In 1972, crude oil began to flow from Texaco’s wells in the area around Lago Agrio (“sour lake”), in the Ecuadorean Amazon. Reporting on an emotional battle in a makeshift jungle courtroom, the author investigates how many hundreds of square miles of surrounding rain forest became a toxic-waste dump.
The Sahara is a desert so vast that no airplane can diminish it. Certainly this one couldn’t. I sat behind the pilots in the cockpit of an Air Algeria turboprop lumbering at 18,000 feet across southern Algeria. The airplane was a Dutch-built Fokker 27, a stodgy forty-passenger twin, doing 220 miles an hour; it had come from the capital city, Algiers, on a roundabout three-day run to the oases.
At Alang, in India, on a six-mile stretch of oily, smoky beach, 40,000 men tear apart half of the world’s discarded ships, each one a sump of toxic waste. Environmentalists in the West are outraged. The shipbreakers want to be left alone - and maybe they should be.