Mady’s Program in Ecuador

Here is a link to a blog started by Mady Murphy, a participant in our 2016 Sustaining the Amazon program.

In it she writes:

Recently, I returned home from a sustainability program in the Ecuadorian Amazon whose mission is to teach and inspire the next generation of environmental leaders. My trip was beautiful, engaging, and truly eye-opening to so many environmental issues. If you asked, I wouldn’t be able to identify just one thing that made my trip as amazing as it was. I could tell you about a cave hike, seeing toucans, macaws, and endangered monkeys, or a waterfall so beautiful it is called Cascada Magica (or Magic Waterfall). Every day, I learned something new about the rainforest and it’s multitude of inhabitants. I quickly learned the true beauty of the jungle; it’s ancient indigenous culture, it’s laundry list of medicinal plants, and it’s calm, pure energy. After only a few days, I had gained not only a huge amount of respect and appreciation for the Amazon, but even a spiritual connection with it.

Perhaps this is why my heart sinks every time I think about China cutting down hundreds of thousands of acres of the rainforest to drill for oil.

Ecuador has recently formed a deal with China, signing over drilling rights in the Amazon worth $80 million. The land borders Yasuni National Park, home to two indigenous tribes. The people have protested in countless fashions with no progress or recognition. Many wonder the legitimacy of the “National Park” label if the government is so ready to give the land away in exchange for money. Drilling would also mean that the indigenous groups will be exposed to growing infrastructure, animals will be forced out of their home, and pristine forest will come crashing to the ground.

On the other hand, is this just pure capitalism? Is China solely exercising it’s power considering Ecuador owes them millions of dollars? One could argue that Ecuador has to make deals like this in order to stay financially stable. But does that make it OK for Ecuador to open their National Parks for oil drilling (and destruction) in exchange for money?

Whichever way you look at it, the Amazon rainforest is being threatened. It can’t be sugarcoated. It’s sad to say the least, but there are things you can do to help.

It’s easy to sit at home, reading this blog post, thinking how tragic this situation is. It’s not as easy to put your thoughts to actions. I offer a friendly challenge to you to make (a) change(s) in your lifestyle that will impact the environment in a positive way. It could be anything from taking shorter showers, to using a reusable water bottle, to starting a community gardening project. It’s your call.

I encourage anyone to do more research into these problems; obviously I am not all-knowing, I’m only human. However, I do hope that this blog post has at least inspired you to think critically about the environment and it’s needs, and please explore and enjoy my blog!