Damned if we do...

It never fails. In our never-ending quest to retroactively fix all the damage we've done to our environment, humanity spends a considerable amount of time, effort and money trying to wean ourselves from non-renewable resources like oil -- we look for alternative ways to power our lives. Of course, I'm all for these initiatives, but sometimes our attempts to do right by our planet have unforeseen consequences.

Almost forty years ago, anthropologist Louis Leakey sent three female scientists into the depths of jungles worldwide, hoping to gain a better understanding of our simian ancestors. Everybody knows who Jane Goodall was (the chimp lady) and some people might remember Dian Fossey, but few -- if any -- recognize the name Birute Mary Galdikas, the woman in charge of studying orangutans. As of this writing, Galdikas is the only one still working in the field, and what she's discovered recently casts a serious shadow on our green initiatives.

Palm oil is widely regarded as an acceptable substitute for gasoline as a fuel for our internal combustion engines (the thing that powers your car), and is in high demand the world over. Unfortunately, in an effort to provide for this increasing demand, Indonesian forests are being clear-cut to make way for palm oil plantations, resulting in serious damage to the ecosystem of the native red apes. This noble creature is now on the verge of extinction because their habitat is being destroyed to make way for the "green" fuel of the future.

I guess this is the result of our consistent abuse of our natural environment over the last several thousand years -- now, even when we learn from our mistakes and try to fix them, we're damned if we do and damned if we don't. If we can't come up with an alternative source of power, we risk further deteriorating the ozone layer and putting life as we know in jeopardy. But palm oil requirements are also destroying precious elements of the global ecosystem. So what do we do next?

Read the article for more information on this important issue.

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