Big dams. Did you know they're the largest, most expensive structures we make?

The cost to build a mega dam goes way beyond money. They flood land, kill forests, destroy rivers and the life it supports, and displace tens of thousands of people.

Often, the culture and biodiversity destroyed by a big dam can never, ever be replaced.


Igre and her people in Brazil are facing just this reality. The Belo Monte is a giant dam being built on the river they call home.

We are starting to learn more and more not-so-good things about mega dams.

Big dams flood hundreds of thousands of acres of land behind them. They also harm rivers by depriving them of water and fundamentally altering natural fluctuations in flow and temperature. The loss of plants, fish, and other wildlife is astronomical.

Worse are the ongoing costs to cultures who live closely with rivers.

Belo Monte will flood an area of 190 square miles along the Xingu River. According to the Brazilian government, the flooding will force the relocation of up to 20,000 people, many of them belonging to at least 18 different ethnic groups. Nongovernmental organizations, like Amazon Watch, say the number of displaced may rise as high as 40,000.

The record of relocating cultures is not good. Forcibly removed from their homes and deprived of ways of life, once self-sufficient people can face hunger, rampant alcoholism, and high unemployment. Also, big dams are a "boom-and-bust" kind of development. Once they are built, many of the jobs go away.

Igre and other people of the Amazon have been fighting for decades against the Belo Monte Dam and their right to life.

Chief Rayoni of the Kayapo people, an international ambassador for the Brazilian rainforest and the people who live there, traveled to Paris in 2000 with a petition against the Belo Monte.

But after years of protesting and working with others to appeal to courts for their human rights to the land and their way of life, they have lost. The Belo Monte, which will be the world's third-largest hydroelectric dam, will close the river and begin operation in August 2015.

To make matters worse for indigenous people, it is just one of several mega dam projects on Amazonian rivers planned by the Brazilian government to fuel its booming growth.


People who have been watching and assessing dams are beginning to speak out against big dams and in favor of a whole suite of “agile energy alternatives" like wind, solar, and mini-hydropower facilities.

Sure, all sources of energy have negative impacts, but here's why people who once supported big dams are having second thoughts:

  • The actual construction costs of big dams are too high to ever yield a positive return and countries often end up in debt trying to repay loans for big dams.
  • The reservoirs for big dams in tropical places emit high amounts of methane due to the lush jungle covered by waters each year as the basin fills. One study reported 3.5 times more CO2 released than an oil power plant generating an equal amount of electricity. Oy!
  • Building dams leads to deforestation, and deforestation is a main cause of reduced rainfall in places like the Amazon. Without forests, there is no rain, and without rain, rivers dry up. So healthy forests are the key to providing water!

Rivers and their people need your help.

The fight is already on against the next big dam project.

The Brazilian government is planning to build five dams in the Tapajós River basin. In November 2014, members of the Mundukuru tribe organized with Greenpeace to raise awareness of the threats to their human rights. The sign, made with stones on a sandbar of the river reads, "Free Tapajos."

More people need to know that big dams are not "green" energy. It's not necessary to force people pay these terrible natural and cultural costs to produce the energy we need to live well.
True

Thank you to these #Tokyo2020 hopefuls who have shown that they are more than just good at their sport, but also good to their communities. Let's follow their lead.

Join P&G Good Everyday to do more good together.

Throughout his basketball career Michael Jordan has been criticized for not letting his voice be heard when it came to political change. That does not appear to be the case anymore. In the month of June alone, Michael Jordan and the Jordan Brand have donated $100 million dollars to organizations committed to race equality. A portion of the funds will be allocated to organizations helping to protect black voting rights.

In the latest announcement, Jordan himself and his Jordan Brand are investing $2.5 in organizations to help combat Black voter suppression. In a statement from the Jordan Brand, it was announced: $1 million dollars is being donated to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc. and $1 million to the Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People and Families Movement. The Black Voters Matter organization will receive $500,000 in the statement which was first reported by CNN.


Keep Reading Show less
True

The United Nations is marking its 75th anniversary at a time of great challenge, including the worst global health crisis in its history. Will it bring the world closer together? Or will it lead to greater divides and mistrust?

Share your vision for shaping the future: take this 1-minute survey. Your responses to this survey will inform global priorities now and going forward.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is a badass in the movies, but he's increasingly building a reputation as a heroic "action star" in real life. Only, instead of dropping ungodly amounts of fake bullets into his enemies, Schwarzenegger has been dropping rhetorical bombs against his political opponents while building intellectual and emotional bridges to those who disagree with him but still have open hearts and minds.

The most recent example found Arnold responding to a comment someone made on Facebook. On the surface, that may sound like just about the least unique or original jumping off point for a story.




Keep Reading Show less

Those of us who grew up in the Alanis Morissette angst era and followed her through her transformation into a more enlightened version of herself may be thrilled to know she has a new album out. Such Pretty Forks in the Road is her first album in eight years—and the first since two of her three children were born.

Anyone who's been working from home with kids knows that we're all in the same frequently interrupted boat. Such is the pandemic life. But we've also seen how those very human moments when kids insert themselves into life are some of the most real and precious. And that reality comes shining through in Morissette's Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon performance of her new song, "Ablaze," which is, not so ironically, a song about her children. As she sings, it's clear that she's still got the chops that made her famous. It's also clear that her 4-year-old daughter, Onyx, just sees her mommy as mommy and not as the iconic pop star that she is. The performance is lovely and sweet, and hearing Onyx's little voice and seeing her put her hand over her mom's mouth as she sings is just too adorably real.

Keep Reading Show less