Palm Oil, Deforestation and Poverty

Ross Spencer, Deforestation Watch

Which is the issue that is considered the world’s biggest problem.  Is it climate change, terrorism or war?  According to a major worldwide BBC poll out Sunday, it is poverty that is the biggest and most intractable problem facing the world today!

Overall, 71 percent of people named extreme poverty as the biggest global issue, compared to 64 percent who cited the environment or pollution and 63 percent the rising cost of food and energy. Terrorism, human rights and the spread of disease were singled out by 59 percent, climate change and the state of the world economy by 58 percent and war by 57 percent.

“Even if the global recession has kept economic problems top of people’s minds this year, extreme poverty is clearly viewed as the world’s most serious global problem,” said Sam Mountford, research director for GlobeScan, which conducted the poll for the BBC World Service.

“But with many other global problems seen as very serious, this represents a daunting agenda for institutions like the UN and G20 to address.”

Results varied between nations. People in India and Pakistan rated terrorism as their top concern and it was also in the top three in Britain, Indonesia and Spain, which have suffered major attacks in recent years.

Japan was the only country to view climate change as the most serious issue, while China ranked it second and the United States ninth.

More than 25,000 people in 23 countries were interviewed face-to-face, online or over the telephone for the poll, which was conducted between June and October last year.

It should be observed that Deforestation Watch has been pointing out for some time now that the “Naturist” religion, what we call “environmentalism” today, elevates every other form of life above human life. Sad but true.

Africans are dying due to malaria and yet these environmental types oppose the use of DDT as it, wait for this, causes thinning of bird’s eggs! The fact that most environmentalists come from Europe and the U.S. where living conditions are so good that they need not fear this deadly and debilitating disease could explain their irrationality and total lack of empathy for the plight of fellow humans in Africa.

These fanatics will not only fudge data to get their way, but they will even create it if that’s what it takes. The recent specter of what is now popularly called “Climategate” where in an explosive expose, a hacker recently broke into the computers at the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (CRU) and released 61 megabytes of confidential files onto the internet.

The revelations contained in the 1079 emails and 72 documents were so damning that this scandal could well be the “greatest
scandal in modern science”!

These alleged emails – supposedly exchanged by some of the most prominent scientists pushing Anthropogenic Global Warming (man-made global warming) theory – suggest conspiracy, collusion in faking and exaggerating warming data, possibly illegal destruction of embarrassing information, organised resistance to disclosure, manipulation of data, private admissions of flaws in their public claims and much more!

Also John Stossel reported recently that in Washington State, government biologists, determined to prove that lynx lived in Washington, “nailed pieces of carpet soaked with catnip onto trees, hoping a lynx would rub up against them and leave some fur — evidence of the lynx’s existence in this particular area.” Sure enough, they found hairs on the carpet, and they sent samples to
the lab which showed that they were in fact lynx hairs. This would be bad news indeed for ranchers and farmers in the area who could lose their land rights in favor of a threatened species. As it turns out, the biologists, those impartial proponents for Truth, had rigged the tests. “The regulators went to a zoo, got hair samples from captive lynx, and sent those hairs to the lab to be tested.”

In many ways this propensity of environmentalists to make wild claims and to fudge data to support the claims is all too familiar to the palm oil industry.

Take the case of Greenpeace, the infamous Friends of the Earth (with the unfortunate acronym “FOE”) and the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) who have all been guilty of overactive imaginations.

Dressed in bright orange orang utan suits, FOE activists picketed Tesco supermarkets in the UK loudly screeching that palm oil is responsible for massive deforestation and thus threatening the very existence of the orang utans.  Greenpeace activists, meanwhile also screeching like the primates that they are, clambered over the walls of Unilever dressed in, you’ve guessed it, bright orange orang utan suits.  RAN of course takes the cake.  Alleging in their website that due to palm oil expansion, the orang utan may become extinct as early as 2011!

Obviously, RAN had not checked and was not aware that more than 50,000 orang utans currently exists in the wild in the tropical rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia.  The recent discovery of 2,000 or more red apes in the Indonesian part of Borneo has only splattered more egg on the faces of the mathematically challenged fanatics at RAN.

More often than not, wealthy western countries, prodded by green activists, have demanded that poor countries severely curtail their palm oil production.

However, says Alan Oxley, Chairman of World Growth International: “The demands constitute an unconscionable attack on the livelihoods of millions of poor people. Developing nations will resist and they are right to do so.”

Led primarily by the likes of Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, the environmentalists claim that palm oil is a leading generator of greenhouse gases. A rash of reports produced by these organizations blame palm oil for deforestation and for destroying orangutan habitat in Southeast Asia.

However, as pointed out by Oxley, these assertions are simply not true. He explains: “Development and forestry experts know that two-thirds of forest clearance is driven by low-income people in poor countries searching for land for habitation and food production.”

Oxley observed that palm oil is the most environmentally sustainable vegetable oil available. “It uses one-tenth of the land required by other vegetable oil crops to produce the same quantity of oil – including that produced in rich countries in Europe and North America,” he said.  “Palm plantations are effective sinks for absorbing carbon dioxide” and “palm oil is also a more effective and greener renewable diesel fuel than biodiesel made from other vegetable oils such as rapeseed in Europe or corn in the United States,” said Oxley.

In the view of Deforestation Watch, whilst there appears to be a deficit of empathy amongst certain environmentalists like Greenpeace, FOE and RAN, we can and should take steps towards preserving the environment. In truth, we have been, and
the environment is certainly much better than it was thirty years ago.

That’s a good thing. But when radicals for whom environmentalism is a religion, attempt to destroy the constitutional rights of citizens and the livelihood of palm oil planters and farmers in the developing world and trample the inalienable rights to life of dying and sickly Africans, they’ve gone too far. The fraud and the fanaticism have to stop as it, ultimately, does not aid and instead damages their cause.

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