The Brazilian government has finally done it. Like a sadistic child with a stick beating a dog to death, it has authorized the Bel Monte dam. We are talking here of a region that functions as the lungs of the planet, the vast Amazonian wilderness. 400 000 hectares will be flooded and in the region of 40 000 people displaced from rich, important land whose biodiversity is twice that of the entire land mass of Europe. It will be the end of the Amazonian basin as we know it. The Brazilian government will authorize, in total, some 60 dams across the Amazon to supply the country with energy.

Energy for what, you might ask? What do we need all this energy for?

I wish the human race could summon a bit of moral energy, a bit of intellectual energy, and stop being ruled by the lowest, cheapest, meanest forces.

An idea like Bel Monte, the enormity of a decision that will kill and harm so many people, is akin to a war crime. It reaches the very depths of depravity, to the level of slavery, human trafficking and ethnic cleansing. I know of course that I will receive enraged comments about this – but in the end, the total number of dead will extend right across the world, people will suffer and die, everywhere, for years and years because the Brazilian government has judged this project to be “in the national interest”. A somewhat narrow definition is being applied, no doubt.

I have written before about the dysfunctional banking and free trade system that is slowly tipping the human race into absurdity. Decisions are based on financial criteria that are invalid. Economic science has failed because it does not recognize true value systems. It is intellectually fraudulent.

Ruut Veenhoven of the Erasmus University in Rotterdam has published her findings on happiness in the so-called “World Database of Happiness” and her findings are startling. For instance, she suggests that “…the appraisal that one’s life is ‘exciting’ does not necessarily mark oneself as happy [either]; life may be too exciting to be enjoyable. A Chinese curse says: “May you have interesting times”.”

The simple fact is that the human race is enjoying a bit too much of the interesting life. Is it interesting watching the ending of things? Yes, very. Also very disconcerting. Who will be able to sleep while all these crimes are taking place?

If America really is a nation of destiny, a nation that will exert moral force in the world, it must stop its fixation with armed conflict and concentrate on supporting environmentalism. Ultimately, while spending close to a trillion dollars per year on armaments, the country is bankrupting itself (just as the old USSR did) and preventing serious engagement with more important ideas.

The developing countries – China, Brazil, Indonesia, India – are captivated by their growing power. They need to be challenged and opposed in their thoughtless expansion.

The world needs its forests to breathe. It is time for enlightened nations to start fighting for the happy survival of all its peoples, not just political supremacy. The people – that is, you, me, and all of our friends – have to start telling our politicians how tired we are of their rhetoric. Electoral boycott would be a very good start.

Let’s get real. Put down your spoon. Don’t finish your dinner. Do something.


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HENNING KOCH (b. 1962) moved to England at an early age and grew up there. After finishing college, he spent half a decade backpacking and occasionally working as a language teacher. He has a long history of involvement in low-budget movie projects as a screenwriter and continues to write screenplays. In 2005 he moved to Sardinia and, since 2010, has been spending increasing amounts of time in Berlin. He is the author of Love Doesn’t Work (Dzanc, 2011), a short story collection. His novel The Maggot People will be published in 2012, also by Dzanc Books: http://www.dzancbooks.org/love-doesnt-work/

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