Right now in Indonesia, one of the largest fires in the 21st century is razing rainforests, forcing all animals including endangered species from their habitats, and releasing more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than the entire US economy. Some children have even choked to death due to the unbearable emissions and smoke. Weather.com estimates that some 4.2 million acres of rainforest throughout Sumatra and Borneo have burned so far, calling this disaster “too furious for human intervention.”
While this distaster may be too furious for humans to resolve, what if we could prevent such terrible environmental catastrophes from happening in the first place? By refusing to purchase palm oil–and also beef products–we can help subvert this system of deforestation.
The Guardian covered the devastating “eco-apocalypse” on Friday, October 30, and blamed palm oil manufacturers and producers as the leading cause of this slash and burn tactic, which has obviously grown out of control. However, while palm oil is indeed an abomination to rainforests and their inhabitants, cattle grazing is the leading cause of the slash and burn practices in Indonesia. As our demand for meat (cattle) increases, more and more land needs to be converted into grazing land for cattle. To “convert” rainforests into cattle-friendly-zones, vast stretches of forest must be chopped down and then burned so that flat grazing land can take its place. Likewise, more and more land needs to be converted into industrial feed crops such as corn and soy to feed all the cattle. We can boycott palm oil for sure, and we can also boycott all animal products, especially beef, if we care about stopping the current, and preventing any future, Indonesian firestorms.