New Documentary Follows Two Boys Fighting Big Oil Over Ecuadorian Rainforest Destruction
The South American country of Ecuador may not be on many people's radars. But a large-scale disaster with ongoing health and environmental impacts occurred there that's been dubbed a "rainforest Chernobyl."
Filmmakers Francine Strickwerda and Laurel Spellman Smith have made a new documentary Oil & Water telling the story of two teenagers—one American, one Ecuadorian—fighting to restore the country's rainforests and seeking justice for the indigenous peoples damaged by the effects of oil exploration and drilling. It depicts the challenges faced by the young men and their allies as they fight the power of a Big Oil company, Texaco (now Chevron), that for 28 years poisoned drinking water, destroyed the landscape and pushed the indigenous people to the edges of their lands as it drilled for oil.
David Poritz learned about what was happening in Ecuador when he was a sixth grader in Massachusetts and immediately began his work to fight back. Hugo Lucitante was sent at age 10 from Ecuador to Seattle by his tribe to be educated, hopeful that he would return as a tribal leader. He met Poritz while he was in Ecuador touring the health impacts of massive dumps of oil sludge and toxic wastewater into the Amazon basin. The two joined together to raise international awareness of the situation and spur action.
The filmmakers learned about Lucitante from a news article about his graduation from a Seattle high school. Looking into his background, they found out about the oil drilling affecting his tribal lands. They later learned about Poritz and his involvement in a legal case against Chevron.
"We saw many parallels in Hugo and David’s stories," said the filmmakers. "Here were two boys, each with a mythic backstory, who almost seemed to have traded places in the universe. They were taking on a Goliath of our times. Hugo and David were both deeply affected by what had happened in Ecuador, and we wondered if we could tell the story of the disaster through their experience."
National Public Radio's Here & Now talked with the filmmakers about the project. Listen below:
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Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
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Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
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<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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