In class we spoke about human generated disasters, namely the Buhpal gas disaster. I was recently made aware of another environmental and human catastrophe we are bringing upon ourselves, except this has a much larger scale. I want to start by saying, if you haven’t already, you should watch Leonardo Dicaprio’s documentary in partnership with National Geographic called Before The Flood. It is extremely well done and informative. One topic they brought up in that documentary was that of palm oil. Now, you could make the argument that most agriculture, especially modern agriculture is pretty bad for the environment, but palm oil runs away with the competition.
Being a palm it must be planted in a tropical area, so to start your own palm oil patch just find a nice chuck of the tiny remaining rain forest we still have; now burn it to the ground. You can’t possibly be bothered to simply clear cut, you don’t have that kind of time. After burning down one of the most complex, intricate and bio diverse areas on the planet, simply disregard the displaced species including Sumatran orangutan, elephant, and tiger, all of which are critically endangered, and plant row after row of oil palms. You know there will be a demand for your palm oil because it’s in everything. Now, you may think that last sentence was an exaggeration, but it’s a very slight one. You can find palm oil under many names and in nearly half of all packaged goods in a supermarket. It’s in everything from shampoo to bread to (ironically) bio fuels to Ramen to pizza and lipstick.
This completely irresponsible and destructive method of ‘farming’ is so impossibly near sighted and arrogant. We can not continue to feed a system that operates like this. Palm oil is just vegetable oil, and can be replaces as such, but it’s profitability makes it the obvious choice for both producers and blind consumers. This type of farming will wipe out entire species and at least endanger many more. We are quite literally playing with fire with this idiotic farming method and it is already coming back to burn us with ever rising CO2 and methane emissions, rising oceans, and permanently scarred and destroyed ecosystems. At what point does the means of making something slightly cheaper become not worth the method. That point will never come if consumers continue to remain blind on environmental issues and exactly where their products are coming from.