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Amazon Rainforest 30 Years on
亚马逊雨林30年记

It's happened to all of us. You return to a beloved location -- and it isn't quite as you remembered. But even taking that into consideration, Sue Branford got a big shock recently when she returned to what was once a small community in the Brazilian rainforest.

It's estimated that last year alone twenty-six thousand square kilometres of trees were felled -- an area almost the size of Belgium! Sue first visited the region three decades ago. Today it's almost unrecognisable...

It's a strange sensation returning to a place you haven't visited for 30 years. And it's even stranger if everything has changed out of all recognition.

I first went to the Amazon basin in 1974. At that time it was a real wild-west. The generals then ruling Brazil had decided, in what later proved to be a dangerous simplification, that the Amazon basin was empty. It was time, they said, to occupy it. So they set about building a network of roads and encouraging loggers and cattle companies to move in.

So there I was in 1974, on one of my first journalist assignments, finding out what was going on. I'd never been to the Amazon before and I was overwhelmed by it all. The beauty of the forest was breathtaking. There were trees so huge that it would have taken ten men with outstretched arms to encircle their trunks. Turtles basked in the sun on the white sand dunes that lined the rivers.

But, along with this natural beauty, was man-made conflict. When the loggers and cattle companies arrived, they found peasant families living in parts of the forest. As well as fishing, hunting and collecting Brazil nuts, they were clearing small plots of land to grow food. The companies sent in gunmen to deal with them. Day after day I met traumatised peasants who'd been forcibly evicted. On another occasion I saw a group of disoriented, emaciated Amerindians, begging for food by the side of the road.

For a few days I travelled in a lorry along one of the half-finished roads. One afternoon, after hours of dense forest, we stopped at a tiny hamlet. It was called Redencao, Redemption. And there among the wooden shacks, with their roofs made of palm leaves, was a bar selling ice-cream. The owner, an eccentric Italian, had somehow managed to bring an ice-cream maker into this remote region. The machine was fuelled by diesel, which was in short supply, so it often lay idle.

But we were in luck. Six or seven rough-looking men, some with revolvers tucked into their waists, were standing at the bar, licking ice-cream. We joined them. And we chatted about the violence. 'Nearly every week some one here is killed,' said the Italian. A few minutes later a shot rang out. I saw a man lying on the ground, about 20 yards from the bar. Hesitantly, I moved towards him, but the lorry driver stopped me. “Ah-ah”, he said. “Vamos embora! We're off!” In a trice, we were back in the lorry and on our way.

Earlier this month I was back in Redencao, travelling by bus along the same route. Passengers were still complaining about the ruts in the road but that's about all that was the same. The forest has disappeared, except for a few fragments. In its place are cattle and, increasingly, soybeans, which is exported as animal fodder. The town itself now has a population of 80,000. It's got paved roads, electricity, cinemas, shops, schools, hospitals. The Italian ice-cream maker shut down his bar and retired just a few years ago.

More people are still arriving. They're driven by the Brazilian dream of building a new life on the agricultural frontier. It often ends in disaster. I spoke to Regivaldo, a 22-year old man, who had been lured by the promise of high wages to travel deep in the forest to clear land for a rancher. He and others had been left stranded without food or proper accommodation for over six months. Eventually they'd escaped by repairing a leaky canoe. And now -- and this didn't happen 30 years ago -- they were suing the landowner for violating the labour legislation.

So what do I make of it all? This extraordinary transformation of the region? I have mixed feelings. I sympathise with many of the Brazilians who are only seeking a better life. But I also feel anger and despair. Each year we learn more about the importance of the Amazon rain forest. We know that, by destroying it, we're accelerating global warming and disrupting the world's climate. Yet we, in the developed world, go on eating more and more meat. And this in turn encourages Brazil, which is burdened with a heavy foreign debt, to export more beef and more soybeans. It makes no sense at all to let market forces destroy a precious ecosystem that we all need for our survival and yet somehow we are letting it happen.


参考译文:

这样的事情我们所有人都遭遇过。当你回到一处你所热爱的地方时,结果却发现与你记忆中的景象大相径庭。休·布兰福最近返回到了巴西雨林里她曾经去过的一个小村落,即便早做好了心理准备,但她还是受到了很大的震惊。

据估计仅去年一年就有两万六千平方公里的树木被砍伐,面积几乎相当于一个比利时那么大!休第一次到这个地区是30年前,但今天她几乎完全认不出来了。

回到你已经三十年没有踏足的地方会有一种奇怪的感觉,而如果所有的东西都变得完全无法辨认了,这种感觉就更为奇怪了。

我是1974年第一次到亚马逊盆地的,当时这里是西部一处真正的荒野之地。当时巴西的统治者们做出决定,认为亚马逊盆地是块空地,而随后的时间则证明了这个决定过于简单化,后果是危险的。他们当时认为是占领这块盆地的时候了。因此开始建造道路网,并鼓励伐木工人和畜牧业公司搬迁进去。

因此我于1974年到了那,这是我首次记者任务之一,我要关注事态的进展。我以前从来没有到过亚马逊,结果我被它完全征服了。树林美丽得让人窒息。有的树非常巨大,需要十个男子张开手臂才能围着树干绕成一圈。海龟们在河流沿线的白色沙丘上惬意地晒着太阳。

但是这么美丽的自然景观,却发生了人为的冲突。当伐木工和畜牧业公司来到这里时,他们发现了在森林的部分地方生活着一些农民家庭,他们除了捕鱼、打猎和采集巴西坚果以外,还开垦了小块的土地种植粮食。公司派来了枪手进行干涉。我每天都能看到受伤的农民,他们遭到了强行驱逐。还有一次我看到了一群迷失了方向的印第安人,他们非常憔悴,站在路边乞讨食物。

我坐在一辆卡车里沿着一条刚修完一半的道路一连走了几天。有天下午我们沿着茂密的森林走了几个小时之后,停在了一个名叫“救赎”的小村庄里。在棕榈树叶作为屋顶的小木屋之间有家卖冰激淋的酒吧。酒吧的主人是位古怪的意大利人,他不知用了什么方法将一台制作冰激淋的机器弄到了这个边远的地区。这台机器是烧柴油的,但是由于缺少柴油,所以机器常常处于闲置状态。

但我们很幸运。六、七名长相粗鲁的男子站在酒吧里舔食着冰激淋,他们中有几个人的腰部还塞着左轮手枪。我们加入了他们的行列,并开始和他们聊起了这里发生的冲突事件。“这里几乎每周都有人被杀死”,这位意大利人说道。几分钟后,外面响起了枪声。我看到一名男子倒在距离酒吧大约二十步的地面上。犹豫了一番,我开始朝他走去过,但是卡车司机拦住了我。他说:“哎哟,快走!我们离开这!”转眼之间我们回到了卡车上,上路了。

这个月早些时候我乘坐巴士沿着相同的路线回到了“救赎”村。乘客们仍然在一直抱怨着路上的车辙,但是情况还是和以前一样。森林除了几处残留的地方外都消失了,取而代之的是些牲畜以及越来越多的大豆,后者作为动物饲料进行出口。现在这座城镇本身拥有八万人口。这里有了公路、电力、影院、商店、学校和医院。几年前那位制作冰激凌的意大利人关闭了酒吧,已经退休了。

仍然有更多的人来到这里。驱使他们来这的是在农业边疆开创新生活的巴西梦想。但是梦想往往以灾难告终。我同二十二岁的雷金瓦尔多进行交谈,他被高薪的承诺吸引了过来,进入森林深处为一名大牧场主开垦田地。他和其他人被留在了那儿,陷入了没有食物和住处的困境长达六个多月。最后他们修复了一条漏洞的独木舟才得以逃了出来。而现在他们正在向法庭起诉这位牧场主,控告他违反了劳工法律,而这在三十年前没有发生过。

那么我从所有这些事情当中推断出了什么呢?这个地区发生了惊人的变化?我的感想很复杂。一方面我会同情那些大多数只是为了寻求更好生活的巴西人。但另一方面我又感到非常愤怒和绝望。每年我们对亚马逊雨林重要性的理解都在增多。我们知道我们在毁掉这片雨林,我们正在加速全球变暖的趋势并干扰了世界气候。但处在发达国家的我们仍在继续吃着越来越多的肉食品,而这反过来却鼓励了巴西人出口越来越多的牛肉和大豆,因为巴西背负着沉重的外债负担。让市场需求摧毁我们赖以生存的珍贵的生态系统是没有任何理由的,但是我们现在正以某种方式令其发生。

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