Phillippe Cousteau recently filmed a very eye-opening special on the Sumatran rainforest for CNN. In "Expedition: Sumatra," Cousteau explored much of the Indonesian rainforest, examining man's impact on the environment there and the areas of raw unspoiled beauty in the region.
From watching the special, you get a clear picture of the devastating impact of deforestation in the region. Cousteau found that over a 22-year period, 48 percent of the Sumatran rainforest has been decimated. Indonesia now produces one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions related to deforestation, decreasing air quality throughout Southeast Asia and contributing to climate change.
Many of the species that are native to the region, including Sumatran tigers, are now in danger of extinction, and many indigenous villages have been forced to relocate as the forest has been cleared.
The deforestation of the Sumatran rainforest is being driven by western demands for paper products like toilet paper and paper towels, palm oil and plywood. Surprisingly, extracts from rainforest woods are even used in latex products and cosmetics.
The story highlights the importance of reducing our own dependence on paper. The less of a demand for products made from the rainforest's natural resources there is, the more likely deforestation is to slow.
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