Tag Archive for 'amazon river'

Drought Takes Hold as Amazon’s ‘Flying Rivers’ Dry Up

Photo retrieved from: www.climatecentral.org

“The unprecedented drought now affecting São Paulo, South America’s giant metropolis, is believed to be caused by the absence of the “flying rivers” − the vapor clouds from the Amazon that normally bring rain to the center and south of Brazil.

Some Brazilian scientists say the absence of rain that has dried up rivers and reservoirs in central and southeast Brazil is not just a quirk of nature, but a change brought about by a combination of the continuing deforestation of the Amazon and global warming.

This combination, they say, is reducing the role of the Amazon rainforest as a giant “water pump,” releasing billions of liters of humidity from the trees into the air in the form of vapor.

Meteorologist Jose Marengo, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, first coined the phrase “flying rivers” to describe these massive volumes of vapor that rise from the rainforest, travel west, and then − blocked by the Andes − turn south.

Satellite images from the Centre for Weather Forecasts and Climate Research of Brazil’s National Space Research Institute (INPE) clearly show that, during January and February this year, the flying rivers failed to arrive, unlike the previous five years.

Alarming Proportions

Deforestation all over Brazil has reached alarming proportions: 22 percent of the Amazon rainforest (an area larger than Portugal, Italy and Germany combined), 47 percent of the Cerrado in central Brazil, and 91.5 percent of the Atlantic forest that used to cover the entire length of the coastal area.”

Read more: Climate Central


Ecuadorian Amazon Oil Slick Heads Towards Peru

Photo retrieved from: www.cubisliterature.wordpress.com

“An oil spill in the Ecuadorian Amazon is flowing downstream towards Peru and Brazil, heightening concerns about the impact of drilling in one of the world’s last remaining wildernesses.

About 1.6m litres of crude was discharged into a tributary of the Amazon from the Trans-Ecuador pipeline, which was ruptured by a landslide on 31 May.

The slick contaminated the drinking supplies of Coca, a gateway city into the Amazon forest. Local media reported that 60,000 people had to rely on water brought in by 65 tankers.

Petroecuador, the pipeline operator, has hired the US clearup company Clean Caribbean & Americas, which was involved in the operation after the Gulf of Mexico spill.

Although the company and local authorities tried to contain the slick with a boom, some of the oil entered the Napo river, which flows across the border.

Last week Peru reported traces of the oil in its Amazon region of Loreto, prompting an apology from the Ecuadorian president, Rafael Correa.

The Peruvian environment minister, Manuel Pulgar Vidal, described the slick as a “very serious problem” and said Peru could seek compensation if the damage proved extensive.”

Read more: Amazon Watch


Amazon Forum to Focus on Human Cost of Green Economy

Photo retrieved from: www.survivalinternational.org

“In Brazil and worldwide, large hydroelectric dams are being falsely deemed a source of “clean energy” critical to powering a “green economy.” Despite calls for “sustainable development” in the preparations for Rio+20, discussions have ignored the social and environmental implications of dam projects. The Belo Monte dam is the tip of the iceberg of an unprecedented wave of dam construction in the Amazon Basin fueled by narrow political and economic interests, with devastating and irreversible consequences for one of the world’s most precious biomes and its peoples.

Twenty-three years after the historic First Encounter of Indigenous Peoples of the Xingu in 1989 the Xingu+23 gathering reaffirms widespread resistance to the damming of one of the Amazon’s largest tributaries as a direct result of the Brazilian government’s refusal to abide by domestic legislation and international agreements regarding human rights and environmental protection. Hundreds of affected fishermen, small-scale farmers, indigenous peoples, social movements, academics, activists and other defenders of the Xingu River and other Amazonian regions will participate in the activities. Brazilian actor Sergio Marone of the Drop of Water Movement will coordinate a committee of renowned Brazilian artists and human rights activists.”

Read more: International Rivers

Dodging Disaster in Lot 129

Photo retrieved from: www.alianzaarkana.org

“Now, a new grassroots movement is being launched by the people to block the newest threat to water and life in the Amazon.  The U.S. oil giant, ConocoPhillips, and its collaborators have plans to develop yet another toxic oil project, known as Lot 129,  in one of the most remote and pristine places of the Amazon Rainforest and, therefore, in the world.

Conoco Phillips and its Canadian consortium partners Gran Tierra (20%) and Talisman Energy (35%)  are poised to start digging at least 18 exploratory wells, dozens of helipads, trails, roads and workers’ camps within and along the boundaries of the Alto-Nanay-Pintuyacu-Chambira National Conservation Area and the Allpahuayo-Mishana National Reserve, and in areas overlapping titled ancestral territories of numerous indigenous peoples. This includes a delicate eco-zone known as “Bosques humedos del Napo,” which was recognized as a Ramsar site of internationally significant wetlands.”

Read more: Alianza Arkana


Re-mapping the Amazon

Photo retrieved from: www.internationalrivers.org

“Brazil’s River of the Dead is teeming with life, tropical birds, fish and turtles. The river is one of the hundreds of tributaries of the mighty Amazon.

But even this remote region is being developed. Not far from this part of Brazil construction has begun on the huge and hugely controversial Belo Monte hydroelectric dam. When finished, it will generate a vast amount of electricity and flood a vast area of the rainforest. It’s just one of 60 dams planned in the Brazilian Amazon.

Balancing Brazil’s growing need for energy and protecting the rainforest was front and center back in January 2011, when Dilma Rousseff addressed Congress after being sworn as Brazil’s first female president.”

Read more: International Rivers


Predicting the World’s Next Water Pollution Disaster

A worker samples water from a well at a coal bed methane drill site. Photo retrieved from: www.nationalgeographic.com

“Only a tiny fraction of the ore miners exhume contains gold, copper, lead, zinc, or the other metals they’re after. The rest is waste, or tailings, full of large quantities of metals and minerals ranging from benign to very toxic. These fine-grained wastes are often held in tailings ponds that can cover many square miles.

Unfortunately the dams holding tailing ponds aren’t always examples of high-level engineering and, in some countries, may be made by simply bulldozing the tailings themselves into an embankment, explains geologist Johnnie Moore, of the University of Montana.

“There is the potential for huge amounts of [toxic waste] to move into a river system whenever any of those things break, and in fact it does happen,” he said.

Last summer a discharge of acidic waste escaped from a Fujan province copper plant run by China’s largest gold producer, Zijin Mining Group Co. The accident poisoned enough Ting River fish to feed 70,000 people for a year and also contaminated their water supply, according to reports from the Reuters news agency. Two years earlier, runoff from a gold mine near Dadong contaminated the water supply for more than 200,000 people. Over the years, similar disasters have occurred in Spain, Peru, the Philippines, and elsewhere, and there are plenty of other sites in China that scientists have their eye on.

Other toxic processes that use mercury and cyanide to extract valuable minerals from rock create the potential for environmental disaster as well.”

Read more: National Geographic

Peru Water Wars Threaten Agricultural Export Boom

Photo retrieved from: www.arabnews.com

“Though the World Bank and its International Finance Corporation have been involved in a more sustainable project in northern Peru that uses water from the Amazon to irrigate fields, its work with well water in Ica has put it in the middle of a vexing problem.

Peru is South America’s third-largest country and a top exporter of high-value specialty crops like asparagus. Farmers say it could become a breadbasket like Brazil or Argentina, well-positioned to feed a growing global population.

But it suffers from acute water shortages on its Pacific Ocean coast and they are expected to worsen as its ice fields in the Andes, the world’s largest collection of tropical glaciers, melt because of climate change.

In Ica, where there is little control over who pumps water, the aquifer could dry up before the government comes up with a plan to pipe in rainwater from the Andes or the Amazon as it has done in northern Peru.”

Read more: Arab News

Amazon River Level In Peru At 40-Year Low

Photo retrieved from: www.bbc.co.uk

“The Amazon river has dropped to its lowest level in 40 years in north-eastern Peru, causing severe economic disruption in a region where it is the main transport route.

At least six large boats have been stranded near the port city of Iquitos.

The low water level is the result of a prolonged spell of dry weather, Peru’s national meteorological office said.

The river is expected to fall further before the rainy season begins next month.

Cut off

Iquitos and other towns in Peru’s rainforest region have no road links to the rest of the country, and depend on the Amazon and its tributaries for transport.

Food and other supplies are now being brought in by smaller boats that can navigate the shallow channels, weaving between exposed mud banks.”

Read more: BBC News

Amazon Dam Project Pits Economic Benefit Against Protection of Indigenous Lands


“RIO DE JANEIRO — The indigenous leaders had a plan. They would unite for a last, desperate stand against the mammoth dam threatening their lands in the Amazon, vowing to give their lives, if necessary, to prevent it from being built.

“This will be our last cry for help,” said the chief of the Arara tribe, José Carlos Arara, after a meeting of leaders from 13 tribes last month. “We are not here to kill. We are here to defend our rights.”

“For indigenous groups, the drying out of the Xingu would change life as they know it. So at their meeting last month, leaders from 13 tribes made an unusual decision: They decided to create a new tribe of about 2,500, and then station it directly on the construction site, occupying it for years, if need be.”

read more: New York Times