It’s a tale of displaced workers, disease epidemics and gruesome deaths that will haunt ecologists and sociologists for decades to come. This is what went wrong in the Brazilian state of Rondônia, where farmers and indigenous peoples are still paying the price for a combination of poor government planning and limited knowledge about rainforest ecology.
In this week’s episode of Generation Anthropocene, produce Mike Osborne gets the incredible story of Rondônia from Bill Durham, an anthropologist and human ecologist at Stanford. He studies the ways human populations have adapted to their environments, and the reasons those same populations often seem to wreak havoc on the natural world around them.
According to Durham, the story of Rondônia kicks into gear in the late 1970s, when tens of thousands of agricultural workers found themselves out of jobs due to technology advances on farms. To address the issue, the Brazilian government looked to the untapped resources of the Amazon.