Brazil’s Belo Monte Dam: A Conflict in the Amazon
As the United Nations’ Rio+20 conference on sustainable development takes place in Rio de Janeiro this month, a prime example of the environmental and social tensions that accompany development will be playing out in northern Brazil. There, on the Xingu River in the Amazon basin, a consortium of companies is building the Belo Monte dam complex, which will be the world’s third-largest hydroelectric project, generating abundant electricity for Brazil’s rapidly growing economy.
Conservationists and local indigenous people contend the Belo Monte project will exact a significant environmental and human toll, flooding 260 square miles of rainforest and displacing more than 20,000 people who depend on free-flowing rivers for their livelihoods. Environmentalists also warn that the $16 billion Belo Monte project is the vanguard of more than 100 dams and hydroelectric projects planned throughout the Amazon basin in Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, and Bolivia. Should these proposed dams be built, critics say, rapid development and resource extraction will soon follow, leading to a major loss of the Amazon’s forests and the transformation of its great rivers into a series of reservoirs.
Multimedia journalist Charles Lyons traveled to the site of the future dam complex, scheduled to begin producing electricity within several years, and produced this video report that lays out both sides of this controversial project.
4 June 2012
Watch the video
ABOUT THE VIDEO
video was produced, written and edited by Charles Lyons
, a multimedia journalist and filmmaker who has produced and/or written for ABC News, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, The New York Times
, the United Nations and elsewhere. He and his producing partner, Anne Kern, recently formed Bright Leaf Pictures to make documentaries and feature films.
Subscribe to Newsletter
Like us on Facebook
The Colorado River:
Running Near Empty
Photographer Pete McBride traveled along the Colorado River from its source high in the Rockies to its historic mouth at the Sea of Cortez. In a Yale Environment 360 video, he documents how increasing water demands have transformed the river that is the lifeblood for an arid Southwest.
When The Water Ends:
Africa’s Climate Conflicts
As temperatures rise and water supplies dry up, tribes in East Africa increasingly are coming into conflict. A Yale Environment 360
video reports on a phenomenon that could become more common: how worsening drought will pit groups — and nations — against one another.
Leveling Appalachia: The Legacy
of Mountaintop Removal Mining
During the last two decades, mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia has destroyed or severely damaged more than a million acres of forest and buried nearly 2,000 miles of streams. This video, produced by Yale Environment 360
, offers a first-hand look at mountaintop removal and what is at stake for Appalachia’s environment and its people.
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
Yale Environment 360
articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia
, the online educational network. Visit the site.
Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
Photographer Robert Wintner documents the exquisite beauty and biodiversity of Cuba’s unspoiled coral reefs. View the gallery.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
The Warriors of Qiugang
, a Yale Environment 360
video, chronicles a Chinese village’s fight against a polluting chemical plant. It was nominated for a 2011 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.
Watch the video.
Top Image: aerial view of Iceland
. © Google & TerraMetrics.
A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.