Oil spill in Peruvian Amazon wrecks food, drinking water for indigenous villages

Was shocked yesterday to read about the oil spill in the Amazon, not just becuase it happened, or because of the devastation, but that it did so without a whisper from the media.

Indeed, I hadn’t heard about it until I picked up a tweet when searching twitter for Amazon news.

It’s rediculous that this has gone unreported but hardly surprising. The media’s obsession with meaningless trivia ensures that important news rarely gets reported, sometimes with devastating effect. What I nwant to know is, when are we going to stop burying our heads in the sand and start giving a shit about things that matter?

As soon as I heard about the news, I spoke with a friend who lives in the Amazon, Alejandro Vargas. He was brought up on the banks of the Amazon, and makes his living there now as a nature guide.

He says that oil “was spread in the river,” but that the government are saying that ” is (under) control now…but I´ve got my doubts.” The impact on the local communities is real, “because some villages around, they don´t have fish in the river now, and they can´t drink the water, you know that us as a local people drink the water from the river.”Alex did go on to say that the oil company is reportedly helping the villages and people. That isn’t undoing the devatastion done so far, however.

It’s not the first time that our greed for oil has wreacked havoc on local people who are too poor to even dream of owning a car. There was one in Feb 2009, January 2002,

Normally, I don’t use this platform for ranting, but I can’t not shout about this issue. The Amazon is such an important place which made such a deep, impression on me. From Iquitos in Peru on the banks of Rio Maranon, to the great river and rainforest basin itself, to the villages along Rio Tapira, a tributary, the place and people moved me enough to rethink my own life, particularly how and what I consume, and what I do with the waste.

As adventurer,  Bruce Parry, says “With everything we do – we’re affecting, often negatively, other places in the world and often, a lot of people in the world are being affected by everything we touch, eat, drink. The Amazon is just the biggest example you can find to say, ‘Listen! When you buy hardwood, you are doing this. When you buy oil, you are doing this. When you buy gold, you are doing this’, and it’s good for us to see that.”

Travelling in the Amazon made me totally re-evaluate what I buy and how I live. When you thrive in the jungle without ‘luxuries’ like electricity, hot water, and air conditioning – and your worldy possessions for four months weigh no more than 27kg – you review your addiction to stuff.

The irony that I earn money from promoting stuff to people isn’t lost on me, but at least I love the brands I work with, and believe that they make many nice things. Of course, many people buy things to cure the feeling of emptiness inside, of course often it doesn’t. So surely each of us can rein it in a bit and do something more useful (for ourselves and each other) instead.

So, by way of a call to action, why not do something more useful?Here are some suggestions:

  • Watch Tribe and Amazon by Bruce Parry – be inspired by how Bruce is moved and transformed by the places and people he visits
  • Read the Last Viridian Note by Bruce Sterling and use it as a guide on what to buy (warning, it’s a bit of a thick, long read)
  • Visit the Amazon and stay at an eco-lodge – I guarantee it will change your life for the better

Rant over!

  1. Eric & Val said:

    Good rant – couldn’t agree more but, as for any press or other media being the slightest bit interested – no chucking fance! It was ever thus! Don’t give up though. Eric

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