Obviously the environmental impact of such a project will be massive, according to the article as much as 200 square miles may be flooded, this we know. What I find most interesting are the ethical questions that this damming project entails. Brazil is a country with an exploding population and this dam will be able to supply electricity to the homes of roughly 23 million people. This will allow for a more modern quality of life for the people of the region, at the cost of further development of the rain forest. Nobody will disagree that the loss of that much rain forest will be catastrophic, but who are we to say that these people don't have the right to endeavor to improve their quality of life. In general Americans and Europeans have grown accustomed to high standards of living, why should people in South America, Africa, and the Middle East not feel entitled to do the same.
It is a scary question to ask, but are we approaching a point where there are simply too many people? Has the human population exceeded the earths carrying capacity. Will earths natural wonders be able to survive alongside an increasingly advanced and numerous human population. So far the answer seems to be no. In my mind I want to draw this out to the sci-fi extreme where we have essentially engineered the planet to maintain our survival. If the global population continues to grow could this ever be the case; will we be able to accept that we may need to curb our lifestyles and live more simply. I think it would be like living in Europe during the dark ages in the shadows of the extinct Roman empire, or perhaps during the great depression. It would be very strange if everyday you encountered things which reminded you of a time when life was more complex and expectations higher. To look up at an aqueduct as you struggle to haul water from a well, or trying to sell apples at the foot of the office building where you used to work. Could it happen to us now, or in the near future? A collapse of the modern lifestyle. I think it is easy for those of us living comfortably to think in terms of the long term impact of damming tributaries of the Amazon. Those people in Brazil who will have a steady supply of electricity for the first time; I wonder how they feel. We did dam the Colorado during the Great Depression.
Please pardon my rambling.