Friday, August 10, 2012

The palm oil nightmare

The lowland forest habitats of the Orangutan, Asia's only great ape, are quickly disappearing. They are being cut down for timber or burned to make way for oil palm plantations. It is predicted, that at the current loss of habitat, the orangutan will be extinct in 20-30 years. This story is posted mainly in concern for the orangutans but there is much more to palm oil agriculture than loss of habitat for orangutans, elephants, & hundreds of other animals. It has undermined & dispossessed small farmers along with agriculture for food production, & has proven an environmental disaster, including  substantially increasing carbon emissions involved in climate change. Indonesia is the most prominent example of the climatic catastrophes of oil palm agriculture. Originally promoted for cosmetic & food product use as a feature of IMF/World Bank Structural Adjustment Policies in several countries, it is now primarily touted as a biofuel & green energy. Although there is still substantial international investment & trading in palm oil, it is proving an environmental disaster & economic boondoggle. Here is an interesting 2007 article about it from the NYTimes:

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