I'd like to raise awareness of a crisis that, along with India's devastating post-earthquake, winter approaching economic blockade of Nepal, has been woefully underreported by the global media. The destruction of entire Southeast Asian ecosystems and communities seems way more important than the life of a single lion.
Rather than purport to have first hand information on a major environmental crisis, let me put together a few quotes from a Guardian article by George Monbiot:
"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."
"Orangutans, clouded leopards, sun bears, gibbons, the Sumatran rhinoceros and Sumatran tiger, these are among the threatened species being driven from much of their range by the flames."
"[The fires] are producing more carbon dioxide than the US economy. And in three weeks the fires have released more CO2 than the annual emissions of Germany."
"It’s not just the trees that are burning. It is the land itself. Much of the forest sits on great domes of peat. When the fires penetrate the earth, they smoulder for weeks, sometimes months, releasing clouds of methane, carbon monoxide, ozone and exotic gases such as ammonium cyanide. The plumes extend for hundreds of miles...
Why is this happening? Indonesia’s forests have been fragmented for decades by timber and farming companies. Canals have been cut through the peat to drain and dry it. Plantation companies move in to destroy what remains of the forest to plant monocultures of pulpwood, timber and palm oil. The easiest way to clear the land is to torch it."
Okay, and then a huge dig at the hollowed out international news community:
"....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."
Okay, read this alarming article yourself. A great opportunity for mobilization of people with skills in environmental management and rehabilitation. And yes, the Guardian has supplanted The New York Times as my go-to source for insightful views.