The recent initiative launched by Ecuador’s newly elected President Rafael Correa is calling the international community to set a new precedent. Correa’s proposal is to ban oil exploitation in the Yasuní National Park. The Yasuní is located in the Amazon Basin and is one of the world’s hot spots of biodiversity. If explored and developed, it is expected to deliver more than 900 million barrels of oil. This endeavor would last 13 years and would represent a profit of 350 million dollar per year. Lourdes Tiban, Ecuador’s Representative to the United Nations said, “the government has decided to sell the oil, but to keep it in the ground.”  This proposal is inviting the international community to share the responsibility by offsetting the profits of the oil industry.

If Ecuador’s proposal is supported, this will be the first concrete example of how politics is finally catching up with science.  As more studies of the Amazon are conducted, scientists are predicting that if the oil exploitation and logging continues, the Amazon will turn into grassland. Thus, if Ecuador manages to “keep the oil in the ground” it would be a breakthrough. It will launch a new era where economic development can no longer be prioritized over the environmental consequences.

This video was taken while traveling on a boat in the Amazon River in Brazil. While on board, we expected to see an exuberant flora, however, what we found is what you see. The oil, timber, water exploitation are the driving forces that are transforming this landscape.

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