Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Oil's insidious impact on Ecuador's culture and biodiversity
By Daniel Grossman
Quito, Ecuador--For anybody who needed convincing, the Deepwater Horizon accident has proven that tapping the Earth for oil can be hazardous for workers and the environment. But oil wells harm the people and wildlife around them even when no pipes break and no fluids leak.South American tapirs, such as this one, are among more than 47 species of animals for sale at the market in Pompeya, Ecuador.
Photo by Daniel Grossman
On a reporting trip last month to Ecuador, I got a glimpse of such insidious damage.
There, in the town of Pompeya, on the edge of Ecuador¹s Amazonian rainforest, I saw rare wildlife dead, and stone-age indigenous cultures shattered.
Few Ecuadorans know that far removed from population centers like Quito, oil drilling causes such impacts. But even if they knew, and even if they considered the price steep,
the South American nation would find changing course difficult. Ecuador¹s second largest export, oil, greases the country¹s financial gears; and by its nature oil extraction disrupts vast swaths of land, along with the people and creatures that live there.