I was cruising along the Pacific Coast Highway heading towards Santa Monica when the words of this Ray Stevens classic “Everything is beautiful” came wafting out of my car stereo:
“Theirs is none so blind, as those who will not see…”
As I contemplated on the words, it dawned on me how true they were when applied to the ad hominem attacks against palm oil carried out by green groups like the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and then unthinkingly adopted by green sympathizers and even by a compliant main stream media.
That’s why I cringed when I read this report by Noosa News, an Australian regional news media entitled “Mark fights palm oil's eco-terrorism with camera in hand” written by Nicole Fuge! The story essentially is an interview with Australian hobby photographer, Mark Glenn Harmony who’d just returned from a photo shoot in the jungles of Sumatra. Here’s the money para that made me shake my head:
“Mark Glenn Harmony's introduction to northern Sumatra was awfully vivid - a horrific scene of palm oil and rubber tree plantations overtaking more than 80% of the jungle.”
Wow, 80% of the jungle overtaken by palm oil and rubber trees? That’s so far off the mark that it’s eminently cringe-worthy when juxtaposed against the facts!
In a comprehensive scientific mapping of Sumatra and Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) forest cover loss for 2000–2008 by a research team from South Dakota State University using multi-resolution remote sensing data from the Landsat enhanced thematic mapper plus (ETM+) and moderate resolution imaging pectroradiometer (MODIS) sensors and analyzed annual trends per island, province, and ofﬁcial land allocation zone, the total forest cover loss for Sumatera and Kalimantan 2000–2008 was established at 5.39 Mha, which represents 5.3% of the land area and 9.2% of the year 2000 forest cover of these two islands.
The researchers too pointed out that since 2005 forest cover loss in Sumatera had DECREASED. These figures are not plucked from the air as environmentalists are won't to do but cold hard scientific mapping backed by NASA and using sophisticated multi-resolution remote sensing equipment. These data were painstakingly collected by true blue research scientists; not some pseudo-environmentalist standing in the jungles of Sumatra with his finger in the wind and estimating that forest cover loss is 80% or whatever dramatic figure he can think of to feed to media that are simply too trusting or too lazy to verify the facts!
Worse was to follow. Talking of the mother and child orang-utan pair that he spotted, Mr Harmony says: "Knowing these gentle giants of the jungle have been beaten, burnt, tortured and shot to the brink of extinction is heart wrenching and brings you close to tears!" and suggesting that they are destined for extinction.
Why do the media fall for the trap that these emotive quotes set? Any journalist worth his salt would have red flags fluttering before his eyes that the interviewee does not have a lot of facts, just well-presented hot air!
What makes environmentalists adopt this miserable, bottom-of-the-shelf sleazy magazine mind-set to fight their cause? Isolated acts of senseless cruelty to animals are not exactly non-existent in the west. And so it is too with orang-utans in Indonesia.
RAN themselves had to sheepishly remove from their website the ludicrous claim that the orangutan would be extinct by 2011. The trouble was that 2011 came along and the orangutan population in the wild, instead of going extinct, grew when new tribes of more than 2000 wild apes were found in the East Kalimantan province of Indonesia, as reported by National Geographic (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/04/090413-new-orangutans.html). With roughly 50,000 orangutans thought to remain in the wild, the new find could add 5 percent to the world’s known orangutan numbers, said Erik Meijaard, senior ecologist for Nature Conservancy in Indonesia. THE END