Jul 30 2011

Tell me, what about it?

Category: Earth,Humanitarian,MJ Quotes,VideosSeven @ 10:04 pm


Sumatran Tiger

Sumatran Tiger

My friend Reverend Catherine Gross made me aware recently of a tiger that died a horrible death in Indonesia. This tiger is one of only 400 tigers left in the wild today. Tigers are a critically endangered species.

But there is more to the story than just the tiger. The tiger lives, as many do, in the rainforests of Indonesia and his habitat is being destroyed at alarming rates. Indonesia has lost 40 percent of its forest cover in the past 50 years. Between 2000 and 2005, loggers cleared an area the size of Portugal. Today, roads slice through the few remaining places where tigers live, meaning tiger-human conflicts are increasingly common. This habitat destruction forces tigers to have to move further and to different areas to find food for themselves and to have a place in which to live and raise their young. This particular tiger became trapped in a trap which was set to capture a pig, not a tiger. By the time rescuers located the tiger, he had suffered for days with his injuries in that trap and soon died.

There is one company among others primarily responsible for much of the Indonesian rainforest destruction: Asia Pulp and Paper aka ‘APP’.  Many companies in the U.S. and around the world buy paper products from APP.  Looking at their website, we can see a lot of claims made by them about “sustainability” and “green” practices. However, in reality, their practices don’t match up with their claims.

Mother Jones magazine has a couple features on this company, the first of which is called “How KFC and the Tea Party Kill Tigers“. The article states:

APP still has a firm hold on the US paper market. According to Greenpeace, KFC and several other fast-food chains owned by Yum Brands are among its major US buyers. And it enjoys political support, too: In March, the New York Times reported that the Tea Party-affiliated group Institute for Liberty has been lobbying to protect APP’s right to sell paper products to the US without having to pay tarrifs. (The Insitute for Liberty is known for its massive pro-business astroturfing efforts;it has defended Monsanto’s right to sell genetically modified alfalfa, and MoJo’s Stephanie Mencimer recently reported on its campaign against net neutrality.)

APP has tried to spiff up its environmental rep with a major PR push; its website claims that it is “committed to protecting biological diversity, particularly with regards to native plant species, Sumatran tigers, elephants, orangutans, birds and other animals.” The site also brags that APP’s carbon footprint is “remarkably close to neutral.” But last year, the Rainforest Action Network revealed that APP’s calculations of its footprint are sorely lacking, since they don’t take into consideration the carbon-storing peatlands that APP has destroyed.

Despite the greenwashing, APP’s lousy environmental track record finally seems to be catching up with it; several American chains, including Staples, Office Depot, and Target, recently ended their contracts with the paper giant. Will others follow suit before it’s too late for the tigers?

Another article from Mother Jones details the horrible death of this beautiful tiger: VIDEO: Sumatran Tiger Killed in Pig Trap

Because of habitat loss in the Indonesian rainforest, this big Asian cat is among the most endangered species in the world: Only 400 of them are left in the wild. (There’s some incredible footage of them here.) The major force driving the clear-cutting around their home is Asia Pulp & Paper, a vast paper company that wields a lot of power; its clients include Disney and several major toy manufacturers.

Earlier this month, in Riau, Indonesia, one of the 400 tigers stumbled into a snare set by villagers who wanted to catch pigs. When Indonesian conservationists learned of the situation a few days later, they sent in a rescue team to free the tiger, which by that point was badly wounded.

Indonesia has lost 40 percent of its forest cover in the last 50 years. The deforestation has been particularly intense in the last decade: Between 2000 and 2005, loggers cleared an area the size of Portugal. Today, roads slice through the few remaining places where tigers live, meaning tiger-human conflicts are increasingly common. The villagers who set the pig trap didn’t mean to ensnare a tiger, but because of clear-cutting, they could easily reach the formerly remote corners of the forest that used to belong to the tigers.

Asia Pulp & Paper, which logs regularly in the area in Riau where the tiger was trapped, has come under fire for its habitat-destroying practices. In turn, American companies that buy from APP have been criticized for doing business with APP. The outcry has yielded some positive changes: Last month, as a result of a Greenpeace campaign, Mattel promised to stop buying from APP.

Another article from GreenPeace is entitled: ‘Walmart, Kentucky Fried Chicken and other major brands driving rainforest destruction and pushing tigers and orangutans to extinction‘:

Beijing/Jakarta/London 6 July 2010 – Walmart, Auchan, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) are amongst the global brands fueling climate change and pushing Sumatran tigers and orang-utans towards the brink of extinction by using or selling paper made from Indonesia’s rainforests for products like cups, photocopy and tissue paper, a new Greenpeace report reveals today.

The report, ‘How Sinar Mas is Pulping the Planet‘, shows how major international companies are driving the destruction of Indonesia’s rainforests and carbon-rich peatlands by sourcing paper from Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) , part of the notorious Sinar Mas group.

Ma Lichao, Greenpeace China forest campaigner, said: “This investigation shows how major international companies like Walmart and KFC are causing Indonesia’s peatland and forests to be slashed and burned for every-day paper products. Some of the world’s best known brands are pulping the planet.”

Greenpeace investigated two important rainforest areas on the Indonesian island of Sumatra and discovered that Sinar Mas is wreaking environmental havoc in both. The Bukit Tigapuluh Forest Landscape is one of the last refuges for endangered Sumatran tigers and orang-utans. Kerumutan’s carbon rich peatlands are a key defence against climate change; some of the forest’s peat is deeper than three meters and thus illegal to clear under Indonesian law. Sinar Mas’ paper arm APP uses the logs from these rainforest areas to feed its Sumatran based pulp mills, which export pulp and paper products worldwide.

“These are just two of many important rainforests being decimated by Sinar Mas for pulp and paper and palm oil expansion. Indonesian President Yudyohono’s new commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation will be undermined unless he extends the moratorium on new deforestation licenses to cover all forest and peatlands that are currently slated for destruction by Sinar Mas and other companies,” said Ma Lichao.

Several leading companies have already responded to Greenpeace’s evidence of the Sinar Mas group’s illegal and destructive environmental practices in Indonesia and are cancelling their contracts with the palm oil and paper giant.

Today, Carrefour confirmed that it has already stopped buying from APP for its own brands, and Tesco has announced that it will do the same by the end of the year. In addition, Kraft has confirmed that it is phasing out APP paper and packaging, while Kimberly-Clark, Nestlé, and Unilever are implementing new policies that will also rule out supplies from APP, unless the company and its suppliers make substantial changes. Unilever, Kraft, and Nestlé have also dropped contracts with Golden Agri Resources (GAR), the Sinar Mas group’s palm oil arm, following recent Greenpeace campaigns.

“Sinar Mas is not only guilty of environmental abuses but is a repeat offender – its ‘sustainability commitments’ are not worth the paper they are written on. Greenpeace is calling on all companies like Walmart and KFC to stop doing business with Sinar Mas immediately. It also urges them to publicly support the need for the Indonesian government to fully protect Indonesia’s peatlands and to stop all rainforest destruction,” continued Ma Lichao.

The destruction of rainforests and peatlands is the key reason why Indonesia accounts for around a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions caused by deforestation. According to recent government estimates, Indonesia ranks as the world’s third largest greenhouse gas emitter.

The GreenPeace article and report referenced above was published in 2010. However the article detailing the horrific death of that precious tiger was dated July 25th, 2011 – the 25th day of the 25th month of Michael’s death.

That means that although many companies are modifying their policies to avoid buying pulp and paper from Sinar Mas/APP, and though Indonesian President SBY signed a limited decree in May 2011 declaring a two-year moratorium on new forest concessions to APP and other paper and palm oil companies, the problem still exists. The Indonesian rainforest is still being destroyed at an alarming rate, and the habitats of tigers, orangutans and other animals and plant species, some of which may not even exist in other parts of the world, are being destroyed with them.

And even worse, there’s this from SaveTheRainforests.org:

Often described as the Earth’s lungs, only in reverse, the tropical rainforests, take in vast quantities of carbon dioxide (a poisonous gas which mammals exhale) and through the process of photosynthesis, converts it into clean, breathable air.

Tragically, the tropical rainforests are being destroyed at an alarming rate. According to Rainforest Action Network, more than an acre-and-a-half is lost every second of every day. That’s an area more than twice the size of Florida that goes up in smoke every year! “If present rates of destruction continue, half our remaining rainforests will be gone by the year 2025, and by 2060 there will be no rainforests remaining.”

Every second . . we lose an area the size of two football fields!
Every minute . . we lose an area 29 times the size of the Pentagon!
Every hour . . . we lose an area 684 times larger than the New Orleans Superdome!
Every day . . . we lose an area larger than all five boroughs of New York City!
Every week . . . we lose an area twice the size of Rhode Island!
Every month . . .we lose an area the size of Belize!
Every year . . . we lose an area more than twice the size of Florida!

Unless Indonesian President Yudyohono extends the moratorium on new deforestation licenses to cover all forest and peatlands that are currently slated for destruction by Sinar Mas and other companies, this destruction will continue.

As I mentioned, on May 19th, 2011, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signed a decree to bring into force a two-year moratorium on new forest concessions. The moratorium was supposed to start in January 2011. The president was given a choice of two decrees to sign. One covered all forests, including peatlands. The other covered only primary forests and peatlands. Yudhoyono chose the latter.

Paul Winn of Greenpeace Australia-Pacific said, “This is a bitter disappointment. It will do little to protect Indonesia’s forests and peatlands. Seventy-five percent of the forests purportedly protected by this moratorium are already protected under existing Indonesian law, and the numerous exemptions further erode any environmental benefits.”

Teguh Surya of Walhi (Friends of the Earth Indonesia) told the Jakarta Post that “The President ignored input from civil society who care about conserving forests and threw its support to big businesses, such as palm oil plantations.”

The fact that the decree is late is probably not too important in the long run. It will run for two years from today. Whether two years is long enough is, of course, another question. However, the fact that the decree is too little is a disaster for Indonesia’s forests, indigenous peoples and local communities.

In the days before President Yudhoyono signed the less effective limited decree, RAN (Rainforest Action Network) sent a briefing note to more than 100 companies that consume pulp, paper and palm oil, requesting that they support a robust moratorium on forest concessions in Indonesia. The briefing said in part:

The Rainforest Action Network welcomes President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s leadership and strong international commitments to reduce Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emissions from its forest sector.

We encourage international customers and investors to do the same, by adopting environmental and social safeguards relating to their own investments and supply chains and by supporting a broad, clear and verified moratorium administered by non-­interested parties that will effectively address deforestation and forest and peatland degradation.

Remember some of Michael’s last words before he died? His intent was to make his last tour primarily about saving the planet thus, ‘Earth Song‘ being planned as major feature of the shows.

I respect the secrets and magic of nature. That’s why it makes me so angry when I see these things that are happening in the world: that every second I hear the size of a football field is torn down in the Amazon. That kind of stuff really bothers me. That’s why I write these kinds of songs you know – to get some sense of awareness and awakening and hope to people. I love – I love the planet. I love trees – I have this thing for trees and the color and changing of leaves…I LOVE it. I respect those kind of things.

I really feel that nature is trying to compensate for man’s mismanagement of the planet. The planet is sick – like a fever. If we don’t fix it now its at the point of no return. This is our last chance to fix this problem that we have or its like a runaway train. The time has come “This is It”. People are always saying.. “Oh they- they’ll take care of it.” “The government will d-they’ll” They who? It starts with us. US. Or else it’ll never be done.

Tell me, what about it?

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14 Responses to “Tell me, what about it?”

  1. good indie rock songs|list of alternative rock bands|top alternative songs|indie rock artists| says:

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  2. Seven says:

    I agree. There MUST be much more recycling/reuse and less reliance on virgin printed and packaging materials in the U.S.

    OTOH, APP should not be presenting itself as “sustainable” and “green” when it is not.

    You’ll get no argument from me that the U.S. is wasteful – the most wasteful nation on the planet. But at the same time, no company ought to be misrepresenting itself either.

  3. Cookie says:

    This doesn’t sound so right. Virgin timber is more valuable sold as construction material, the top export markets being Japan and USA. Top-grade timber is not used to make paper, it is far too valuable. After the rainforest is cut down, it is mostly replanted with oil palm. A small percentage is used as tree farms for paper, in which case it would not be unfair to call it sustainable. Soybean, beef, corn, coffee and everything you consume are all produced on land that once used to be forests (including the bit you’re sitting on). Whose fault is it that so much paper is needed/wanted? Who is driving this demand? Mostly the West, or to be blunt, Americans, who constitute 5% of the world’s population but consume 25% of its resources. So don’t tell businessmen on the other side of the world to stop being greedy – they are just supplying you! Tell YOURSELF to stop being greedy. Reduce your own consumption. Use less and waste less. Americans are the most wasteful people on planet earth! If you reduce the demand, they will automatically reduce the supply. Don’t tell others to stop destroying the environment while you carry on consuming like there is no tomorrow. If you don’t buy paper products from APP, you’ll buy from another company, and it all comes from the same place anyway. The same amount of paper will be supplied to meet the same amount of demand. Every square inch of land on earth used to be a forest, there is no ‘more sustainable’ or ‘less sustainable’ whether you grow it here or grow it there. So don’t point your finger at others; change has to start with you.

  4. Susan Trout says:

    When I ponder the rampant destruction of the Earth–mountaintop mining, pollution of the oceans, mass destruction of beautiful forests due to man’s greed and carelessness (devastating wildfires and clear-cutting) I can hardly bear it. Greed and corruption are everywhere. No country is immune. It’s the western way. Exploit, plunder and destroy. We’re the only species on the Planet that actually works hard to destroy it’s home!

    I can’t help but wonder if at some point in the very near future we’ll all be jolted out of or complacency with the question….What if we’ve got it all wrong?

    You clearly understand the big picture, Seven. As Black Elk reasoned, “We are all interconnected.” We’ve just become too sophisticated and advanced to understand it.

    Michael Jackson wasn’t just the greatest entertainer and humanitarian on the planet. He was trying in vain to raise our consciousness and help us to change direction before it’s too late.

  5. Seven says:

    But – It’s not about ‘save the tigers’ alone. It’s about saving the rainforests – their habitat and the habitat of many other endangered species of plants and animals, and the ‘lungs of the earth’.

    One reason there is only 400 tigers left in the wild is due to destruction of their habitat. You cannot ‘save the tigers’ without saving their habitat.

  6. Suvi says:

    Michael’s words were always so prescient. Earth Song is a most fitting anthem to what’s happening world wide with the environment and the ecosystem that we are very much a part of, (lest humans in their arrogance forget).

    The Healing of the World cannot abide any further delay..

  7. Marla says:

    Thank you Seven for picking this issue to highlight in this piece.
    Only 400 tigers left in the wild!!??!! OH.MY.GOD !! Last I had heard
    several years back, I thought it was a few thousand left, which was bad enough, but this new low number is heartbreaking and scary. Will mankind totally decimate this majestic, beautiful creature? The plight of these animals -why is this not major headline news on a yearly basis? I guess I cynically know the answer why.
    What will our planet Mother Earth be without all these species that are being killed in their cradles? With forest cover twice the size of Florida being destroyed each year, how much of the planet’s biodiversity have we already lost ? On some trips by ship to different oceanic areas I have noticed a marked decline in marine life too in the past 5 years in these different spots.
    In countries throughout the world, the govts. are often in cahoots with commercial interests in threatening the fauna of these endangered habitats. I think we need a sustained mass movement throughout the world to protest and challenge the systemic evisceration of the global ecology. Looking at our fellow man’s shortsighted actions , I am reminded of the fable where the man started felling the very tree branch that he was seated on, to come crashing head down himself.

  8. TLS says:

    what if MJ’s admirers bombarded the government of indonesia with a save the tigers campaign?

    each person could make a plea and sign it “in honor of Michael Jackson and his love of Mother Earth.”

    it would be a great tribute to him to carry on his work in this way.

  9. Line says:

    Thank you Seven for raising this animal issue. I too am very concerned about the ecology & the animal protection. If it breaks my heart to see people & children suffer, the tortured animals too. We also DO owe our respect & protection to them. How can we help to preserve this wonderful tiger , the arctic bears & so many others soon destroyed by the man ? So much corruption going on.

  10. Seven says:

    It seems to me that to save these animals in the wild, we must pressure both government and private interests to participate in saving their habitats – in this case the rainforests. Rainforests are crucial not only to tigers, orangutans, various plant species that do not grow anywhere else, but also to humans. It’s all tied together.

    As I said, the story of the tiger is bad enough, particularly since there are only around 400 left in the wild, but this is about more than just the tiger – it’s also about the rainforests – and us.

  11. budsgirl11954 says:

    Just another sad sickening story of how another beautiful and unique creature is being terrorized and systematically drove to extinction. I have a question for Seven and all of the other MJGlobal family members. The initiatives to save these tigers have failed miserably so what are we to do ? Sit back and watch them die out? I do not know and it’s truly heartbreaking. The Buffalo, as you all may recall was also due for extinction not too long ago until some began to ‘farm’ them. This means that they are domestically kept bred, healthily maintained and protectied in large areas; but used commercially – just like cows, chickens etc… There has been one group who promotes this similar idea for the tigers . . . now at first, the idea is as disturbing as the extinction of the animal itself…but upon reflection … Would this be the answer? Many don’t balk at the domestication and commercialization of animals that we eat and these tigers are also killed and products are presently being sold for them. . . this would legitimize the products and also save the tiger…… I have not yet been able to grasp either idea.. commercialization or full extinction —- I would love to hear thoughts and opinions ..

  12. Susan Trout says:

    Hearing about that beautiful tiger just brings such sadness to my soul. Extinction is forever.

    These magnificent cats are so threatened that I fear we may only see them in zoos and frankly, condemning them to a life of captivity, no matter how well pampered and cared for, captivity denies them their most special gift—FREEDOM!

    I was privileged to work for a national non-profit animal advocacy organization for four years and during my time there, I got to visit PAWs (Performing Animal Welfare Society) in Calavaras County, about 60 miles from Sacramento. PAWs encompasses 2000 acres of land and is home to several elephants and big cats–all rescued from miserable life in captivity or exploited as circus performers. I got to see several breathtaking tigers, Bengals and Siberians, enjoying their spacious compound. It was as close to being free and wild as you can get. To be so close to a gigantic African elephant was an experience I’ll never forget. When I first saw the music video of Earth Song, I cried. I still cry every time I watch it. It truly is Earth’s Song. It is one of the most moving, powerful songs ever written–truly Michael’s Magnum Opus.

    I did get some good news recently. Finally, after spending so many miserable years in a concrete-floored cage, subjected to incessant diesel fumes and gawking patrons, Tony the Truckstop Tiger will soon be free and living in a suitable sanctuary. For your info, I’ve included this news clip. Leo DiCaprio actually got involved in working to free Tony.


    After many frustrating and fruitless attempts to persuade Tony’s “owner” to turn him over to a sanctuary, ALDF (Animal Legal Defense Fund) got involved and finally secured Tony’s freedom.
    One of the things Americans can do to voice their strong opposition to the expansion of palm plantations in Asian countries is to read the ingredients on boxed snacks, cereals, crackers, etc. If you see the words palm oil, don’t buy the products. If enough people refuse to buy anything made with palm oil, the clear-cutting and destruction of rain forests (habitats of thousands of wild creatures) will stop.

    I appreciate your sincere concern for animals and the destruction of nature.

    God bless you, Seven!

  13. FF says:

    Not to sound alarmist but I wondered immediately about all that paper serving the US. It usually often means that somewhere along the line the history of the country has been subverted for that purpose.


    Even if one believes in the removal of communist interests, it is questionable that the resulting governments installed always seem to serve US corporate interests somewhere along the line.

    My point? The deforestation is part of a MUCH larger problem and relates back to US foreign policy and action, often covert until documents are declassified some 30 or more years later.

  14. dhede says:

    Tell me, what about it — “It’s all about money.”
    The permission that is given for those capitalists from the President always based on how much the money they give him (and others who have the ‘POWER’). I’d not be surprised if nowadays the President ignores these phenomena, he is now being busied by his own organization that is accused as a very corrupt party, that’s include his own son!

    To add your reference, check out the PT. Freeport Indonesia and PT. Newmont Nusa Tenggara (NNT) mining in Indonesia, how the exploit the natural resources for years, and still NOTHING! But you know how smart those companies are, they even sponsored a big local movie and add their brand as the “savior” of a ‘lost’ child whatsoever. I’ve been to Freeport mining, I cried on the spot when these beautiful mountains are now transforming into 3 (three) BIG holes, fabrics and how the waters from the top of the mountains are polluted with waste *smdh*

    and another thing: do you know that the sum of Indonesia’s earthquakes is 30% of the total earthquake around the world (per year)?
    So YES, Indonesia has lots of things to be done…
    and ironically, many are more interest in politics-related, it’s a double-jeopardy!
    As for me, relying these issues to the government is useless (Yes, I’m totally helpless), Indonesians must start from the man in the mirror. BUT, unless, unless the world community pushes this issue to the President.

    Anyway, I love my country, a very beautiful country with lots of lovely people. Ironic is all I can say.

    Thank you Seven, for posting this article, I do hope many from other countries can help us to solve our problems.