Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Sumatra's forests

We often hear that deforestation is the low-hanging fruit in tackling climate change and species extinction. Nicholas Stern is especially keen on global agreements to prevent further devastation of rainforests, which are crucial to a healthy carbon cycle and climate. So it’s worrying to learn of plans to destroy a large area of forest in Sumatra, Bukit Tigapuluh, home to over 100 Sumatran Orangutans, and 100 of the 400 surviving Sumatran Tigers, 65 Critically Endangered Sumatran Elephants and many other threatened species (information from EDGE). The forest is to be felled for pulp and paper production. Last night we watched a documentary on iPlayer that talked about the fate of the Easter Islanders, a civilisation that died following the destruction of their forests, a shocking reminder that nature won’t keep giving forever. Nature documentaries often talk about extinction or deforestation in terms of loss and disappearance. It’s crucial to remember that these places aren’t ‘disappearing’ – we’re destroying them. Orwell would understand what’s happening to our language there.

Okay, so if you’d like to voice a protest against this destruction it’s pretty easy: there’s a petition to sign here, and lots of information here.

Signing petitions feels a little futile at times, so it’s worth thinking about what that paper and pulp will be used for. A staggering amount makes toilet paper. Isn’t that a crime? Take a look at these details (e.g. it takes 90 years to grow a box of Kleenex), and switch to recycled.

Imperatives over, here’s a picture of a Black Pine near where I work: 

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