The Wasting of Borneo: Dispatches from a Vanishing World

Alex Shoumatoff. Beacon, $25.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-8070-7824-2
Journalist Shoumatoff (Legends of the American Desert) bemoans ongoing environmental threats on the island of Borneo and warns against further loss in a cautionary tale that combines professional and personal concerns. He offers useful background on deforestation and the growth of the palm oil industry, as miles upon miles of “some of the oldest and most species-rich and spectacular rain forest on Earth” have been cleared to make room for palm plantations. India has become a major market for palm oil, substituting it for “artery-clogging ghee” in their recipes, and hundreds of products worldwide now contain palm oil, including cookies, chocolates, lipstick, and dishwashing detergent. As he shares the situation in Borneo, he also details his own lifelong interest in the environment, weaving elements of memoir into his narrative. Shoumatoff recalls his adolescence in Bedford Village, N.Y., and afternoons he spent in the woods nearby. He developed an early appreciation for the great outdoors and “a holistic, inclusive, ecological, egalitarian worldview” that would eventually inform his work for such publications as Outside and Condé Nast Traveler. Reflecting on his decades-long writing career, Shoumatoff describes environmental conflicts in Borneo and wonders what conservationists intent on saving the rainforest can do in light of increased economic demand. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/13/2017
Release date: 04/11/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 978-0-8070-7825-9
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-8070-8101-3
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