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Ungreen Energy's Human Costs

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Old 01-23-2009
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Ungreen Energy's Human Costs
: Most of the green energy talk these days is about how renewable energy will help reduce global climate disruption by lowering the output of greenhouse gases. But there are other costs associated with ungreen energy, too, including environmental contamination inflicted by the extraction of fossil fuels like coal and petroleum.
Those costs are borne unequally by the haves and have-nots of this planet, but geographic separation often allows us to ignore this inconvenient truth. That is, unless someone makes us look.
Photographers Lou Dematteis and Kayana Szymczak visited Ecuador between 2003 and 2007 to document the aftermath of oil drilling by Texaco (now a division of Chevron). They've just published their photos in Crude Reflections: Oil, Ruin and Resistance in the Amazon Rainforest, a collection of disturbingly beautiful photographs from City Lights Books.
Left: The photographers and members of the Achuar tribe travel by canoe on the Pastaza River to the village of Sharamentza.
Photo: Lou Dematteis/Spectral Q
: A boy stands on an oil pipeline in the jungle near Lago Agrio, Ecuador.
According to the authors, medical experts predict that extensive pollution will cause thousands of cancer deaths and contribute to the disappearance of at least five indigenous rain-forest communities.
Photo: Lou Dematteis/Spectral Q
: Lou Dematteis took this shot of an oil-waste pit fire in Shushufindi while traveling through Ecuador in 1993.
Photo: Lou Dematteis/Spectral Q
: Jairo Yumbo, 9, of Rumipamba, Ecuador, was born with a deformed hand.
Photo: Lou Dematteis/Spectral Q
: Modesta Briones sits in her house near Parahuaco Oil Well No. 2 in Ecuador. Doctors amputated her lower leg because of a cancerous tumor.
Photo: Lou Dematteis/Spectral Q
: With her 8-year-old sister Alexandra Raquel, left, 15-year-old Myra Chicaiza sits on the floor of her home in Dureno, Ecuador. Her mother says she was born with soft bones and that doctors have never explained the cause.
Photo: Lou Dematteis/Spectral Q
: Luz Maria Marin holds the head of her husband, Angel Toala, one day before he died of stomach cancer in his home in Shushufindi, Ecuador.
Photo: Lou Dematteis/Spectral Q
: Maria Bravo stands by an open waste pit near her home in Ecuador's Guanta oil field.
Photo: Kayana Szymczak
: A Cofan elder known as Aurelio wears the traditional makeup and feather adornment in Pisorie. Toribio Aguinda, former president of the Cofan Federation, says Ecuador's government gives more respect to endangered species than to indigenous cultures and communities.
Photo: Kayana Szymczak
: Demonstrators march to the superior court in Lago Agrio, Ecuador, demanding "Justice Now!" in the Chevron (formerly Texaco) trial.
Photo: Lou Dematteis/Spectral Q
: A member of the Ecuadorean special forces keeps an eye on Huaorani women before the start of a march against Chevron (formerly Texaco) in Lago Agrio.
Photo: Lou Dematteis/Spectral Q



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