In the United States, we have built one dam a day every day since Thomas Jefferson signed the Declaration of Independence. That’s a lot of dams. We’ve dammed the most majestic and powerful rivers running through our country for the sake of energy, irrigation for industrial agriculture and transportation to name a few. And today, we’re seeing dams come down. They’re an aging infrastructure — no longer worth the cost of keeping them. But the change is coming slow… We’re still a long way off from recovering our rivers and wild places from the missteps of our past.
In Patagonia — half a world away — instead of working to restore their rivers, they’re fighting to save them from getting dammed in the first place. Patagonia, a beloved place in the hearts of many in the outdoor industry, is fighting to stay wild.
With alternatives energy sources such as wind, solar, geothermal and more, the damming of rivers seems outdated — “it’s old technology”. Hydropower may not emit carbon emissions, but the power sure isn’t “clean”. Think of how many rivers we’ve dammed — how many species we’ve pushed to extinction, how many communities we’ve flooded or cut off from their rivers and how many people have lost their way of life because of it.
What’s at stake in Patagonia? Two pristine rivers dammed by 5 proposed dams, 2,400 km of forest clear-cut and road switchbacks blasted into the canyon to make way for the world’s largest transmission line. This project would destroy the people in Patagonia.
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“I think it’s the overall loss of wilderness that we’re talking about here,” Osprey athlete Timmy O’Neill said.
So why should we care? Because it’s not just about the rivers in Patagonia. It’s about the rivers in our backyard. We, as people, have the power to make a change. And it starts now. There is power in the pristine, and we’ve got to stand up for it.
Learn more about protecting Patagonia’s rivers: http://rioslibres.com/.