To even start discussing about palm oil, i need to confess that my paternal family is very much related to them. we owned, planted and even harvest them for profits, that makes us as the deforestation activists, that makes us the earth murderer. However, i would go all the way to defend my family because none of us knew about such serious green crime we have committed; we were only told on the benefits that palm oil can bring to our family or the country. Before I start remembering things, the oil palm were there and a family of ten tucked in a rural kampung depends on it for survival; i believe there are even more families who are just as ignorant. Further into my studies in Singapore, I was educated during Science and Geography classes on the greatness of palm oil; that it can be the saviour of the world to replace our non-renewable resources of fossil fuel. When I pass by the massive and continous palm oil planataion back home, I actually feel proud for my country. Hence, to know that there are groups existed going against palm oil plantation pretty much shattered my attachement towards Malaysia.
Palm oil gained its popularity when whale oil is banned to save the whales. However, it would mean the need to clear up forest for the plantation. According to Fred Perrce’s book ‘Confession of an Eco Sinner’, Malaysia and Indonesia alone have planted up to an England size. If you remeber like i did, the hazy days we have in Singapore nad Malaysia back in 1997 was created by Indonesia forest buring. I was really frustrated with Indonesia for their un-eco actions and putting hundred of asthmatic people in danger as well. Thirtheen years from then, I saw satistics saying that three-quarter of the burning was to clear land for palm oil plantation – the thing that I have been so proud of my country! Beside deforestation, peat drainage released massive carbon dioxide into the atmostphere; wikipedia has a succient explanation on this ‘Large areas of organic wetland (peat) soils are currently drained for agriculture, forestry and peat extraction. This process is taking place all over the world. This not only destroys the habitat of many species, but heavily fuels climate change. As a result of peat drainage, the organic carbon that was built up over thousands of years and is normally under water, is suddenly exposed to the air. It decomposes and turns into carbon dioxide (CO2), which is released into the atmosphere’. Subsequently, animals are affected, especially orang utans whose birth cycle can go up to ten years. I believe there are rainforest animals that have already vanished even before we discover them.
Although Malaysia, Indonesia, some parts of Africa and Pacific islands are the primary culprit, there are many secondary supporters like Singapore and America who owns company to export the oil palm from those countries. Its obviously back to the profit-reality society we are in. Of couse, we are all part of this cycle as well; when we have our snakcs like pringles, kit kat, oreo blah blah, they all contained palm oil. However, the labellings were often uncleared. Hence, having such irresponsible companies, it left little chance for us to be a wise consumer. Furthermore, it is almost impossible to bycott palm oil from our daily lives, at least not yet.
Finally, how should I start this conversation with my family?