In places, smoke still curled from land that days ago had been covered with lush jungle.
Villagers had burned it all down, clearing the way for a lucrative crop whose cultivation now dominates the entire island: the oil-palm tree.
The last thing anyone expected from President George W.
Bush’s 2007 State of the Union address was a proposal for the largest-ever cut in the nation’s use of gasoline.
Kotawaringin village in Central Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo, looked as if they had just been cleared by armies.
None of the old growth remained — only charred stumps poking up from murky, dark pools of water.
Slashing and burning the existing forests to make way for oil-palm cultivation had a perverse effect: It released more carbon. NASA researchers say the accelerated destruction of Borneo’s forests contributed to the largest single-year global increase in carbon emissions in two millenniums, an explosion that transformed Indonesia into the world’s fourth-largest source of such emissions.
Instead of creating a clever technocratic fix to reduce American’s carbon footprint, lawmakers had lit the fuse on a powerful carbon bomb that, as the forests were cleared and burned, produced more carbon than the entire continent of Europe.
In Bea Nehas, the small plots that homes are built on are in constant jeopardy of being burned to the ground and bulldozed.
A sprawling plantation that surrounds the village produces huge volumes of palm oil. The dirt road was ruler straight, but deep holes and errant boulders tossed our tiny Toyota back and forth.