Palm oil industry causes huge problems for environment

By cutting down large swathes of land in tropical rainforests, the palm oil industry clears land for plantations to produce their cheap vegetable oil. These plantations have many negative effects on the environment.

Because of the cheap production prices of palm oil, the palm oil industry has capitalized on the planet’s great need for vegetable oil and has become the leading producer of vegetable oil in the world, to the chagrin of environmentalists.
Palm oil causes major problems in the environment and has become one of the worst industries in the world in an environmental sense.
Many people know that the rainforests in the world are in trouble, yet many don’t know that palm oil is a heavy cause of this.
Most palm oil is produced and extracted in tropical rainforests in Indonesia and Malaysia. According to “Our World in Data” (OWD) lead researcher Hannah Ritchie, Malaysia and Indonesia are responsible for 85% of global palm oil production.
These two countries lead the industry in environmental problems like deforestation and are responsible for the endangerment of different indigenous animals and people.
Perhaps the most pressing issue caused by palm oil plantations is the complete disregard for animal safety and habitat conservation.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, (IUCN) palm oil effects can be felt by 193 different threatened or worse species.
These animals include the tree kangaroo of Papua New Guinea and the african forest elephant of the Democratic Republic Of The Congo, along with many others.
These animals all have something in common however, they live on land that is prime for palm oil production.
Animals are not the only things being pushed off their land to make room for plantations.
Indigenous people, especially in Indonesia, are also forced off.
According to the “Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism,” the palm oil industry knowingly tricked multiple indigineus communities into selling their land for as little as $1 a hectare, or about 40 cents an acre.
This is an astonishingly cruel act, and one that can only be described as taking advantage of an entire community of people.
According to OWD, as of 2018, there were over 19 million hectares of palm oil plantations. These plantations produced 200 million tons of palm oil.
This isn’t a surprising amount considering palm oil is found in about 50% of processed food products, and is also found in soaps, shampoos and fuel.
Despite these environmental atrocities, deforestation might be the biggest side effect of palm oil production.
According to OWD, palm oil is responsible for about 2% of deforestation in the world every year.
While this may not seem very pressing, 2% of deforestation in 2020 accounted for over 1 million acres of forests.
These areas are not all that spread out either, as most deforestation caused by palm oil occurs in Indonesia and Malaysia.
These environmental effects have devastated human and animal communities alike, and will continue to deteriorate if we don’t do anything to stop them.
It’s not like palm oil is the only type of vegetable oil available that can be cheaply and efficiently produced.
Sunflower oil is a much friendlier alternative to palm oil, with far less harmful effects on the environment.
Another alternative is sustainable palm oil.
Sustainable palm oil, while not completely effect free, is a much better alternative than regular palm oil.
To be considered sustainable, a plantation must follow all eight principles that define a sustainable plantation.
According to environmental website “Tamborasi,” the criteria are as follows, “Commitments to transparency, compliance with laws and regulations, commitment to economic viability, use of best practices, conservation of natural resources and biodiversity, consideration of employees and communities affected by palm oil production, responsible new planting, commitment to continuous improvement.”
If any one of these conditions are not met, the plantation is not considered to be sustainable.
Sustainable palm oil is an achievable goal, and one that the palm oil industry, and the world in general, should work for.