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Palm Oil Considered a Carbon Time Bomb

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Palm OilPalm oil, also known as dendê oil, is an edible vegetable oil produced from oil palm. It can be used for cooking, or to make soaps, cosmetics, and biofuel.

It’s much cheaper than other edible oils on the market, and this contributes to its high demand. Selling and exporting palm oil is one of the primary sources of income for thousands of farmers in Southeast Asia, Central America, and West and Central Africa.

Environmental agencies across the globe are becoming more and more aware of what the production of palm oil is doing to the environment – and it’s nothing short of alarming.

Tropical rainforests are peatlands, which contain more carbon per unit area than anywhere else on Earth. These serve as storehouses for the greenhouse gases, which can contribute greatly to climate change. When rainforests are burnt or cut down to make way for palm oil plantations, massive amounts of CO2 are released into the atmosphere.

More and more land is needed for the production of palm oil and the proximity of plantations and processing units to water sources means harmful pollutants like palm oil mill effluent (POME) are released. Experts say that POME is the single largest source of industrial wastewater pollution.

Malaysia and Indonesia produce more than 80% of the global supply, recognize that it is a huge environmental issue, yet so much of the two countries economic success depend on it.

Humankind can’t emit more than 600 tonnes of greenhouse gases between today and 2050 in order to limit the Earth to 2 degrees of warming. The threat to global warming is so ominous that it has been called a carbon time bomb.

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