Borneo is the place of the greatest ecological catastrophe, a nightmare, a horror film, a mirror to look at as a species, an example of what we should not allow to be repeated anywhere else in the world. The recent history of Borneo is the largest and most dramatic case of climate change produced by human hands. There is no doubt about the responsibility of homo sapiens in this disaster. In just half a century some humans destroyed what nature built for millions of years. With their action they not only changed the landscape and overturned enormous ecosystems, but they broke their natural cycle and triggered an unparalleled local climate change, which has impacted beyond its borders. Its effects may have reached distant Australia and Chile, where there have been the greatest forest fires in its history in coincidence with the events that occurred in Borneo, which we will immediately narrate.

The El Niño phenomenon, as we know, is a warming of the surface of the waters of the Pacific Ocean, especially affecting Southeast Asia, Australia and South America. It is presented from time to time, and no pattern can be established. At its arrival it originates climatic imbalances, which in some places is manifested by unusual downpours or prolonged rains, and in others by long droughts. In both cases usually with devastating effects.

Borneo, with its 743,330 km2, occupies the third position among the largest islands on Earth and is larger than the territory of France. Located in Southeast Asia, for Kalimantan, its name in Indonesian, the arrival of the Child had a positive effect. According to Dr. Lisa Curran, a renowned scientist who spent twenty years studying its climate and expert in the natural history of the island, the flowering of dipterocarpos forests gives Borneo a special dynamic related to this phenomenon. Curran points out that “between 80-93% of the species synchronize their flowering with drought, which normally occurs every four years.” During a “dipterocarp year” in Kalimantan, the entire forest becomes full of color when countless trees – each with about four million flowers open over a period of six weeks (…) “.

This massive flowering and the later outbreak of the fruits it relates to the phenomenon of El Niño and states “that has been shown to be synchronized in an area of ​​150 million hectares and involving 1870 species,” a great advantage for predators Of seeds during the particular season, especially for the boar, a great consumer of them. The increase in the number of wild boars created such abundance during these periods that the population of Borneo considered the phenomenon of the Boy as a blessing, since its inhabitants collected enormous quantities of seeds for their export and were supplied with abundant meat of that species. “This relationship has existed since humans inhabit Borneo, and it is rooted from the tribes of the interior of the forest to the merchants of the coast,” adds Curran.

But the situation has changed drastically and El Niño has had the same negative effects as in other regions, following the intense deforestation of forests in the last three decades of the 20th century, during which time Borneo became the largest exporter of timber of the world. The brutal destruction of the primitive rainforest so impacted the cycle described that “seed production declined from 175 pounds per acre in 1991 to 16.5 pounds per acre in 1998, even though it was one of the El Niño years “It appears that logging has reduced the density and biomass of mature trees below the critical threshold limiting massive flowering.”

This fall in seed production is equivalent to a decrease of more than 90%, a dramatic figure, a consequence of the irrational attitude of some human beings. Homo sapiens sapiens, by uncontrolled logging, made one of the largest wetlands in the world, one of the most important wetlands in the world, where only half a century ago, moisture and mud made a forest fire unimaginable. Arid, dry and hostile place not suitable for animals or plants in much of its territory. Although not created, that beautiful forest of wetlands and biodiversity, among the most prolix and interesting of the Earth, every year becomes grass of the flames. Frequent forest fires are mostly intentional, in order to clear land for planting the oil palm, but not infrequently the fires are out of control, and even the borders of the enormous island, further decimating their Varied and battered fauna and flora, as well as throwing thousands of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. Borneo is a very serious case of human unconsciousness to the environment, which should not be overlooked as it has been so far. In spite of its gravity, the catastrophe of Borneo is little known by the humanity.

The other worrying news is that, according to the information provided, the truce of deforestation in the Amazon forest, after ten years, has been broken in 2015 and the logging has been restarted with force, as well as its dangerous consequences As happened in Borneo. Everything indicates that mankind is not able to apply the method of trial and error in this matter. So far we have not learned to draw conclusions from mistakes or we simply ignore the subject and we move to our comfort zone.

If the Amazon were to deforest in the same proportion as Borneo, climate change would no longer be local or regional, as in Southeast Asia, since the territory of the South American rainforest is six million km2, eight times greater than The surface of the island. In this case there would be a universal catastrophe, with devastating effects for the entire planet and for the immense quantity of species that our fertile Mother Earth has created and welcomed in her bosom with such patience and kindness for millions of years.

It is the duty of all who live in this dizzying 21st century, the era of social networks, smart phones and other gadgets that entertain us, pause for a moment and reflect on the things that are happening in the house we inhabit. As Leo di Caprio says, in the subject of the destruction of the planet there is no plan “B”. Each of us have our own problems, activities and entertainments, but we still have to find a place to play our part. It does not matter its size. The mere act of searching, reading and sharing information about what is happening in the climate, would mean taking a step forward. If you can write about it, even better.

Sandor Alejandro Gerendas-Kiss


Wikipedia. Retrieved on March 15, 2017 from

Borneo. Retrieved from