Book Spotlight: The Wasting of Borneo
Deep in the wilds of Borneo, the booming palm oil industry is resulting in mass deforestation and environmental destruction. To produce the ubiquitous oil found in consumer goods from make up to household cleaners, vast swaths of one of the oldest, most bio-diverse rainforests on Earth have been cleared to make way for palm plantations. Noted travel writer Alex Shoumatoff WF ’68 takes readers into the forests, documenting the species—and people—at risk of erasure.
Mr. Shoumatoff weaves his personal experiences throughout his new book, The Wasting of Borneo: Dispatches from a Vanishing World. To explore the relationship between man and nature, he calls on his interactions with the region’s Penan people, his own childhood days spent in the woods of Bedford, NY, and his lifetime of visits to some of the world’s most endangered environments. With a “holistic, inclusive, ecological, egalitarian worldview,” Mr. Shoumatoff makes the case for conservation of these essential areas despite the economic pressures of development and destruction.
“The Wasting of Borneo is an important book about human greed, climate change, and animism (among many other serious matters),” says Russell Banks WF H ‘67, author of The Sweet Hereafter. “A head-spinning trip to the furthest reaches of the known world.”
Mr. Shoumatoff, the author of 10 books, was a staff writer for The New Yorker, a contributor and contributing editor of Vanity Fair, and one of the founding contributing editors of Outside and Conde Nast Traveler Magazines. Since 2001, he has been the editor of the website Dispatches from the Vanishing World, which he created with his son.