Stories tagged Brazil

Twin Cities TV meteorologists can only dream about reporting on this. It's pretty amazing footage of a fire tornado forming in Brazil in an area experiencing wild fires.


Brazil grants environmental license for Belo Monte dam

Belo Monte dam proposal on Xingu River
Belo Monte dam proposal on Xingu RiverCourtesy Kmusser

A controversial battle to flood 500 sq km of rain forest in order to provide clean energy for 23 million Brazilian homes appears to be over. The creation of the Belo Monte Dam is expected to begin in 2015 and is rumored to cost around $17 billion. When it is completed, Belo Monte would be third largest hydro-electric dam in the world.

Brazil's environment minister Carlos Minc has stated that those who win the bidding process to building contract and operate Belo Monte will have to pay around $800 million to protect the environment and meet 40 other conditions.

What are the other costs?

Lives of up to 40,000 natives who extract from the river most of what they need for food and water could be affected. The biodiversity within the area to be flooded would definitely be effected. Does the ever increasing need for electricity justify these hydro-electric projects? Over the next decade at least 70 dams are said to be planned for the Amazon region.


Baby Tucuxi, unaware of impending attack...
Baby Tucuxi, unaware of impending attack...Courtesy Matt Walker

Reading about mutinous mammals is waaaay better than writing the final paper of my undergrad career! Agreed? Yes, well to the point. Now I've heard that dolphins will bite ya if provoked, but that even that is extremely rare.

It is not uncommon for mammals to practice infanticide. It is practiced for a variety of reasons. Males may attack young of their own species so the mother is more receptive to further reproduction from that male. It is also practiced when resources are low and a groups well-being is in danger from lack of food. Both males and females of a species will practice infanticide.

Among their scientific class Cetaceans, a class including dolphins, whales, and porpoises violent behavior including infanticide is very rare and largely undocumented...until now!

Tucuxi Dolphins, native to the Amazon basin were observed practicing infanticide in Brazil by Mariana Nery, of the Southern University of Chile in Valdivia, and Sheila Simao, of the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Adult male Tucuxi are known to be aggressive but they rarely exhibit this behavior towards younger individuals. Nery and Simao observed six adult Tucuxi separate a newborn Tucuxi calf from its mother. They proceeded to ram into it, hold it under water, and toss it into the air. When the mother attempted to intervene four of the males herded her away. While the adult males attacked the calf the mother floated on her back. This behavior indicates either passiveness, or more likely a signal that she is receptive to sexual behavior. I believe she did this to distract the adult males from injuring or killing the calf, and to let them know she could reproduce again. To no avail. Sadly, the mother was seen days later without her calf.

Flooding in Brazil's Santa Catarina state has left at least 28 dead and more than 18,000 homeless.

The rain-fueled flooding in southern Brazil affected 1.5 million residents and cut off four cities -- Rio dos Cedros, Pomerode, Itapoá and Benedito Novo -- from the rest of the nation, Agencia Brasil reported. CNN

Remember the amazing photos from earlier this year of indigenous peoples in Peru aiming their arrows and spears at a helicopter hovering overhead? Well, it appears these folks have been displaced from their home turf in Peru to Brazil by illegal logging operations. Read all about it here.


What, I can only lock this from the outside?: Scientists have observed behavior in ants in Brazil where a small group of ants sacrifice themselves each night for the good of the colony by covering the colony entrance from the outside, leaving them outside at night exposed to all sorts of natural forc
What, I can only lock this from the outside?: Scientists have observed behavior in ants in Brazil where a small group of ants sacrifice themselves each night for the good of the colony by covering the colony entrance from the outside, leaving them outside at night exposed to all sorts of natural forcCourtesy Fir0002
How do you secure your home at night? With a deadbolt lock? Switching on some high-tech electronic security system? A pit bulls (without lipstick)?

Whatever you do, it's probably not as problematic as what a few ants do each night in Brazil. Researchers have observed that one to eight ants from a colony each night sacrifice themselves for the well being of the colony. They stay above ground pushing sand over the entrance to the colony to protect their peers from predators during the night. Because they're left outside, they most often die in the night, either from freezing in chilly temperatures, getting blown away in high winds or being a midnight snack for a predator.

A typical ant colony in Brazil can number over 100,000, so the few ants lost each night for security is not a huge mathematical loss. How exactly the night workers are selected isn't known for sure, but researchers think they're probably older ants who are approaching the end of their natural life span.

Sociologists have found that Brazilians who watch soap operas, or novellas, have a significantly lower birth rate than those who do not, even after controlling for other factors. They theorize that the glamorous fictional characters in the shows have small families, and their fans, consciously or subconsciously, are following suit.

We don't have time machines that can turn back the clock, but earlier this month the organization Survival International made contact with an Amazon River tribe that appears to have had no contact with the modern world. Photos and a full report are available here, but the link may be slow to come up as the website is experiencing heavy traffic with this big announcement. Survival International officials actually flew over the tribe's village with a small aircraft and did not have face-to-face contact with the tribe. Here's another interesting photo of the find.


Battle in Brazil's rain forest

Amazon rainforest
Amazon rainforestCourtesy NASA
More than 2,000 protesters recently blocked roads and forced inspectors to flee Tailandia, a town in the state of Para, before their work was completed. The logging industry provides jobs for 2,000 to 3,000 people in that area but it is believed that more than 70% of wood felled in the area is of illegal origin. Tailandia, which has a population of around 67,000, was established 19 years ago and in that period it is believed that as much 60% of forest in the area has been destroyed. Some 140 officers raided eight illegal sawmills in the state of Para, confiscating 10,000 cubic metres (353,000 cubic feet) of lumber. Some 160 Brazilian troops have now been sent to join hundreds of police officers involved in efforts to tackle the illegal deforestation.

In the last five months of 2007, another 3,235 sq km (1,250 sq miles) of rain forest were lost.
The Amazon represents over half of the planet's remaining rain forests (Wikipedia). The Amazon rain forest has been considered the "lungs" of the Earth, breathing in carbon dioxide and breathing out oxygen.

Why is the rainforest being destroyed in Brazil?

Click on these links for a more detailed discussion about the major causes of deforestation listed below.

A more profitable use of rain forest land

The latest statistics show that rainforest land converted to cattle operations yields the land owner $60 per acre and if timber is harvested, the land is worth $400 per acre. However, if these renewable and sustainable resources are harvested, the land will yield the land owner $2,400 per acre.
Promoting the use of these sustainable and renewable sources could stop the destruction of the rainforests. By creating a new source of income harvesting the medicinal plants, fruits nuts, oil and other sustainable resources, the rainforests is be more valuable alive than cut and burned.

Click here for more information about Amazon rain forest destruction.

(If scientists don’t blow it up first.)

Farmers in Brazil have traditionally cut down large swaths of rain forest to plant cacao trees – the source of chocolate. But these high-yield plantations ravaged the rain forest, depleted the land, and suffered numerous outbreaks of disease. A new method of planting, called cabruca, plants cacao trees right inside the rain forest itself. Only a few rain forest tress are cut down – the forest itself remains intact. The forest nourishes the cacao trees and protects them from plantation diseases. And while the amount of chocolate grown in this manner is smaller than can be grown on a plantation, the farmers can make up the difference by charging a higher price for “environmentally friendly chocolate.”