Thursday, July 28, 2011


It's hot out there
It's Hot Out There -- photo by Lou Gold

A lucky shot a few days ago as the kids were perfectly aligned. They had come out of the midday sun to rest in the shady corridor. Seems most appropriate as yesterday Rio Branco registered the high temperature in Brazil -- 100F (38C) -- and Weather Underground reports that more of the same is forecast.

Meanwhile, back in the USA, weather news is full of heat waves while the political climate continues to spew denial of global warming.

I'm heading downriver and into the forest for a few days. There will be more "dailies" and a report when I return next week.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Beautiful... Finite... Hurting...

This clip was put together by Vivek Chauhan, a young film maker together with naturalists working with the Sanctuary Asia network (

The youtube description says,

This is a non-commercial attempt to highlight the fact that world leaders, irresponsible corporates and mindless 'consumers' are combining to destroy life on earth. It is dedicated to all who died fighting for the planet and those whose lives are on the line today.


Rio Branco Bus Reflection #3
Rio Branco Bus Reflection #3 -- photo by Lou Gold

Early morning shot. The sun is just rising. The women are heading to work in one of the neighborhoods.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Rio Branco Bus Reflection #2
Rio Branco Bus Reflection #2 -- photo by Lou Gold

Entering the station (the bus) and leaving the station (the man).

Monday, July 25, 2011


Edvard Munch The Scream
The Scream - Edvard Munch (Norwegian 1893) - source Wikipedia

Crazy World... In response to the horrible and heart-wrenching events in Norway last Friday, it seems there's now a raging media war being played out from both Left and Right.

One of the controversial items is an editorial cartoon that ran yesterday on the front page of the The Sunday Times (London). It's been bringing forth comments like:

-I know The Scream is Norway's best known work of art but mass murder seems more than a little inappropriate for parody by The Sunday Times.
-Re-evaluate what the Scream is portraying and what it's actually saying, then take another look at the illustration.
-Erm... please tell me this is a joke? Please.
-I feel pity for a newspaper that thinks it has to make fun of mass murder.
-I understand the cartoon, but the editor made a very bad decision to run with it today.
-As a Norwegian, I am not sure what to feel about this cartoon. I am torn between admiration of the creativity behind it and the unbelievable timing of it. ...I don't feel it is meant as a joke.


The cartoon and full comment thread were sent to me by a Leftist Brazilian friend who said:

This cartoon, published in the Times of London, Murdoch's newspaper also, is stirring controversy. Some find it disrespectful to the moment. I found it all to do with the feeling that I think the Norwegians have now, and we also. The perpetrator says fight Marxist multiculturalism. Why does he hate so much?

I wrote back as follows,

I agree with you. The Scream painting of Munch is an icon of horror. That he was Norwegian, now seems prescient. The painting is deeply expressive of what many feel in this moment. That it was published by a Murdoch enterprise seems irrelevant, and the strong reaction either a misunderstanding of the painting or cheap shot.

The world is in a great shaking. The cause is ecological but the reaction is political -- individual or collective, organized or anarchic, elitist or populist, both the angels and the demons are unleashed. Both civilization and civility are more delicate than we imagine.

Everywhere, there is a rise of partisanship and polarization as institutions can no longer contain the internal contradictions. Ecologically, economically, politically, we are indulging in bubbles and ponzi schemes. When they burst, the mess splatters across the innocent. The first acts come from crazy individuals. They are the early warning signals. We are entering very dangerous times.

It is going to be very hard to hold a calm center. But that is what is needed most. It is a burden and a privilege for it to be our work. Maybe, here in the New World, we can help it be different.

PS: The New World is wherever we work on it.


Rio Branco Bus Reflection 01
Rio Branco Bus Reflection #1 -- photo by Lou Gold

The mid-day school rush hour. I like the way the reflection creates a sense of coming and going.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


The Burning Season in Acre
The Burning Season in Acre -- photo by Lou Gold

At the mid-point of the dry season, with the rivers low, the forest dry, and about 3 more months until the rains return, the fire season is upon us. Nowadays, in addition to burning to clear agricultural land, something is appearing previously unknown in a rainforest -- natural fires set by lightning from the scattered thunderstorms that occur during the dry season.

It's a worldwide phenomenon recently brought to the USA in massive heat wave across the the Eastern half of the country (with the flood waters still not completely receded in the Midwest).

The short story is that the climate scientists say, "Get used to it."

The global details are scary. Joe Romm has an excellent report called, 500 Days of Summer.

The trend toward increasing extreme weather events is much the same in Brazil as elsewhere. As drought arrives in the Amazon Basin, heavy rains and flooding are appearing in other regions.


On a Sunday in a world that brings much horrible news, the latest being from Norway, I'm moved to re-post this classic video from Thich Nhat Hanh.

To begin again in truth (Buddhist) or to be born again in love (Christian) or to be aware of All My Relations (Lakota) or to just be simple and do our best, there is so much good work to do.


Arm and Window of Color
Arm and Window of Color -- photo by Lou Gold

Well, I'm not so sure about yesterday's "fashion photography" but I sure am fascinated by the graphic possibilities of reflections in windows, especially along the colorful streets of Rio Branco.

This photo was a "lucky shot." I was studying how to shoot the street reflections in the shop window when a woman, in a conversation at the side, suddenly raised her arm to point to something just as I was clicking the shutter. I doubt that it could have been planned as perfectly.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Fashions for ExoAcre 01
Fashions for ExpoAcre -- photo by Lou Gold

This is opening day for ExpoAcre, Rio Branco's annual faire and exposition celebrating the farming, ranching and local culture of the region. It's much like a state fair in the USA, lots of beer, country music, exhibitors and, of course, a rodeo. A few years ago, I wrote a long photo essay about it.

The ExpoAcre theme is now a local popular fashion statement which can be both chic-chic and expensive. According to

For those who want to invest in the "look" to enjoy the nine nights the festival of farming in Rio Branco, it is best to prepare the pocket. A boot, for example, can cost up to $ 1,200. The hats, especially the women's with precious stones and a far more elegant style, cost between $ 200 and $ 300.
 Here are a few shots of shop windows displaying the elegance:

Fashions for ExoAcre 02
Fashions for ExpoAcre -- photo by Lou Gold

Fashions for ExoAcre 03
Fashions for ExpoAcre -- photo by Lou Gold

Note -- I had fun playing "fashion photographer" which is something I never tried before. I suspect that it's a lot easier using mannequins than live sets. The fashion folks work very hard.

Friday, July 22, 2011


Sun and Rain Guards
Sun and Rain Guards - Photo by Lou Gold

With mostly clear skies and daily highs now hovering in the upper 90s F, big beach umbrellas are essential in the market.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Heart of Rio Branco
Heart of Rio Branco -- Terminal Urbano -- Photo by Lou Gold

I'm sort of overdosed on reporting all the bad forest news. It's a dangerous time for the Amazon Basin (and forests everywhere) and it really looks like things are going to get much worse before "Crisis Shock" arrives to change everything. Of course, I'll continue to provide important forest updates but I want to shift the blog emphasis more toward things that give me pleasure like making images.

The fact is that I love to make images -- intrinsically -- just to do it and not necessarily for any derived meaning or purpose. So now there's a "feature" at Visionshare. I'm calling it, "The Daily View" and I'll try to post an image everyday that I'm online. I hope you'll want to have a look.

A note on the images: each one is an actual photograph (not a construction) that I then took to the computer for a lot of color-enhancing. There's an incredible amount of color in Rio Branco. It is said that "color is the Acreano will to happiness." I like that idea of making happiness with color. I guess that's why I'm doing it.

Björk - Wanderlust

New to me. Life can seem like that. Pretty cool I think.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Gathering around a great Samauma Branca in Acre, Brazil. January 5, 2008

As ‘Sinks’ for Carbon, Forests Are Even Mightier Than Assumed
Re-posted from the NY Times


The world’s forests are magnificent palaces of biodiversity, teeming with wacky and wonderful creatures and plants that seem otherworldly. But they’re also something far more mundane although useful: they’re giant sponges, soaking up vast amounts of carbon dioxide.

According to a study published online on Thursday by the journal Science, the world’s forests absorb 2.4 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year, or about one-third of the carbon dioxide released through the burning of fossil fuels.

The lead author, Yude Pam, a research forester at the Forest Service, describes the study as the most comprehensive analysis of the global carbon budget to date. It shows that forests are a far more significant carbon sink than previously thought. At the same time, the report emphasizes the devastating effects of tropical deforestation and the need to protect trees that perform an enormous global service.

Of the three different types of forests studied — boreal, temperate and tropical — the paper shows that tropical forests are the most dynamic in capturing carbon dioxide. During the 17-year study period, from 1990 to 2007, an international team of researchers found that established tropical forests alone captured about 1.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year, accounting for 55 percent of the total established carbon sink in forests.

At the same time, however, deforestation in the developing world, most notably in Indonesia and Brazil, is releasing about three billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year, the researchers write. While this is offset somewhat by forest regrowth, which annually absorbs about 1.6 billion tons of carbon, over all, shifts in tropical land use, like clearing land for agriculture, is still emitting 1.3 billion tons annually.

In an interview, Richard Birdsey, program manager at the Forest Service and another lead author of the paper, emphasized that what happens in the tropical forests “can make or break the carbon budget.”

“But these forests are some of the least well monitored,” he said. The researchers’ greatest uncertainty about their data concerned tropical forests, Dr. Birdsey said, although “these are the numbers that are most crucial to get right and get acting on.”

He said that programs like REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), a United Nations effort to make forest protection in the developing world a priority in combating climate change, needs to move from discussion and pilot studies to serious and widespread action.

If the deforestation numbers could be subtracted from the global carbon equation, established forests and forest regrowth could potentially capture half the carbon dioxide emitted from burning fossil fuels.

The extent of deforestation, however, is only expected to get worse as humans continue to fell trees. And then there is the entire range of human activity that contributes to climate change, resulting in drought, fires and the spread of insects like the notorious bark beetle, which is wreaking havoc on forests in North America.

Monday, July 18, 2011


The great American poet-writer of the land, Wendell Berry, once advised, “Invest in the millennium; plant Sequoias.” But, in this lovely vimeo video of a grove not too far from my old Oregon home, Jesse Rosten imagines that the trees are whispering about eternal life.

Here's more about the Redwoods of Northern California.

Leaders meeting for the creation of the Kayapo Amazon Fund. 
photo © Cristina Mittermeier/ International League of Conservazon  Photographers (iCLP).

Brazil's national development bank BNDES is funding both destruction and conservation of indigenous lands.

At the same time it is funding a dam that will devastate indigenous lands and block the Xingu River, Brazil's National Development Bank (BNDES) may allocate some $14.3 million (BRL 22.3 million) in grants for projects developed within the Kayapo indigenous lands, reports Conservation International.

And now Brazil's environmental protection agency chief says: Brazil will do the same to indigenous peoples as 'Australians did to the Aborigines'

Rather than demonize one side or the other, I think that the take-away message is that development destroys while it creates - everywhere - and so far no one has really resolved the dilemma. We know the horror of the past. We know that, as long as material development is in the driver's seat, the inertia of our habits of consumption and waste make it hard to find a better way. But, for the sake of all peoples including ourselves, we must.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


A couple of years ago Christopher Howe embraced a seemingly crazy idea that he could walk from Los Angeles to Brazil carrying little more than the prayers offered by people. No, not prayers offered for Chris but prayers of others that he would meditate on as he walked. He would meet a new person, pull a written prayer from his bag and exchange it for another prayer.

And so it went for more than two years. Chris interrupted the journey a few times to travel back to see his family and then returned to the last place he had walked to resume the journey.

A few days ago he completed the final stretch -- crossing 200km of wild forest between Pucallpa, Peru and Cruzeiro do Sul, Brazil in 29 days that included getting lost (and found) more times than he can remember and having a nasty encounter with a sting ray in the river.

Details are still scarce but I'm sure that they'll be forthcoming. You can get the latest at Chris' Facebook Fan page

Monday, July 04, 2011


Alexandre Sequeira makes the connection at TEDxAmazônia

Saturday, July 02, 2011


Sorrow by Jacques Louis David, 1773
Sorrow by Jacques Louis David, 1773

A Mood
Thomas Bailey Aldrich

A blight, a gloom, I know not what, has crept upon my gladness--
Some vague, remote ancestral touch of sorrow, or of madness;
A fear that is not fear, a pain that has not pain's insistence;
A sense of longing, or of loss, in some foregone existence;
A subtle hurt that never pen has writ nor tongue has spoken--
Such hurt perchance as Nature feels when a blossomed bough is broken.

Here is the science from Mongabay:

Brazilian government officially says, Amazon deforestation is rising

Satellite data released today by the Brazilian government confirmed a rise in Amazon deforestation over this time last year.

Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE) says that deforestation during the month of May amounted to 268 square miles, a rise of 144 percent over May 2010. 35 percent of the clearing occurred in Mato Grosso, the state where agricultural expansion is fast-occurring.

INPE's announcement comes two weeks after Imazon, an NGO, said deforestation in May 2011 was 72 percent higher over May 2010. The discrepancy in the estimates result of different methodologies in analyzing satellite data. Both INPE and Imazon have near real-time deforestation monitoring capabilities.

Month-to-month deforestation estimates using this systems tends to be highly variable, but the trend over recent months seems to indicate a substantial increase in deforestation over last year, which was the lowest since annual record-keeping began in 1988.

Deforestation in Brazil is typically measured on a calendar year ending in July, when cloud cover in the region is at a low point and higher resolution satellite analysis is possible. Deforestation usually peaks in the Brazil Amazon during the dry season which runs from July through October.

Deforestation has steadily declined since 2004 due to a several factors including macroeconomic trends, improved law enforcement, new protected areas, pressure from NGOs, and private-sector initiatives. But environmentalists and scientists fear that proposed changes to Brazil's Forest Code, which requires landholders in the Amazon to maintain 80 percent forest cover on their lands, could trigger a reversal in deforestation rates.

The analysis by Imazon earlier this month suggests that the Forest Code debate may be a factor in rising deforestation. It found a 363 percent increase in forest degradation — logging and burning of forest that typically precedes deforestation — over the past 10 months, reaching 6,081 sq km. Most of the degradation occurred in major agricultural states: Mato Grosso (42 percent of degradation in May), Para (27 percent), and Rondônia (22 percent). The majority of deforestation also took place in these states: 39 percent in Pará, 25 percent in Mato Grosso, and 21 percent in Rondônia.

More tellingly, two-thirds of clearing occurred on private lands, which are most likely to benefit from changes in the Forest Code. Private landowners — particularly agroindustrial interests — have been pushing Forest Code reform, while small landowners and indigenous groups have generally opposed changes. Accordingly, deforestation over the past 10 months in indigenous territories and areas of agrarian reform (usually small-holder zones) amounted to only 12 percent and 1 percent, respectively. 22 percent of deforestation in May 20111 occurred in conservation areas.

Deforestation in May was highest in the municipality of Altamira, Para, where the controversial Belo Monte dam is to be constructed. Critics say the project will drive deforestation in surrounding areas as well as inundating large areas of forest and displacing thousands of indigenous people. Altamira accounted for 13 percent of total deforestation. It was followed by Porto Velho, Rondonia (8 percent), which serves as a key hub for the newly paved Trans-Oceanic Highway that links the heart of the Amazon to Peruvian ports. The highway will facilitate shipping of agricultural and timber products from the Amazon to China.

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is typically driven by industrial agriculture and land speculation. More than 70 percent of deforested land ends up as cattle pasture. High commodity prices typically create incentives for deforestation.