Mega Dams and Other Infrastructure
Industrial operations require a vast network of infrastructure: roads, ports, waterways, railways, etc. They cut through forests and communities’ territories in order to transport commodities and minerals to industrial centres. Mega dams, although said to provide “clean energy,” flood forests and generate energy primarily for polluting industries and large urban centres.
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This bulletin highlights threats involved in the so-called “energy transition,” and exposes its dirty secret of exponential expansion of mining in the global South as a consequence of the massive demand for “green” energy.
The growth of mineral extraction and metallurgical production, along with the consequent proliferation of toxic waste tailings dams, has occurred at the same rate as the emptying and bursting of tailings dams in several parts of the world.
“Shock” is a common reaction when a crisis emerges… or when it comes to light. However, it also provides a convenient smoke screen for governments, financial institutions and companies behind which they can hide their own role in and responsibility for the current crises in the forests.
It is impossible to think about extraction without thinking about a vast network of accompanying infrastructure, and thus even greater deforestation and destruction.
We live in an age of ever more “extreme infrastructure.” The construction of roads, railway lines and other infrastructure linking production and resource extraction centres with major consumer areas is tied to profoundly undemocratic forms of elitist planning.
The Waterway aims to connect the Amazon to the world. But that argument is based on the idea that we are disconnected in the Amazon. That is not true. What it really wants to do is place the Amazon in service of capital, razing peoples.
“If our land, water sources, air and livelihoods are being destroyed by geothermal exploration and exploitation, how can this energy be called “clean”? “Clean” for whom?”
The construction of the Suzano Pulp and Paper mill—along with nearby highways, the constant transport of wood, and the massive influx of workers—has brought a lot of devastation to communities. This is the testimony of an activist who is fighting for the territory.
The mega-infrastructure corridors prioritized in ambitious investment programmes spanning the african continent are squarely focused on facilitating the export of minerals and agricultural commodity crops and the import of processed foods and manufactured goods.
As a condition to install its second pulp mill, the company UPM demanded that the Uruguayan state build a new railroad from the site where UPM plans to locate its mill to the port. The government would cover the costs of these infrastructure projects at the service of UPM.
After the cancellation of the Baram mega-dam in 2016, the villagers of Long Liam, who were among the thousands opposing the construction of a mega dam, joined forces to install the very much needed power source in their community.