I didn’t realise Agent Orange was still in use.

“Brazil’s environment agency, IBAMA, discovered a 178 hectare patch of dead trees during a recent overflight of an area of the western Brazilian Amazon…reportedly destroyed illegally with chemical defoliant sprayed from an airplane.

The uncontacted Indians thought to be living nearby rely completely on their forest to survive. Outsiders are banned from entering their area

…chemical defoliant can poison humans and animals, aside from killing trees and contaminating soil.”

To clarify why outsiders cannot enter the land of uncontacted people, “it is not unusual for 50% of a tribe to be wiped out within a year of first contact, by diseases such as measles and influenza….their decision not to maintain contact with other tribes and outsiders is almost certainly a result of previous disastrous encounters”

A few reactions:

Emotionally: ugh. This is awful and wrong, on multiple levels.

Philosophically: if there is such a thing as property rights not dependent on social conventions, they  have just been massively violated.  Also, if there’s any objective sense in which people can be grouped into distinct ‘societies’, then ‘our society’ may have just destroyed another one.

I’m fairly certain that the dispossession and poisoning of the humans and animals in this area is a horrifying crime. Intuitively, part of me wants to say that it’s also potentially a loss to ‘the world’, which we might imagine has some sort of non-instrumental interest in the existence of biodiversity and cultural diversity, which actions like this destroy. But I’m not sure if that’s a ethical claim (about real interests being harmed) or an aesthetic claim (about the things I consider beautiful, in the broadest sense of that word).

Bean-countingly: when all is said and done (i.e. when everyone affected has died a slow painful death) this almost unreported event may have a greater death toll than the Norwegian atrocities two days ago. At least the lack of media attention means nobody’s tried to blame it on Muslims.

Facetiously-bordering-on-disrespectfully: the ‘Prime Directive’ of Star Trek, which as it stands never made much real sense, would make a lot more sense if the likely outcome of any ‘First Contact’ was catastrophic epidemics.

(via. Feminist Philosophers)

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