April 03, 2010

Cameron criticizes hydroelectric dam

James Cameron, in real life, fights to save indigenous groups from massive dam construction in Brazil

By Jeremy HanceAfter creating a hugely successful science-fiction film about a mega-corporation destroying the indigenous culture of another planet, James Cameron has become a surprisingly noteworthy voice on environmental issues, especially those dealing with the very non-fantastical situation of indigenous cultures fighting exploitation.

This week Cameron traveled to Brazil for a three-day visit to the Big Bend (Volta Grande) region of the Xingu River to see the people and rainforests that would be affected by the construction of the Belo Monte Hydroelectric Dam. Long-condemned by environmentalists and indigenous-rights groups, the dam would destroy 500 square kilometers of pristine rainforest and force the relocation of some 12,000 people.

"For people living on the banks of the river, as they have for thousands of years, the damage done (by the dam) would destroy their way of life," Cameron said in a press conference following his trip, according to Agencia EFE. He asked the Lula Administration of Brazil to reconsider their decision to build the dam.

"There are always other solutions when good leaders play their part to solve a problem," added Cameron.
Comment:  So much for the people who complained that Cameron was making billion-dollar movies but not doing anything concrete to help save the environment. Clearly he believes in Avatar's message.

Upon reading this, conservatives probably would launch into a second round complaints, such as, "Cameron jetted to Brazil, emitting xx,xxx pounds of CO2, just so he sound off? What a hypocrite!"

True, Cameron could've teleconferenced, taken a commercial plan (who knows? perhaps he did), or combined his trip with other business trips or a vacation. But we can't solve the world's problems by cocooning in our caves and hoping they'll go away. As the saying goes, you have to spend money to make money. Similarly, you have to harm the environment a little to help it.

How many Avatar fans will learn about the Belo Monte Hydroelectric Dam because of Cameron's involvement? Tens or hundreds of thousands? If he can draw attention to the dam situation, it may lead to worldwide pressure and a policy change. If so, his trip will have been worth it.

For more on the subject, see Palestinians = Na'vi and Sting and Indians vs. Hydroelectric Dam.

1 comment:

dmarks said...

That's a better analogy/comparison than, say the Palestinian one. The current Palestinian government as led by Hamas is like the marines and company in "Avatar": they want to invade and conquer someone else's home.