The world’s growing appetite for cheap palm oil is destroying rain forests and amplifying climate change effects, argue the editors in this month’s Scientific American. “The spread of palm oil at the expense of natural forest must not continue,” they write.
With its low price tag and long shelf life, palm oil is the cooking oil of choice in many countries and the plant is a major cash crop for farmers in developing countries, such as Indonesia. But converting forests into palm oil plantations destroys the home of rare and endangered creatures, including the orangutan and the Sumatran tiger. Clearing the forests, through logging and burning, also releases large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Consumers should demand transparency about where the palm oil in all consumer products comes from, and take their money elsewhere when products endanger ecosystems, the Editors conclude.