One of the most neglected issues as far as news is concerned is the oil exploitation in the Amazon rainforest.
In 2007, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa at the U.N. General Assembly proposed to block oil drilling in Yasuni National Park, through ‘Yasuni-ITT Initiative’ which was officially launched in 2010.
Yasuni is not only known as one of the richest regions in biodiversity, but also for the 846 million barrels of crude oil it sits on top of.
Ecuador called on all rich countries to donate $3.6 billion to a trust fund launched to protect nearly 4,000 square miles of the Amazon jungle, which represents half of the planet’s remaining rainforests. But things didn’t work out well since only $13 million were collected over the course of three years.
Correa rightly announced on August 15 that the world had failed Ecuador.
More precisely, the world has failed the Amazon rainforest as well as its indigenous people.
Oil drilling is all set to start in the Yasuni National Park and the world should be worried.
The Amazon has already been cut down by almost 20 percent over the past 40 years. Multinational energy corporations from all over the world have also polluted it in the name of crude oil. Controversies involving companies like Chevron and Texaco reveal disturbing statistics of the irreparable damage done to the rainforest.
In March, Chinese oil companies including China Petrochemical and China National Offshore Oil planned to engaged in a bid to buy more than three million hectares of the Amazon much to the dismay of over 20 million people including indigenous tribes in the region, according to California-based NGO Amazon Watch.
The Ecuadorian government also backed the decision because as much as it appears to side with its people, it cannot do so because Ecuador relies on oil for one-third of its tax revenue.
Dozens of online petitions have been launched requesting support for saving the Amazon jungle from oil drilling companies. Organizations like AVAAZ, WWF and GREENPEACE have long been urging the world to save the environment through saving the Amazon but to no avail.
According to a report by WWF, oil and gas extraction can have the following adverse effects on the rainforest:
· Indigenous conflict
· Biodiversity loss
· Soil and aquatic pollution
· Air pollution
GREENPEACE stated in its petition that Amazon stores 80 to 120 billion tons of carbon, helping to stabilize the planet's climate. Destroying the jungle would mean gradually destroying the whole planet.
AVAAZ warned in January how wildlife and the pristine environment of the rainforest will suffer because of the oil exploitation projects.
“There's an indigenous community in Ecuador that lives in a part of the Amazon where there are jaguars and more animal life than the whole of North America! It's an incredibly pristine, remote area and the whole ecosystem has been preserved. But the government is threatening to go in and look for oil.”
People in Ecuador are protesting against Rafael Correa’s decision. But is it enough? The rest of the world that played a part in its depletion should also take responsibility, as they too failed to save the Yasuni Park from oil exploitation.
It is a global issue and we need to take collective action to save the Amazon rainforest.