Defending the rivers of the Amazon

Monday, August 30, 2010 at 8:01 AM

From time to time we invite guest posters to share their views on items relevant to the use of Google Earth. Here we have a post from Google Earth Outreach grantees Amazon Watch and International Rivers, two U.S.-based organizations that support Brazil’s Movimento Xingu Vivo Para Sempre. Amazon Watch and International Rivers have used Google Earth to animate what could happen if the Belo Monte Dam Complex were built on the Xingu River in the Amazon. We’ve offered them some space to share their work and thoughts with our readers.

Please note: This is a complicated issue with many facets, and the views of this poster do not necessarily represent the official viewpoint of Google Inc.; we support the use of Google Earth for visualizations to create dialog.



Today, Amazon Watch and International Rivers are releasing a new Google Earth tour and YouTube video called “Defending the Rivers of the Amazon," narrated by Sigourney Weaver, to draw attention to the impacts of the proposed Belo Monte Dam Complex on the people and ecology of the Xingu River.

If built, Belo Monte would be the world’s third-largest hydroelectric dam, and would divert the flow of the Xingu River, a massive tributary of the Amazon. It would flood the rainforest, displace more than 20,000 people, and generate greenhouse gases. On August 26th, the Brazilian government signed the concession to build despite protests by the region’s indigenous and local populations.



Download the “Defending the Rivers of the Amazon” Google Earth tour

The idea for the Google Earth tour emerged when “Avatar” director James Cameron and cast member Sigourney Weaver traveled to the Xingu River in April with Amazon Watch and the Brazilian Instituto Socioambiental (ISA). The launch of this Belo Monte Dam 3D animation is timed with the re-release of Avatar in theatres. James Cameron has also produced an informational video on Belo Monte called “A Message from Pandora” to highlight one of many real Pandoras on Earth.

Of course, it’s not all doom and gloom; the animation uses map overlays and 3D models to illustrate the potential for solar and wind energy as an alternative solution to meet Brazil’s future energy needs, using data from studies performed in the country.

But don’t take our word for it; watch the video, interact with the tour, and see for yourself. Then follow the link to take action. The people of the Xingu will thank you for it.