Despite the efforts of millions of eco-activists, thoughtless consumerism continues to destroy rainforests.
Donnachadh McCarthy, The Independent
Last week, the US Trump administration agreed a deal with the Brazilian Bolsonaro regime to open up more of the Amazon for “development”. In typical Trumpian doublespeak, it claimed that aiding private sector commerce in the Amazon was the only way to protect the precious rainforest and its invaluable biodiversity.
Make no mistake, building roads through a rainforest is the equivalent of hammering a stake into its heart. Six weeks ago, when the images of the Amazon fires blazed across our screens, I woke up in the middle of the night and wrote this on Facebook: “I am crying hot wet tears as I write this but I feel the pain must be shared, in my/our/their desperation to be heard.”
All of my eco work over the last three decades originated when an accident while rehearsing with the Royal Opera Ballet, in 1992, led to a trip to the Amazon and time spent with the Yanomami people. It was there that I first witnessed the devastation we are wreaking on what remains of the natural world, seeing acre after acres of cleared forest. And it was there that I came face to face with the continuing genocide our European “civilisation” has waged on indigenous people since the 17th century.
Despite my short time with them, the tribe invited me to stay and live with them, and even made me an honorary member, even as they said they wanted no more outsiders to come to their lands. I politely turned down the offer and returned to London. Since that moment, I have dedicated my life to trying to help halt our ecocidal consumerist hamburger culture, which is driving the bulldozers levelling our precious remaining rainforests and devastating its indigenous peoples.
Despite the efforts of myself and millions of other eco-activists around the world, that lethal, thoughtless consumerism continues to destroy these forests and its guardian peoples. While reading the news at lunchtime, I saw the following headline in The Guardian: “Amazon gold miners invade indigenous village in Brazil after its leader is killed”
I knew it would upset me to read it, so I put the paper aside and did not return to it for some time. When I did eventually take a look at the report, I was devastated. I read how yet another indigenous Amazonian community was being invaded and threatened with massacre and how its leader’s body had been left bleeding to death face-down in a local river.
The article said that the same scenario is playing out all over the lands of my honorary tribe – the Yanomami. I could feel all my pent-up pain from the decades of knowing that the Yanomami were doomed to a probable genocide, from the first moment I shared my time with them, bursting out.
The inevitability of most of these people and their forests eventually being utterly destroyed by the time I die, without sufficient intervention, sunk in. I knew that without a mass global civil disobedience movement like Extinction Rebellion overthrowing our consumerist empires, there would be no stopping atrocities like these.
But there are some moves being made that, if adopted globally, could help more than we realise. On the same day as the US-Brazilian talks on the protection of the Amazon on 13 September, the Finnish government called for a boycott of Brazilian beef and soya imports to the EU.
I would extend that call to a boycott of all Brazilian products until such time as they halt the devastation in the Amazon.
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