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About a year or so ago, I came across a New Scientist article that left me feeling rather incensed at the lackadaisical and somewhat slanderous title it promoted to their readers. In fact, when I had gone through some figures in my head – which I will do once again in a moment for you all – it made consider how wrong this article was… And how steeped in delusional values we had all become. I mean, surely everyone could see what a bargain the people of the world were getting here… ? Could they not!? A ‘bargain’ that would allow us all to protect such a priceless wonder of diversity in action, a natural flourishing ecosystem still – on the whole – intact, such as the Yasuni National Park rainforest, for. While I again hate to use the term ‘bargain’ in the context of this blog, I feel it readily addresses the present mindset that many of us here in the West have adopted… A mindset that has become so far removed from the way we used to live… A mindset that is beginning to take for granted the ease at which we can go down to the shops to get what we need to eat, live and (although our luxurious mode of living probably begets the use of another more appropriate word) ‘survive…’ A mindset that is steeped more in corporate sensibilities than the careful consideration of how an ecosystem operates within parameters of sustainability.

I will reproduce it here as it is only a short article, one from which I would like to pick out some important points from so to bring this whole escapade into focus… Might I also observe there is no mention of who the author was either!?

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Pay Us Oil Money, Or The Rainforest Gets It

03 November 2009

ECUADOR’s unprecedented offer to accept payment for not extracting oil from beneath the Amazon rainforest is beginning to draw interest. The move could usher in a new way to both combat climate change and prevent damage to ecologically diverse and sensitive regions.

More than two years ago, Ecuador said it would abandon plans for drilling in Yasuni National Park, one of the few pristine regions of Amazon rainforest remaining, if it was paid half of the $7 billion that it expected to earn from tapping the oilfield. “This was a major turning point in the ‘drill, drill, drill’ mentality,” says Matt Finer, an ecologist with Save America’s Forests, an environmental group based in Washington DC, which released its analysis of the initiative this week (Biotropica, DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7429.2009.00587.x).

No country has taken up Ecuador’s offer so far, but Finer says there has been “increasing chatter” that Germany will pay about 20 per cent of the total.

Later this month, the UN Development Programme is expected to announce plans to hold contributions in a trust fund, passing along only the fund’s interest to Ecuador. The idea is that this will give future Ecuadoran governments an incentive not to start drilling for oil, while also encouraging other nations to pay up.

Author unknown!?

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Right… Here comes the part where I do my best to put the facts into focus from a greater perspective that we should all consider here on Earth. As the New Scientist article states, Ecuador needs – or perhaps I should really use the words “would like” – to raise half of the $7 billion that it expected to earn from tapping the oilfield underneath the Yasuni National Park… Which would be about $3.5 billion that they would like to raise.

And that’s when it happened… There I was thinking… “Wow! That’s a lot of money!” But, having recently read something about the Optimum Population Trust, I then remembered how many people presently reside here on the planet Earth… Which is about 6 billion people to date. So then I go all simple minded like… And I think to myself… “So If every person gave roughly $0.60 to the project, it could raise $3.6 billion. Nice! Oh… But hang on one moment… Not everyone is that rich. I remember when I was in the The Gambia back in 1992, people we’re getting paid the equivalent of about $4 a week with the ‘then’ exchange rates.” I know this because I bought two packets of Marlboro cigarettes for a local fellow there in 1992, mainly as a way of thanking him for his kind hospitality while I was on holiday there… And, when he saw the red and white packets I was handing to him, he literally said that it was too big a gift for what he had done, and that he could not accept them.

This literally left me stumped… And, after doing my best to give him the cigarettes, I proclaimed that “It’s really nothing! Seriously, these are for you! Together they only come to $3…” And that’s when the penny dropped… That’s when I realised that I had naively put my foot into the quagmire of inequality that exists all around the world… And traipsed about this fellow’s good will and hospitality until I had unwittingly made it painfully and obscenely obvious that, not only is there inequality in the world, but those who are better off than the rest are shamefully unaware of how fortunate they really are in the greater scheme of things… And what a trip that was. Thankfully my guest was too kind a gentleman to think ill of my naivety and he openly told me about how much he got paid for, literally, picking “peanuts.” And no pun intended there.

Anyway… I sidetrack the point. So there I am… Having realised that, if everyone the world over would give $0.50, the inequality that exists between the world’s varying economies/countries would mean that some people would have to give much more than others… And it would seem that the poorer people of the world would be worse off. So I figured, “Okay. Let’s focus on one rich, big country… A country that is well off enough so that it wouldn’t be such a problem if every person gave a donation to the Yasuní Rainforest Campaign.” And I came up with the USA… Mainly as they were the richest country on the American continent.

Right… So… Without getting to involved in statistical analysis i.e. looking at the median income per household in the USA (which is the amount which divides the income distribution into two equal groups, half having income above that amount, and half having income below that amount), I wanted to discover the per capita income of the USA… Which was about $47,000 per annum, per person in 2010.

Then I wanted to know what the population of the USA was in 2010… Which was about 309 million (or 309,000,000) people. Thus, a total of $14,523 trillion was made by the USA populous in 2010, before tax… Which is quite a staggering figure when one thinks about it. [As a quick comparison, in 2009 The Gambia's GDP was apparently $789 million, which was only 0.005% of the USA's GDP... Talk about imbalanced!?]

Okay… Let’s go back to what the Ecuadorian Government hope to raise… Which is $3.5 billion. So… If we divide the number of people in the USA i.e. 309 million into the $3.5 billion requested by the Ecuadorian Government, we get the number of dollars each person in the USA would have to give to raise the money needed to save the Yasuní National Park Rainforest Reserve… Which is roughly… Wait for it… $12 per person… Well, let’s look at it slightly more correctly… It’s $12 per each $47,000 earned in the USA!!! So if for every $47,000 earned in the USA $12 was given to the Yasuní Rainforest Campaign… If every person in the USA gave $12 to the Yasuní Rainforest Campaign… Then the people of the USA could prevent the disastrous consequences for drilling for oil in the Yasuní Rainforest Reserve. Talk about a bargain!!!

I mean… $12 is 0.026% of $47,000. And they’d only have to donate the $12 once to easily raise the $3.5 billion! Which really is peanuts…

But let’s not forget the rainforest itself… And how valuable that is in it’s own right… I mean… Can one ever put a value on something so complex and irreplaceable? If it was to be destroyed… How long do you think it would take to get back into something sembling its present state? Even… Does our need for “oil” take precedence over the “real-estate” inhabited by other sentient beings… Much like our desire for the meat on our plates? Do we i.e. mankind, always fail to consider the delicate rarity of natural ecosystems here on Earth? Do we always expect everything to dance to our tune for our own entertainment? Personally… I’d give the Yasuní-ITT initiative $12 from my salary – and do so each year – to protect the Yasuní rainforest from the fallout of oil exploration and drilling. Wouldn’t we all be better of giving 0.026% of our income each year to help preserve the rainforests of the world?

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To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one’s own in the midst of abundance.

Gautama Buddha

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After all… The world is our home. The Earth is our home! And despite the imagined boarders of mind that we divide the globe up into… We can never deny how interconnected we all are to one another. The ‘self’ that we all cling to so ardently is nothing more than another example of our fractured way of thinking about things… A way that allows us to deny any responsibility for our present course of action and ethics. So would the author of that New Scientist article please stand up and answer for the memetic distortion inoculated onto the populous’ minds, and correct the context in which this idea is presented i.e. that we are living on planet with limited resources… A planet that has a bounty of priceless gems where life – a rarity of wonder in the vast universe – abounds in an interconnected and interdependent web of vibrant interaction? That we have a chance to halt something destructive… Even if only for a short time i.e. 100 years maybe… ???

And even if it is only for a short time that this deforestation is halted… Isn’t it worth it… So as to provide those in the future with a chance to glimpse at what our generations of people have chosen to do? Perhaps they might find themselves in a time when they’ll be able to more clearly distinguish between what we really need to live… And what is only a luxury i.e. like oil… And so make a better decision about the whole ecosystem of Earth’s life… Well… Only time will tell.

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All things appear and disappear because of the concurrence of causes and conditions. Nothing ever exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to everything else.

Gautama Buddha

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I will leave it on that note… And present you with a BBC New reel that explains the situation to date in Ecuador concerning the Yasuní Rainforest Campaign.

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Ecuador’s Oil Gamble

News on global issues. Linda Pressly reports on a deal offered by Ecuador over an oilfield under a rainforest. Ecuador is asking for billions to stop the field being developed.

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To find out more about Save America’s Forests, please visit their website by clicking here.

To read more on the Yasuní Rainforest Campaign, please click here.

Or to find out where I sourced the New Scientist article from, please click here.

Plus, to find out more about a forthcoming movie that aims to bring this new way of thinking about the world’s forests vs. our ‘need’ for oil into the “lime-light”, please visit the “Yasuni – Two Seconds Of Life” website here.

And to see where I sourced the BBC News reel from, please visit the BBC iPlayer by clicking here.

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