeremy Hance of Mongabay

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Henry S. Cole, Ph.D. permalink*
    July 8, 2010 4:34 pm

    On a portal called Reddit, there were a lot of comments on this article. Some seemed to confuse my message; In my view a great many hydro projects, especially, small local projects are quite “green.”

    My point is that a specific project is not green if it wipes out huge areas of rain forest in which indigenous people live. Perhaps, we need to redefine, green. In my view it’s green if its compatible with nature, promotes environmental health, conserves resources, is energy efficient, uses renewable energy, and (and/or) protects vital life support systems.

    My article refers and the one it cites from Mongabay refers to a very specific large hydro project, one that would destroy huge tracts of rain forest on which thousands of diverse species and people depend. The article is not meant to be critical of hydro-power in general which has the potential to supply environmentally sound dispersed electric power production. In fact some old “grist mills” used not for electricity but for
    grinding grain are being restored.

    See comments on:

  2. July 1, 2010 1:26 am

    Reading through your blog, I get the impression that you and I think a lot alike.
    I strongly agree with your point also in the banner; we need to address both sides to the “house” – ecology and economics. A great understanding of ecological services, I’d hope, would eventually lead to better valuing of environments.
    On dams, I think the Chinese are a good example of dams regardless of the costs or impacts to other nations. I’d have to say that I feel that most, if not all sources of energy supply have impacts and the higher the grade, the more likely the impacts are going to be significant. It will all come down to compromise. I don’t think dams in the tropics can be condoned – being relatively higher in biodiversity.

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