Zuckerman journeyed to four continents and witnessed firsthand this planetary destructive, crafty industry. It’s a riveting read.
If ever there was one farmed crop that begged the United Nations (UN) to enact a Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth, palm oil is it.
A West African tropical palm, Elaeis guineensis, produces bunches of fruits the size of plums, which yields copious pulp and kernel oils that are loaded with saturated fats.
Today, those oils are the backbone of processed everything, from personal care products to deep fried foods and pastries to instant noodles. Humans also burn a shit ton of it, one-third of all biofuels annually are palm oil. They emit four times more planet-cooking gases per unit than diesel fuel.
In 2020, seventy-two million metric tons were consumed, or about 20 pounds of palm oil per person on the planet. It’s a $75 billion per annum behemoth that is growing as fast as Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang.
Palm oil has a ‘mouthfeel’ and it provides products with shelf life. Hence, more than half of everything on the supermarket shelves, including pet foods, are crammed with it.
It’s a big deal because 800 million people, or, one in eight Earthlings, are obese. The famed medical journal Lancet has fingered palm oil as a main culprit to the Global Syndemic: obesity, malnutrition and global heating.
Planet Palm’s health statistics are gobsmacking. Palm oil is driving heart disease through the roof in India, Mexico and everywhere else. For example, India is the number one palm oil consumer with the highest Type 2 diabetes rates on the globe. While Mexico, sadly, has some of the topmost incidents of child obesity and high blood pressure ever recorded. Twenty-nine percent of children between the ages of five and eleven are overweight, and it’s even higher for the eleven to nineteen year olds, 35%.
The sprawling palm oil business encompasses South and Latin America’s, West Africa, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia (Indo). Twelve percent of Indo’s 17,000 islands have been deforested, drained, burned and planted into oil palm farms. They are pesticide drenched and addicted to fossil fuel-based fertilisers. Rivers are poisoned. Wildlife is gone. People are sick. It’s bloody shocking because simplification of the richest rainforest biodiversity equals extinction, and Indo has some of the worst deforestation rates in the world. As a result, over 1,300 Indo tree species are facing an endgame. Hideous.
Indonesia also has vast peatland deposits, thick decomposing soggy carbon-endowed rainforest soils. An estimated 30 billion tons of peatland carbon is ultimately in jeopardy of napalming from cutthroat palm oilers. If it goes, we go.
Over a 16-year period, 150,000 critically endangered Borneo orangutans, our brothers and sisters, were left homeless by cruel palm oilers. The destruction of Sumatran elephants, Sumatran tigers, birds, reptiles and a long list of other co-planetary creatures along with the breathing, dripping climate-making rainforests are beyond words. Without them, there is no us!
The greed including organised crime within the palm oil racket is as thick as a hearty vegan pea soup. The list of private and public multi-billion dollar corporations is long and nauseating. Palm oil is such a lucrative commodity that the $7 trillion financial conglomerate, BlackRock, holds $600 million in companies that are swiftly killing Mother Earth and all life therein.
If the UN doesn’t step in to protect what’s left, the remaining crown jewel of Southeast Asia, Papua New Guinea, will be switched for deadly silent palm oil and rubber monoculture farms. It’s happening hurriedly now.
- It’s up to each of us to divest our pension and superannuation funds of palm oilers, chemicals, plastics, fossil fuels and forestry. There are many ethical funds that will shepherd your retirement savings without fleecing the animal kingdom.
- Refuse to buy products with palm oil. Familiarise yourself with 436+ different names used to conceal palm oil.
- Eat more whole foods, including organic fruits, veggies, herbs, seeds and nuts. Grow your own.
If humans are to continue inhabiting Earth then these horrible tropical oil palm gashes must heal with rewilding and the help of the indigenous peoples knowledge to grow a mixture of seeds, nuts, fruits and vegetables to feed the world.
Wilmar, Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland, Sinar Mas, Socfin, Golden Agri-Resources, Nestlé,Colgate-Palmolive, Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Kellogg’s, Mars, PepsiCo, Yum!, and many, many other companies think that they can sweep all the animals under the carpet, and swap more tropical old-growth rainforests for more palm oil farms, with impunity. They have a big problem, Mother Earth is angry and change is coming, whether they like it or not.
If you only buy one book in 2021, make it Planet Palm because it’s a great read!
Agitate. Disrupt. Defend
Reese Halter is a forest/ocean defender.
His latest book is GenZ Emergency.
Email: HalterBooks@gmail.com for your autographed copy.
In Australia, order from the Bob Brown Foundation by emailing: Contact@BobBrown.org.au