Reprinted in Marc Angélil and Rainer Hehl eds., Empower (Ruby Press, 2013).
While most of the ideas so far pivot around narrow parameters, a simple omnibus spatial variable might be at once more straightforward and—as it is inclusive of more circumstance—more complex. REDD+, for instance, is fraught with questions about how to establish or track the values, and its abstraction invites many ways to game the system, not the least of which is simply the use of carbon credits by developed countries to sanction increased pollution through emissions. Promoters of forest preservation find themselves wishing there was a market for all of the other values in the forest—biodiversity or indigenous culture—that might be at risk if the market only trades in carbon credits. With a currency in market shares, REDD+ must avoid the pitfalls of, for instance, the suburban house and its mortgage in the global financial market. For the suburban house, an object in space, valued for many intangibles and yet the subject of feverish and convoluted trading, was reduced to a cipher when that trading was exhausted, with no auxiliary valuation or means to recuperation. Similarly when the expensive and cumbersome technical apparatus of the carbon market is exploited and chiseled, what values of the spatial antecedent—the forest itself—will remain?
Santiago del Hierro, an architect working these very issues in the region, led us to this airport in the oil company town of Coca because here one can see rainforest development dialed up and dialed down. More importantly, it is on the border of the large species-rich Yasuni National Park—the site of a new protocol that approaches a spatial experiment with negative development.