Thursday, August 6, 2009

In Chile, 'fountain of life' is heart of energy debate

The IPS recently covered the debate in northern Chile about a geyser, described by indigenous communities as the 'fountain of life', to be the subject of intense debate. (Original article: Should they build a new geothermal project which would bring much-needed energy to the surrounding area or not? Many locals say no, as the project would eventually (they claim) damage the geysers.

Their dilemma is hardly a new one. Energy projects have threatened variations of local culture and enviornment since (at least) the first coal mines. Sometimes one has to wonder if sustainable development that protects indigenous communities and permits some degree of economic growth is possible. Of course, there is the other question - if a community decides they don't want a particular version of economic growth, they have the right to say no - that right, more than the economic growth, is the heart of development.

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