Palm Oil Madness

Vital tropical rain forest is being destroyed and replaced by industrial palm oil operations that kill off wildlife, pollute the air and greatly increase greenhouse gas emissions.

In Indonesia and many other tropical countries, vast amounts of forests are being slashed and burned along with their inhabitants for the large-scale production of palm oil, which is used as a low-cost cooking oil and is put in processed foods, soaps and cosmetics, and is a source of biodiesel fuel.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service, Indonesia is the world’s top producer of palm oil, generating 52% of global production in 2012-2013, while Malaysia ranks second, producing 34%. Within Indonesia, virtually all palm oil production—approximately 96%—occurs on the island of Sumatra and across Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo.

NASA-funded research has studied the conversion of forests and community-managed agricultural lands to oil palm plantations within Indonesia, a topic of both global and regional importance.

The conversion of forests industrial plantations represents a significant source of global greenhouse gas emissions, while smoke from fires used to clear land is a major source of air pollution that adversely impacts human health and productivity in Southeast Asia.

Researchers funded through NASA’s Land-Cover/Land-Use Change Program have been using Earth-observing data to document the timeline of oil-palm development and the impacts of expanded palm-oil production across Kalimantan. Scientists digitized remotely sensed areas cleared for or planted with oil palm using 35 Landsat 5 Thematic Mapper and Landsat 7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus reflectance images at 30-m (~98-ft) resolution to produce the first comprehensive maps of oil-palm expansion across Kalimantan.

While documenting the destruction is useful it won't stop the madness of destroying rain forests, the corruption and apathy that allows it or the rampant over-population that drives the market for cheap palm oil.  All consumers are encouraged to boycott palm oil in general. There are more sustainable and less destructive alternatives.

Copyright: arcticle: Bid Ocean, Inc.