Monday, 17 November 2008

View Point: A national environmental consciousness is needed

Monday, November 17, 2008

View Point: A national environmental consciousness is needed

Tasa Nugraza Barley , Maryland Mon, 11/17/2008 Opinion
The Jakarta Post

Everyday I read in the news that corruption is being fought by people who still care about this country's future. As a young Indonesian I feel proud of today's achievements; a few years ago we wouldn't have seen corrupt officials being scared to death of possible prison terms handed down by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

But no one is talking about our environment; no one is talking about how its destruction is being done every single day by irresponsible citizens, foreigners and, sadly, government officials.

These people should be punished as severe as those who are corrupt with people's money; what they are doing is also considered corruption, i.e., endangering our ability to face the future as a strong country. We have to talk more about the future of our environment, and young Indonesians have to be on the front line.

The latest issue of National Geographic shows how we are losing Kalimantan (Borneo) due to our greed. Along with Malaysia and Brunei we have killed thousands of animals and destroyed countless trees. We have, without shame, transformed Kalimantan into a greedy palm oil industry.
Being the world's largest palm oil producer is definitely not a sinful thing. We Indonesians should be proud of that fact. But if turning ourselves into the number one palm oil producer also means that trees and animals are killed, then we need to think about a better way to boost people's welfare and preserve the environment at the same time.

Our yearly celebration of Jakarta's flood crises is another example of how we have become an ignorant society when it comes to our environment.
We continue to blame the local government for not giving us a solution; every year we receive the same promise from them (that new facilities will be built to prevent floods next year). I think that's a legitimate accusation, but we need to realize that at the same time we are not being respectful to our environment -- we throw trash everywhere as if this earth was just a big trash dump.

It seems to me -- I hope I'm wrong on this -- that our people, including my fellow young Indonesians, don't care about this issue. They speak loudly about economics and politics, but when issues on environment arise they choose to be silent and passive. They think the earth will fix its problems by itself like it has been doing for centuries.

If that's the mind-set we all have, then I think it's just completely wrong.
We need to understand that our lives depend so heavily on our natural resources. Thus, maintaining the environment is an obligation that should be exercised not only by the government but also by all of us. We need to understand that global warming is no longer a myth.

Al Gore through his documentary film An Inconvenient Truth has made the green movement a trend since 2006, and we also need to be a part of this global movement.

It's a shameful fact that last year this country was ranked as the world's third largest carbon producer due to deforestation. The government tried to give some excuses and different arguments, but we all know that it is true. But sadly, until now we haven't done much to improve the condition.
If the government is not willing to talk about environmental issues, then it's the people's duty to speak the truth. It's the duty of young Indonesians, people like you and me, to spread the word of wisdom on how to treat the environment better.

We should remind other people that the economy and the environment can go hand in hand; that politics and the environment are beneficial for each other. We should remind other people that the environment is crying for help, and it's time for us to take action.

As we have recently celebrated Indonesia's 80th Youth Pledge, I believe that the environment should be included among the most important issues that this younger generation needs to discuss.

I believe when we meet and try to formulize new strategies to improve the economy, we need to formulize economic strategies that can be advantageous to both the people and the environment. When we formulize political policies, we need to formulize policies that are not harmful to the environment. And we need to do that now.

The writer is a postgraduate student in Washington D.C. His personal blog is