Dear Campus Journal,
Our first day in the Amazon of Ecuador, we traveled by bus from Lago Agrio on a “toxitour.” On this hike, we saw the unprotected pools of toxic sludge that the company [Petroamazonas] deposited 30 years ago and has yet to clean, and a pipe that releases gas into the air 24-7. We learned about the many negative impacts of these activities (not to mention rapid industrialization or the frequent oil spills in the area) on the health of the community and on the environment. What had this place looked like before industrialization, before oil companies entered?
I received an approximate answer the next day when we traveled to Tiputini Research Station in Parque Nacional Yasuní. This park has the highest diversity of trees, amphibians and bats in the world. Lush doesn’t even begin to describe it. It fairly exploded with green and the bright plumage of birds. I couldn’t sleep at night because the insects and frogs made such a ruckus. I was also kept up by the reality that in coming years, Yasuní could be transformed into an area more like Lago Agrio. There are plans to extend oil extraction in the area. As part of my internship, I’m part of the movement against extraction in Yasuní.
Acción Ecológica, the organization where I’m doing my internship, shares a building and works collaboratively with Yasunidos, a youth collective working to force a national vote on oil extraction in Yasuni. We simply cannot afford to destroy a place like Yasuní.