It’s dusk and the cicadas that have been yelling all day are exponentially increasing their volume as the sky turns a husky pink, giving an odd glow to the forest that surrounds me in every direction. The cicadas are perhaps only exceeded in noise by the frogs. I alternate holding my ears and marveling at their ability to raise such a racket. When the frogs start their hollering becomes so intense you can’t think about anything else. The birds soon begin swooping about, calling out and catching air born insects. A group of gibbons adds their chatter to the music that accompanies the sunsetting glow of the sky.
There are dozens upon dozen of other species, big and small, plant and animal that are adding to this overwhelmingly sensory moment. So many voices contribute that I can’t distinguish their individuality. But outside these 588 square kilometers of conservation, it’s silent, dusty and bland. I want to call it a ghost town, but I know it’s full of plants, even if they do seem brain-dead. Plants don’t grow climbing over one another; they’ve been restricted plots within straight rows. The magic of the jungle isn’t felt on the Palm tree plantations crowded out the once magnificent Borneo jungle.
According to Rolf Skar, as quoted in http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=90714122 NPR story, “The fastest and the worst deforestation rate in the history of humankind is taking place in the tropical forests of Indonesia,” Skar says. “That record-breaking rain forest destruction is being fueled by the clearing of land to make palm oil.” A simple Google search shows how much easily found information exists extolling the repercussions of palm oil and the easily found alternatives. Look http://kids.mongabay.com/elementary/palm_oil.html for another accessible article about the negatives of Palm oil (specifically on Orang-utans) and what you can do to help.
Bad news makes up most of mainstream new media stories, especially environment-focused stories: such and such is destroying this ecosystem and that subsistence community and giving cancer to a rare species of recently discovered fish. It’s easy become cynical and to shut it all out. I find little bites work better. Even if you do nothing about Palm oil in your life, just realizing what it’s in and how much of connected world we live in is a step in the right direction. And, isn’t that what it’s all about?