The Amazon rainforest has been burning for weeks, and it’s now spreading like wildfire on social media. What’s happening to one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, its people, flora and wildlife, and the lungs of our planet is absolutely devastating - there’s zero doubt about that.
“Why did the media not speak about it sooner?” many folks are asking…forgive my bluntness, but rarely has traditional media been interested in a story until it burns in its own backyard, until its executives have been given the green light by its corporate-minded funders, and/or until enough people start to speak about it out loud. The latter, as I see it, is the perhaps the greatest difference between now - and a mere few years ago.
In 2012, I had the incredible privilege and honour of entering the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador, where I traveled to listen, learn and witness the suffering, struggle and the globally relevant plight of the Waorani community. Tormented, intimidated and threatened by those fuelled by greed, the money-obsessed and often corrupt politicians and the proponents and partners of oil and other resource extraction companies, this indigenous community never gave up its tenacious battle and commitment to its role as the defenders and protectors of a region that is critical to our human and environmental survival. The Waorani community was also in the midst of one of the world’s most high-profile environmental cases against US-oil giant Chevron Corp. that had been raging, though hidden from the public eye, for nearly a decade by the time I arrived. Did the media want to talk about it? No, not interested.
This majestic, mysterious and beautiful land pulsing with life, animal and plant species that had yet to be fully understood (and still isn’t) by modern-day scientists was being devastated and poisoned recklessly. And the people, who understood it best, with ancient knowledge and wisdom passed down over centuries who heeded the cries and warnings with a chilling urgency - were repeatedly silenced, threatened and ignored.
I returned to Canada with the community’s powerful and desperate appeal to not only raise awareness of the irreversible damage that would occur if the cultural and environmental devastation continued, but the annihilation that was already taking place.
No one cared to listen. “Love the piece…interesting story. [But]…there isn't an appetite for this type of stuff” wrote a producer from the national desk at the newsroom that I once worked for.
It took more than a decade for the struggle of the Waorani people to reach the global dialogue, and later to gain the attention of public figures who would utilize their fame to push it further. As an observer and an individual highly concerned with the state of humanity and our planet, I am of course grateful that this did happen - eventually. But I am beyond angry and constantly haunted (and have been for many years) by the ignorance and stupidity of governments and global leaders who ignored a burning issue - when it was exploding!
Not only in Ecuador, but also in Guatemala, Honduras and Canada - to name a few.
Fast forward to today…
What the hell is this world waiting for?!
Will it take mandatory store-bought oxygen bottles and tree museums before we realize that our world in serious trouble? The extinction of the environmentally wisest human societies to realize that they do in fact hold the ultimate key to all natural survival? Will the screen of a tablet become the only glimpse of the world as it burns and melts around us with increasing rapidity?
It's time to wake up!!! Because at this rate, there may not be a tomorrow.
There is no time to sit, ponder and debate issues that are beyond obvious now to stall action that is urgently needed by appeasing the ridiculous excuses of policy makers, wealthy corporations, and bureaucratic procedures. I, like millions of people around the world, am watching our burning planet in great horror.
There’s no time to debate what is simply not right - and never was!
- Maggie -