Brian O’Leary, Ph.D.
Author and former astronaut on “Yasuní – two seconds of life”:
“Yasuni Two Seconds of Life is a wonderful film. Not only does it artistically capture the sounds and sights of contemporary Ecuador, its incredibly biodiverse Amazon jungle and its voluntarily isolated indigenous peoples, it conveys an urgent message that we don’t have much time to reverse the threat of oil drilling and related deforestation that would inevitably destroy one of the most pristine, beautiful and sensitive environments on Earth. The current BP oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico reminds us of the terrible calamity of the toxic pollution left behind by Chevron-Texaco in the Ecuadorian Amazon over two decades ago, still under lawsuit for $27 billion to recover damages for the death and devastation that still hasn’t been cleaned up. The Yasuni Initiative proposed by the Ecuadorian government would provide for keeping the oil in the ground in one particularly sensitive oil block deep within this national park, if the international community were to match funds in terms of potential lost revenues–a sacrifice of several billion dollars. But what about the rest of the Western Amazon? To preserve the entire region will take an enormous effort which only the truly motivated and forward-thinking people can solve.
But there are many more leased and about-to-be leased oil blocks in the Western Amazon which threaten the entire region, and reversing this threat is essential to preserve this most precious of rainforest environments on Earth.
I believe the Amazon can be saved in part by converting our energy systems to clean breakthrough technologies that have been suppressed by vested interests. But the government is in the difficult position of wanting to collect royalties from oil companies (now one third of the government’s total income) versus leaving the jungle and its indigenous peoples alone, and they might not be aware that there are strong solutions that lie outside the box of ordinary thinking while providing the country with economic sovereignty as well as environmental sustainability in the long run. The government could host innovation sanctuaries to protect the development of these new technologies. New energy systems, medicinal herbs, and sustainable agriculture are examples of what we can do (see attached document The Ecuador Initiative and my recently published essay The Turquoise Revolution). Are we up to the task?
May this remarkable film, a real-life Avatar warning us about a devastating future if we continue the deforestation, exploitation and pollution associated with oil drilling in the Amazon, be watched widely throughout the world as a template for urgent action.”
Brian O’Leary, Ph.D.
Author and former astronaut
Director, Ecuador affairs,
Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Organization,
affiliated with the United Nations
See more of Brian O’Leary’s work.