Evil oil or Palm oil: which is worse?

By: hcubed , 11:58 PM GMT on October 08, 2012

Well, according to a study released by Stanford, their researchers show oil palm plantations are clearing carbon-rich tropical forests in Borneo.

Source here: Link

"...Expanding production of palm oil, a common ingredient in processed foods, soaps and personal care products, is driving rainforest destruction and massive carbon dioxide emissions, according to a new study led by researchers at Stanford and Yale universities.

The study, published online Oct. 7 in the journal Nature Climate Change, shows that deforestation for the development of oil palm plantations in Indonesian Borneo is becoming a globally significant source of carbon dioxide emissions.

Plantation expansion is projected to contribute more than 558 million metric tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere in 2020 – an amount greater than all of Canada’s current fossil fuel emissions..."

*** Wow - land use (clearing) is expected to create more CO2 than ALL of Canada's current use of "evil" oil.

"...Indonesia is the leading producer of palm and palm kernel oil, which together account for more than 30 percent of the world’s vegetable oil use, and which can be used for biodiesel. Most of Indonesia’s oil palm plantation expansion is occurring on the island of Borneo, also known as Kalimantan, which occupies a land area nearly the size California and Florida combined. Plantation leases, covering 32 percent of Kalimantan’s lowlands outside of protected areas, represent a major land bank that is slated for development over the next decade, according to the study.

In 2010 alone, land-clearing for oil palm plantations in Kalimantan emitted more than 140 million metric tons of carbon dioxide – an amount equivalent to annual emissions from about 28 million vehicles..."

*** Now, it's true that these land-clearing operations could rightly be put in the Anthropogenic category, but look at that line from another side. If 28 million vehicles were suddenly taken off the roads, there would still be 140 million metric tons of carbon dioxide being placed in the air.

28 million vehicles.

Some perspective is needed, then.

From Wiki: "...According to cumulative data by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) the number of motor vehicles has also increased steadily since 1960, only stagnating once in 1997 and declining from 1990 to 1991. Otherwise the number of motor vehicles has been rising by an estimated 3.69 million each year since 1960 with the largest annual growth between 1998 and 1999 as well as between 2000 and 2001 when the number of motor vehicles in the United States increased by eight million..."

Using their average of 3.69 million new vehicles per year, that means we'd have to get rid of the same number of new vehicles the US has seen (on average) over a 7 1/2 year period.

Or, to see it another way: in 2007, California alone had 19,835,554 total automobiles (add all vehicles, and you were up to 33,182,058 vehicles).

So, again, which is more evil, big oil or big PALM oil?

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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3. WunderAlertBot
11:07 PM GMT on October 16, 2012
hcubed has created a new entry.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
2. GardenGrrl
10:05 AM GMT on October 09, 2012
When it is relatively easy for skilled staticians to weigh a study to whatever conclusion they want, the actual truth does get blurred. Good study? Propaganda?
Hard to say.
What about the rain forests in South America being treated to slash and burn?
Global politics is like an onion. Next layer...
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
1. PalmOilTruth
6:50 AM GMT on October 09, 2012
The study is not worth the paper it is written on as it was cleverly designed to study only high-yield cultivation of oil palm to the exclusion of competing edible oilseed crops and is fatally flawed for 2 reasons:

First, the study uses high resolution satellite imagery to evaluate carbon emission for lands "targeted for palm oil plantations. Indonesia's slash and burn methods of land clearing which would account for the bulk of any visible and verifiable pollutants/carbon emission is largely ignored and not even mentioned in the study!

Secondly, in our view, Prof Curran and her team conveniently used the fact that only 20 per cent of the palm oil land is cultivated to extrapolate and manipulate the results. Any calculation of potential carbon emission resulting from future cultivation of the remaining 80% land remains pure conjecture at least so long as slash and burn pollutants are not factored into the calculation!

In singling out palm oil and only palm oil to measure carbon emission to the exclusion of other edible oilseed crops, the researchers have ensured a selectively skewed report!

For the study to have any legitimacy, it has to be designed to include competing edible oil crops such as soy, rapeseed, corn and sunflower. In the interest of true scientific impartiality and integrity it would have been imperative to consider how these competing crops, including palm oil would compare in the "destruction" of virgin tropical rainforests. The dominant scientific standards for scientific studies of this nature would require that alternatives be included for a truly legitimate and authoritative picture to emerge.

As things stand, we can only postulate as to the reasons for the selective exclusion of other edible oilseeds from the study. Could it be that the researchers know that the other oilseeds would fare even worse than palm oil if they were to be included in the study? Consider this. If a competing edible oilseed like soy was planted instead of palm oil, 10 times more land would have to be cleared as palm oil with its current yield of 4-5 metric tons per hectare already exceeds soy by a multiple of ten! In fact, best in class plantations are already producing 8 metric tons and current R&D points to a potential yield of 20 metric tons per hectare!

Logically, this means that palm oil requires far less land to produce the same amount of oil as its competitors. The fact that palm oil is grown on only 0.23% of the world's agricultural land and yet produce 30% of global edible oil output should clue in any objective observer as to the real reasons for the strange assault on probably the most benign edible oilseed crop, environmentally speaking!

Italian civil libertarian group, Libertiamo have blown the cover of the planners and perpetrators of these campaigns! Says Libertiamo, these campaigns are "funded by the Office of the Environment Directorate of the European Commission (EC) ostensibly to improve environmental practices in developing countries". In reality, the millions of Euros poured into these palm oil campaigns, noted Libertiamo, are designed to protect the EU's own indigenous edible oilseed industries like rapeseed and sunflower which are hapless in the face of and unable to compete with the hyper yielding palm oil! To make matters worse, the EC is aware that the anti-palm oil campaigns are based almost entirely on "manufactured and false evidence"!
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Living in Biloxi MS, have been here since '85 (first Hurricane was Elena).