The Brazilian government has launched an unprecedented drive to dam the Amazon river’s tributaries for electricity to fuel industrial destruction of the Amazon rainforest. The Belo Monte dam – which will be the world's third largest dam, and was previously blocked after protest in 1989 – is the spearhead for their efforts and has already commenced. Belo Monte’s damming of the Xingu River displaces thousands while devastating the lives of thousands more, flooding existing homes and tens of thousands of hectares of rainforest, blocking important fish migration routes, and begins the industrial destruction of this portion of the Amazon rainforest. Belo Monte is but one of dozens of hydroelectric projects Brazil plans to build in the Amazon region in coming decades. The government says the dams represent a source of clean, renewable energy, but tropical dams emit large amounts of carbon in the form of methane, and are meant to power energy intensive industrial development Amazon’s rainforests. Ecological Internet has been highlighting and leading international protest against these dams and other Amazonian industrial development for over a decade.
Last Friday, several hundred protesters occupied part of the Belo Monte site where construction has just begun, timing it just ahead of the Rio+20 summit, digging a channel through an earthen dam built for the project in a symbolic bid to "free the Xingu." A wild and free Xingu River is critical to maintaining an intact Amazon, its peoples’ development from standing old forests, Brazil's national advancement, and the Earth we share. The Amazon basin with its ecologically intact rainforests and rivers is a critical ecosystem that must remain standing for Brazil’s sustainable advancement and for the Planet to remain habitable. Please support the position of indigenous peoples of the Amazon rainforest - that Brazil has better ways of providing its future energy needs than destroying the mighty Xingu River and other Amazon tributaries, their rainforests and their peoples. With this protest we urge all Rio+20 participants to make clear that industrial development of the Amazon rainforest is not the future we want.
Sample Email in English
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President Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil
Dear President Dilma,
I write regarding your government's plans to dam the Xingu
River and dozens of other Amazonian dams as well. This goes
against your rhetoric while hosting Rio+20. The
ill-conceived projects will have enormous negative impacts
upon your country's water resources, regional climate,
natural ecosystems, ecological sustainability and future
potential for sustainable advancement by local peoples and
your great nation. Dams in primary rainforests are not
sustainable development, nor are they environmentally
sustainable. I strongly support indigenous peoples
resisting the ill-conceived Belo Monte dam and urge you to
cancel the project immediately.
Natural biodiversity and intact ecosystems including wild rivers and ancient standing rainforests provide essential ecosystem services to your citizens including water retention, flood prevention, climate regulation, soil regeneration and wildlife habitat. The proposed Belo Monte dam will damage your nation's
hydrology -- leading to greater water scarcity, diminishment of the critical Amazon ecosystem, national security threats, and economic decline.
Brazil is becoming increasingly prone to drought, which
climate change is exacerbating. Flooding and destroying
massive portions of the Amazon basin will further worsen
the situation. Your natural river systems are one of your
nation's greatest assets and should not be so hastily
diminished for short-term economic gain. Water is a human
right, and without intact water providing ecosystems,
economies and societies cannot function. Further, I am
greatly concerned about blatant violation of indigenous
peoples’ rights - including state violence - occurring as
Belo Monte Dam is being built.
Brazil has the opportunity and responsibility to lead South
America and the world in achieving just and equitable
environmental sustainability. I therefore respectfully add
my voice to those in Brazil and around the world, imploring
you to cancel the Belo Monte Dam project, and other
infrastructure development that will destroy Amazon
rainforests and waterways. In the interest of long-term
ecological, social and economic sustainability of your
great nation - Amazon rainforests must remain fully
ecologically intact. Please pursue better sustainable
alternatives for meeting Brazil's energy needs, and focus
Amazon development efforts upon standing primary forest
ecosystems. The world is watching, and expecting wise
long-term leadership from you.
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Amazon indigenous peoples and environmental activists recently breached the Belo Monte dam which is under construction
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