Tuesday, March 1, 2011

How Avatar Just Saved Pandora In Brazil

James Cameron might have just saved a real-life Pandora on Friday, as a Brazilian judge ruled to save thousands of rainforest acres from one of the world's largest dam proposals.

After several environmental concerns, construction of the Belo Monte Dam was halted by a Brazilian judge on Friday. With plans on the dam being the third largest hydroelectric dam in the world, it was costing the Brazilian government approximately 15 billion dollars in construction costs. The first phase of the 11,000 mega-watt dam was intended to have been completed in 2015. Since the beginning of the project, the dam has caused much uproar from many environmental organizations, even being criticized by the Catholic Church.

As Brazil's population and economy grows, so does its need for a reliable source of electricity. Blackouts in the past have signified a growing energy problem in the country, which was supposed to have been solved with the construction of the Belo Monte Dam. Having been chosen to host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, energy demands have been on the forefront of concerns in Brazil.

In the rainy months, the dam would have produced 11,000 megawatts of energy, equaling that of approximately seven coal plants. However, during the rainy months, production would have decreased to about 10% of that total. The famed 11,000 megawatt dam would, in actuality, only produce about 6,000 megawatts on average , annually. While this does create a much-needed clean energy source, the cost to construct it - 15 billion dollars - and the effect on the rainforest does not quite compare to the proposed energy benefits.

In court rulings on Friday, construction was halted and funds were immediately cut off from the project, as a Brazilian federal judge determined that environmental requirements previously set had not been met. These requirements were set in an effort to minimize the impact on the surrounding tropical rainforest and the people of the area. Avatar director, James Cameron, along with Sting and Sigourney Weaver, has become front-line protesters against the construction of the Belo Monte Dam by moving to the Amazonian rainforest to live among the indigenous people. Aside from adding his voice to the protests against the building of the dam, Cameron helps to bring global awareness to the cause, a real-life Avatar.

Halting construction on this project will most likely slow the acceleration of the Brazilian economy. The private companies involved, including Odebrecht, Camargo Correa, and Andrade Gutierrez. Alstom, Andritz, Voith Hydro, and Impsa will likely see negative effects in their earnings, depending on the length of the suspension and the size of this project in comparison to their overall profits.

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