ePortfolio- Ethics and Relgion

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AoK- Ethics and Religion

AoK- Ethics and Religion

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  • 1. Name: Emilio SolomonClass period: 1Date: May 12, 2011 Palm Oil Turmoil For the past decades, the world has faced many issues. Many of these issues are environmentaland health-related such global warming and water contamination. Even though these issues exist untilnow, many people are not taking action. Like global warming, the palm oil plantations in Indonesia arealso a major concern, however, most people in Indonesia are not aware of this issue. Indonesia is thelargest archipelago country in the world. It is made up of approximately 17,000 islands. Indonesia isalso the fourth largest country in terms of population. It produces cash crops such as coffee, tea andrubber. Besides coffee, tea and rubber, palm oil is also cultivated. Indonesia has devoted 7.3 millionhectares of land for palm oil plantation development. Indonesia wants to expand the area with 20million hectares (“Losing Ground”). Despite the economic and social benefits, the Indonesiangovernment should not increase the number of palm oil plantations because of the social, economic,and environmental damages that they are causing. The Indonesian government claims that the palm oil plantations bring many economic benefitstowards the country. Most palm oil comes from Indonesia. Eighty percent of the world’s total palm oilproduction comes from Indonesia and Malaysia (“Green Palm oil”). As one of the world’s largestpalm exporter, Indonesia believes that palm oil promotes gain in money. For example, Astro Agra isone company that gains profit from palm oil plantations. The company’s net profit increased to 827.05billion rupiah ($89.65 million), compared with 268.85 billion a year ago, while revenue more thandoubled to 2.27 trillion rupiah (“Indonesia’s Astra Agro”). Money of course is being made (“Losing 1
  • 2. Ground”). The palm oil industry benefits from companies that use palm oil in their products as well.Companies such as Unilever, Nestle, and Cargill use palm oil in many of their products (“Palm Oil inIndonesia”). A few examples of products include Dove soap and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Unilever,which uses palm oil in such products as Dove soap and Ben & Jerry ice cream, cancelled its annual 20million pound ($30.27 million) contract with one of its Indonesian suppliers, PT SMART (SMAR.JK)in December (“Unilever Unit”). Nonetheless, palm oil has been Indonesia’s most significantagricultural export for the past decade (“The Economic Benefit”). Not only is the palm oil industryimportant to Indonesia’s economy, but also it is also important to rural development in Indonesia.Many Indonesians are currently living below the poverty line. In 2009, 20.6 million of 32.5 millionIndonesians living below the national poverty line were located in rural areas (“The EconomicBenefit”). On the other hand, the palm oil industry also contributes to local economies and smalllandholders in Indonesia. The palm oil industry provides employment to many small landholders. In2006, it was found that around 1.7 to 2 million people worked in the palm oil industry (“The EconomicBenefit”). Even though palm oil plantations bring economic benefits towards Indonesia, nevertheless, itcreates economic problems. Indonesia’s palm oil firms have had disputes with several internationalnon-governmental organizations (NGOs) and European multinational companies (MNCs), withregards to the sustainability policy(“Green palm oil”). The Netherlands, one of the largest exportersand importers of palm oil in Europe feels that Indonesian palm oil exports can be negatively impacted,if Indonesia does not review its sustainability policy (“Green palm oil”). Indonesia wants to expandthe area of palm oil plantations for further development. The total area of palm oil plantations areexpected to triple to 16.5 million hectares by 2020 (“The oil for ape”). While the total area is expectedto triple to 16.5 million, it is also expected that palm oil plantations will increase in several different 2
  • 3. areas.1.8 million more hectares will be allocated for palm oil plantations in a project (“Palm Oil InIndonesia”). Not only is the expansion of palm oil plantations a problem, but also the use of palm oilitself. The palm oil industry is vulnerable to single crop commodity increases (“LosingGround”).Indonesia is relying on palm oil, whilst palm oil prices are increasing. Economic studiesemphasize how it is not reliable. Economic studies and the experience of those on the ground suggestthat many communities can be better off growing other crops or a variety of crops (“Losing Ground”). Palm oil workers argue that palm oil plantations promote social advantages. One socialadvantage includes the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil certification scheme. The Roundtable onSustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification aims to promote social welfare to the indigenous people.“These smallholders need to be educated, guided, encouraged and inspired to adopt sustainablestandards and solutions, rather than have their livelihoods affected. RSPO certification program aimsto support smallholders in this light” (“RSPO: labeling palm oil”). Also, palm oil workers believe thatthe development of palm oil plantations provide better road access. For example, Borneo is one areawhere roads are developed. The opening up of new roads plays an important role in the change ofBorneo. Immigrant settlers, hunters and land speculators can access new areas of opportunities throughthe roads (“The Heart of Borneo”). Furthermore, palm oil workers have a reliable income. The numberof cattle had doubled, area harvested for workers have increased from 10 to 15 hectares, and theworkers income had proportionately increased by 2003 (“The Economic Benefit”). While it is true that there are social advantages for palm oil workers, however, there are socialdisadvantages as well. The palm oil industry is the most conflict-ridden sector in Indonesia because ofthe social conflict and human rights abuse caused by the increase of palm oil plantations (“The oil forape scandal”). The development of palm oil plantations has caused problems among villages, wherevillagers cannot harvest food. Without land, villagers are not able to harvest food and products, and 3
  • 4. thus, gain money (“Losing Ground”).The number of homes is also limited, since houses are destroyedfor palm oil plantation use. The cost of living increases for villagers. Many are unhappy with thedevelopment of plantations on their lands. Traditional land rights are not supported because ofdocumentation problems (“The oil for ape scandal”). Indigenous people do not have the land rights;they have to be displaced from their homes. For example in Aceh, 360,000 people were displaced and70 people died as a result of floods (“Losing Ground”). Indigenous people who are forced to moveaway from their homes lose their traditional values and customs. As a result, the indigenous have toface life changes. The traditions and rituals, which were part of farming practice in the forest, are nolonger held (“Losing Ground”). Besides the loss of traditions, language is also being forgotten.Language and customs are being forgotten (“Losing Ground”). Indigenous people have been involvedin land disputes, because these people are trying to gain back their land. In several parts of Indonesia,existing palm oil plantations have little regards for indigenous people’s rights. Many people have beenkilled in land-tenure disputes (“The oil for ape scandal”). The palm oil plantation in Indonesia reflectssocial discrimination in a serious, massive, and persistent pattern. The government believes that palmoil is an important factor in Indonesia’s economy; however, environmentalists argue that forests andindigenous communities are not given enough care (“Palm Oil In Indonesia”). On the other hand, palmoil workers are also affected as well. Palm oil workers in fact, are not receiving a reliable income.While the minimum wage is set at Rp 965,000 (USD 96), palm oil workers are paid around Rp700,000 (USD 70) per month (“What’s wrong with Indonesian”). More importantly, palm oil plantations destroy the environment. One of the major contributorsto forest destruction are the palm oil plantations (“Losing Ground”). On the other hand, orangutans arealso affected by the increase of palm oil plantations. Deforestation is harmful towards biodiversity andspecies such as the Sumatran tigers or Orangutan (“Losing Ground”). More orangutans are dying. 4
  • 5. More than 5.5 million hectares of orangutan habitats declined in 1992 to 2003 (“The oil for ape”). Theorangutan habitats are preferentially converted to palm oil plantations. These habitats include lowlands, freshwater, and peat-swamp forests (“The oil for ape”).Not only does the formation of low landsand peat swamp forests kill orangutans, but it also produces green house gas emissions.Environmentalists argued that the peat lands carry up to 37.8 tons of carbon dioxide (Murray).With theamount of carbon dioxide, environmentalists fear that draining the land would lead to huge increases inemissions. Furthermore, pollution is another environmental problem caused by palm oil plantations. Ifnot managed well, palm oil plantations can cause serious pollution problems (“Losing Ground”). Thepalm oil industry in Indonesia has cooperated with various companies around the world, includingWilmar, the world’s biggest trader in palm oil. However Wilmar, the world’s biggest trader in oilwithout consultation, is responsible for the destruction of land, forest fires and logs (“Palm Oil InIndonesia”). Environmental campaigners believe that extensive land clearing destroys ecosystems.Environmental campaigners want a global ban on palm oil plantations (Murray). Palm oil plantations promote economic and social benefits, however, palm oil plantations canlead to an economic, social, and environmental impact in Indonesia. Even though palm oil plantationsbring economic and social benefits, nevertheless, palm oil plantations create economic and socialproblems. Thus, palm oil plantations cause extreme harm to the environment. Indonesia is consideredthe fourth largest country in the world in terms of population. If the population continues to growrapidly, many people will not have homes because most of the land in Indonesia will be used for palmoil plantations. 5
  • 6. Works CitedAndriani, Rubeta. “Environmental and Social Impacts from Palm.” dlib.indiana.edu. N.p. N.d. Web. 21 May 2011“The Economic Benefit of Palm Oil to Indonesia.” Worldgrowth.org. World Growth. Feb. 2011. Web. 21 May 2011.“Green palm oil and Indonesia Inc. 2015.” Thejakartapost.com. The Jakarta Post. 19 April 2011. Web. 25 April 2011.“Losing Ground” foe.co.uk. Friends of the Earth. Feb. 2008. Web. 28 April 2011.Murray, James. “Indonesia Lifts Ban on Palm Oil Plantations.” BusinessGreenSustainableThinking. Incisive Media Investments Limited, 19 Feb. 2009.Web.25 April 2011.“The Oil for Ape Scandal.” foe.co.uk. Friends of the Earth. Sep. 2005. Web. 28 April 2011.“Palm Oil In Indonesia: Unsustainable Development.” Intercontinentalcry.org. Intercontinental City. 14 July 2007. Web. 25 April 2011.“RSPO: Labeling Palm Oil” Mongabay.com. Environmental News. 21 April 2011. Web. 22 May 2011 6
  • 7. “What’s Wrong With Indonesian” Jakartaupdates.com. Jakarta Updates. 6 April 2010. Web. 22 May 2011“The Unilever Unit Says Indonesia.” Reuters.com. Reuters. 5 May 2010. Web. 21 May 2011. 7