The real cost of palm oil
Palm oil is a highly profitable commodity, but its cost to the planet is staggering and
unsustainable. The current rate and method of production is destroying tropical rainforests and habitats of iconic species like orangutans, tigers and elephants, as well as causing environmental damage that affects ecosystems worldwide. The palm oil industry’s devastating impact is a result of companies’ singular focus on profit today without regard for the effects of their actions on tomorrow. Money and profit overrides thought and respect for wildlife, indigenous peoples and the planet.
Understanding the negative impact
It is our pursuit for cheap oil that has resulted in the destruction of vast swathes of rainforest. We must understand the real impact of clearing the rainforest on all of us, regardless of how many hundreds of miles away we live. The clearing of the rainforest causes greenhouse emissions and other pollutants to be released into the atmosphere and water. It also reduces biodiversity, which will have a devastating effect on all ecosystems.
Palm oil plantations, a single crop, replace highly biodiverse ecosystems, resulting in a loss of species richness and equilibrium. Habitat loss reduces the size of populations, which in turn increases the risk of extinction and it can distort relative abundances, resulting in some species dominating the ecosystem at the expense of others.
We must prioritise the impact of our actions on tomorrow to ensure a sustainable future forLouisa Stout
How can we bring about change?
The palm oil industry simply has to transition to more sustainable practices such as protecting and restoring the rainforest, improving labour practices, and reducing greenhouse emissions. Its easy to think ” I can’t bring about change”, but we can all help make a difference.
Avoid buying products that contain conflict palm oil, if possible, avoid buying products that contain any palm oil at all until the mess we are in has been cleared up. We need more robust auditing of sustainable palm oil, clear labelling on products so that the consumer can quickly and easily see if a product contains palm oil. We can all play our part.
The destruction of tropical rainforests and habitats of iconic species like orangutans, tigers and elephants as well as contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and water pollution shows that the true cost of palm oil is too high.