Palm Oil Plantations: An Economic Perspective
Assessing The Environmental Impact Of Mass-Scale Palm Oil Production
Palm oil is not only bad for the climate: As their forest habitat is cleared, endangered species such as the orangutan, Borneo elephant, and Sumatran tiger are being pushed closer to extinction. Smallholders and indigenous people who have inhabited and protected the forest for generations are often brutally driven from their land. In Indonesia, more than 700 land conflicts are related to the palm oil industry. Human rights violations are everyday occurrences, even on supposedly “sustainable” and “organic” plantations.
Every palm oil plantation begins with what once was a beautiful forest with a fully functioning eco-system.
The forest gets bulldozed to make a palm oil plantation.
Palm oil is extracted: Throughout the monthly process it takes to cultivate the trees, water is being used to maintain them (a lot of water).
Palm oil product is packaged: Is mainly packaged in plastic, which in itself, releases CO2 into the atmosphere when produced.
Palm oil is transported: CO2 is released into the atmosphere and oceans by burning fuel.
Palm oil product is stored: Electricity, heat, and coolers must be used in order to store the oil at room temperature.
Product is sold to customer.
Product is consumed: In this case, we purchased instant noodles, which requires a microwave to heat, again, more energy used.
Palm oil product is disposed of: The instant noodles package is thrown in the garbage, where it will soon be tossed in a landfill where it will decompose and evidently, release more CO2 into the atmosphere.
Economies Of Scale: A simple explanation as to why palm oil plantations exist, and why they aren’t going away anytime soon.
The more you produce of something, the cheaper it is to produce. We see this everywhere in every industry possible. From technology production to automobile manufacturing; the bigger the plant, the more profitable your product.
What’s the alternative to palm oil? What can you do to make a change?
The bottom line is we can all make a change, whether it is a significant change depends on how much money you have, but one thing is for sure; to make a positive change in this world, you must give something up, you must partake in an opportunity cost (which in this case is more money spent on eco-friendly goods) in order to save our planet. We must all take a step back and ask ourselves what we really care about: Our financial well-being or the state of our planet.
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