An impact felt around the world- The consequences of unsustainable palm oil development

Published: Feb. 27, 2020 at 1:48 PM AKST
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Palm oil... you may not know much about it, but many of the every day products you use contain it. At 66-million tons annually, palm oil is the most commonly produced vegetable oil. It can be found in foods, body creams, soaps, makeup, candles, detergents, and so much more. But what you also may not know, is the price we pay for it.

Palm Oil is cheap to purchase, which is why so many things contain it. Today, palm oil production is the largest cause of deforestation in Indonesia and other equatorial countries, as tropical rain forests are bulldozed to the ground for harvest. It's much like the problem we see here in Alaska when it comes to deforestation of rain forests such as the Tongass due to logging.

In 2017 the United Nations Conducted a poll of what palm oil was used for... they found that 61% is converted into energy, with the other 39% used in food and products.

And it's not just the tropical rain forests these harvests are destroying. Indigenous animals to the area, are being harmed in the process. According to a recent study from with World Wildlife Foundation, endangered species such as the orangutan, Borneo elephant and Sumatran tiger are being pushed closer to extinction as their habitats are destroyed.

The study shows that over 50,000 orangutans on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra alone have died because of palm oil deforestation. In 2016, it was reported that just 45,000 orangutans remained, with scientists predicting total extinction in the wild in just 25 years.

Despite these fears, a 2019 WWF-led survey in Borneo's Sebangau National Park showed that it's orangutan population has remained stable last year.

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