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Human Impacts On The Amazon River Environmental Sciences Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 1132 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The Amazon River is one of the largest rivers in the world. It is the chief river in South America. It is the second longest river in the world after the Nile River in Africa. Its flow is the world’s largest. The Amazon River has a total river flow higher than the next ten biggest rivers combined. It is also one of the deepest rivers. The Amazon River is the main artery of the whole Amazon rainforest system.

The Amazon River is located in South America. Beginning in the high Andes Mountains in Peru, it flows to the Atlantic Ocean through Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Guiana, Suriname and Brazil. The river systems in these eight countries are called the Upper Amazon. The Amazon River flows mostly in Peru and Brazil. (Amazon River 2007)

According to researches, the Amazon River is 6,280 km long. It is the second longest river in the world (Andrew, M. 2000). However, there are some scientists that claim the Amazon River is longer than the Nile River. The Amazon River is 6,800 km long while the Nile is 6,695 km long (Duffy, G. 2007). So this issue is still debated.

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The Amazon Basin is the largest drainage basin in the world. It covers about 40 percent of South America. In an average dry season, 110,000 square kilometres of land are water-covered. In the wet season, the area of the Amazon Basin flooded increases to 350,000 square kilometres. Seasonal flooding is characteristic of many tropical rivers. The lowest flood stage usually occurs from August to September. The highest stage usually occurs from April to May. Tributaries of the Guyana Shield flood in June and the tributaries of the Brazilian Shield flood from March to April. In the rainy season, the volume of water flow to the Atlantic Ocean is over 300,000 cubic meters per second. The Amazon River is responsible for about 20% of the total volume of freshwater entering the ocean. (Amazon River 2007)


Despite the indigenous people had been living near the Amazon River valley for about 10,000 years to 15,000 years, the Amazon River was discovered by Franisco de Orellana, who was a Spanish explorer in 1541. In February of 1541, he left Quito, Ecuador in the role of lieutenant to the company of Gonçalo Pizarro. Then Orellana went to the Ecuador and the Atlantic, he claimed to have seen women tribal warriors. He named the river Amazonas after the women warriors of Greek mythology. (Amazon River 2007)

Impact of Human Use

The Amazon River is a good place to explore and tour. More than one-third of all species in the world live in the Amazon Rainforest. Moreover, the Amazon River has over 3,000 recognized species of fish and that number is still growing. However, fishing has reduced the number of fish in this river.

There are three main environmental problems: anthropogenic pressures, owing to the uncontrolled expansion of human activities which contribute to the destruction of fragile ecosystems; deforestation and clearing of plant cover causing soil loss and erosion, reduced biodiversity, and sedimentation in the rivers; changes in the hydrologic cycle associated with changes in the global climate and exacerbated by the alteration of the Amazonian forests due to the fires and the droughts. Thus, the result is water pollution and quality degradation. (Amazon River Basin 2005)

People cause the most pollution in the Amazon River. They account for most of the pollution via industrial means. The expansion of industrial in the Amazon River has caused destruction of the plants, animals, and environment. It also causes water pollution by leaking hazardous materials into the rivers, tributaries and underwater. There are some pollution which was caused by people such as gold mining and mercury trading. Gold-mining has caused mercury and also influences the health of local human and animal.

The Amazon River is a largest and deepest river in the world. Thus, it is very easy for boating and shipping. So trading between countries will be easier. The Amazon River also used for drinking and bathing. Bathing increases the pollution of this river. Then people use water for drinking. So it may make some diseases for people.


As mentioned, The Amazon River is located in Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Guiana, Suriname and Brazil. These nations are developing nations that are unable to measure pollutants. The Amazon River may not have pollution or may have pollution in low level. So it was very difficult for people who want to measure the pollutant level in this vast river.

Causes of pollution in the Amazon River are industrial factories and human. These industrial factories have eliminated waste substances to the river. People have dropped litter and used this river for bathing.

Impact of a Proposed or Completed Project

As mentioned, the Amazon River is the largest river in the world and it is located in developing nations. Thus, no bridge crosses this river and no dam has built. So it is very inconvenient for moving from this bank to another bank.

Brazil was proposed Belo Monte Dam and some upstream counterpart, the Altamira Dam are at the center of controversies on the decision-making process for major infrastructure projects in Amazonia. The Belo Monte Dam by itself would have a small reservoir area which is 440 km2 and large installed capacity which is 11,181.3 MW, but the Altamira Dam that would regulate the flow of the Xingu River, which is a tributary of the Amazon River, would flood a vast area which is 6140 km2. The great impact of dams provides a powerful reason for Brazil to reassess its current policies that allocate large amounts of energy in the country’s national grid to subsidized aluminum smelting for export. The case of Belo Monte and the five additional dams planned upstream indicate the need for Brazil to reform its environmental assessment and licensing system to include the impacts of multiple interdependent projects. So this project was carried out to provide energy to subsidized aluminum smelting for export.


The Amazon River is a wonder of the world. It is not only the largest river; it is also the deepest river in the world. Furthermore, it is one of the longest rivers. There are over 3.000 species of fish in this river. Furthermore, it has a lot of effects on human activities such as boating, shipping, fishing, tourism, drinking and bathing. Also, there are a lot of reasons why the Amazon River is polluted such as rubbish, mercury and industrialization. So limiting pollutants, reducing deforestation, reducing rubbish and raising people’ knowledge is very necessary to protect the Amazon River from pollution.


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