Meet the Star Wars Fanatic Fighting to Save Brazil from Environmental Destruction
To land the Olympics, Brazilian politicians made lofty promises about cleaning up their waterways. One eco-warrior is holding them to their word.
Photos by Cleuci de Oliveira
It is eight in the morning on the second-to-last day of August. Brazil is mired in an impeachment crisis that has roiled the country for nine months. In 29 hours, an unpopular president will be forced out, and the streets will erupt into protest over her replacement. It is one of the most intense days in the recent history of Brazilian politics, but eight candidates for mayor and vice-mayor of Rio de Janeiro have all taken the morning off from the campaign trail to accompany a biologist and “Star Wars” fanatic on a trip down a lagoon that smells of rotting eggs and shit.
Mario Moscatelli’s battered aluminum boat floats atop a viscous, olive-green soup. Bubbles rise to the surface and make a lugubrious noise when they pop. The candidates, their campaign staffers and a smattering of reporters watch the environmentalist from a larger, more stable barge. But the smell hits everyone at once. “Methane and hydrogen sulphide,” Moscatelli will soon explain, a byprodu…