George Black: Patagonian Rivers At Risk

October 29, 2006 By: Marshall Cutchin

Author George Black (Casting a Spell, The Trout Pool Paradox), writes about the dangers that the Chilean obsession with growth present to the nation’s rivers. His commentary is wrapped around a profile of Doug Tompkins, who walked away from his clothing company Esprit with $150 million and later married the CEO of Patagonia, Kris McDivitt, and who now is one of Chile’s chief environmental activists. It’s an overall excellent review of the history of Chilean attitudes toward their natural resources and a reminder that in a few places of the world there is still time to do things differently.
“The country’s largest energy utility, Endesa, recently announced plans to build four giant dams in Chilean Patagonia, a pair on each of the region’s two biggest rivers, the Baker and the Pascua. A heterodox coalition of local residents, environmentalists, energy experts, business leaders, and wealthy landowners (including both Chileans and foreigners such as Doug Tompkins) has already taken shape to oppose the dams, and a great deal rides on the outcome.” On the OnEarth Web site.