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Erika Schelby

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Erika Schelby.jpeg
Erika Schelby
Author. Writer

Erika Schelby is the author of Liberating the Future from the Past? Liberating the Past from the Future? (2013) and Looking for Humboldt and Searching for German Footprints in New Mexico and Beyond (2017). Schelby lives in New Mexico.

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Erika Schelby is the author of Looking for Humboldt and Searching for German Footprints in New Mexico and Beyond (Lava Gate Press, 2017) and Liberating the Future from the Past? Liberating the Past from the Future? (Lava Gate Press, 2013), which was shortlisted for the International Essay Prize Contest by the Berlin-based cultural magazine Lettre International. Schelby lives in New Mexico.

LA Progressive | May 2023

The island of Borneo has been attacked, destroyed, and sacrificed for the global demand for palm oil, timber, and coal.

Sometimes realty outperforms fiction. This is the case with an invented tale and subsequent events playing out in real time on the island of Borneo. In the early 90s, T.C. Boyle published a provocative short story titled Top of the Food Chain. It can be understood as a sharp warning to humans who tamper with ecosystems. It had a far-sighted quality, but what actually happened on Borneo during the three decades that followed was much more disturbing. Deforestation initiated campaigns against environmental damages.

One of the major culprits was Procter & Gamble. This giant American company purchased large quantities of palm oil produced on Borneo and was seen as a contributor to the island’s massive ecological decay and related human rights abuses. But then, after long struggles, came what the Financial Times called the investor rebellion of 2020, when P&G shareholders voted against the company and for serious planet-friendly changes.

To put things into perspective, it will be worthwhile to summarize the ironic logic of T.C. Boyle’s story.

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