Cancer of the Earth

Two liquids of different densities don’t mix, like oil and water. But when two slightly different variants of the same liquid touch each other, you would expect them to blend together and produce a new homogeneous liquid. Right? Not in the Amazon! El Río Negro meets the Amazon River near Manaus, Brazil, they share a 40 km (~25 miles) “border” without mixing. You can see and feel the difference. El Río Negro is darker, has high acidity (4.6 pH), warmer (26°C, 78°F) and slower. The Amazon River, or Rio Solimões as it’s known in that area, has low acidity (6.8 pH), cooler at 23°C/73°F and runs faster. Because of its speed (7 km/hr, 4.35mph), it washes off the clay shores which gives the water its light brown color. The high acidity and relative shallowness of El Río Negro (16 meters/52 ft max depth) make it home to only 300 types of fish as opposed to 2000 varieties in the Amazon (60 meters/197 feet max depth). The best part is that mosquitoes cannot breed in El Río Negro! It contains 60% minerals, including iron and uranium and 40% organic matter. The Amazon River is a gold mine, literally and figuratively. The region is very rich in resources: oil, minerals, gold, wood, rare flora and fauna, raw materials..etc, and is being exploited to the detriment of the environment, the wild life and the indigenous peoples. The government is giving incentives for companies to invest in the region by charging no taxes. So you come to the Amazon, only to find manufacturing plants for cars, digital devices, oil companies and other “modern” sores. Now Manaus, the capital of Amazonia state, is a busy polluted, grid locked metropolitan city with traffic jams, high rises and high blood pressure. Can’t blame them for “paving paradise to put up a parking lot”*. They want “progress” too and they have the resources to get it. The only silver lining is that arts flourish; free music and dance shows daily in the Opera House in addition to live music in the square, complete with drinking, smoking and trash everywhere.
Humans are, indeed, the cancer of the Earth and cities are the tumors. Like cancer, we grow at a faster rate than our host, Earth can support. Can we stop before we sink our mother ship and die?

* From the song “Big Yellow Taxi” by Joni Mitchell.

Meeting of the waters near Manaus, Brazil.

Meeting of the waters near Manaus, Brazil. From Rio Negro.

Manaus, Brazil.

Opera House, Manaus, Brazil.

Inside the Opera House in Manaus.

Río Negro Bridge.

Meeting of the waters near Manaus, Brazil. The border.

Meeting of the waters near Manaus, Brazil. The border.

Rio Negro bridge.

Río Negro Bridge.

It rains ants here, not cats and dogs.

Street concert in Manaus.

Meeting of the waters near Manaus, Brazil.

Meeting of the waters near Manaus, Brazil.

Meeting of the waters near Manaus, Brazil. Amazon River side.

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Fear not!

The human race has been seeped in a culture of fear and scarcity for several thousand years. All human made borders are drawn in blood. Countries appear and disappear through wars. If you are alive today, someone in your ancestry line must’ve killed people. It’s been so long that we have no clue what life looks like without fear and scarcity. Like all living systems, our culture of fear is very efficient at replicating itself. Because fear is the most contagious and most addictive meme, it’s very good at producing quantity, but not quality. In fact, quality of life under fear is very poor. Yet, it is the only system we know and the only mode in which we feel “safe”. Because we’re so addicted to it, when we have no real reason to fear, we create imaginary threats and fear them. Sometimes it’s insects, animals, wild nature, change, the unknown,…etc. Most often, it’s other people who don’t share our myths/skin color/location/ even the way they choose to use their own bodies. We demonize them and fear our made up demons. We create borders, build walls, race in arming ourselves, throw our youth in the fire, all in the name of security. But in reality, we’re securing the myths that we made up. Of which many become self fulfilling prophecies. In the culture of fear, there are no winners. It doesn’t matter on which side of the wall you’re standing, you are still a prisoner. It doesn’t matter whether you’re holding the gun or standing at its point, you’re still a victim. A victim of a rotten system that stripped you of your natural empathy and compassion. Your suffering doesn’t end at pulling the trigger, it only starts. The emotional, psychological and mental damage of our fear systems go much deeper and propagate much farther than any physical damage. We keep passing it on to future generations who keep passing it on and so on.
The most efficient way to produce numbers, is to use men as cannon fodder and women as breeders. Hence most of our belief systems, traditional gender roles, beauty standards and human culture are dominated by ideals that enforce and idealize those modes. Often at the expense of individual happiness, freedom and self actualization. Yet this “effectiveness” is not only making us unhappy, it’s also depleting the earth’s resources faster than they are being replenished. War and killing are now children’s games and no one gives it a second thought. The first thing we teach our children is what to fear: strangers, insects, darkness, wild animals, wild nature, the future and anything that we cannot contain and control. The list keeps growing with every generation.
Can we stop this madness? Is it possible?

Holding a tarantula spider in the Amazon jungle. Brazil.
Catching piranhas in the Amazon jungle. Brazil.