There are monsters of a different kind in Patagonia, they are terryfing and very real. Their power is incredible and they can destroy and ruin a beautiful place in a very short time.
These monsters are not primitive, they are high tech multinational energy companies that under the guise of "sustainable hydroelectric energy" are trying to make a good profit for their shareholders.
Several Patagonian rivers are under attack right now. Economic interests may prevail over sound ecological reasons and ruin a pristine environment.
Futaleufú River dams
Futaleufú River -Mapuche for "big river"- (our previous post Here on the Yelcho Lake creature, mentioned this river, which feeds the lake) is under threat.
Below I quote a very interesting summary by Futa Friends on this serious problem:
Dams and the Energy Chile Needs
The HidroAysen Project is the most ambitious dam proposal in the history of Chile. The Natural Resources Defense Council, International Rivers, and Chilean partners Ecosistemas and Chile Ambiente, are leading the Patagonia Without Dams Campaign. The proposed project threatens every river in Chilean Patagonia from future damming. The HidroAysen project, along with proposing the construction of 5 dams on 2 of Patagonia's most pristine rivers, the Pascua and Baker, plans on building a 2000 km high-voltage transmission line North to Santiago, creating the world's longest clear-cut. The proposed dams would flood rare temperate rainforests and some of Patagonia's best ranching lands. The rainforest areas that the dams and transmission lines would eliminate do not exist anywhere else on the planet. Along with altering Chile's environment from the South to the Central Valley, the project threatens future damming of other rivers in Patagonia. Once the transmission line is in place, rivers such as the Puelo, Yelcho, Palena and the infamous Futaleufu will also be scheduled for damming.
Gold mines that poison the environment
Another threat in the region is gold mining (cyanide is used to separate the metal from the ore - more on this gold mininng and contamination). In Argentina, time and time again, a big corporation (Yamana Gold Inc.) with the connivance of government officials has been trying to set up a gold mining operation at Esquel, right beside the Los Alerces National Park; read more on this Here (No a la Mina).
Did yo know that one gold ring generates 20 tons of mine waste? (read more Here)
For more details, Patagonia Chilena sin represas! (Chilean Patagonia without
dams) has a great website. Check it out Here in English, and this page in Spanish, on the Futaleufú River Project. They have a downloadable book online Here.
 Futa Friends
Copyright 2009 by Austin Whittall ©