For most of his life, Gordon Hempton has been in pursuit of nature’s myriad and multi-faceted soundscapes as an Emmy-winning acoustic ecologist. During that time, he has become a master of a skill that is inarguably a dying art: listening. In this short film, he shares insights on the constant and nuanced communications of nature, the alarming extinction of places unaffected by human activity, the way quiet can open our eyes to the larger picture and the benefits of simply paying attention to place. Silence, as he puts it, “is the think tank of the soul.”
Yasuni is a vast tract of Amazonian rainforest in Ecuador. It comprises both a national park and an ethnic reserve for the native Waorani people. It’s a place of unsurpassed natural beauty that’s been identified as the most biologically diverse place on Earth. It is, as well, home to Ecuador’s largest untapped oil reserves. A small tribe of indigenous people bent on preserving their homeland and traditional way of life is pitted against a national government allied with one of the world’s richest and most powerful industries. The rarest and most vulnerable species of plant and animal life are subject to predation by chainsaws, bulldozers and toxic spillage. It’s Avatar come to life. But, at this point, without redemption or a happy ending.