4 ideas that I didn’t know about the Amazon.
I had the pleasure to join an event with Amazon Watch, Pachamama Alliance and people that are helping to protect the Amazon. Data and insights were as rich as Amazon’s biodiversity, which inspired me to share this ideas I didn’t know.
1. There’s a river larger than the Amazon river.
Amazon river runs from the Andes to the Atlantic, crossing the whole Latin America in a 3,977 mi journey (6,400 km), passing through 9 different countries, moving an average discharge of 209k cubic metres per second. It is greater in volume of water than the next 7 largest rivers combined, and represents 20% of the global riverine discharge to the ocean.
However, there’s another larger river, one not so well known but also important. It’s called “Flying River”, a movement of all water vapor transported from the Amazon Basin and responsible to pour 15k cubic km per year of rain, only in Brazil. As a comparison, the Amazon river deposits 17bi tons of water in the ocean per day. The Flying River deposits 20bi tons of water in the atmosphere per day.
2. Amazon isn’t the lungs of the world.
It’s easy to understand why this idea became such a fundamental truth: the Amazon generates 20% of the oxygen in the world. However, this analogy with the human body would be better if we say that the Amazon is the “heart” of the world.
A heart pumps the blood through our circulatory system the same way that the Amazon pumps water from the Amazon Basin, which has 20% of the world’s fresh water. One large tree, in one day, puts 1,000 L of water in the atmosphere with its transpiration, if multiplied by 600bi trees in the Amazon, we would require 50,000 Itaipu’s (the largest hydroelectric in the world).
“and the Amazon is doing all of this for free”.
-Antonio Donato Nobre on TED Talk.
3. Indigenous are more eloquent than you think.
I personally had the opportunity to meet Patricia Gualinga, a Kichwa leader from the Ecuadorian Amazon that had helped led her people to a victory in the inter-america court of human rights, and has stopped oil drilling after their indigenous territory being unfairly granted to oil companies.
Even after this victory, Ecuador’s political leaders kept supporting oil companies, so Patricia led a group of women to march 300km, from the Amazon to the capital, and keep protesting. She is an amazing leader that speaks with such a clarity, articulation and passion. I highly recommend you to google her name.
Another great example is Davi Kopenawa, a shaman from the Yanomami tribe, in Brazil. Similar with the Kichwa, the Yanomamis have been fighting gold miners for decades, and their effort led to recognitions from the UN and the Brazilian government of Yanomami land rights. Recently, he became a influential voice on climate change and has written a book called “The Falling Sky”. In Donato’s TED talk, he tells about a conversation with Kopenawa:
[Kopenawa] “Doesn’t the white man know that, if he destroys the forest, there will be no more rain? And that, if there’s no more rain, there’ll be nothing to drink or eat?”
[Donato] I’ve been 20 years studying this, actually thousands of scientist, how could they know that with deforestation rain would end… so I asked: how did you know that if the forest was destroyed, there’d be no more rain.
[Kopenawa] “The spirit of the forest told us”.
4. Development should be seen as opportunity.
Every large industrial development has failed in the Amazon. Since the rubber cycle in the 1890’s, through the gold mining and agriculture. What was suppose to be a “progress” left deforestation, diseases and anger. One of the main reasons is that we are still ignorants about the Amazon, even though without it the human life on earth could not survive.
Development should be seen as an opportunity because the other way around isn’t an option. We can’t protect from “white-man” an area larger than Europe. We need to learn from our mistakes and try to understand how we can all live together sustainably. As Zé Ferreira, Agroforest pioneer, says:
“Where there is a human being, the greater the biodiversity”