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A weblog designed to share Geography resources with students and colleagues

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Angel or Demon of the North Face?

Categories: Geography General, Advanced Higher

Been enjoying a book purchased ages ago but which I have just got round to reading, 'Chasing Che' by Patrick Symmes. It's a travel book about an American following the route Che Guevara wrote memoirs of in 1952 which were later published and filmed as 'The Motorcycle Diaries'. In the book, Symmes convalesces for a few days after a motorcycle crash at one of the ranches owned by Douglas Tompkins. This wealthy philanthropist was one of the founders of 'The North Face' clothing who sold up and invested his fortune in preserving pristine forest in Chile and other venues. He was a supporter of 'Deep Ecology' ( You might question why it has a website, when one of its aims is to eliminate "technology worship")and paid handsome wages to locals who worked in his schemes. Yet there was negative grafitti in many nearby towns about Tompkins. Many Chileans have a deep mistrust of him and question his opposition to free trade in particular. This ranch covers some 700, 000 acres and Tomkins has effectively taken that land out of Chile and therefore the ability to earn money from it. This reminded me of the Native American reaction to the Sky Bridge at the Grand Canyon, challenging the environmental arguments by asserting their own economic rights to live from the land. I think that this could be a fantastic Geographical Issues essay topic for future students, with real divisions of opinion. And, if your not doing Advanced Higher, maybe you might take time to enjoy the books ;-)


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