Full disclosure: I'm not a fan of James Cameron's films, nor am I a fan of his outsized ego. That being said, I do have a lot more respect for him now:
In the 15 years since he wrote the script for “Avatar,” his epic tale of greed versus nature, Mr. Cameron said, he had become an avid environmentalist. But he said that until his trip to the Brazilian Amazon last month, his advocacy was mostly limited to the environmentally responsible way he tried to live his life: solar and wind energy power his Santa Barbara home, he said, and he and his wife drive hybrid vehicles and do their own organic gardening.
“Avatar” — and its nearly $2.7 billion in global tickets sales — has changed all that, flooding Mr. Cameron with kudos for helping to “emotionalize” environmental issues and pleas to get more involved.
Now, Mr. Cameron said, he has been spurred to action, to speak out against the looming environmental destruction endangering indigenous groups around the world — a cause that is fueling his inner rage and inspiring his work on an “Avatar” sequel.
“Any direct experience that I have with indigenous peoples and their plights may feed into the nature of the story I choose to tell,” he said. “In fact, it almost certainly will.” Referring to his Amazon trip, he added, “It just makes me madder.”
And he is doing this for precisely the right reasons:
The focus is the huge Belo Monte dam planned by the Brazilian government. It would be the third largest in the world, and environmentalists say it would flood hundreds of square miles of the Amazon and dry up a 60-mile stretch of the Xingu River, devastating the indigenous communities that live along it. For years the project was on the shelf, but the government now plans to hold an April 20 auction to award contracts for its construction.
Stopping the dam has become a fresh personal crusade for the director, who came here as indigenous leaders from 13 tribes held a special council to discuss their last-ditch options. It was Mr. Cameron’s first visit to the Amazon, he said, even though he based the fictional planet in “Avatar” on Amazon rain forests. Still, he found the real-life similarities to the themes in his movie undeniable.
The dam is a “quintessential example of the type of thing we are showing in ‘Avatar’ — the collision of a technological civilization’s vision for progress at the expense of the natural world and the cultures of the indigenous people that live there,” he said.
I have written about this before, but Brazil maintains a dangerous reliance on hydroelectric power. Aside from the harm cited in the article, it has made the nation vulnerable to blackouts, especially when droughts occur. Lula has a bad environmental record and I applaud Cameron for using his fame to do something about Belo Monte.