Day 344: Despicable Me, Despicable You

Petrified and starving, a desperate orangutan clings defiantly to the last tree standing in her forest  before it is completely destroyed and turned into a palm oil plantation.
Minutes later, the majestic creature is stunned by an anesthetic gun and falls into a net, taken away by rescuers.
She was one of several orangutans saved from probable death in Borneo due to the deforestation which threatens their existence.
Among those rescued were a pregnant female and a mother and baby who refused to let go of each other during their ordeal.
Rescuers from UK charity International Animal Rescue (IAR) and the local forestry department in Ketapang, West Kalimantan, moved in to save the creatures.
The frightened animals were desperately searching for food and had even resorted to eating bark from the trees they were trying to hide in.
One female orangutan was heavily pregnant, while another, who was still lactating, is thought to have had her baby snatched to be sold as a pet or killed before the rescue team arrived.
The final female was found with her scared baby clinging to her back and both were very thin from malnutrition.
All are now recovering and have since been released into a new area of forest but IAR is now urging a halt to any further land clearing because it is believed that there are other orangutans still trapped.
Karmele Llano Sanchez of IAR Indonesia said: 'We were appalled at the condition of these orangutans.
'All of them had gone through long periods of starvation before we rescued them.
'The area where they were found was too small to provide them with sufficient food because the company had cleared most of the forest.
'One of the orangutans had lost her baby, which was probably killed before the rescue team arrived.
'More orangutans could die if this company does not take immediate action.'
'It is heartbreaking to see the state of these animals.
'They are weak from hunger and an increasingly desperate search for food.
'The only positive note is that, on this occasion, rather than chasing them away or killing them, the palm oil company did the right thing and contacted us so we could move them to a place of safety.'
Palm oil is an ingredient found in up to half of processed foods, and is also increasingly being used as a biofuel in petrol tanks and power stations.
The expansion of oil palm plantations into high conservation value forests is recognised as a leading threat to critically endangered species including orangutans, elephants and tigers. - Mail Online

So, based on this article and others like it, what is the reason behind deforestation and the damnation of millions of living beings? Money. Not love, enjoyment, expression, joy, the greater good or anything pretty - there is nothing quite so contrary to beauty and happy things as money.

Let me break this down: we live in a day and age where we, the dominant species on Earth, are technologically capable of improving our own quality of life as well as the quality of life for others. We have the skills and the imagination to develop new technology to serve whatever need we want, but instead of focussing our skills and manpower to improve our lives and the lives of other living beings, we have been developing individualised things that serve small and arbitrary (or just plain abusive) desires. We have allowed science to be turned into a war of "expert" opinions and contradictory research findings. We have focussed on finding ways to exploit nature instead of finding ways to co-exist in harmony and mutual enjoyment. But mainly, we have focussed on maximising profits.

We have now come to believe that life cannot exist without some kind of economy in which some of the participants must make a profit. We now believe that doing things that destroy our environment in order to grow and expand our income opportunities is unavoidable. This has become the sentiment of the human race: "Oh, it is a tragic situation for the inhabitants of such-and-such forest/river/ocean/grassland, but we must focus on expanding our interests and keeping up with the demand of our customers. We cannot help that our economy demands constant growth - we are just trying to survive and make a profit which is, after all, the meaning of life."

At what cost do our selfish and short sighted actions come? Will the entire planet become one big palm oil tree plantation in order to keep up with the never ending demand for soaps and bio fuels? Or maybe the soy bean will be the victor, taking Monsanto to the top of the big boys pile. One thing is certain: our actions are not sustainable. We are slowly killing ourselves, along with everything else.

Do we ever stop to consider the fear and hunger these animals have to live in? Are we even aware of them? Do we even care? We think we know what stress feels like - we don't know. These orangutangs know what it is to suffer, they starve with their children, watching their world get chopped down. They literally have no choice. They cannot even comprehend what is happening to them - they simply have no way of knowing. If this is not torture, then what is?We think we have found the solution to fossil fuel in palm oil - but at what cost? It is simply a transference of one abusive and inconsiderate practice to another one.

What may be the worst aspect of this situation is that every single thing that has happened and that will still happen is preventable - the only reason these things are happening at all is because we will it to be so.