Paige Carmichael<br />Ms. Clover<br />TSEA: Period 2<br />May 25, 2010<br />The Palm Oil Industry: Not Beneficial for Indo...
TSEA Essay
TSEA Essay
TSEA Essay
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

TSEA Essay

425 views

Published on

Published in: Technology
0 Comments
0 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Views
Total views
425
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
2
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
0
Comments
0
Likes
0
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

TSEA Essay

  1. 1. Paige Carmichael<br />Ms. Clover<br />TSEA: Period 2<br />May 25, 2010<br />The Palm Oil Industry: Not Beneficial for Indonesia<br />A baby orangutan hobbles across the yard at a rehabilitation center in Borneo. The monkey stops, grabs a twig, and continues to travel towards a plastic log with small holes in it. The orangutan pokes the stick into one of the holes to try to find honey that has been put inside. This is all part of an exercise to rehabilitate the once endangered orangutans and help them adapt to wildlife-like characteristics. At the Nyaru Menteng Center, founded by the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, the orangutans are also known as “oil palm orphans” whose forest habitats were destroyed and parents were killed by the local oil palm industry in Indonesia (Butler: “With”). Palm oil has the highest reproduction rate of any oil seed in the world. Not only that, but one hectare of oil palm is equal to or greater than 5,000 kilograms of crude oil. Not only is the crop used as a source of biofuel, but also for other purposes such as an ingredient in food products or engine lubricants to a base for cosmetics. “Palm oil is also becoming a very important agricultural product for tropical countries around the world, especially as crude oil prices top $70 dollars a barrel. For example, in Indonesia, currently the world’s second largest producer of palm oil, oil-palm plantations covered 5.3 million hectares of the country in 2004” (Butler: “High Oil”). The palm oil plantations export at a rate of US$4.3 billion and bring in $42.4 million to the Indonesian treasury. The rate of export and the amount of money coming back into the country is only climbing, seeing as the price of palm oil currently stands at $400 per metric ton, which is $54 per barrel. Based on these two standpoints, the value of palm oil in Indonesia is very high, but is it worth destroying their environment and wildlife? The palm oil plantations are not beneficial for Indonesia because the jobs they fund are only short term, the industry endangers species by taking away their living environment, and palm oil also negatively affects the environment in accordance to global warming.<br />One may argue the opinion that palm oil plantations are not beneficial for the country with regards to the fact that it does indeed provide thousands of jobs for the local community, therefore boosting the local economy. For example, in North Sumatra, the oil palm plantations provide employment opportunities that otherwise local businesses could not be compared. “Around the world, Europe, Asia and Africa accept palm oil in many forms such as food products. The increasingly popular markets should provide places in Indonesia such as North Sumatra with steady income for their employers for a long time.” (“Indonesia: Palm Oil Production”) “In the late 1990s and the early 2000s, rising unemployment was a serious concern for residents in Borneo as well as ethnic conflicts raging in parts of Kalimantan during this time. The sudden rise of the palm oil was seen as a welcome opportunity for many residents and local governments.” (Butler: “The Impact”) <br />Though the industry does in fact provide many jobs for the local community, the jobs are only short term and are commonly classified as slavery. “There are questions on the fairness of the existing system, which appears to sometimes lock small plantation owners into conditions akin to slavery.” (Butler: “The Impact”) The local labor workers in the palm oil plantations are also dependant on not only imported labor, but illegal immigrants as well. The employment conditions and social impacts of these workers are serious concerns.<br />One main counter argument directed towards the ban of palm oil plantations is the calculated positive affects that the industry has on the economy. The life span of an oil palm ranges from 22 to 25 years long which is very reliable and long lasting compared to other resources used for biofuel such as soybeans and corn, which have a relatively shorter lifespan in a measurement of days. “Although essentially an estate crop, oil palm has been successfully adapted to suit the needs of small holders and has proved a powerful tool for poverty alleviation in Indonesia, positively affecting millions. Resulting in significant improvement in living standards, including income, education and health levels which are attributed to the economic development benefits of oil palm cultivation.” (Butler: “ With”)<br />Although the industry does indeed positively impact the economy, clearly the environment and local wildlife is a price that the government is willing to pay for an even stronger economy. Indonesia has some of the world’s longest lists of threatened wildlife. “Of more than 400 land mammal species of Indonesia, 15 are critically endangered and another 125 are threatened” (“Palm Oil Report”). The five animals that are endangered due to the growing rate of rainforests and resident areas cleared for oil palm plantations are: the Sumatran tiger, Sumatran and Bornean orangutans, the Asian elephant, and Sumatran rhinoceros. All of these mammals once lived and bred in the areas where oil palm plantations have resided today. The reduction of biodiversity is also a major concern because of the subsequent rise in palm oil production, which has consequently led to the loss of tropical rainforests. Environmental organizations have warned that Western consumers are directly destructing orangutan habitats and sensitive ecosystems just by eating foods that use palm oil as an ingredient. <br />Not only does the palm oil industry destroy ecosystems and endanger local wildlife, but it also negatively affects the global environment as well. The problem with palm oil being used as a source of biofuel is the process of how the plant is produced. The conversion of clearing rainforests for palm oil plantations “has reduced biodiversity, increased vulnerability to catastrophic fires, and directly effected local communities dependent on services and products provided by forest ecosystems” (Butler: “Why”). Soils are also affected as they are drained of nutrients, leaving it impossible to farm other than weedy grasses, which are fuel for wildfires. Seeing as Indonesia still has the most widespread tropical forests in Asia, “its decisions on forest use are key to the long-term survival of the region’s biodiversity and the ongoing maintenance of ecological services” (Butler: “Why”). Carbon emission is an extremely common topic in the discussion of global warming, as it is a way of measuring a nation’s impact on the issue. In Indonesia alone, the process of planting and extracting palm oil and the clearing of rainforests to make way for new plantation sites has released “over 37.8 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide” (Murray). This outstanding figure goes to show how the palm oil industry not only negatively affects Indonesia, but the entire world as well. <br />It is evident through the examples of Short-term jobs, Endangering species, and the Negative effects the industry has on the environment that the palm oil plantations are not beneficial for Indonesia. Though they do provide local jobs and bring a lot of money back into the local economy, what is the right price to pay for an even stronger economy? It is time to raise awareness about the mammals endangered due to the clearance of the rainforests and ecosystems to provide room for new palm oil plantations, and warn Western consumers to check their food packages for palm oil ingredients so they are not fueling the fire. The Indonesian government must take action in protecting its reputation, the environment and last, but not least, the impact this industry has on the world as a whole. <br /> <br />

×