Monday, August 29, 2011

DILEMMAS OF DEVELOPMENT: The Magic Washing Machine



Hans Rosling makes the strongest case for modernization. Despite the flare, hyperbole and oversimplification of good performance, his drift is correct. Economic development brings benefits to peoples' lives.

Now consider the consequences:

THE PROBLEM:

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A new apartment building rises high above a line of tanker trucks carrying diesel to fuel a thermal electric plant in Rio Branco, the capital of Brazil's western-most Amazonian state of Acre. During the severe drought of 2010, the trucks came 3,000 km (about 2,000 miles) from São Paulo to feed development's insatiable appetite for energy because the Madeira River was too low for barge traffic.


THE PLANNED SOLUTION:

Dams in Amazonia

The Amazon Basin is being targeted for large hydroelectric projects. 60 dams are planned in Brazil, and more in neighboring countries Columbia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.


DAMS AND ROADS TRIGGER DEFORESTATION:

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NASA satellite photos show the deforestation in Rondonia





In addition to the gold mining (above), recent 3D computer modelling shows how deforestation follows roads in Peru.

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There are two main dilemmas: the first is that we don't yet have the cultural habits and common practice in how to develop without destroying nature; the second is that, in the realm of a market economy where advertising tantalizes and politicians dangle bangles, the trees, the flowers and the ones who kiss them don't vote or have a voice.

We've got to figure out some ways to change this. That's our work. All of us!



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