On the one hand, the dam will generate a lot of clean energy for the people of Brazil. On the other hand, the river will alter the course of the Amazon River. This will be devastating for the indigenous Amazon people who rely on it for food, fish and water. There’s a lot of controversy because the Brazilian government wants to go ahead and build the dam without considering how it will affect the indigenous.
Hydroelectric power may be green in some ways, but overall I might question the green factor as a justification for the dam. The construction of the Belo Monte Dam would require the clearing of 600 acres of forest, and the flooding of over 121,000 acres for the reservoir. Diverting the Xingu river will leave 40,000 indigenous people displaced, as their land will either be dried out or flooded. The decaying matter in reservoirs has a high CO2 and methane emission, both are warming greenhouse gases. Another issue that make the dam controversial is that due to the nature of the Amazon, the dam will only be useful 39% of the year. The output energy of the dam is still high, but the bulk of it will not be headed to individuals to improve quality of life, but to industry giants like mining and aluminum. Both these industries will get a power boost that will only lead to further deforestation and supplanting of indigenous peoples (not to mention devastating effects on the ecology).
Critics believe the clean energy generated by the dam is not worth the price paid for it in regional change. It will supposedly bring drought to certain areas of brazil, as well as attract many more migrants looking for work than the number of jobs created, bringing economic strain to the region. The source I found (below) also calls the dam “one of the most energy innefficient dams in the hostory of Brazil,” and that among the most threatened are the underrepresented indigenous peoples living in the Amazon rainforest.
Critics are also concerned that this dam is precedent setting; the Brazilian government wants to build 60 dams in the future and many are looking to the approval (or not) of the Belo Monte dam to predict the likelihood of the future dams being built.
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