Forest and plantation – what’s so different?

cartoon about palm oil

 

Summary: everything is barely easy when the palm oil industry ‘struggles’ to provide the whole world with ‘environmentally-friendly’ bio-ethanol.

Cartoon’s source: Union of Concerned Scientists

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Singaporean haze: now you still see me

now you cant see me

 

The relationship between either Singapore or Malaysia and Indonesia has never been obviously easy. Our relationship with the two nations have been put into countless tests: some housemaids indiscriminately ill-treated, numerous young people trafficked and exploited inhumanely either in industrial sectors or prostitution, Malaysia claiming some waters and portions of our cultures we ourselves, to be honest, rarely appreciate, Singapore rumored to have illegally imported sands from Riau archipelago for its reclamation projects, and at its top list today, the en masse haze pollution brought about as a consequence of mushrooming ‘slash-and-burn’ tactics employed in numerous palm oil plantations across Sumatra and Borneo.

The haze has seemingly been on its satanic cycle, reiterating what the age-old wisdom says, ‘history repeats itself’. Indonesia itself has, as cynically described, ‘exported’ huge amounts of haze to Malaysia and Singapore, firstly in 1997, secondly in 2006, thirdly in 2009, and the latest in 2013. Singapore’s air pollution indicator, or PSI, even climaxed at 400, the level beyond which may trigger a nearly post-apocalyptic phantasm. Virtually all the populace were hardly able to view the city-state’s skyline, as though thoroughly consumed by smog.

Here comes the question: who is to blame for such rehearsed occurrence? The pin-pointing diplomatic war has just commenced. Indonesian government accused Singaporean and Malaysian palm-oil giants of failing to abide by ‘zero-burn’ policies; both authorities, in response, criticized our venal, red-tape-takes-all-the-baksheesh administration which had let loose the corporations in exploiting the nature. President SBY himself, meanwhile, had offered an official apology, but as a consequence, became subject of ridicule for bulk of the parliament. Indonesia, instead of cooperating with Singaporean and Malaysian emergency teams, opted to seek assistance from Russian military planes to extinguish the raging hot spots. Online, most Singaporeans incessantly castigated to both Singaporean and Indonesian governments for failing to sanction the most possible penalty for the companies involved.

Pin-pointing, ironically, never makes us look subtle. We instead only haul over the coals to other sides without utter contemplation at our own. And that is, in my personal opinion, what currently happens between our wiggle-waggle relation. Indonesia aims for a greener economy, but the implementation of zero-burn policies merely remains valid on paper. The government targets 1-billion-tree campaign, but our forests prevail on fire beyond control. Those plantation giants are, miserably, Janus-faced; on one side, they have planted hundred millions of trees and mangroves. On the other, they blindly pollute the environment, and destroy more woods. Either Indonesian or Singaporean government promises strict punishment for plantation giants. In the end, only petty farmers, or small or middle plantation owners, taste the bitter justice, while corporations with influential political ties remain safe.

The hail may have come to Singapore today, but in the future, with little measures taken until today, everything is beyond predilection if such things, probably on larger scale, may possibly take place again.

 

Read the report about Singapore’s downpour in Global Voices Online.

For those with the foggiest ideas, refer to the full chronology in Wikipedia.

 

How Taleb defines ‘stable’

taleb

 

 

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a financial analyst-turned-philosopher shares his ubiquitously ‘anti-mainstream’ thoughts about what it means to be ‘stable’. Having experienced life in tumultuous and tranquil places (he spent his childhood in war-ravaged Lebanon, and adulthood in Wall Street), he expresses his viewpoints in Epiphanies, a sub-section about idea-shower from the world’s leading thinkers, by Foreign Policy magazine.

 

Excerpt:

 

The most stable country in the history of mankind, and probably the most boring, by the way, is Switzerland. It’s not even a city-state environment; it’s a municipal state. Most decisions are made at the local level, which allows for distributed errors that don’t adversely affect the wider system. Meanwhile, people want a united Europe, more alignment, and look at the problems. The solution is right in the middle of Europe — Switzerland. It’s not united! It doesn’t have a Brussels! It doesn’t need one.

I just came back from Lebanon, which I feel is the most stable place in the whole area. Every risk is visible to the naked eye there; you can’t be harmed by something like that. The homicide rate is much lower than that in the United States. The media says it’s chaos — but it’s not. In the end, it’s stable because Hezbollah and the Shiites know that they have to live with the Sunnis and the Christians. It can’t fall apart because it’s a perfectly controlled mess.