The Amazon vs. Goliath

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The values of modern society defend something that nature hasn’t reserved to any other living being: a life isolated from the food chain that supports it. It is one of the great ironies of our day. If some, maybe, are aware of how products reach our supermarkets or how fuel allows us to drive our cars through our cities, in truth, these are only fleeting thoughts in the back of our minds. As long as we can do all these things (and that over the years, we can do even more), little do we really care about the fundamental aspect of our existence on Earth, which is: that we live on it and depend on its wellbeing to survive.

One of the main sources of life on Earth is the rainforest. No matter where we live, we are all necessarily linked to this evergreen ecosystem found along the equator between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. It produces so much oxygen that many call it, without exaggeration, the ‘lungs of the Earth’. The Amazon, the largest watershed in the world, is perhaps the most important lung of all.

It is a strong lung. It has sustained life on this planet for a very long time, while embracing the most important diversity of living beings on Earth. And of course, as part of this conglomerate of species, is Man. Man has been present in Amazonia for at least 10,000 years, a presence that has found great balance – witness to this are the Ecuadorian Waorani – managing, like all other living things, to find a rightful place and help her remain healthy and beautiful. It certainly is a phenomenon of indescribable proportions that today, that same Man who enjoys her oxygen and who marvels at her wonders, is also her worst enemy; and that, of those 10,000 years, only in a handful has he is so successfully spearheaded her destruction.

Like an orchid that mimics a viper to fend of its enemies, the seemingly ‘impenetrable’ forest wall of the Amazon Basin hides behind it a fragile balance unfit to fight the war against greed.

If we were to compare our ambition for oil, for example, with cigarettes – the allegory is not that far-fetched as we pass by the incessant black smoke of the Napo River oil fields – our actions inside the Amazonian rainforest, like emphysema, will inevitably tarnish our planet’s air to the point of no return. Just like a cancer, he will advance blindly – like cells ignoring their true functions – destroying the very last patches of virgin nature until he had destroyed himself.

It is certainly easier to remain ignorant than to learn; signing contracts behind a desk is always easier than taking the time to make a difference and analyze a valid solution that will protect the Amazon Basin. Why empower people on the sustainable use of natural resources, create jobs connected with the Earth we live in, promote health, wellbeing, access to clean drinking water and food for everyone, if oil revenues will solve all the societal problems it has yet to solve, societal problems caused by their very own development bubble, just like magic?

When did we drop out of our planet? Apart from our dogs and our cats and our houseplants, we keep few links with the beings around us.

Meanwhile, in the Amazon, a tree, the largest and highest, depends on its smallest inhabitants to survive. And these, in turn, depend on that tree. When we consider the complex web of interrelationships that make up the Amazonian food chain, we can only look back at ourselves in awe. We do not care that our cities are covered in smog. We do not care that thousands of living representatives are annihilated as massive expanses of trees are cut down for, let’s say, a road: 150,000 square meters of tropical forests per year; which comes down to over 50,000 extinct species, the species required to ensure the balance, and existence, of our Amazon Basin.

The change in concept and outlook, one would think, should be to re-establish the connection lost long ago; raise the bridges of Man to our vital resources. So far no government has put nature above its destruction and nothing has been done to preserve the rainforest, our planet’s lungs.

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