A national consciousness on environment
Posted October 29, 2008on:
This article was published by The Jakarta Post on November 17, 2008. Read the article on The Jakarta Post, here.
Everyday I read news on how corruption is being fought by people who still care about this country’s future. As a young Indonesian I feel proud of today’s achievement; a few years ago we wouldn’t have been able to see corrupt officials being scared to death of having the possibility to be sent to jail by The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).
But no one is talking about our environment; no one is talking about the destruction of our environment every single day done by irresponsible citizens, foreigners, and, sadly, government officials.
Those people should be punished as severe as those who corrupt people’s money; what they are doing is also considered corruption, endangering our ability to face the future as a strong country. We have to start to talk more about the future of our environment, and young Indonesians have to be on the frontline.
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 rethink the better way to boost people’s welfare and preserve the environment at the same time too.
Our yearly celebration of flood crisis in Jakarta is another example of how we have become an ignorant society when it comes to environment.
We keep blaming the local government for not giving us solution; every year it is the same promise that we receive from them (that new facilities will be built to prevent flood 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 too; we throw trash everywhere as if this earth were just a big trash dump.
It seems to me, I hope I’m wrong on this, that our people including my young fellow Indonesians don’t have any interest on this issue. They speak loudly about economics and politics, but when issues on environment arise they choose to be silent and passive. They think that earth will fix its problems by itself like it has been doing for centuries.
If that’s the mindset 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 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 green movement a trend since 2006; and we need to be part of this global movement too.
It’s a shameful fact that last year this country was ranked 3rd largest carbon producer in the world due to deforestation. The government tried to give some excuses and different arguments, but we all knew that it sounded 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 up the truth. It’s the duty of young Indonesians, people like you and me, to spread out the word of wisdom on how to treat the environment better.
We should remind other people that economy and environment can go hand in hand; that politics and environment should be beneficial to each other. We should remind other people that environment is crying for help, and it’s time for us to take action.
As we are celebrating Indonesia’s 80th Youth Pledge, I believe that environment should be put among the most important issues that this young 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.
Picture taken from here.