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Indonesia is burning

Written By: - Date published: 8:40 am, November 1st, 2015 - 54 comments
Categories: climate change, disaster, Environment, global warming - Tags:

Indonesia fire

There is a catastrophic event happening in one of the world’s more populous nations which is receiving very little attention from the media.  Indonesia is burning and no one is paying attention.

George Monbiot said this in the Guardian on the subject:

A great tract of Earth is on fire. It looks as you might imagine hell to be. The air has turned ochre: visibility in some cities has been reduced to 30 metres. Children are being prepared for evacuation in warships; already some have choked to death. Species are going up in smoke at an untold rate. It is almost certainly the greatest environmental disaster of the 21st century – so far.

And the media? It’s talking about the dress the Duchess of Cambridge wore to the James Bond premiere, Donald Trump’s idiocy du jour and who got eliminated from the Halloween episode of Dancing with the Stars. The great debate of the week, dominating the news across much of the world? Sausages: are they really so bad for your health?

What I’m discussing is a barbecue on a different scale. Fire is raging across the 5,000km length of Indonesia. It is surely, on any objective assessment, more important than anything else taking place today. And it shouldn’t require a columnist, writing in the middle of a newspaper, to say so. It should be on everyone’s front page. It is hard to convey the scale of this inferno, but here’s a comparison that might help: it is currently producing more carbon dioxide than the US economy. And in three weeks the fires have released more CO2 than the annual emissions of Germany.

Not only is the disaster bad news for CO2 output it is also ravaging large tracts of land and fragile habitats and threatening species.  The smoke is a major health threat to the population and things are that bad that in the Parliament of Kalimantan Parliamentarians are having to wear face masks during debates.

Much of the forest is on peat and peat fires which release methane, carbon monoxide, ozone and ammonium cyanide can smoulder for months.

The causes include illegal deforesting, fragmentation of the forest by development, draining of peat swamps and the use of fire to clear forested areas for farming as well as the production of palm oil.  This fascinating interactive graphic from the Guardian suggests that the financial benefits of clearing rainforest for plantations are less than those when the forest is retained in its original condition.

Monbiot’s conclusions are a reflection of the crisis the main stream media finds itself in.

Governments ignore issues when the media ignores them. And the media ignores them because … well, there’s a question with a thousand answers, many of which involve power. But one reason is the complete failure of perspective in a de-skilled industry dominated by corporate press releases, photo ops and fashion shoots, where everyone seems to be waiting for everyone else to take a lead. The media makes a collective non-decision to treat this catastrophe as a non-issue, and we all carry on as if it’s not happening.

At the climate summit in Paris in December the media, trapped within the intergovernmental bubble of abstract diplomacy and manufactured drama, will cover the negotiations almost without reference to what is happening elsewhere. The talks will be removed to a realm with which we have no moral contact. And, when the circus moves on, the silence will resume. Is there any other industry that serves its customers so badly?

 

54 comments on “Indonesia is burning ”

  1. RedLogix 1

    The intersection of human greed and climate change is happening.

    Right now here in Victoria we’ve just had the driest October in a century, off the back of the driest winter. My partner just spent a week in Swan Hill staying with a grain farming family. They are quite adamant about it – over the past decade the climate has changed and they are now very much at the limits of their adaptation to it.

    Now we see this happening in Indonesia. Of course the proximate causes will also include corruption, greed, illegal logging and the cursed palm oil industry. They will have a bad year, we’ll blog about it, and then we’ll forget about it.

    But within another few years it will happen again. And again. Then people will start fleeing out of desperation.

    South.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      But within another few years it will happen again. And again. Then people will start fleeing out of desperation.

      South.

      And when that happens we’ll close our borders as we just won’t be able to support that many people. Just as other countries have done.

      It’s just going to get worse from here on out and there’s little to nothing we can do about it. The unfortunate side effect of over population.

  2. Tory 2

    The slash and burn of the islands in Indonesia has been going on for years; countries like Singapore and Malaysia have been the recipients of the smoke and been putting pressure on Indonesia but to date this has had little effect. The world has an insatiable demand for palm oil, that was supposed to replace fossil fuels and is so widely used now it’s difficult to see what it can be replaced with.

    • savenz 2.1

      Fossil fuels can be replaced by solar power. Cows can actually eat local grass!

      Most of the products containing palm oil such as biscuits and chips are processed foods which don’t have much nutrition in them anyway.

      People need clear air to breathe and as people start gasping for air maybe remember we used to have clear air in our world.

      • Tory 2.1.1

        Palm Oil is used to replace vegetable oil and is also used in bio fuels. 50% of consumer goods use Palm oil. I don’t like the catastrophe that deforestation is creating as more Palm Oil plantations are planted but it’s not something that solar power can’t fix (apart from solar powered vehicles replacing bio fuels). Significant research in the UK is investigating alternatives (such as oily yeast) and that is the answer and where the funding needs to be centred.

        • savenz 2.1.1.1

          I think long term, air might be more important than consumer goods like chips somehow. Money can not buy clean air.

          The change away from fossil fuels should have happened 20 years ago and at a more rapid pace.

          The cause is powerful lobbyists that have changed government policy and destroyed research and funded climate change deniers that are the problem.

          Also consumers do not want to buy these products but are forced too, again by lobbyists who will not allow full labelling of food origins and ingredients. Palm oil is rebranded as ‘vegetable oil’ to keep the rout going.

          As for oil, in most cases there are cleaner and cheaper options like solar and if multiple alternate technology had been developed 20 years ago instead of stifled by oil interests then we would be in a much better position.

          Are we winning in NZ by buying in all this palm oil and giving oil execs 10 million is science grants and have a pathetic carbon aim? NOPE.

          TPP is just another way to prop up the inevitable. Now taxpayers will have to pay polluters to stop polluting. Sound fair?

          Hope all those people go to the Hague one day for their crimes.

  3. savenz 3

    +100 – agree one hundred percent. Hard to know what to do about it.

    But it is clear the media is not really the news media any more, just a vehicle for propaganda and advertorials by people in power who decide what is acceptable to report and what is not.

    The climate is definitely changing in NZ. There are more droughts, more floods and more earthquakes.

    Instead of doing something about climate change, governments fed by lobbyists, are instead trying to get as much money and power as possible by capitalising on the imminent disasters and then by means of TPP agreements, the public will have to pay the polluters to stop.

    There is a reason the TPP are being hurriedly signed and that is so those in power can keep those profits going without worrying about the environment or being asked to stop polluting in a hurry.

    • Bill 3.1

      Those in power have to believe that everything will be okay. The corporate driven and corporate friendly ‘trade’ deals are a part of power protecting itself on the basis that tomorrow will look more or less like today.

      The people in power also need us to believe that everything will be okay. And so we get fed their groundless (ever less) rosy spin – a spin they themselves cling to.

      Given that power in the modern world stands atop economic primacy, then the market economy takes precedence over everything else. This has allegedly led to climate modelers being pressured to twist the parameters of their models to accommodate the ‘need’ for an ongoing market economy.

      The media then picks up on the upbeat and hopeful summaries or conclusions of the models. They ignore – probably aren’t aware of – the dodgy data inputs, the ‘novel’ tech inputs, the ‘behind the back coin flip’ that informs the positive 2 degree C message…

      Things are not okay.

      But we’re dealing with a situation where the priests and their followers (economists, politicians, business leaders etc) simply can’t conscience that fact.

      The question based on where we are is, how do we bring down a pervasive religion?

  4. Amy 4

    As tory said, this has been going on for long time. What is happening is very bad, but Indonesia is a very poor country and very much too many people. I find it impossible to condemn what they are doing as they are exploiting one of the few resources they have in order to survive. We in the wealthy countries cannot simply say this is wrong. For many Indonesians, this is about economic survival.

    And is nz any different? Nz is destroying it’s environment by Dairy farming. This in many ways is invisible but has far greater effect on world pollution than the fires in Indonesia. And we are a wealthy country that has great ability to make choices more than the poor countries. Let us lead by example rather than condemnation.

    • weka 4.1

      I agree, the richer countries are at least as much to blame, probably more. What do you suggest we do in leading by example?

      • Amy 4.1.1

        Ha! Please ask an easy question! Dairy farmers have made great wealth at the expense of Kiwi environment. But this industry is now strong and maybe time for government to ask the polluter to pay. Not the general taxpayer.

        Not an answer maybe but a start. I went Dunedin recently by car, and stink from Dairy farms from oamaru to Dunedin was very bad. And this is can smell. Hate to think what rivers and sea around there is like. Maybe a tax levy on Dairy industry would be start. Polluter to pay.

        • weka 4.1.1.1

          Yes, industrial dairying would be one of my first targets too, both for the pollution and land destruction they cause here and their reliance on palm oil from Indonesia and Malaysia.

          The government will never do anything about this so I hope you will vote for the Green Party at the next election (they want polluter pays).

          • Amy 4.1.1.1.1

            You just keep asking the hard questions! I do agree with many Green principles but they do not seem to make clear overall policy. Maybe that my poor understanding or maybe they need to raise clearer and wider policy statements.

            Yes ‘green’ is essential but not by decree. As example. Rail makes sense for long distance transport but not by government instruction. By good government funding and good management yes.

            • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1.1.1.1

              Actually, regulations setting standards are essential to bring about proper economising. The non-regulation and standards that we have is what’s causing the problems that we and the world have.

              • Amy

                Standards and regulations are essential of course. But if I want, for example, to send a container from Auckland to wellington, then I want to be free to choose how.

                Do not presuppose that you know my needs better than me, so encourage me. Make rail attractive. Make it cheap. Then I will choose that option.

                If you use regulation to force me to use rail, then the result is I think the rail company will become sow, rude, corrupt. I instinctively hate regulations that force.me to do what someone else thinks may be right.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  But if I want, for example, to send a container from Auckland to wellington, then I want to be free to choose how.

                  Why?

                  Quite specifically, why would you want to spend extra time and money to make those decisions? You’re only concern is to get it there within a reasonable time frame.

                  If you use regulation to force me to use rail, then the result is I think the rail company will become sow, rude, corrupt.

                  If we had the correct regulations in place then trucks wouldn’t be an option for long haul as they’d cost too much. The problem we have now is that the regulations aren’t correct and so trucks get a massive subsidy from private motor vehicles making them look cheaper when they’re actually far more expensive. Proper regulation would get rid of that subsidy and get the trucks off the roads.

                  • Amy

                    OK so you, your very own words, do not want me to be free. Clearly you know better than me what I need and so you are superior to me and can make my decisions for me!

                    Maybe this is because you are a man? Or because you are white? Or because you were born in may or June or whatever?

                    No. I will make may own decisions thank you!

                    And if cars subsidize trucks, then a business case can and should be made to support this. But l, as example please, rail is slow. Maybe that ok but if I want speed rather than cheap it my choice. No any governments.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      OK so you, your very own words, do not want me to be free.

                      WTF?

                      And if cars subsidize trucks, then a business case can and should be made to support this.

                      It’s been done. There’s a government report on it around somewhere showing that trucks don’t pay for the damage that they do to the roads. Considering that the road network presently brings in enough to cover maintenance then the obvious solution is that the trucks are being subsidised by the other road users.

                      But l, as example please, rail is slow.

                      That is an atrocious sentence but I take it you mean that you believe that trains are slow. This is incorrect – trains are actually faster than trucks. I linked to a transport group not long ago that used multi-modal delivery including trains and ships. They were one of the companies that are really pissed off with the government not putting in the necessary investment into rail.

                      Maybe that ok but if I want speed rather than cheap it my choice.

                      Nobody’s taking that away from you. You’d still be able to say to the transport company that you want the parcel picked up and delivered at these times. How they do that is up to them. It’s really not a choice that you need to make and you trying to make that choice will, inevitably, actually stuff up economical distribution.

                      But if you want to pay for that then go for it – it’ll just ensure that nobody will buy from you thus you’ll go out of business saving us all huge amounts of resources. Unfortunately you’ll probably whinge that the government forced you out of business through excessive regulations.

                    • weka

                      “Maybe that ok but if I want speed rather than cheap it my choice. No any governments.”

                      In that case, what fine should you pay for choosing the more polluting option? (seeing as you support polluter pays).

                • McFlock

                  You just said what you need in that instance: to move a container from Auckland to Wellington.
                  You indicated the main factor in that decision for you was cost, because you would choose the cheaper option.

                  So we subsidise rail to make it cheap, you have the illusion of choice therefore you think you are free even though the outcome is predetermined.

                  However, introducing regulations to favour rail would increase rail traffic, increasing its development and making it cheaper. It is kept honest and fast by already available third-party systems like GPS package tracking. It does not cost you more, but the illusion of choice has been removed so you’re arguing that this is somehow worse?

                  “Free” markets are just another kind of prison: 99% of the population end up as wage slaves, the other 1% are too terrified to leave their self-purchased bubbles of security and sycophants.

            • weka 4.1.1.1.1.2

              The Greens have some of the most comprehensive policy statements online of any party. This is the best link if you want to see them all https://home.greens.org.nz/policy

              Or this one if you want to browse by issue https://www.greens.org.nz/policy

              I’m curious why you find their policies not clear. Can you give some examples?

              • Amy

                Thank you and I will read your link. I say not clear because if I must search online to read it. Lazy yes I know this, but labour and national are ‘clear’ in that they are almost single issue policies parties. I know without thinking what their views on most things are. Simple views.

                Greens very good in saying their views about certain specifuc issues but, as with the rail example, detail is not there. Your link. May answer this, and I will read, but I think their message is maybe more subtle than labour and national.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  I say not clear because if I must search online to read it.

                  You expect to get it by osmosis or something? You certainly won’t get it in the MSM who refuse to cover policies at all. If they did then the delusion that National won on policy would be clear to all as National had no policy.

                  • Amy

                    So if you ran a business, as all politics is in every country, even in dictatorship regimes, you maybe think that you do not need to sell me your policies? No I not expect osmosis. But I do expect if you believe strongly enough in your view that you will sell those polices to me, rather than expecting me to go looking to find what it is you demand that I buy.

                    And the MSN is a business. It writes what sells. Superficially and badly. National won on a mix of personalities and policy and a completely ludicrous oppositional leader who was even more superficial than the MSN. ‘I apologize for being a man! Well in that statement he made us all realize that he was not a man. Or a women either.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      So if you ran a business, as all politics is in every country, even in dictatorship regimes

                      No it’s not and it shouldn’t be viewed that way.

                      But I do expect if you believe strongly enough in your view that you will sell those polices to me

                      The Greens do but they also expect you to look deeper into the policies. Unlike a business who hopes that you simply by from the shiny, manipulative advertising without thought (Which is really what you seem to be demanding – that you really shouldn’t need to think these things).

                      National won on a mix of personalities and policy

                      They can’t possibly have won on policy because they didn’t have any. Everyone who actually looked could tell you that. You obviously didn’t look.

              • Amy

                I think my comment in reply not too clear. As example, why do Greens never campaign about disgusting air pollution in christchurch? It appears because burning wood is renewable and so this is OK and so this fits their philosophy. That the pollution is killing the old and babies is OK as the greater ideology is preserved.

                Maybe I am incorrect. But this appears to me to be the conflicts in their policy between ideology and reality.

                • weka

                  Air pollution in NZ is a regional council issue. In general in NZ we don’t have national political parties engaging in local body politics eg putting up a candidate for the local regional council. Of course the irony there is that there were environmentally concerned councillors elected onto the Canterbury council (including a GP person), and they got sacked by the National government and replaced with anti-environment people.

                  If you want the GP do something regional, what you have to do is contact your local MP like you would for any other party.

                  Re your belief that the GP won’t take action to clean up air pollution because they support wood burning, I’ve never seen them say this. In fact here’s a press release from March 2015 where they are calling on better regulation than the current govt is doing (nationally or via Ecan). Of course this is a dilemma for you, because it would limit your freedom to burn wood, but the only way that air quality will be controlled is via regulation.

                  https://www.greens.org.nz/news/press-releases/broader-focus-needed-canterbury-air-plan-safeguard-our-health

                  Re your other comment about the GP needing to get its message to you, they’re actually very good at putting across what they believe and want for the country. That’s why many people in recent years have considered them the actual opposition. They run clear, professional campaigns pre-election, they have good social media reach, and they do reasonable well at press releases. If you want to keep up to date, join their email list, that’s what most people do. I’m not sure what else you expect them to do. They have limited resources and prioritise those.

        • savenz 4.1.1.2

          @Amy – Dairy is not strong. Farmers have got into debt, their is drought and soil issues and over stocking and now huge costs paying for palm oil for supplementary feed.

          Fonterra have made poor decisions as a company and farmers were made promises of high returns, not kept.

          The execs of Fonterra get millions while the farmers go under.

          If there was any real interest in climate change and how to try to farm more sustainably the farmers would be interested in my view, however sustainability is all framed as costing farmers which it does not have to be.

          For example Swales are an excellent way to improve pasture and retain water and farmers can do it themselves, but that does not make money for someone so not marketed as an option.

          The government should have looked at cost effective ways the farmers could manage their farms more productively and look at what happens when their is less water.

          Instead they are encouraging farmers to use as much resources as possible to keep the unsustainable method of farming going and kill the golden goose.

          Likewise in Indonesia, I bet the average Indonesian is not profiting at all from the forest destruction – it is a myth they are – more likely a few individuals and companies at the expense of their long term future.

          • Amy 4.1.1.2.1

            In Indonesia, and sadly like I think many poor countries especially of East Asia, corruption rules and the poor benefit little by comparison. But they still do profit in terms of earnings that are usually higher than they can get elsewhere. In many of these countries there is a large network of small operations run by poor people that feed into larger operations by slightly less poor and so on to the corrupt top.

            The poor are exploited but still earn large income when compared to alternatives which are usually subsistence farming.

            • savenz 4.1.1.2.1.1

              I doubt those Indonesians caught up in the fires and without clean air to breathe, share your views. Sadly those that profit most from Forest destruction are not likely to be living nearby or probably not even in the country. In addition have the means to relocate in a hurry if they are. It is the local people who lose out from pollution the most.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.2

      I find it impossible to condemn what they are doing as they are exploiting one of the few resources they have in order to survive.

      They managed to survive quite well for thousands of years before the importation of the Global Marketplace. I’m sure that they could do so again and survive quite well.

      That said, chances are they have far more resources available to them but they’re just not being developed and used to support the local population. Same thing happens in NZ as our resources get extracted and shipped offshore causing us to become poorer.

      We in the wealthy countries cannot simply say this is wrong.

      Of course we can and should. Same as we should be stopping the environmental destruction that farming is doing to our country.

      For many Indonesians, this is about economic survival.

      I’ve always considered that actual survival to be more important than economic survival.

      • Amy 4.2.1

        You live in a wealthy country where even the ‘poor’ are wealthy in comparison to most of the world’s population.

        If you have ever experienced true poverty and food shortages and the lack of basic essentials you would not have this view.

        And you are on the Internet. That also is a significant to contributer to global warming. Are you prepared to even give that up for the greater good?

        Please do not expect the poor of the world to remain poor so you can be a rich westerner.

        • Draco T Bastard 4.2.1.1

          Please do not expect the poor of the world to remain poor so you can be a rich westerner.

          I don’t expect them to remain poor. I expect them to find a better way to increase their nations living standard than doing something so destructive and selling the result to rich nations. That really only helps the rich nations and a few people in the country that allows such destructive practises.

      • Lloyd 4.2.2

        If you look at historical data on population numbers it is obvious that the population of Indonesia was just surviving and the global market’s supply of antibiotics and basic medicine has allowed the population to survive much better with a resulting increase in population numbers. The Indonesian government has had a policy of relocating people from the most densely populated island of Java to other islands, and the present situation is a result of this policy.
        Java has fertile volcanic soils which can be farmed by slash and burn techniques in a relatively sustainable way. When these traditional methods are applied to the peat soils of Sumatra and Borneo the result is uncontrolled fires and is not sustainable. The result is also a global catastrophe. Ultimately the only way the world can save Sumatra and Borneo is to move a large portion of the population of Indonesian Borneo and Sumatra back to Java. This would only work if there was a massive increase in non-agricultural jobs in Java, The only way this is likely to occur is if there is a rapid increase in the global investment creating industrial jobs in Java, Unfortunately the only way that is likely to occur is via the global marketplace.
        The long term solution is education of Indonesian women and easy access to birth control. These will occur much faster in an industrial rather than rural population.

        • Draco T Bastard 4.2.2.1

          If you look at historical data on population numbers it is obvious that the population of Indonesia was just surviving

          That’s true of every nation.

          The only way this is likely to occur is if there is a rapid increase in the global investment creating industrial jobs in Java,

          BS.

          Oh, I can agree with the idea of massive investment to produce better jobs. I just don’t agree with it requiring global investment. The local government should be doing that by the simple expedient of creating money and spending/taxing it where necessary.

          • Lloyd 4.2.2.1.1

            of course it would be better if the country pulled itself up by its own bootstraps, Of course it should be the Indonesian government. I am just being realistic about the way Indonesia has been run since independence from the Dutch. Unless there is a communist style revolution, (unlikely but not impossible given the gross corruption and incompetence of much of the countries governance) the only likely source of the amount of capital required to industrialise Java is foreign investment.

  5. Colonial Viper 5

    Worthwhile noting that is a photo of KL, Malaysia.

  6. Mrs Brillo 6

    New Zealand farmers have a double responsibility here.

    Our reporters should be asking Big Dairy for comment.

    Have a little Google on — palm oil dairy farming — for a dismal read.

    Part of the Indonesian palm oil fiasco has been brought about providing feed for New Zealand cows.

  7. Tory 7

    Poission. Yes the issue is Palm oil has replaced traditional vegetable oils because we are using the vegetable oils for bio diesel. Palm oil is that widely used throughout the world you can’t simply say stop using it. NZ dairy farmers are using a by-product from the Palm oil as stock feed and the use of this plays no part in Palm oil production. Perhaps those who have argued for greater production of bio fuels could provide some answers to this issue as it is clear that the rise in bio fuel production has resulted in a rise of Palm oil production.

    • McFlock 7.1

      labelling would be a start.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.2

      NZ dairy farmers are using a by-product from the Palm oil as stock feed and the use of this plays no part in Palm oil production.

      The feed is a direct result of the production of palm oil and it’s sale adds to the profit from the production of palm oil. To say that it plays no part is disingenuous.

  8. Tory 8

    No, Palm oil production has replaced vegetable oil production because some green rocket scientists advocated for bio fuels to replace fossil fuels. If no palm kernel was used, it would not make one bit of difference to Palm oil production. Sure it may add to the profit but that is how by-products work. If Fonterra outlawed palm kernel tomorrow how much Palm oil production would cease? None.

    • Draco T Bastard 8.1

      No, Palm oil production has replaced vegetable oil production because some green rocket scientists advocated for bio fuels to replace fossil fuels.

      [citation needed]

      Really, biofuels were suggested to help save the environment from the excess GHG emissions from cars and trucks. Obviously, destroying the environment to produce them isn’t part of the suggested plan.

      If Fonterra outlawed palm kernel tomorrow how much Palm oil production would cease?

      But if all countries banned the use and importation of palm oil and by-products I’m sure palm oil production would stop overnight. Or, hell, even if the Indonesian government simply banned it we’d see palm oil production stopped. The items that presently use palm oil would have to make do.

      As I said up thread – we need better regulations. Without regulations we see this type destruction increasing and idiots coming along telling us that it can’t be stopped because money.

  9. Maggy Wassilieff 9

    Reasons for Indonesian and Malaysian forests disappearing into palm-oil plantations
    1. Very productive plant
    2. trans-fat free vegetable oil
    3. EU biofuel mandate

    http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/elist/eListRead/whats_fueling_the_demand_for_the_palm_oil_destroying_the_rainforests_of_ind/

  10. Ad 10

    Monboit is such a doll, but it’s pretty rich of New Zealanders to criticize Indonesia for burning down its forests for farming. After all, we did it for over a century.

    Also, since the picture is of Malaysian landscape, let’s go there. It’s got a stable and tolerant Muslim population of about 30 million, unemployment of 3%, annual inflation of 3%, and forecasts pretty good GDP growth of around 5% to 2020.

    Plus, unlike New Zealand for the last 30 years, it actually has a plan. A real life economic plan.

    A couple of highlights: it intends to increase its trade surplus to 57.3 Billion Ringgit by 2020.
    And, it intends to lower its dependence on oil-related revenue to 15.5% by 2020.

    This is not a laissez-faire government like the one we have. They seek policy outcomes, and really plan and act to get them.

    This is a country that has dealt with far greater racial problems than ours, and has only been independent since 1957.

    That picture above could have been taken in New Zealand any time from the 1830s to the 1980s, and still happens in Southland.

    (Not saying there’s a comparison to Indonesia, which is just f***ed).

    But if we’re not prepared to stomach a Lee Kwan Yew-style structural adjustment, we could do worse than look to Malaysia as a model to evaluate for ourselves.

    • RedLogix 10.1

      but it’s pretty rich of New Zealanders to criticize Indonesia for burning down its forests for farming. After all, we did it for over a century.

      A short examination of the history of any peoples will turn up something that seemed like a good idea at the time, but in hindsight we really don’t do anymore. The past stands in condemnation of us all – but equally if we always insisted this should silence the voices of progress – we would still be mired in it.

      But otherwise your perspective about Malaysia are worth thinking about. We often hold up Finland as a model, but in truth NZ these days probably has more in common with a nation like Malaysia.

  11. Mike the Savage One 11

    This is not new, it has been reported on BBC World at a number of occasions over recent weeks. And it happens every year, around the same time span, where they burn off rain forest to make room for palm oil and other “cultivated” plants.

    In South America something similar is happening, but with less smoke affecting the larger urban regions, I suppose, where Amazon rain-forest is cleared. Also in northern Argentina, Paraguay and Southern Brazil they have large mono-culture growing soy beans.

    All this is in the name of “progress”, and as some have hinted, it is also to deliver “alternative” fuels. But most is for processed food production, some for animal feed, and with the growing middle classes in China, India and many other developing nations, there is more demand for the goods to be produced.

    Watching the news on TV today, more than half was of course on the Rugby World Cup and win of the All Blacks. The coming days and weeks the MSM will report endlessly on how great which one of the All Blacks was, and whether and when Ritchie McCaw will get his knighthood. John Key was there, of course, and he will entertain Paul Henry and others with his new impressions and feelings.

    There is the new flag referendum ahead of us, a leaflet came with the Sunday Star Times this morning.

    As I observe, few people are changing their behaviours, they continue driving their cars day and night, they continue to buy products made in one way packaging, they continue to use endless amounts of plastic shopping bags, they expect cheap and affordable consumer goods with palm oil and other additives, which they enjoy, and they want more and more, as far as their pay may reach.

    The rivers continue to be polluted, the island mentality is upheld, so to think what happens in Indonesia or other places will not affect us much, and we continue to be inundated with endless commercial advertising, telling us we need to consume more, as that keeps the economy growing.

    Auckland must also grow to 2.5 million, as we need more consumers and workers, and a greater market, is the mantra. So they sing in unison, the free trade apostles and followers, no matter from which one of the larger parties.

    I cannot recommend bringing new kids into this world anymore, as I think the future is so uncertain, and potentially hazardous, it will be a very unsafe and unpleasant place, unless we radically change within the coming 5 to 10 years. No shit show of that happening with the government we have.

    Of course Groser and so go on about doing more than others, but as a matter of fact, most live with a solid fossil fuel mentality, as so far the whole efforts made worldwide will not achieve a true change from over reliance on fossil fuels. Many nations are preparing to go more nuclear for energy production, hence a recent agreement on cooperation between China and the UK in this area.

  12. johnm 12

    The destruction and rape and pollution of a once beautiful Planet forebodes our own end as the rate of climate change increases a byproduct or external cost of Industrialism, globalisation, development, exponential growth, overpopulation and plain rapacious greed. Here in our own island we will suffer too despite our apparent isolation, the destruction will sweep us away in time:

    No man is an island,
    Entire of itself,
    Every man is a piece of the continent,
    A part of the main.
    If a clod be washed away by the sea,
    Europe is the less.
    As well as if a promontory were.
    As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
    Or of thine own were:
    Any man’s death diminishes me,
    Because I am involved in mankind,
    And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
    It tolls for thee.
    John Donne

    Indonesia’s fires are a bell that tolls for us.

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