Every hour, areas equivalent to 300 soccer fields are cut down and burned in Indonesia’s rain forests to clear land for oil palm trees and other crops. New studies show that the devastation of these jungles has helped to make Indonesia the world’s third-largest emitter of harmful greenhouse gasses – exceeded only by the U.S. and China. Wide Angle, PBS’s acclaimed international affairs series from WNET hosted by Aaron Brown, traveled to Indonesia, where a 29-year-old green entrepreneur thinks he has a solution: selling the carbon credits represented by large forest areas in three Indonesian provinces to polluters in the West.
Premiering Tuesday, July 22 at 9 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings), Wide Angle: Burning Season follows the enterprising Australian environmentalist, Dorjee Sun, on a whirlwind trip to boardrooms around the world – from Starbucks to eBay to Merrill Lynch – as he tries to persuade skeptical financiers that his proposal is viable. To carry out the plan, he must also convince local political leaders in the jungle of Indonesia that their forests are worth more alive than dead.
Meanwhile, the survival of small farmers depends on cutting down trees to plant oil palms; now they must face up to the impact of their livelihood on the global climate. They also question who will earn money from the carbon credit project – the farmers or their government officials. Burning Season explores whether commercialism can play a useful role where altruism has so far failed to succeed.
The program will conclude with an interview, conducted by host Aaron Brown, with former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack, co-chair of the Council on Foreign Relations Climate Change task force.
Funding for Wide Angle is provided by PBS, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Josh and Judy Weston, The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, and Bernard and Irene Schwartz. Corporate support provided by Mutual of America Life Insurance Company. Additional funding for educational materials is provided by The Overbrook Foundation.