Wednesday, April 4, 2007

BioDiesel...The Death Warrant of the Orang?

In an article by Ian MacKinnon The Guardian report today on the scam which is destroying habitat in Borneo and Indonesia at an alarming rate. The cause? Demand for the Oil Palm to make BioDiesel in the West.

“In reality it’s over for the tiger, the elephant and the orangutan,” said Mr Smits, who founded the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation. “Their entire lowland forest habitat is essentially gone already. We find orangutan burned, or their heads cut off. Hunters are paid 150,000 rupiah [£8.30] {$16.41} for the right hand of an orangutan to prove they’ve killed them.”
Maybe no war, but how do all the drivers of biodiesel Benz's here in Asheville feel about rainforest destruction, I wonder.
The numbers are damning. Within 15 years 98% of the rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia will be gone, little more than a footnote in history. With them will disappear some of the world’s most important wildlife species, victims of the rapacious destruction of their habitat in what conservationists see as a lost cause. Yet this gloomy script was supposed to have included a small but significant glimmer of hope. Oil palm for biofuel was to have been one of the best solutions in saving the planet from greenhouse gases and global warming. Instead the forests are being torn down in the headlong rush to boost palm oil production.
Pretty serious stuff. The article even gets worse than this, believe it or not.

The sodden peat of central Kalimantan acts as a vast organic sponge that stores huge amounts of carbon. But as it dries while being drained for plantation, or by roads being cut through to remove timber, it releases the stored carbon. In Indonesia alone, the peat releases 600m tons of carbon a year. Worse, it is often set alight to speed clearing, adding to the CO2 from the huge forest fires that blanket much of south-east Asia in haze. Estimates say Indonesia’s fires generate 1,400 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, pushing it to the world’s third-largest producer of CO2 from 26th, if both factors are considered.

Surprise, surprise, surprise! Indonesia, trying to help the world's CO2 problem, jumps to the top the list with the solution. Amazing.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. So sad. I remember the fires in Indonesia years ago burning entire orangutan families - poor things.

Terri & Don
Swannanoa NC

Bill In Asheville said...

It seems like everytime we think we have a "solution" to a problem, three more crop up.