Belo Monte | World's Third Largest Dam Construction Threatens Kayapó

Semana Dos Povos Indiangenas, Photo by Governopara

Semana Dos Povos Indiangenas, Photo by Governopara

PARÁ, Brazil -- Despite environmental and humanitarian protests, the Brazillian government plans to build five hydroelectric dams on the Tapajos River. The river is an important tributary to the Amazon and if built, the dams will flood the area displacing both people and animals and destroying land considered sacred.

"The first Indian Park in Brazil was created in the river basin by the Brazilian government in the early 1960s. This park marks the first indigenous territory recognized by the Brazilian government and it was the world's largest indigenous reserve on the date of its creation.

Currently, fourteen tribes live on the reserve surviving with natural resources and extracting from the river most of what they need for food and water." (Source: Wikipedia)

Over the past few months, 13,000 people from the Munduruko tribe have protested the project which would threaten their land, livelihood and culture.

Their fight involves battling through new laws and ordinances saying indigenous people don't have a right to control what happens on their own land. It is disturbingly reminiscent to what happened to American Indians in the 1800s.

The government's claim is that the Amazon has enormous untapped hydroelectric potential which would provide needed clean energy for the country. To this end, the government is trying to circumvent the constitutional clause protecting native people and their land.

In terms of cost, hydro-power is Brazil's top alternative energy solution. Other viable options include wind, solar and fuel made from sugarcane.

Disputes over the Amazon are nothing new. Since the 1890s, loggers, ranchers, miners and more have been trying for a share of the Amazon's resources. In the past, warriors fought back with organized and sometimes violent protests, including forcible eviction from the territory.

Official governmental red tape is hard to handle, but this isn't the first time an Amazon tribe has fought the dam fight.  In 1989, with international support and the help of conservationist groups, the neighboring Kayapo tribe successfully prevented the building of the Kararao dam, which would have flooded the Xingu River.

They weren't as successful with the Belo Monte reservoir, also chosen to be built on the Xingu River, and slated to be finished by year 2015.

While some predict Belo Monte will lead to needed jobs and ease the nation's energy burden, others foretell the drying of the forest caused by the diverted water, the displacement of thousands of people whose homes are now underwater and the pollution and inevitable destructive influence roads and workers will have on the previously undisturbed forest.

Chiefs from over 60 villages have submitted a letter demanding the government consult and receive permission from native people before constructing the new dams. However, it is still unclear whether the campaign will be successful or if the Tapajos dams will become the next Belo Monte.

Jason deCaires Taylor | MUSA

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 23:46 PM EDT, 18 July 2012

Jason deCaires Taylor Installation, Tribute to Slaves Who Drowned in Middle PassagCANCUN, Mexico - Today, one of our readers emailed photos of an underwater installation by Jason deCaires Taylor. The sender stated that the installation was a tribute to the slaves who were thrown overboard to drown during the Middle Passage of the slave trade route.

The photos were intriguing and upon further research we discovered that the sculptor, Jason deCaires Taylor was the founding member of an underwater museum called MUSA (Museo Subacuático de Arte).

According to Taylor's website, "the museum was formed in the waters surrounding Cancun, Isla Mujeres and Punta Nizuc. The project founded by Jaime Gonzalez Cano of The National Marine Park, Roberto Diaz of The Cancun Nautical Association and Jason deCaires Taylor.

The installation consists of over 450 permanent life-size sculptures, made from specialized materials used to promote coral life, with the total installations occupying an area of over 420sq metres of barren seabed and weighing over 200 tons.  The museum is one of the largest and most ambitious underwater artificial art attractions in the world.

Jason deCaires Taylor is an internationally acclaimed Eco-sculptor who creates underwater living sculptures, offering viewers mysterious, ephemeral encounters and fleeting glimmers of another world where art develops from the effects of nature on the efforts of man.

His site-specific, permanent installations are designed to act as artificial reefs, attracting corals, increasing marine biomass and aggregating fish species, while crucially diverting tourists away from fragile natural reefs and thus providing space for natural rejuvenation. Subject to the abstract metamorphosis of the underwater environment, his works symbolize a striking symbiosis between man and nature, balancing messages of hope and loss." (Source: Jason deCaires Taylor Website)

The photos below were taken by tourists visiting the installations. To view his complete portfolio of hi-res professional photos of his sculptures please visit his website and enjoy.

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Our World, His Music | Armand Amar | Philip Glass

Our World, His Music | Armand Amar | Philip Glass

Much has been written about our world, man's adverse impact on the planet, and what needs to be done to save Earth. No doubt as our species continues to advance, our expansion and incursion into the remaining pristine corners of our planet will accelerate as we seek illusory security through the treasures the earth can yield to us. However, unlike our planet, our lifespan is akin to that of a flea, and like a dog with an itch, we will voluntarily or involuntarily be cast off. This perspective was best expressed by Dr. Iain Stewart's in the 2009 BBC program titled "Earth: The Power of the Planet." Dr. Stewart stated "in the long run, earth can cope with anything we can throw at it. We could clear all the jungles, but a jungle can regrow over a few thousand years. We could burn all earths’ fossil fuels, flooding the atmosphere with carbon dioxide but even then, it will take the planet only a million years or so for the atmosphere to recover even the animals we are wiping out will eventually be replaced by others equally rich in diversity as a relentless work of evolution continues. It’s only a question of time; the earth will be just fine. So all this stuff about saving planet earth, well that is not the problem: planet earth doesn’t need saving, earth is a great survivor. It’s not the planet we should be worrying about, it’s us."

Not withstanding that powerful sentiment, this post is tangentially about environmental issues, but primarily about the brilliant, contemporary composers Armand Amar and Philip Glass. Both of these composers possess unparalleled skills in weaving together the unique voices, languages and cultures of people around the world to tell compelling stories through film scores.

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