Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Indonesia vs. Guinness Book: Deforestation Smackdown

So who's right?

For the second consecutive year, the Guinness Book of World Records has given Indonesia the dubious title as the nation with the highest rate of deforestation in the world. That works out to 52 square kilometers per day, 300 football fields every hour.

The Indonesian government, not surprisingly, is crying foul. They say only about a million hectares a year is being cleared, not the 1.8 million that the Guinness Book suggests, which draws on data from environmental organziations like Greenpeace. Yale University, by the way, had its own rankings of environmentally friendly countries, which ranked Indonesia an anemic 102nd out of 149 nations.

If enough data is arrayed against you, and you're complaining about every result, it sounds like you're (what's called in the political world) 'gaming the refs'. Maybe the government should quit whining about rankings, and try to aim for better results. If your defense is that you're "only" clearing a million hectares a year, it's hard to sympathize ...

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