In our article entitled 5 Foods to Stop Eating if You Care About the Environment, we touched upon the tragedies enacted by the palm oil industry to meet growing demand for palm oil products. Long story short, natural habitats are being destroyed every day to make way for palm oil plantations, releasing immense amounts of carbon into our atmosphere and endangering animals who call the rainforest home.
Recently, the Rainforest Action Network released the video below in conjunction with the the filmmakers of "Racing Extinction," a Discovery channel documentary that takes an unflinching look at the global extinction crisis.
The video shines a light on the palm oil industry's systematic destruction of the Leuser Ecosystem located in Sumatra, Indonesia- home to one of the most biodiverse rainforests in the world. Here, rare Sumatran tigers, orangutans, elephants, and rhinoceros all coexist, but perhaps not for long. Watch the video below:
Palm oil is in most snack items sold in the US. In fact, half of all packaged foods contain palm oil as an ingredient, and use of the product has increased by a staggering five hundred percent in the past ten years. It's even in basic household items like soap. An estimated eight million acres of ancient rainforest have been cleared and burned to create palm plantations, resulting in the endangerment and near extinction of the orangutan, as well as the displacements of native communities. That's right, all animals, including humans, are negatively impacted.
According to research published by the University of Amsterdam last year, carbon emissions resulting from the burning away of Indonesian rainforests reaches up to 20 million tons each day! That's how much total carbon the entire USA emits daily. The considerable destruction caused by our cars, planes, trucks, trains, and ships doesn't even come close to the massive toll deforestation takes on our Earth.
Okay, I get the picture. But what can I do about it?
As activist Heather Rally points out in the video, consumers directly contribute to the devastation of our ecosystems: "We're all playing a role in it every single day when we go to the grocery store."
So, here are some things we can all do to abate the destruction that the palm oil industry continues to carry out.
- Take advice from Heather Rally and "start demanding, today, conflict-free palm oil... That's our greatest hope."
- Stop buying products that contain palm oil as an ingredient.
- Sign the Rainforest Action Network's petition asking palm oil companies to stop the destruction of the Leuser Ecosystem.
- Get involved with the Say No to Palm Oil initiative, join their "Palm Oil Challenge," and take a good look at their "What I Can Do" section. There you can find lots of information about volunteering in biodiversity support efforts, as well as links to other international campaigns that fight unsustainable palm oil farming.
- Share everything you learn (links, articles, videos) about palm oil's effects on our environment with your friends and family. Ignorance may be bliss, but knowledge is power!
- Finally (we know it may sound cheesy); believe that you can make a difference.
Thank you for reading!