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1. According to Brazilian usage, the designation Rio Amazonas
is applied to the main stem below the mouth of the Rio Negro;
upstream, as far as the border between Brazil and Peru, the river
is named Solimões; and, beyond that, Marañon. In this paper,
Amazon River or, simply, Amazon, is used to designate the
Maranon-Solimões-Amazonas continuum; and Amazonas River or
Amazonas, to specify the section below the embouchure of the
Negro. The name Amazonia (adj. Amazonian) is used variously: to
designate a "natural" region, closely identified with
the rain forest; as equivalent to the official "North
Region," a politicoadministrative division that comprises
the states of Rondônia, Acre, Amazonas, Roraima, Pará, Amapá,
and Tocantins; and, finally, to define an operational region,
"Amazonia Legal," which, in addition to these states,
includes Mato Grosso and part of Maranhão (Brasil, 1992).
2. Such an outflow is equivalent to more than four times the mean flow of the Congo, and to about ten times that of the Mississippi. It accounts for between 15 and 20 per cent of all fresh water passed into the world's oceans.
3. On the campo cerrado (cerrado, for short), as the savanna woodlands and associated grasslands of Brazil are called, see chapter 5 in Cole, 1986.
4. According to a recent computation that used data from 168 stations keyed to a 2° latitudelongitude grid (Nobre, 1992).
5. There are now attempts, using satellite images, to quantify the sediment concentration of waters by their reflectance (Mertes, Smith, and Adams, 1993).
6. Because the Amazon basin is asymmetric in relation to its axis, a smaller part of its catchment lies north of the equinoctial line; furthermore, much of this area is actually subject to an equatorial rather than a tropical rainfall regime. The annual rise and fall of the water in the lower Amazon is, thus, most clearly influenced by the markedly seasonal discharge of its far-flung southern tributaries.
7. Mertes (1993) calculates that, depending on the magnitude of the inundation, approximately 60 to 80 per cent of the main stem floodplain in Brazil is influenced directly by the overflow from the Solimões-Amazonas. According to her analysis, the area thus affected in the reach between Vargem Grande and Óbidos amounts, on average, to c. 40,000 Km².
8. Emílio Goeldi (after whom the famous Museu Paraense in Belém was later named), having travelled upriver in the early years of the century, is reported to have remarked on the dissemination of malaria by steamboats plying the waters from Belém to the upper Amazon. Although this region was a "paradise" for the vector, in the absence of the plasmo dium the disease is said to have been unknown, becoming endemic in the latter part of the nineteenth century (Lima, 1937).
9. For a pedological study of archaeological black earth in the region of Oriximiná, Pará see Kern, 1988.
10. See, for instance, Roosevelt, 1993.
11. Despite official protection by law, illegal capture of the manatee continues. See Sirenews, 1991a and 1991b.
12. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources lists Podocnemis expansa as in danger of extinction and Trichechus inunguis as vulnerable (IUCN, 1990). This means, according to IUCN categories, that, if the causal factors continue operating, the giant river turtle is unlikely to survive, while the manatee is likely to move into the endangered category in the near future.
13. Local subsidence may have played a role in producing exceptionally low-lying sections in the recently established Mamirauá ecological station, situated within more than one million hectares of continuous wetlands, whose forests have been described by Ayres (1993) in the first volume of a promised series of studies concerning the reserve.
14. A vast area targeted for special government incentives, located north of parallel 8°S and between the Amazon, Xingu, and Parnaíba rivers, covering part of the states of Pará Tocantins, and Maranhão.
15. See also the special issue of Pará Desenvolvimento (1987), devoted to the question of charcoal and iron smelting in Amazonia.
16. It has been said that the Cali cartel, dominant in the global cocaine trade since the demise of Pablo Escobar of the Medellín cartel, is preparing the transfer of some of its processing laboratories to Brazil (Adams, 1993).
17. A recent survey of Brazil's fluctuating population of garimpeiros put their number at some 300,000 (400,000, if the temporarily inactive are included). Those operating in Amazonia were estimated at 180,000 (Brasil, 1993c).
18. In mid-1994, while a number of dragas had been moved to other rivers and many had been abandoned as rusting scrap-iron on the banks of the Madeira, some garimpeiros attempted to dredge the rich, and virtually unworked, environmentally protected 5-km stretch in front of Porto Velho.
19. In only partial settlement of charges brought by Alaskan residents and fishermen, seeking billions of dollars in damages, the Exxon Corporation in July 1994 agreed to pay US$20 million to native villagers who claim that the spill ruined their hunting grounds. Subsequently, a Federal Court jury awarded a $5 billion punitive award to 34,000 fishermen and other Alaskans (New York Times, 1994).
20. A recent and succinct statement regarding the status of the project in Brazil: "no plans are under way, in conjunction with neighbouring countries, for the connection of hydrographic basins" (Brasil, 1993a). A symposium entitled "Linking the Great Rivers of South America," held on 12 March 1993 in Washington DC under the auspices of the Inter-American Development Bank, was, according to several participants, an exercise in futility.
21. See the special issue of Amazoniana (1993) devoted to Careiro Island.
22. Similarly, in some wetland areas of China, such as the delta of the Zhu Jiang, an artificial ecosystem of millenary tradition incorporates the water of the saturated land in a productive form of land use (Ruddle et al., 1983; Zhong Gongfu, 1989, 1990).
23. The "uncertainties" discussion group of a workshop dealing with scientific issues in risk assessment recently identified three general categories of uncertainty that affect all assessments. They are, with excerpted examples, as follows: ¹ measurement uncertainties, e.g. insufficient observations, difficulties in making physical measurements; ² conditions of observation, e.g. spatiotemporal variability in climate and ecosystem structure; ³ inadequacies of models, e.g. lack of, or insufficient, knowledge concerning underlying mechanisms. The consensus of the group was that the third category of uncertainties was often the most important (Kimerle and Smith, 1993).
24. See, for instance, Phillips and Gentry (1994), who suggest a possible link between increased turnover in tropical forests and CO2 buildup.
25. The slaughter took place on 14 August 1993, on Venezuelan soil, near the border. Figures for the number of Indians massacred range from 16 to 100 (RAN, 1993).
A combined operation of the Venezuelan National Guard and Air Force that surrounded 136 Brazilian garimpeiros in 1994, killing one and wounding several others, gave rise to a minor diplomatic crisis (O Clobo, 1994a). Meanwhile, the Colombian army deported 300 Brazilian gold miners (O Globo, 1994b) and, as a result of lengthy negotiations, Surinam is said to have repatriated another group of imprisoned garimpeiros.
26. In two very similar single-page statements, one focusing on Amazonia, the other on Central America, Uhl and Parker (1986a, 1986b) attempt to establish a ratio between tonnage of hamburger meat produced and area of rain forest converted to pasture. The underpinning calculations were admittedly crude: the authors recognize "that values might range from half to double those used in their papers." Subsequently, Goodland (1990) picked up the "hamburger connection" and, extrapolating from these calculations, concluded that "the Brazilian government could have acquired nearly two metric tons of foreign beef for the same amount of capital it spent subsidizing the production of 1 metric ton of Amazon beef." Without underwriting the assumptions and computations of these speculative papers, the essential point remains valid, namely that "the amount of rainforest for even a simple hamburger is not trivial" (Uhf and Parker, 1986b).
27. The ubiquitous intrusion of the political into the scientific sphere was recently illustrated, in connection with the carbon cycle, by a scientist at the Australian National University: "There is the political angle - you might want to discover a substantial CO2 sink in your region if this can be used to offset industrial emissions of CO2; on the other hand, this may bring with it restrictions on land use with concomitant economic penalties" (Taylor, 1993).
28. Repeated attempts to lay hands on Amazonia, made by Leopold II, King of the Belgians (best known for his appropriation of the Congo), have only recently come to light (Sternberg, 1988a).
29. Vice-President (at the time Senator) Al Gore (1992), criticizing the way "the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, regional development banks, and national lending authorities" determine the kinds of assistance given, wrote: the World Bank should halt the funds that subsidize the building of roads through the Amazon rain forest as long as there are no credible safeguards to stop what has been until now the primary use of such roads: providing direct access to the heart of the forest for chain saws and torches.
However, closer to home, one candidate for the 1994 presidential election in Brazil made the controversial highway link of Acre state to the Pacific Ocean a priority issue in his campaign (A Gazeta, 1994).
30. According to the latest published farm census (1985), holdings having more than 1,000 hectares constitute less than one per cent of the number of agricultural operations in Brazil, but occupy 43.73 per cent of the nation's farmland. By contrast, farms with less than 10 hectares represent 52.83 per cent of all agricultural units, but total only 2.66 per cent of Brazil's agrarian space (Brasil, 1990). Meanwhile, the increasing militancy of an impatient landless population ("invade, resist, and produce") is translated into a growing number of invasões (seizures of property) by the sem terra, making for potentially explosive situations (Jornal do Comércio 1994).
31. The matter was given a popular treatment by Rifkin (1992). Note, however, a recent poll by Louis Harris and Associates, Inc. (1993), who have been monitoring US health habits since 1983. The new survey points to a current relaxation in the avoidance of fat and cholesterol. As the pollsters conclude, "there is nothing inevitable about progress."
32. See, for instance, Gleick, 1993.
33. With water essential for the survival of human societies, the issue of its degradation could come to assume something of an emotional charge. Persons yielding to the foreboding of a quasi-apocalyptic thirst, and moved by an instinct of self-preservation, might generate apprehensions reminiscent of the unjustified oxygen "scare" of the 1970s. At that time, the misrepresentation in the media of a statement by a well-known scientist raised the spectre of a critical decrease in atmospheric oxygen, supposed to result from destruction of the "lung of the world" - an entirely inappropriate metaphor for the Amazon forest which still surfaces occasionally. The resulting outcry raised hackles in Brazil, because it implied that sovereign decisions concerning Amazonia should be constrained by the obligation to preserve an essential component of the earth's life-support system (Sternberg,1980, 1986a, 1987c).
34. Nevertheless, in April 1994, the Itamar Franco administration made the startling announcement that it was about to plunge headlong into a two-billion-dollar scheme to divert water from the São Francisco River to the Nordeste. Construction was to begin before the national elections in October, and the first phase of the project was to be inaugurated by year's end. Involving short-term, high-interest loans, the undertaking, for which detailed technical studies - if they exist - were not made public, came under fire from several quarters. Some of the criticism of the "pharaonic" enterprise (Folha de São Paulo, 1994a) even originated within the administration, coming, for instance, from the National Department of Waters and Electric Energy (Paula and Fechine, 1994), and the then Finance Minister Rubens Ricupero (Folha de São Paulo, 1994b). In mid-August, after much controversy and a considerable scaling down of the plan, imposed by financial realities, Franco interrupted the proceedings, just as the public bidding phase was about to begin (Freitas, 1994).
35. Ghillean Prance, director of the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew, aligns himself with this approach and, in fact, is actively working in Britain with the private sector to promote the manufacture of products based on the sustained harvest of non-wood forest resources (Prance, 1990). For several perspectives on alternatives to deforestation in Amazonia, see, for instance, Anderson, 1990.
36. On the growth of the Brazilian environmental movement, see, for example, Goldstein, 1990; and Kohlhepp, 1991.
37. Concerning this premise, see, in the context of the Yanomami, 1989-1990.
38. With Minister of Justice, Colonel Jarbas Passarinho, arguing that a 1984 study, the basis for delimitation of the Yanomami lands, was outdated, President Collor in 1991 ordered the longdelayed demarcation to be put on further hold, pending a census of the indigenous population of the area. In this respect, Jose Goldemberg, then Minister of Education, surmised that a reserve of 9.4 million hectares was excessive for the then surviving tribespeople (O Globe, 1991). Given the increased mortality and general deterioration that afflicts this tragically victimized group following contact with miners and other invaders of their territory, the ratio of Indians to land can be expected to decrease further, and faster. Nevertheless Collor, probably with an eye to the financial assistance he desired from industrialized countries, reversed his decision and granted the dwindling Yanomami population permanent rights to its tribal lands.
39. A succinct, decidedly upbeat, report on some "good things" in Amazonia is provided by Smith (1992).
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