What costume are you going to wear? What are you bringing to the office business party? Who cares?!
Indonesia is burning.
Do you know why? It’s a little complicated, but in short: Palm oil.
According to the World Wildlife Fund’s website:
Palm oil is the most widely consumed vegetable oil on the planet, and it is in about half of all packaged products sold in the supermarket. While palm oil is the most efficient source of vegetable oil, its rapid expansion threatens some of the planet’s most important and sensitive habitats.
Palm oil grows in tropical rainforests, and the uncontrolled clearing of these forests for conventional palm oil plantations has led to widespread loss of these irreplaceable and biodiverse rich forests. Plantations have also been connected to the destruction of habitat of endangered species, including orangutans, tigers, elephants and rhinos.
I am simply heartbroken over this. I woke up this morning, October 31, 2015, and scrolled through my Facebook feed as I normally do. There in the feed I came across an article titled, Indonesia is burning. So why is the world looking away? by George Monbiot. He is both articulate and displays a sort of refreshing cynicism in his reporting.
He tells the story better than I ever could, so all I can offer is my reaction. First, came the tears over the death of orangutans, tigers, and flora and fauna that is vital to the ecosystem. Second, I shared the article with friends who I knew would actually read it. Now, I am writing about it.
Honestly, this is so disturbing that it makes me want to dedicate my life to conservation efforts. I’ve chosen to not have children because I think that is the ecological thing to do—but that is a whole different conversation.
Essentially, the forests, the lungs of the earth, are being destroyed so that we can have portable peanut butter, flavor in our coffee, pre-made meals, and pretty much everything from beauty products to fuel. If you think public opinion or your voice doesn’t matter, think again.
Think of Blockbuster, Barbie, McDonald’s, and others like them. All of these giants have reported million dollar losses in the past decade due to public opinion. According to Clyde Hughes reporting for Newsmax, McDonalds is closing 700 stores this year. “APMEA’s first quarter comparable sales decreased 8.3 percent primarily due to the impact of prolonged, broad-based consumer perception issues in Japan, along with negative but improving performance in China.”
So, here is what you can do. Use less. Don’t buy products—even if they say sustainable—with palm oil in them. Eat local. Eat seasonal. Vote. Don’t just say you are going to vote, actually do it.
Ask more questions.
It has been said that convenience breeds apathy. Listen to that. The eco-apocalypse is here and you can choose to be among the zombie hordes who participate in repetitious consumption or choose something different.
I’m not advocating punishing yourself. The opposite actually. It takes loud voices and the masses to move giants. The thing about industry is that it has had a long time to carve grooves into cultural agreements. We accept banks as necessary. We rely on transportation to conduct large scale business. Simply, there are a million systems in place that have created dependency.
In the realm of addiction treatment there is a continuum that leads to dependency. First, there is habit. Then there is justification. Then there is addiction. Then there is more justification. Finally, dependency.
So, Indonesia is f*cking burning! If nothing else please read George’s article and share it.
And if you can do more, do it.
We need to take care of our mother.
Related article: Indigenous Peoples in Indonesia Scapegoats for Forest Fires
Author: Rebekah McClaskey
Editor: Travis May