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Waterfalls be dammed

On my many trips to Iguazu Falls, on the border of Brazil and Argentina, I’ve seen this:

And this:

Not to mention this:

But I never saw the nearby Guairá Falls, on the border of Brazil and Paraguay, because they were destroyed to make Itaipu Dam.

I visited Itaipu in 2007 when it was the largest hydroelectric dam in the world, shortly before the Three Gorges Dam in China overtook it.

There weren’t many opportunities to take photos, and none at all of the vast artificial lake it generated.

Much of the time was spent showing us a promotional film which glossed over some interesting questions. Were the benefits of vast amounts of clean energy worth the destruction of waterfalls that rivalled Iguazu? Was it worth displacing forty thousand people? Is there unease in Paraguay that most of their electricity comes from a project that it has to operate with a foreign country? If the gates were opened, could it flood the city of Buenos Aires downstream?

I could understand why, notwithstanding all the problems, the dam was built. Energy has to come from somewhere, and harnessing any type involves sacrifices. It’s easy to judge from afar. And looking back, there could have been diplomatic reasons for the film not telling me what I would have liked to have known.

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Michael from Perth

A unique view of the strange and spectacular world through the eyes of Michael from Perth