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Taking Action: Consumerism and Deforestation


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According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat, the overwhelming direct cause of deforestation is agriculture, with commercial agriculture being …

According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat, the overwhelming direct cause of deforestation is agriculture, with commercial agriculture being responsible for 32% of deforestation. Deforestation contributes to species extinction, habitat loss, and reduction in biodiversity, to name a few ecological issues. With that in mind, I propose taking action by educating consumers about how their spending contributes to the demand of some commercial agriculture products that contributes to the problem of deforestation.

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  • 1. Taking Action Consumerism and Deforestation Jonathan Meza (CSU Fresno)
  • 2. What is Deforestation?  Clearing Earth’s forests on a massive scale, often resulting in damage to quality of the land  Contributes to species extinction, habitat loss, and reduction in biodiversity  Forests are cut down for many reasons, but biggest driver is agriculture  Commercial agriculture is responsible for 32% of deforestation Source: UNFCCC. Page 81. (2007).
  • 3. What is Palm Oil?  A form of edible vegetable oil obtained from the fruit of African oil palm tree  African oil palms originated in West Africa, but can flourish wherever heat and rainfall are abundant  Most widely used produced edible oil  Found in many products: foods, cosmetics, and bath products Source:
  • 4. Palm Oil Production Classification  Commodity  Vegetable Oil  Palm Oil  Country  Indonesia  China  Malaysia Production Data (in million tons) 09/10 10/11 11/12 12/13 March 2013 April 13/14 Total 141.36 148.98 157.41 160.71 168.98 169.53 Total 46.06 48.74 51.99 55.82 58.43 58.52 Total 25.59 27.24 30.13 32.73 35.58 35.54 Total 17.88 19.02 21 22.4 23.1 23.21 Total 19.94 20.39 20.42 21.64 21.49 21.49 Source: USDA-FAS (2014).
  • 5. Image Source: Lian Pin Koh, Tien Ming Lee, Sensible consumerism for environmental sustainability, Biological Conservation, Volume 151, Issue 1, July 2012, Pages 3-6, ISSN 0006-3207.
  • 6. Why is Palm Oil so popular?  Global demand for vegetable oil is growing fast  Relatively cheap  Most versatile  High yielding  Most widely produced Source:
  • 7. The Problem: Wasteful Consumerism  Pursuing a business-as-usual course of consumption would impose severe pressures in producer countries to clear land for oil- palm and soybean agriculture  Up to an additional ∼12 million hectares by 2040  Exacerbate rates of deforestation and biodiversity loss in these tropical regions  As long as demands for agricultural products continue to increase, so too will pressures to clear more forests for croplands Source: Lian Pin Koh, Tien Ming Lee (2012).
  • 8. Solutions?  Boycott palm oil products completely, or  Reduce consumption of palm oil products  If each person in the EU and US reduces his/her daily vegetable oil consumption by an average of 25 g – roughly equivalent to forgoing one large serving of French Fries – the pressure to convert tropical forests for oilseed expansion could be reduced by up to ∼70% Source: Lian Pin Koh, Tien Ming Lee (2012) and USDA-FAS (2014).
  • 9. Solution 1 - Boycott Source:
  • 10. Solution 2 - RSPO  Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil  Established in 2004 “to promote the production and use of sustainable palm oil for People, Plant, and Prosperity”  Composed of various organizations from different sectors of palm oil industry for the purpose of developing and implementing global standards for sustainable palm oil Source:
  • 11. RSPO Member Companies  Aveeno  Avon  Betty Crocker  Bird’s Eye Foods  Body Shop  Colgate-Palmotive  ConAgra Foods, Inc.  COVERGIRL  General Mills  GoodLight Natural Candles  Hershey Company  J.M. Smucker Co.  Johnson & Johnson  Keebler  Kelloggs Source:
  • 12. Take action! It’s your turn! Help the environment!