For as long as I can remember, I have seen promotional advertisements and warnings and awareness posters and whatnot telling us that we need to save the rainforest. Hell, there was even a cartoon based specifically on conservation – “By your powers combined, I am Captain Planet!” But I have been seeing all these things for so long that my concern fizzled to the back of my mind. Perhaps it was just taking too long. Humans can’t seem to think very often in the long term. It’s probably the reason why we got ourselves into all of the environmental problems we have now.
It wasn’t until I went to Costa Rica that it sunk in. We went on a horseback riding expedition of sorts through the jungle, and how did we get there? Logging roads. What did I see along the way? Downed trees. What did I see when we made it to the top of the mountain? Patches of rainforest all the way around where huge trees like the one I was leaning on stood. So I thought, how long did it take for this tree to grow so big? There are tons of these here, and they can be cut down in minutes. How long will it take for 50 to grow back? What happens to the animals and plants in those patches during that time? I guess these thoughts wouldn’t be going through the minds of the manager of this logging business. It’s just the capitalist way: clear out all we can get, then move on.
Vandemeer and Perfecto are trying to help us realize what business can do to any environment. Chiquita Banana has quite a large building in Cincinnati, it is tall and eerily looming. Just when reading the Wikipedia article on “Chiquita Brands International” it gives a little background then goes into three huge controversies revolving around the company’s operations in Latin America. I am going to pull an urban geography concept and ask how a company based in southwest Ohio ever intended to manage operations in Central America? What I think the authors are wishing for us to understand is that our current way of thinking in how we spend our time in the rainforest, the capitalist mindset, will not help to save it.
And slowly over the past couple of years it seems that our mindset is changing. Advancements to environmental legislation had been laid out and some has been enacted. As Vandermeer and Perfecto are saying, we must deal with this problem socially, so we can improve environmentalism and environmental and social justice. It all comes full circle, especially since the issue of the rainforest is connected to all sorts of social, governmental, industrial, and environmental problems that aren’t noticeable on the surface that is conservation.