image credit: minplanpac (Flickr CC)

Brazil’s controversial Belo Monte Dam project is set to be the 3rd largest dam in the world and is expected to displace roughly 20,000 people and submerge some 4,000 sq km (1,550 sq mi).

Located in the Amazon rainforest in the state of Pará, the dam is being built on the Xingu River, which many people depend on for their livelihoods. But it’s not just locals, indigenous groups or environmentalists who should be concerned. The Amazon is the “lungs of the Earth”, meaning that we all benefit from and/or depend on the oxygen the dense rainforest provides, not to mention its rich and priceless biodiversity.

Belo Monte Dam is also expected to power mining projects and aluminum plants, meaning more pollution, deforestation and displaced people.

Human rights campaigner Bianca Jagger has spoken out against the Belo Monte hydroelectric project. She is quoted the Financial Times:

The Brazilian government’s future energy plans call for 30 more large dams in the Amazon. Dams upstream of the Belo Monte would flood more land and generate vast quantities of methane, a greenhouse gas.

Hollywood producer James Cameron has also lent his voice to the fight for indigenous rights.

From the Times of India:

The Kayapo are going to fight. The Brazilian government is not listening to the indigenous community at all. They’re determined to build this dam, which is going to be the third largest and probably the most inefficient dam in the world.

See this slideshow by Greenpeace for images of devastation being wrought on Brazil’s Amazon rainforest in the name of cheap energy and development.