Earlier this year, Steve and I were fortunate enough to spend some time in a place I’d dreamt of seeing since I was a kid — the Amazon rainforest.
Thanks to stacks of ZooBooks, countless nature and wildlife encyclopedias, and the early-’90s hit computer game The Amazon Trail, my imagination of this place ran wild. But finally seeing it with my own eyes was more disturbing than it was fulfilling. I was saddened and disappointed. Not by the Amazon, but by the choices people have made — or have been forced to make — and what the world and its people will be experiencing because of it.
We spent just under two weeks in Rondônia state, near the Bolivian border in the North Region of Brazil. From the capital city of Porto Velho, we traveled as far as six hours north by truck to Realidade, a frontier settlement along the BR-319, and as far as an hour south by plane, over the indigenous Karipuna lands.
Along the way, our job was to use photogrammetry to create 3D models of objects that supplement the larger written piece by Matt, who also served as our guide and translator (and whose story you read before continuing with this post). These 3D models were made for TIME’s new augmented reality app, TIME Immersive — available in iOS and Android App Stores — and include a 200-meter deforested patch; a lumberyard; and the Karipuna village.
Once in the app, you can view a projection of these scans through your mobile device on any flat surface. You can then move around and explore the space; click on some photos and videos; and listen to Jane Goodall tell you more about what it is you’re looking at.
Progress is necessary for survival, but unchecked progress comes at a price. And even though the majority of us may never understand all of the angles of the situation, it doesn't take an expert to see that things aren’t going well.
This will soon no longer be just an Amazon problem — it will be a world problem. And although nature will always win, it’s something that never should have turned into a game in the first place.
Check out some of the following organizations to learn more about what’s happening and, if you’re able, consider making a donation.
And if you still haven’t read Matt’s story, read it now: The Tipping Point