Can orangs be saved in Borneo?

This week I watched a film about the fate of orangs in Borneo. Here is a similar account., as the TV programme will only be available for 28 days.

The programme started with the information that orang utans were declared a critically endangered species in 2016, and ended ended with the following plea as to what could be done to halt this destruction. I repeat it for those who click this weblog post after the BBC link expires:

There is no magic bullet solution. We need to work with governments and communities. We need to work with farmers and consumers in the west as well.

I think that the way the world is moving, the way investment is moving, there is only one solution, and that is sustainable palm oil.

Now is the time to call on the companies that produce palm oil to ensure that their products do not drive the deforestation of Borneo’s rqinforest.

That means supermarkets, it means food producers, it means institutions like the EU and national governments saying “No to palm oil – until we can guarantee that it comes from legal and sustainable sources.”

At this point, the on-screen message was that in 2018 one (unnamed) UK supermarket claimed 100% sustainable palm oil.

We are the dominant animal n the planet and the fate of all other organisms depends on us. We are wiping out our closest living relatives, which is not very clever for a species which has the gall to call itself ‘sapiens’.

This is all very obvious straightforward, and eminently sensible. But why have these eminently sensible steps not yet been taken? Rainforest destruction is hardly a novel phenomenon.

That there is no magic bullet is an unfortunate metaphor bearing in mind that the biggest single cause of decline in orang numbers is hunting. But there is a sine qua non:

The end of economic growth as a basic assumption.

Some forms of growth are welcome, but it is the mind set which assumes overall growth which leads o the myriad decosions, some large, like rainforest logging, some small, like visiting grandchildren in Australia, which cause devastation.  Human tribes in Brazil and Nigeria are also suffering.

The Tragedy of the Commons (see my weblog Page) dictates that current trends, however horrendous will continue unabated until agreement is unanimous – no one must be able to steal a march on anyone else.

Moreover,a ‘steady state economy’, necessary as it is if this and other forms of ecological destruction are to be halted, is a euphemism for a recession, unless everyone, everyhwere can be guaranteed basic security. People subject to benefit sanctions in Britain are not going to think too seriously about sustainable palm oil. Nor are those in areas already seriously affected by climate change.

I am still waiting for a better answer to this problem than the universal, basic, citizens’ income.

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