Videobreak: Willie Smits restores a rainforest – TED presentation

Biologist Willie Smits has a simple, unlikely wish: to save the endangered orangutans of Borneo. With seemingly everything from the sociological to the climatic aligned against him, he understood that he had to approach the situation from a holistic perspective. The results of his efforts not only created a place where his orangutans could thrive, but where the local people became stakeholders in maintaining a sustainable, profitable community. And in the process he turned a carbon source into a carbon sink capable of producing renewable energy.

This effort and others like it are the undeniable rebuttal to the Lomborgs [and yes, I’ll have more on him later] of the world who frame climate change mitigation as a waste of resources by pitting emissions reductions against other health and poverty issues. Many of us have long ranted about how such a frame is a deeply dishonest one. We maintain that the issues of climate mitigation and social justice are inextricably linked, and Smits’ Samboja Lestari is a wonderful example of this.

There exists another denialist canard- that combating climate change is merely the disguised plot of misanthropic environmentalists who want to reduce humanity to stone age poverty or sacrifice it entirely on the altar of animals’ and/or nature’s rights. Smits’ work stands in stark contrast to this as well, illustrating that there is no inherent conflict between improving the lives of the developing world while working to pull back from the brink of the sixth extinction.

[Via thecoolgeek]


4 responses to “Videobreak: Willie Smits restores a rainforest – TED presentation

  1. [removed per author’s request. -TB]

  2. Thanks.

    I needed something positive … and to learn something new at the same time. Appreciated.

  3. As an Indonesian, I am very grateful to Willie Smits that he trusted this country enough to become an Indonesian Citizen. God knows, and most of us know, that so far, my country has failed him in many respects. Yet dauntless Willie Smits goes on, doing his best for the Planet Earth and all those inhibiting it. I am exceedingly proud of you, Willie. Go on, and God bless your Quest.

  4. Peter Hitchcock

    I know Willie and have visited his Samboja project on a number of occasions. I used to l live just down the road in Balikpapan and I can attest to just how barren and desolate the land was before WIllie started. In one year I only recorded three bird species in my garden. Willie now has changed that to more than 130 species – just by replanting the forest trees and stopping the burning.
    Willie’s project is well thought through and the results are there for all to see. What we need in Indonesia is another thousand Willie’s to remedy the huge areas of degradation in Borneo. And stronger Government controls on logging to prevent more forests degrading to the point where Willie was forced to start with. Only then can we really say that we have saved the orangutans. And all the other species.

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