Monday, March 24, 2014

Julia's Exploration 6

I really like how Our Moral Footprint addresses certain ideas about climate change and how the world changes with time. We like to think that if we go green and change our society the earth will go back to how it was. Havel says “The climate is not like a pendulum that will return to its original position after a certain period.” We have to realize that no matter what we do the world is an ever changing place, adjusting and shifting with the times. Though it will never go back to how it was in the past it’s important to take care of what we do have and preserve it for the future. 

One large issue the planet has is our mismanagement of lands, specifically those transformed for use as palm oil plantations. The primary problem is the rainforest destruction in the tropics, such as those in Indonesia. As the forests grow smaller we are further threatening wildlife by limiting their habitat. This includes the Sumatran Tiger, the Javan Rhino (which could already be extinct), and the critically endangered Sumatran and Borneo orangutan (which are often caught when fleeing the fires to be sold as bush meat or the infants are sold into the pet trade). 

Palm oil affects people in a variety of ways, through our air, human rights, and health. As we clear the rainforest for these palm plants we create more CO2 by burning the rainforest and also by disturbing the peat moss bogs which trap CO2. Another issue we face is the fact that these companies are using child labor, modern forms of slavery, and are evicting indigenous people to produce their crops. Yet if this wasn’t enough they also try to pass palm oil as being healthy, which is unfounded as of yet due to limited research, yet multiple heath organizations recommend avoiding it due to the high saturated fats. While these issues aren’t often thought of by the consumer they should be kept in mind when shopping. 

I think one of the most important things we can do for palm oil limit how much of it we used. Just like with other crops, it's important to have a mix of products in our foods and in the fields. Though it can be incredibly difficult to identify and limit palm oil, as it goes by many names and is not always listed as palm oil, I think being conscious consumers is key. Another option would be to petition these offending companies or raise awareness of the troubles palm oil causes until a change is made in how it is grown. While there is no perfect answer, just acknowledging palm oil as an issue is important. 
Though these are the better known animals, many fauna and flora species are affected by palm oil production.   
Aerial view of deforestation in Indonesia
Palm fruit


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