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Indonesia is clearing vast peatlands to grow food. Climate costs are dire

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By illuminem briefings

· 2 min read

illuminem summarizes for you the essential news of the day. Read the full piece on The Washington Post or enjoy below:

🗞️ Driving the news: Indonesia's government has been clearing extensive areas of peatland in Kalimantan to cultivate crops, releasing substantial carbon previously sequestered and exacerbating climate change
This initiative, aimed at agricultural self-sufficiency, undermines one of the planet's most effective carbon storage ecosystems

🔭 The context: Peatlands, comprising only 3% of the Earth's land but storing twice as much carbon as all forests, are vital for climate stability
Indonesia's efforts to transform these carbon-rich areas into farmland have been criticized for their environmental impact, including heightened wildfire risks and potential crop failures due to unsuitable soil conditions

🌍 Why it matters for the planet: Indonesia's actions highlight the challenges of balancing food security with environmental protection

⏭️ What's next: The future of Indonesia's peatlands remains uncertain. Despite historical failures and environmental concerns, the Indonesian government persists with its land-clearing projects
This approach raises questions about the sustainability of such practices and their long-term impact on global climate goals

💬 One quote: "To restore these vast areas of peat forest being destroyed will take years and huge investments in labor and funds" (David Taylor, professor of tropical environmental change)

📈 One stat: In 2023, fires in Central Kalimantan province exceeded the number of fire alerts of the three previous years combined, largely due to peatland clearance

Click for more news covering the latest on climate change

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