Palm Oil Industry, and tropical deforestation

My interpretation of losers in the global political economy has always been emphasised around the most vulnerable, those without a ‘voice’ and the neglect of Human rights. In this case, tropical deforestation is an issue regarding all of us, since we are all depending on a healthy and sustainable world, in present time and in the future. Not just for us, but also for future generations, in the end we are only lend this earth for a certain amount of time; what rights do we have to destroy it?

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Palm Oil is a common ingredient in many products today, around 50% of the goods we use everyday contain palm oil, from processed food to candles and beauty products (Rainforest-rescue.org). The palm oil industry, and the demand for land to grow oil palms are increasing, and to grow crops, the tropical climate with consistently high humidity and temperatures are the ultimate desired. These demands of large land in this environment are often established at the expense of rainforests, and this destruction of rainforests result in disturbance of the biodiversity globally. Tropical deforestation is currently responsible for about 18 percent of greenhouse gas emission making it a significant contribution to climate change; in this case all species are losers.

Local people living and relying on the forest and their land for their livelihood are losing massively. Not only are the foundations of their livelihoods destroyed, in forms of environmental degradation. They also face losing their land getting pushed away, in a similar way as described in a blog post earlier in forms of “land grab”. The massive armed attacks from palm oil companies storming villages using bulldozers and guns are common in these areas, and local people are chased from their home facing a unstable future without no form of compensation or financial support from the companies destroying their land and home. Here is a video after the attack of a small village of Sungai Beruang in Indonesia, 2011.

The inhabitants fled in panic while armed forces was shooting around, several people got hurt and injured while their were running away from what once used to be their home. With nowhere to go and nothing to rely on they are forced to a life in poverty living on what is left of the rainforest, trying to survive on what the decreasing rainforest have to offer. The palm oil companies surrounds the entire plantation with paramilitary fighters, armed, so the inhabitant cannot go back. No one can come out no one can get in. And also in this way journalist and media is prevented to shed light on the on-going issue.

Another issue is the violation of animals caused by the increasing palm oil industry. Indonesia’s rainforests are among the world’s most species-rich environment and home to numerous threatened animals, such as orangutans, Sumatran tigers and Bornean rhinos. This destruction of their natural habitats, eradicates species that are crucial for the containing of biological diversity. In search of food they often get lost in the plantations, where they are regards as pests, and they are killed. According to the Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP) at least 1 500 orangutans were clubbed to death by palm oil plantations workers in 2006, and the number seems to be growing equal with the increasing of palm oil plantation.

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So all of us are losers in the bigger picture somehow, if the tropical deforestation continues in the same speed in the future, money, power or where we live cannot help us. In concern to global warming and increasing air pollution we are all losers, it is just the question; who is losing first?

Mari Myrenget

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