@nytopinion: Two biologists decry how reality TV misses ecological impact of global gold rush (art by Kristian Hammerstad). Excerpt:
It is particularly unfortunate that these shows run on channels like History and Discovery — outlets that once capitalized on the images and stories of nature’s bounty. Tropical rivers and forests are marvelously diverse and intricate ecosystems, but the default tendency of these channels is to eschew nuanced portrayals in favor of sensationalist accounts of man-eating fish and reptiles. In this respect, it is perhaps consistent that they now exploit these habitats as a backdrop for glorified plunder.
In a promotional clip for “Bamazon,” one cast member and heavy machinery operator, Clate McDaniel — described as a nature-loving “California hippie” — expresses a mystic’s anticipation of finding “plants that can heal” and the “cure for cancer” in the jungles of Guyana. “You never know what you can find in the jungle, it’s untouched in so many places,” he says, and suggests that his mining team might “discover something new.”
We agree. Tropical rain forests and rivers hold an incalculable wealth of undiscovered treasures, each incomparable to gold in its aesthetic beauty. Unfortunately, miners’ fingers are not touching but tearing the fabric of the rain forest, and the potential for scientific discovery decreases with every ounce of gold harvested and every river channel annihilated.