A of jobs and generates billions of dollars in

A Climate Change Essay by Stella Capolicchio SA17EA

Palm
Oil and Deforestation

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!


order now

 

Palm
oil is an edible vegetable oil derived from the fruit of the oil palm tree.

Palm oil is the most widely used vegetable oil in the world, representing up to
45% of total consumption and can be found in half of the products in the
supermarket shelves. However, in order to meet  the worlds increasing demand of palm oil, large
portions of forests are burned down just to make place for plantations. Two
years ago in Indonesia, the country that supplies more than half of the global
demand, were burning down over 10 000 square meters, creating fires so big they
could be seen from outer space. (1) All of this unleashes massive amounts of
carbon and other gases into the atmosphere making Indonesia the third-largest
global emitter of greenhouse gases.

 

Now,
the question you´re asking yourself might be; How come it´s so demanding when it´s
harming our planet? Well, there are a lot of different factors contributing to
why palm oil has taken over the vegetable oil industry so heavily. In this
essay I will go through them all , however the most important one being the
economic driver. The palm oil industry provides millions of jobs and generates
billions of dollars in export earnings for producing countries. (2)

 

Most
of the palm oil trees are planted and harvested in the Sumatra forest in
Indonesia. This forest is the most biodiverse tropical forest found on earth
and the only ecosystem where creatures like rhinos, elephants, tigers and orangutans
coexist. A special place like this should be valued and taken care of in terms
of the health for our planet.  However,
in todays society, money can change everything. The locals, living near by the
forests are extremely poor and are in desperate need of money. – So they utilise
the agriculture and purchase land to develop palm oil companies. With the money
they earn from selling the palm oil they can provide their families and the
kids can be sent to school. As time goes by the demand of palm oil gets lager
and the companies want to purchase more land in order to grow more palm trees
to make more money.

 

To
meet the worlds increasing demand of palm oil, huge areas of the forests
continue to be cleared. Often using slash and burn techniques. These rare
forests are replaced by endless roads of oil palm wish leads to loss of habitat
and animals dying. Indonesia is the worlds biggest producer of palm oil, yet
it´s also loosing its forests at an alarming rate. The consequences that occur
have a heavy effect on the environment. When the forests are slashed and burned down, billion tons of CO2
(carbon dioxide), smoke and other greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere which is
contributing to air pollution and climate change. Fires in these areas are
particularly hard to put out since the smoke and haze give health consequences
throughout Southeast Asia. (3)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The
Palm oil trees absorb a lot more water than the ecosystem is regulated to. This
result in the water resources slowly vanishing because the increased numbers of
palm oil plantations depletes the soil of the water and nutrients. One palm oil
tree can use up to 25 litres a day whish leaves the little wildlife that’s left
in life threatening danger. The water is hard to get and the poor people living
in the communities nearby, either have to buy water (price is rising) or get it
from the rain which isn´t sustainable.

 

Rio
Ardie, from Team Restoraisi Sei Netung one said in an interview (4):

“Over
the years, we have seen a big change in the Indonesian forest. In the 90´s, the
Indonesian forest had an incredibly rich biodiversity. – As the years went by,
the forest got smaller and as a result, the population of orangutans, tigers
and other animals decreased”

 

Over the past 65 years
there have been a decrease in orangutans population by 50%.

Despite
this being a heart breaking fact it´s also affecting the tropical forest´s
ecosystem. For example: Orangutans are known as gardeners of the forest and
play a crucial role in seed disperse.  When
they eat, they will move around to new places and disperse seeds through their
waste. This makes it possible for the forest to grow more trees and the
orangutans have maintained the health of the forest ecosystem. So when a
creature with such a huge role is taken away by 50% from the ecosystem,
everything can collapse and the forest will be harder to save.

 

What can we do to benefit the
evolution of the palm oil industry?

 

This
means that we must put an end on palm oil, right? Wrong.

Palm oil can be used sustainably without
clearing valuable forests and habitats. In fact, it´s already starting to
happen. The round table for sustainable palm oil certifies companies and small
holders are working towards producing palm oil in a environmentally friendly way.

For
example WWF is working with companies to train and educate small holders so
that they can learn how to make more palm oil in a way
that doesn’t harm the environment. They learn how to grow more palm oil with
the land that they already have. In this way companies won´t have to cut down forests
and harm the earth.

 

However,
there is a solution that involves you.

Be  courious and ask your local super market if
they use certified sustainable palm oil in the product the make and sell. Are
they awere of what´s going on in Indosesia with the plantations?  I´m sure that people are willing to help if
they´re educated in the subject and understand the seriousness.

 

Sources:

1.    
https://blogs.worldbank.org/impactevaluations/how-has-our-rising-palm-oil-consumption-affected-communities-where-it-comes-guest-post-ryan-edwards

2.    
https://www.conservation.org/publications/Documents/CI_Palm-Oil-Sourcing-Guide.pdf

3.    
https://www.worldwildlife.org/industries/palm-oil

4.