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July 11th, 2011
Burning Season


Climate change is the “defining issue of our era,” according U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. But the question of how to slow global warming has stymied the international community and no consensus has emerged.

The Kyoto Protocol, which was adopted in 1997, set targets for the reduction of greenhouse gases that cause global warming. To date, 182 countries have agreed to the terms — the U.S. is not one of them.

One of the primary mechanisms for reducing carbon pollution is a system of emissions trading. Countries that have signed the treaty are entitled to an assigned amount of emissions, and if they manage to use less, they can sell the excess to countries that have surpassed their limit on the new carbon market.


Every hour in Indonesian rainforests, an area the size of 300 soccer fields is mowed down and burned. Often this clearing is done to make way for oil palm plantations. The resulting palm oil is used for cooking, cleaning and even as a biofuel. But the fires farmers set to clear their land have helped to make Indonesia the world’s third-largest emitter of carbon dioxide — exceeded only by the U.S. and China.

A 29-year-old Australian “green” entrepreneur named Dorjee Sun believes he has a solution to reduce those harmful greenhouse gas emissions. He has canvassed the world pitching the sale of Indonesia’s carbon credits to polluters in the West.

His business model would maintain the standing swaths of Indonesia’s rainforests by selling their carbon credits. Burning Season follows Dorjee Sun on a whirlwind trip into boardrooms around the world – from Starbucks to eBay to Merrill Lynch – as he tries to convince skeptical financiers that his proposal is viable.

To carry out his plan, local political leaders in Indonesia must also agree that their forests are worth more alive than dead. Small farmers like Achmadi, who makes a living by cutting down trees to plant oil palms, fear the layers of government officials will be the only profiteers from the carbon credit sale.

Burning Season kindles both sides of the climate divide and explores whether capitalism can step in where altruism has so far failed to succeed.

  • Barbara Edwards Martin

    Incredible! Go Dorjee and Merrill Lynch and Governor of Iowa – you made a difference by your commitments to decrease carbon emissions from grass roots to world wide community action! Be

  • Kitral

    Would like to buy video of Wide Angle’s Burning Season that aired July 22, 2008 @ 8:00 p.m.
    Is this available to buy?

  • Kenya Romero

    I just saw this great documentary. I think it is amazing the way that one person can make such a difference and bring together politicians and investors to potentially help not only local Indonesian farmers but every single one of us by preserving the forest. We all know that everyone is interested in saving the world but when you add dollars to the term “going green”, a lot more people will be interested in the idea!

  • dorjee Gyaltsen

    Your program on saving indonsian forest is very interesting and I truely believe united states should take lead role in saving our planet rather than withdrawing thier support. Dorjee is doing a great job and am happy to know that there is a tibetan guy who’s putting effort in saving our planet,THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
    Dorjee Gyaltsen

  • Teresa Echols

    I just watched this program, and I am absolutely awe-inspired by the actions of Dorjee, the UN, and the (reluctant) U.S.A. for signing on to an effort to make the very serious threat of global warming attractive enough to be taken seriously by the financial markets of the world.

    To the former Governor of Iowa- Hats off to you! It’s about time that, as Bill Maher says, the U.S.A.,”Stop waving our big foam #1 finger in the air”, on the past successes of our country and start acting, with responsibility, as a super-power of today!

  • Mary Christy

    A big thanks to Cathy Henkel for making this film! I love that it included the booing after Paula Dobriansky stated that the U.S. would not sign on. I was relieved the U.S. delegation finally agreed to go along with the rest. It was the right thing to do. I admire Dorjee Sun’s vision and determination so much. He’s my new hero.

    Mary Christy
    United States

  • James T Renner

    My name is Jim Renner I am just a carpenter from St.Louis but I understand that something needs to be done about how we treat the planet, if the human race is going to be! I loved this program and film (Burning Season)I just watched, It touched me and I want to know more. I hope that hearing this from just a regular everyday person will get the rest of the world on board. It takes all of us to do it , no contribution is too small. My friend always tells me (One starfish at a time). One act to save the planet at a time by all of us. Thats what is going to do it.

  • Kelly Turk

    This was a really good program. It really made me open my eyes as to what can be done. The sad part is that we the USA where the ones to balk and not what to go farward with the Bali deal. The Us has lost alot of world respect and now I start to see why. It would be interesting to know why the US did not what to indorse this prposal. I hope that we, the US of A can pull ourselves back from the brink. Thank you PBS and please put more shows and the climate on.

  • Jeanette Lynch

    I was totally inspired by Dorjee passion for the environment. His enthusiasm is contagious. All U.S. citizens should see this film in order to reach hearts to then change minds about how to solve the global warming problem. The governor of Iowa has the right idea, invest in the future in order to sustain our planet and initiate new economic growth. I am so moved by tonight’s film that I am sending an email to our PA governor, Ed Rendell. Instead of more casino gambling, let’s get involved and follow Iowa’s lead. Thanks Dorjee for your vision and concern for our planet.

  • David Hofstatter

    Dorjee Sun’s boundless persistence and tenacity as well as his fluency in the science and politics inspires Hope for our childrens’ futures. This brilliant documentation of a small battle shows how our war against our war against the planet’s climate can be fought, and how crucial it is to fight it. America’s refusal to sign even the weak Kyoto
    Protocol is unacceptable when we project serious consequences a generation or two ahead for our progeny and ultimately for most Life on this space ship Earth. We all need to emulate and support in whatever ways we can Dorjee Sun’s remarkable efforts between Merrill Lynch, carbon credit customers, and the guys in the forest with the chainsaws and torches. Thanks for yet another outstanding report and production that promotes and validates such critical efforts.

  • Hristo Malchev

    A practical although possibly redundant question for Dorjee: while on your world tour did you get to knock on HSBC’s doors? I can give you more detials on why I am asking this question offline.

    Anyway, great job and hope you make tons of money while helping save the world. I truly believe the solutions to climate change issues will come through people taking advantage of economic incentives… most of which are yet to be created, of course.

  • robiens m

    Bravo to Dorjee!! One action to save the world by getting the financial world involved. The contribution that came together will definitely bring great result.great example to other institutions.

  • Kelly McLaughlin

    a wonderful show! thank you for the excellent information and an outside (of u.s.) perspective. i was wondering if dorjee sun had a website or a contact address – i was hoping that he might be able to offer alaska an alternative to logging the tongass as well as any others in alaska and the united states. what a brilliant man, i hope his idea grows and grows.

  • linda

    How does one get information on Mr. Dorjee Sun business venture for investing in our plant.

  • Martin Creasey

    Starbucks is missing a great opportuity for soicial marketing. Their sales would skyrocket if 25 cents from every cup of coffee went to Dorjee Sun’s company to purchase carbon credits and save rain forest. It would be a great way for the average individual to be able to contribute.

  • 11blak

    Dorjee Sun, the next time your in San Francisco look me up! I’m gonn thow you a party!
    Kelly Edwards

  • Amit Jain

    FABULOUS…I am impressed by the amazing passion and energy of Dorjee Sun to truly make a change.
    Kudos on a fantastic achievement!!

  • sheri


  • Sonja Gladwin

    Outstanding programming. I was fortunante enough to catch a majority of the program last night. Working at a community college here in the US I see a “wide angle” possiblity to take a “leadership” roll in protecting and investing in our global future. This program has inspired several ideas this morning. Thank you!
    Sonja Gladwin
    Maryland, US

  • Sukumar Haldar

    I worked on a similar project “Deforestation and its effect on environment” 30 year’s ago for the virgin forests of Himalayas. I had to give up due to lack of resources. I can contribute a lot in this effort and make it commercially viable, Please send me Dorji’s contact details.

  • Patricia Gordon

    I agree with all the comments and found the program equally compelling. However, having been involved with Carl Hodges, formerly Environmental Research Labs, University of Arizona, and now the proponent of an equally large program to mitigate sea water rise, (see LA Times last week or Vanity Fair Green Issue) ONE thing is missing. Global sea rise takes many island nations, as well as the San Francisco, Manhattan, Everglades, etc. out within a very short period of time, so it is important to do both. Mutual contacts combined would be helpful to Aceh’s forward looking governor and Dorji, a remarkable young man.Peace and Blessings to all in these endeavors! Great presentation of the issues……

  • Carol Ritchie

    Dorjee Sun had a powerful vision and through his unwavering dedication and follow through, he is making
    a tremendous step forward in helping to save the forests and the wildlife that calls it home. As a longtime volunteer with the orangutans in Kalimantan (the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo), I hope with all my heart that he will take that same dedication into Kalimantan where millions of acres are designated for conversion to oil palm plantations. In the 20 years since I began volunteering, the projection regarding extinction of the orangutans has narrowed considerably, and along with the orangutans, all wildlife that calls the forests home, are threatened. Some studies are saying they could become extinct within 3-5 years. Supporting Dorjee Sun’s efforts in whatever way we can is critically important. Hopefully he will establish a website (if he hasn’t already) where individuals can get information as to what can be done by all of us who care.

  • james

    Bravo, bravo!! Excellent movie, and A++ to Dorjee Sun. This young man never gave up. He should be the role model to our young generation. Humble, hard working, innovative, smart, great entrepeneur and never gives up in facing tough problems. Wow!! What an inspiration!! Incredible story!! He should be appointed one of ambassadors by face greater problems such as poverty in Africa. Great, great young man!! I was totally impressed!!

  • Dorjee Sun

    Hi guys – its Dorjee in Singapore. Right now its 11pm and I just got off a conference call and am preparing for a speaking engagement tomorrow at Nanyang Technical University where I hope to recruit a few more people to the cause! I head to Hong Kong this weekend to meet with head of global carbon for Merrill Lynch, Mr Abyd Karmali and we are meeting on the Sunday (damn).

    Anyways I actually haven’t yet seen the PBS documentary but I was told about this comment board by some friends and would like to firstly thank everyone for their support. Its SOooOO awesome. I don’t know what else to say!

    Some answers to the direct questions from the thread are:

    1. Hi Kitra: The PBS is an edit – actually I think the full length documentary is 90minutes and I spoke with the director a few days ago and she said they were trying to get a theatrical release for it. If that happens, I m sure there will be dvds for sale, otherwise I can try to get you a copy… I need to get one too.

    2. Hi Hristo: Last year I did speak with Francis Sullivan of HSBC in London. As I recall they were interested but this was before Bali Kyoto outcomes so perhaps it was too early – would appreciate any advice to navigate them so your comments are totally relevant and I look forward to hearing from you!
    3. Hi Kelly: My email is

    4. Hi Linda: Actually we are thinking of setting up an office in San Diego because my team truly thinks that the USA is the next big fight we must win. We would love to work with anyone who wants to get into it – lets save some forests and animals! Just email me for more info

    5. Hi Kelly: Thanks I love parties! I think I ll be in San Fran to meet some investors around September but things are not confirmed yet

    6. Hi Sukumar: Oohh I have a real soft spot for the Himalayas – my grandma lived near Darjeeling til she passed last year and my parents were born there. I think the forests in the areas gorgeous and its just amazing that so many of the worlds major rivers stem from the area. Would love to work with you on it – so dust off the plan and lets get into it! Email me anytime.

    Anyways, thanks so much for all your comments, you all rock! If you want to join in, just email me and lets change the world and get this topic heard in the US Presidential campaign this year! We can change the world if we all just pitch in. People all inherently know that looking after each other, looking after forests, protecting animals, helping the less fortunate communities and stopping climate change are the right things to do. But now that its also the economic thing to do, what are we waiting for? Lets get into it! Email me anytime at

    Thanks again,

  • Global Reforestation Initiative

    The effort to reforest is a cumulative one. It starts with planting trees and also saving them from being cut, using economic stimulus. The little guy has to make a living. It is our job to channel that to a constructive opportunity,such as reforestation. This story was a move in the right direction. Don Seehusen, Global-Reforestation Initiative

  • Elizabeth V. Mooney

    While securitization in the absence of proper risk management has gotten and deserved a bad rap, given the mortgage meltdown, it seems that this Merrill Lynch fund is one example where securitization that then becomes mutual funds, can open “altruistic opportunism” to individual investors. No, this phrase is NOT an oxymoron. People, from the CEO to the small farmer, and everyone in between, including middle-class people investing for retirement, should be able to do well by doing good. That would be a more perfect union.

  • Marko Sakal

    Dorjee Sun shows a determination to change the planet for the better. Clearly, one person can make a difference. Together we can change the world. Saving the forests everywhere is a major issue for every nation. Do your part and work towards reducing Carbon emissions of all types everywhere.

  • Edna Padilla

    Dorjee, your are extraordinary and inspiring. My native country Honduras suffers from a similar dilema. Just tell us how we can help. Would be happy to make a small donation towards such a globally beneficial cause. You certainly deserve a Noble prize for your inexhaustible efforts. I wish all the best.

  • WanLim

    The documentary is so captivating. I hope Dorjie Sun will continue to press for the ulimatum of a carbon free world. Because this is the only world we have and I salute him and the rest that cooperated to make it a success for our future generations down the road.

  • Aileen

    So many important elements of this (excellent) show: illustrating the development of a great idea (prevented deforestation offsets); profiling someone with a heroic passion (Dorjie Sun); showing the world community can be a democratic place where objectors can be told (and made) to “get out of the way”; and most importantly showing Indonesian farmer Achmadi’s heartbreak at having to destroy his beloved environment to be able to ‘develop’.

  • Vanessa

    It will be a hard thing to do to save the forest and jungles in Indonesia. More than 50 percent of the population are farmers. Even 4 year degree college graduates some end up to be a taxi driver in Indonesia. Things so sad. Indonesia is the biggest Muslim country in the world. it have different types of Muslim, often they fight with each other. The government are corrupt that is one of the reason why the nation is poor. The farmers will do anything to get money to live their life. Thanks for trying to save the forest.

  • Camille Rivera

    This was so inspiring and sad and i hope this is the first step towards a greener way to economic sustainability for countries all around the world

  • S.A. Sutton

    Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! The show inspires us to continue to work against all the odds as wisdom, justice and compassion may indeed show through for the earth and all it’s inhabitants.

  • Isabel Apodaca

    What a brilliant and fresh new take on conservation. The program was definitely inspiring and has obviously moved people around the world. It was heartbreaking to watch Dorjee pitch the plan over and over with no takers. Dorjee is definitely on the right path to enlightenment. Such a fresh and innovative plan to finally make a difference in an area that has been lacking concern. The new face, capitalist with an environmental twist/motive. Wow, I can not wait to see the environmental fever catch. A million Thank You’s to you, Dorjee and those that have supported you. You definitely have lots of love in El Paso, Texas, I cant wait to help somehow! Also, Thank you to PBS for the motivating programming.

  • Steve

    Thank you Dorjee for your incredible work.

  • HengYu

    Great job! Dorjee Sun and thanks for PBS for broadcasting this documentary.

  • Whitley Colton

    I have 3 FULL pages of notes (legal pad!) I copiously took the entire time I was watching “The Burning Season”. I finally said to myself (after my hand started cramping.. “they’ll run it again” or “I can order a DVD of the program from PBS” and now I’m online deperatly searching for the video and AHHHHHH it’s nowhere to be found! I think there’s an AUDIO on Dorjee’s website…is that correct? I want present this to as many people as I can get to sit in front of a television, dvd player or their computer screen. I can’t think of anyone I know that wouldn’t want to SEE this information AS IT WAS PRESENTED on PBS (BLESS YOU GUYS!!!) and who wouldn’t want to be involved in SOME way. THIS is how a movement of monumental proportions gets started. Not by the government…by the PEOPLE!! It’s only after all of us have PROVEN that it’s not only the right thing…but it can be financially successful..THEN the others will want to jump on board (for whatever reason..philanthropy…guilt or financial gains…doesn’t matter..the END RESULT is what matters. GLOBAL change. this is not a dress rehearsal folks. We can’t muck this planet up..then watch a rerun on TV..see what we did wrong and start all over again. Sometimes you just don’t get a “do over” ya know?!! Dorjee..I’m 48..started my own business almost 10 years ago and I swear to you…until I saw YOUR determination to make something you believed in work..I thought I was the bomb LOL! You are a blessing to this planet. You have found your mission for mankind. Even though you made more money than you will probably ever need in your previous business…instead of sitting on your laurels and sucking down cocktails with cute little umbrella’s on the white sands of Australia for the rest of your life…you found another passion..and this one could make a “WORLD” of difference. PLEASE…contact me at and let me know how I can help. I’m traveling ALL over the United States right now doing MY business..but if I can do something to help with yours…let me at it! (I can type like a house of fire!) Everything that everyone has had to say on here about you and your work… I back 1000%. Don’t give have a PURPOSE and the hearts and minds of the people are behind you!

  • Whitley Colton

    p.s. If there is ANY way I can get a dvd or video (something VISUAL) of this presentation…PLEASE…email me! Thanks again!

  • Maris

    Thank you PBS, Dorjee Sun, and Merryll Lynch, from the bottom of my heart. You are such good people. I get it now.

  • teo

    dear dorjee u rock! U and the devotees rock as i addressed the techno-preneurship and innovation graduates tonight in your presence in singapore.

  • Wayne

    Dorjee and PBS,

    Excellent documentary especially moving was the part where the local farmer was rationalizing his need for money to put his daughter to school and later crying about his way of life. Dorjee know that change happens for a reason. You are inspired and passionate but listen to your mother and get more rest so you do not burnout ;-) The US will change and the global economy needs a wake up call. Keep going forward your journey is just beginning!

  • Rebecca Darr

    It was a truly inspiring and informative film. Wish I had more info about the organization/business that Dorjee Sun has launched, as I would like to see if there is something that I can do to help/participate

  • Kathy Carpenter

    Burning Season was absolutely fabulous. Gives me hope we can come together and do something about global warming. Much praise for the efforts of Dorjee Sum, what a wonderful, dedicated young man. Also great to see Aaron Brown back on the air, have missed him

  • Erica Courtney

    I too have been pitching this concept to investors for the past year and it is not easy as organizations invest in what they know, not what they don’t understand-no matter how good the financials look. However, due to efforts like Dorjee putting himself out there to the international community, it is cracking a door open that was once closed. Once the Merrill deal transpired during Bali, the concept of making the protection of standing forests financially viable while providing a valuable service to society was all over the media. This in turn educates and makes people aware of the problem and a possible solution. Kudos to Merrill for sticking their neck out and taking a leadership position in this market. However, as a project developer in this niche, I know Merrill stands to make millions so it is a win-win for them, the Indonesian people and society as a whole. Keep on going Dorjee! I applaud your efforts. We can bring economy and ecology together to solve social problems-pretty new territory indeed! Thanks for cracking open that door-lets get it wide open.

  • Elsa Kendall

    This was an incredibly eye-opening documentary and very well done. Thank you to the filmmaker Cathy Henkel for being so inspired to follow Dorjee on his remarkable journey to effect change with innovation, and to showcase the plight of the Indonesian farmers so beautifully. Thank you, as always, to PBS for airing it. I hope the reforestation managers of the world are considering the incredible NEEM tree in their efforts to provide not only a viable source of income for the farmers and their countries from the many beneficial products this tree yields, but also an easily cultivated option for helping to counteract the mounting effects of carbon emissions. This book is excellent if anyone wants to learn more: Neem: A Tree for Solving Global Problems, ISBN 0-309-04686-6. I would like to say I have nothing to gain by sharing this information other than to inspire others to look into this remarkable tree. Perhaps Don Seehusen at Global-Reforestation Initiative and others already know about it. I hope so!

  • Michelle Desilets

    A most inspiring film. If you wish to learn more about Lone Droscher Nielsen and her efforts to save the orangutans of Borneo, visit the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation at

  • ted

    Dear Mr Dorjee, ypou have done a great job in Indonesia but as you know the Indonesians are very bad in treating their forests. In PNG we have the 3rd largest forests and as PNG is a Westminister system country, PNG will be more willing to adopt stringent rules on CDM etc than Indonesia. I’m still waiting to hear from you as I sent you an email today. I’m inviting you to PNG to do a presentation.

    from PNG

  • vv

    i’m so curious with the woodcutter lifes now….

  • riyanti

    thank alot of dorgee

  • jj

    Isaac yes change is scary. But look at this as positive the high tax in carbon will generate new idea and new startups with low emission. And your kids and your self will breathe easy and healthy. Get control you fear and fear only fear it; learn to live in peace and harmony with your neighbor in the global villages. If you don’t do that you are the only person you will safer.

  • Flip

    Great documentary on how money gets made out of thin air. The corrupt officials get rich, a banker buys himself another G4 jet, US government collects more taxes and Indonesian farmers keep on burning the forest because the farmer needs to feed his kids.

  • Holly

    Way to go!!!! Such an inspiration! We need to do something.

  • C. Ammansens

    Pretty resourceful way of extorting money out of U.S. firms. It’s sort of like selling a bottle of smoke,..or a bottle of “no smoke”.

  • Andrei

    This could very well be my own fault, but after watching this I still didn’t quite understand what exactly Sun was “selling,” how the investors would profit from it or, most importantly, how much the Indonesian people would benefit from it?

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