Will Patagonia Drown Itself for Copper?

National Geographic, NPR, and the Financial Times, among other media outlets, have paid close attention to the extraordinary decision on Monday by Chilean officials to permit major dam construction in the Patagonian wilderness.

“The plan would flood more than 15,000 acres (5,900 hectares) of the vast Patagonian wilderness at the bottom of South America, and spawn a stretch of powerlines some 1,500 miles (2,450 kilometers) long to distribute energy created by the rivers.”  Pictures in National Geographic.

The NPR coverage from yesterday is more revealing: Chile’s mines use 37% of the nation’s electricity, and the country expects to double it’s energy needs over the next 9 years.  Listen to the story.

“Daniela Castro of Conservación Patagonica, an environmental group opposed to the project, said the scheme risked ruining the landscape, decimating the population of South Andean deer, spoiling fly fishing and endangering native fish stocks.”  From the Financial Times.

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  • Ray De Angelis

    Follow the money. The mining conglomerates want and need access to cheap power but , in addition to this, you will never escape the ideas some have that resources are an asset to be exploited, the entree into riches and full membership in the capitalist world community. How can we point fingers when our own president just announced plans to make it easier to drill for oil and gas offshore and on federal lands? Point of interest – let’s see if some bright mind suggests logging the area since it’s already going to be drowned and you won’t really be “doing any more damage”.  Until the world community gets serious about conservation on every front as well as population control the future holds some SERIOUS challenges.

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