Steven D. Levitt is virtually unique among economists.
Cos rather than dwell on abstract theoretical concepts, he instead focuses on how seemingly disparate phenomena in the real world are often related.
Like how a Supreme Court decision in the US to permit abortions led to vastly lower crime rates. And how swimming pools are actually more dangerous than guns.
The way he makes these connections is fascinating in itself, and offers a really unique way to look at the world – if you can make the connections.
In line with his way of thinking, you could say that the orangutans in Kalimantan are facing extinction because of rising crude oil prices.
Why is that? Well because the high oil prices have prompted the Indonesian government to come up with plans to turn huge tracts of Indonesia into palm oil plantations. And how are they going to find such huge landbank? By destroying the rainforest of course.
And the process is well under way, with companies like Malaysia’s Golden Hope (hope for who? Not the Dayaks or orangutans that’s for sure) lining up to plunder Kalimantan.
And forest fires are even deliberately lit to clear land for the plantations.
Anyway, I’ll leave the last word to Environment Minister Rachmat Witeolar who says:
"We are making very, very serious efforts. We will not be able to eradicate the fires completely this year and next year, but in two years they will be gone"
But what will be gone? The fires or the forests?