Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Film Review: Patagonia Rising

Michele Wilson-Morris

Pantagonia Rising, from filmmaker Brian Lilla, is a documentary about dams and their effect on the earth. This particular story is set in Chile, near two of the world's purest rivers, the Baker and Pascua. Five hydroelectric dams are set to be built near the rivers, which would involve displacing the people who live around them, as their lands would be flooded and their ways of life would be forever changed. Some residents view the electricity that would be gained as progress, while others see it as a total annihilation of lifestyles that have existed for many generations.

At this very moment, dams are stopping rivers from reaching seas all over the world. The major rivers that are affected include the Nile, Murray-Darling, Colorado, Indus, Yellow, and Rhine rivers, which no longer reach oceans as they once did. Many animals and species are extinct because of the damage caused by the interruption of the natural life and water cycles because of dams. In fact, the last century has seen the building of almost 50,000 dams globally, which have had an adverse effect on the environment. One fifth of all fresh water fish are extinct or nearing extinction. Ecosystems are destroyed by dams even though there is irrefutable scientific evidence that dams are harmful. There are 40% less plankton in the oceans, and organisms of all types are perishing. So why do the people who make these choices continue to destroy the world in this way instead of finding alternatives like solar or wind energy? Good question.

The Baker and the Pascua rivers in Patagonia will soon have dams built around them in a part of the world that needs to be left alone because of their link to biodiversity in rainforests, estuaries, and marine ecosystems. Patagonia Rising, which is a compelling and intelligent film, lays out the details in a very interesting and passionate manner, with interviews from the residents of Chile. Viewers will gain an understanding of who is behind the decisions that are helping to destroy the only planet on which we can reside. While those who wish to build dams would point the finger at global warming for the disasters they cause, this documentary is clear about why we don't need to ignore the signs. Now is the time to modernize and improve our methods for energy production.

Thought provoking and insightful, Patagonia Rising will both educate and entertain. It is imperative that we take action to stop things that, once set into motion, cannot be reversed. Man must learn from the past and present. The question is, will we? And if we do, will it be in time to save the earth and ourselves as well? These are questions that have yet to be answered.

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