Saturday, May 27, 2006

Where to Go Now - Seven sites across the globe facing radical alteration due to climate change

Unlike in California, where it causes severe storms, El Niño brings deadly droughts to the Kalimantan Timur province of Indonesia—East Borneo to the rest of us. (Global warming, via increased sea surface temperatures, cause more El Niños.) And since the early 1990s, monsoon rains—relied upon for thousands of years—have not always come.

The water shortages have been severe, but the real problem is the fires. In the flatlands of East Borneo's Mahakam River delta, arsonists hired by local tree farms annually light tropical underbrush ablaze to clear land for planting, as they have been doing for hundreds of years, with little ecological effect.

An El Niño drought in 1997 did not deter them. Palm oil companies set hundreds of fires across the province. Then the first of Borneo's twice-yearly monsoons failed to arrive. The land was dry and the brush crackling. The result


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