Biggest Eco Disaster in Our Time Unfolds as World Shrugs
George Monbiot: What's happening in Indonesia is indescribable
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 3, 2015 12:05 PM CST
The Ampera Bridge spanning the Musi River is shrouded by haze in Palembang, South Sumatra, Indonesia, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015.   (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

(Newser) – You wouldn't know it from the attention of the world's media, but something akin to an "eco-apocalypse" is unfolding, writes George Monbiot in the Guardian. It takes the form of a forest fire in Indonesia that nearly defies description, one that's burning across the entire 3,000-mile length of the country. People are choking to death, endangered species are being burned out of their habitats, priceless archaeological treasures are being destroyed, and plans are in the works to evacuate kids from the haze via warships, writes Monbiot. The fire is churning out more carbon dioxide than the entire US economy, and it released more in three weeks than Germany releases in a year. "It is almost certainly the greatest environmental disaster of the 21st century—so far."

And this is no natural disaster: Slash-and-burn tactics by timber and farming companies over the years have destroyed the forest ecosystem. Politicians have promised reform, but years of inaction and corruption have led to this year's disaster. "Our leverage is weak, but there are some things we can do," writes Monbiot. "Some companies using palm oil have made visible efforts to reform their supply chains, but others seem to move more slowly and opaquely. Starbucks, PepsiCo and Kraft Heinz are examples. Don’t buy their products until you see results." Monbiot also blames the media for ignoring the catastrophe while dutifully reporting on the "manufactured drama" of stories such as the upcoming climate talks in Paris. "And, when the circus moves on, the silence will resume." Click for his full column.