Borneo and Palm Oil

To me, it is sad how a product’s unsustainable production can be hidden from the public. I will often read ingredients on a label and have no idea about the processes that went into making them. I’m sure I have many to learn about, but for now I would like to talk about palm oil and palm kernel oil. Both are extracted from the oil palm, and palm oil’s biggest exporter is Indonesia, with Malaysia to its north a close second. These countries share the island of Borneo, which has some of the most biologically diverse jungles in the world. In the biodiversity hot spot of Borneo and its surrounding islands, you can find the Javan and Sumatran rhinoceroses, both critically endangered, the orangutan and Borneo elephant, both endangered, along with about 15,000 endemic plant species. Also native are very strange organisms like the carnivorous pitcher plant, paradise flying tree snake, or flying frog. If you see palm oil among the ingredients on the back of a product, you can be pretty sure it came from a palm oil plantation that displaced the jungles of southeast Asia and all these species that they hold. To read about Borneo’s biodiversity and the industries  and policies that are harming it, check out this National Geographic article, one of my favorites ever: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/11/borneo/white-text If you skip to page 4, you can read specifically about oil palm plantations, but I find the whole article both fascinating and touching. Pictures can be found here: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2008/11/borneo/klum-photography                    I think it is crazy how our choices here can affect the lives of amazing butterflies, frogs, or orchids thousands of miles away. I know that our choice to avoid products with palm oil, palm kernel oil, or coconut oil won’t get rid of deforestation or habitat destruction. However, I also know that I can’t stand to support something like oil palm plantations, which are quickly replacing the habitat of some of my favorite creatures; it just isn’t right.

-Simon

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4 responses to “Borneo and Palm Oil

  1. Wow, I had no idea. Very informative

  2. Great article man!

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