Much of western Indonesia is currently undergoing massive fires, producing enormous amounts of smoke-haze, and disrupting large parts of society in the region. This is unlikely to be ‘normal’ seasonal burning; it could rank among the worst fire seasons on record in Indonesia, with frequent and larger fires this year than in previous years. The burning will likely last for at least another month.
Miriam Marlier, Columbia University and University of California, Los Angeles; Guido van der Werf, VU University Amsterdam; David Gaveau, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR); Robert Field, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies; Allan Spessa, The Open University
October 9th, 2015
October 7th, 2015
Residents in Southeast Asia are currently being subjected to a heavy blanket of smoke and haze spreading across the region. The haze originates in large part from the burning of forests and peat soils in order to prepare land for agriculture, such as palm oil. But reading news reports and even seeing pictures cannot always convey the daily experience in the way that first-hand accounts can. Read More
Antony J. Lynam, Ph.D.
Conservationist & Regional Advisor, Wildlife Conservation Society—Asia Programs
October 5th, 2015
As the temperature soars over 100 degrees, our ranger patrol in Cambodia’s Preah Vihear Protected Forest is in full swing. A whining sound alerts us to a chainsaw operating in the distance. The team goes into action. AK-47s cocked and ready, the three rangers move forward circling a spot on a dry riverbank where timber is being illegally sawn. Read More
September 24th, 2015
Since starting our work on palm oil, UCS has taken a position that a company’s zero deforestation commitment needs to cover all of its operations, not just the products it sells or manufactures in the US. US consumers holding a company accountable for its global operations is not a new concept. The successful boycott of Nestlé in the US and Europe, which started in the late 1970’s, was the result of practices by that company in the developing world. Consumers not only want to buy products that don’t harm the planet but also want to buy products from companies they trust. Read More
September 22nd, 2015
In the last few years, there has been heartening news, based on new scientific data, about progress in reducing global deforestation. The IPCC, in its Fifth Assessment Report in 2014, reviewed all the previously published evidence and concluded that deforestation and the emissions of global warming pollution that it produces had dropped in recent years. The Global Carbon Project, an annual review of the planet’s carbon cycle and its implications for climate change, found the same trend in its 2014 assessment. Read More
September 14th, 2015
9/15/2015 Update: Since the publication of this blog, Costco has updated their palm oil commitment. Their commitment now includes specific language around the protection of forests and goes beyond a RSPO-certified commitment. However, the timeline for compliance has been pushed to 2021. Importantly, Costco has also committed to no-burn policies and some level of traceability, though they do not specify if this traceability is to the plantation level.
August 18th, 2015
Perhaps the most viral meme in the discussion about global food and agriculture has been that we will need to produce at least 60% more food in 2050. This statement has been repeated hundreds and perhaps thousands of times in the past decade, often as the introduction to articles, speeches and web postings explaining why it’s necessary to raise agricultural production, whether by using GMOs, clearing forests, or totally revolutionizing the global food system.
August 11th, 2015
Imagine you hear that a group of businesses has hired some of the best minds in the world to invent a new thing called a “wheel.”
“Strange,” you say, “don’t we already have wheels?” In fact, aren’t most businesses, consumer groups, and customers pretty firmly in support of these current “wheels?” Read More
August 6th, 2015
What if you thought the car you drove got 40 mpg but I told you that it only gets 24 mpg? What if that ice cream sandwich that you treat yourself to after dinner had not 300 calories but 500? What if leaving your air conditioner on during the day cost not $40 a month but $67? Would any of these things make you rethink your purchasing decisions or habits? Read More
August 6th, 2015
Soon after I moved from academia into the NGO world in 2007, to work on ending tropical deforestation, I was warned about the fierce argument about whether carbon markets should have any connection with forests and reducing deforestation. Colleagues told me: this is a divisive subject and has been a constant source of tension within the NGO community and beyond. It nearly sank the Kyoto Protocol and led to the breakdown of the UN climate negotiations in The Hague in 2000. Getting involved in it is a sure-fire way to lose friends and irritate people. Avoid it as much as you can.