0 In Opinion

The Greed That Burst Dams

Recently, I’ve been getting more and more uncomfortable with the situation our planet has been facing. You may have seen some news like, oil spills, water contamination, bushfires…they seemed to be increasing at a startling rate, happening more often or more powerfully. But I let that thought go away (for my own peace of mind. As you know, out of sight, out of mind, right?)

Well, not really. Just in the past few weeks, two very important and devastating events didn’t break the news. They have been happening and ‘interestingly’ enough, only few media outlets have been disclosing its development or are just simply not giving enough attention.

Let me give you a quick brief on why I have been so concerned. First, the Indonesian Fires. Indonesia allows farmers to burn small parts of land as a way of cleaning the soil. And due to the highly flammable property of the soil being burnt and the action of this year’s El Niño caused a dangerous mix to form, keeping the spread of the fire in strong current since July (just to put in perspective, the fires in Indonesia already emitted more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than the entire US economy). Organisations such as WWF Indonesia had already alerted authorities about the risky business, but no actions were taken. Neither have the companies cared to find more sustainable ways of clearing the soil which is usually used for palm oil plantations (which in any case is already destroying the native flora but also the fauna and specially the almost extinct orang-utan). In any case, nothing was done.

It was a catastrophe waiting to happen.

Note: the Palm Oil industry is one of the biggest contributors to the devastation of flora and fauna in Indonesia and Malaysia. Palm oil is used in as much as 50% of all groceries and food products available in a supermarket. Therefore, when your purchase a product that contains palm oil, you are fuelling an industry that has been responsible for destroying a delicate eco-system, affecting the life of millions of people and the animals and wildlife that inhabit the region. Be conscious about the products that you purchase and inform yourself on how you can help to stop this industry.


Indonesia fires seen from the space (image from Nasa)

And then, there was Brazil. A dam holding the rejects of mines situated in a small town in Minas Gerais, burst last week (5th Nov) releasing a toxic mud through many cities, leaving thousands without home, killing at least 10 people with several others injured and some still missing. And although the death toll is being considered ‘low’, the devastation this incident is causing is immeasurable. Water shortages are already affecting the region leaving residents completely desperate as to where they can seek help from. The river affected by the mud laced with chemicals (ranging from iron to lead, arsenic and even mercury) is ‘dead’. All wildlife that once was abundant, now is gone. The river is completely contaminated. The damage is so large, that now the mud is reaching the oceans, affecting also the coastal areas of Espírito Santo which will also hurt profoundly the marine life and preservation areas in the region. The speculations on how much the environment has been hurt with such tragedy is still unknown, with many predicting it will take more than 100 years to have it completely restored. The dam was in it’s expansion phase but no inspection from the government was made and reports inform that licences had expired years before. Fears are that another dam could burst soon.

Again, it was a catastrophe waiting to happen.


Chemical filled mud that took over the city of Mariana – MG – Brazil

Note: Interesting enough, media coverage was not so widely spread as the recent terrorist attacks that happened in Paris (don’t get me wrong, human lives matter anywhere) being ignored not only in the world but even in Brazil. The media focused so much in the lives lost in France that forgot not only their own despair but completely ignored the facts around the world. Such as the bombings in Beirut and Baghdad, the earthquakes in Japan and so many other events that happen everyday but are not ‘worthwhile’ reporting on. Where is our attention being directed towards? Why show so much compassion towards a city and ignore the rest of the world? *Worth a little thinking right?*

But back to our topic, we come to the point that no one is comfortable in talking about: both these environmental disaster COULD have been avoided. But why they weren’t?
You see, when a cyclone hits or a volcano wakes, we, humans, have very little control over it, right?
On the other hand, oil spills, bush fires, dam bursts…these events are caused by man. They could have been prevented. They wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t because of human failure. They are deemed to be ‘safe’ procedures that if followed correctly, won’t cause any damage. But, again, they are made by humans, operated by humans. It is possible that it will not work at some point and cause a disaster. And this is what gets to me. Why are these operations, which are happening recklessly and irresponsibly, are still in place? Why? And, to be honest, thinking quickly about it is easy to see why.


Greed has taken our society by storm since the early days but it scares me to know that even now, it still governs most of our governments, companies and communities. Our knowledge will never leads anywhere better if we don’t use it wisely. So why are we building rockets if our planet is still dying for help? Can’t we as society require from our governments and from the companies that supply us to provide us services and products that will not harm the environment or others? Why is that we need to profit from the suffering of others? The recklessness in which world leaders and company owners still show is barbaric. And by now, this should be changing.

How long until us and the people in power, start showing compassion towards our brothers and sisters? Towards the animals that inhabit this planet? Towards the environment in which we live in?

humans no humanity

Unfortunately, for now I don’t have the answers for these questions. But I’m glad I can ask them, so hopefully we can start discussing these issues sooner rather than later. And we need to start talking about, so we can find effective ways of changing this situation.

Our planet needs our help right now. And we are the ones responsible for this change.
Even if you can only do one little thing to help, don’t hold on until the right time comes. The best time is now. To talk, to inform, to share, to discuss, to act, to help and to change.

“Be the change you wish to see.”

Peace and love,

Larissa x

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