As I recounted at the time, each day we would greet our friend in KL with, 'How's the weather Manny?'
He invariably replied with, 'Hazy. The Indonesians are burning again.'
To Malaysia and Singapore, and other nearby countries, the Indonesians burning is of great concern. The smoke travels and smothers both countries. In Indonesia peat lands are drained and the peat set alight. Once alight peat is almost impossible to extinguish. A conference between the appropriate government ministers from surrounding affected countries was being planned while we were in Malaysia. But it was suggested that the conference was pointless as Indonesia just shrugs its shoulders and says it does have the money or resources to enforce its land clearing laws that stop the burning of peat and the cutting down of the jungle.
Our friend from northern Victoria spends most of his time when he is not in Australia alternating between Bangkok, Chang Mai and Penang. At times he has to leave Penang when the smoke gets too bad.
As well as the smoke problem, there is such a loss of wild life habitat.
An emotive picture always helps. Look at the poor innocent orangutan, being deprived of his jungle by Indonesia clearing and burning. Orangutans are truly delightful animals.
As well as palm oil being in a lot of our processed food, it is also used in biofuel. Biofuel was supposed to help the environment by replacing petroleum fuels, but around the world it has not. Huge swathes of forest and jungle have been cleared for biofuel production, along with productive farmland being turned over to biofuel production. Somehow, I don't think the promotion of biofuel was really thought through properly. It is rather like us extracting biofuel from sugar cane. Yep, let's clear more Queensland tropical rainforest and plant sugar cane for biofuel. Former Prime Minister Howard, at the behest of cane growers, pushed for biofuel very hard but the ten per cent mix that was available at service stations has not been seen by me for some time, no matter that it was cheaper. It seems the public rejected it.
Indonesia's carbon emissions are right up there with the giant energy consumers of the world, China and the United States, purely from rainforest destruction.
I can't vouch for these figures from Palm Oil Action Australia, but if accurate, they are of great concern. Like genetically modified food, I think we have a right to know what in our supermarkets and shops contains palm oil and then we can decide.
- Indonesia has the second highest rate of deforestation in the world.
- Over 300 football fields of rainforest are destroyed every hour in South East Asia.
- Clearing forest for palm oil plantations is the leading cause of deforestation.
- Over 50 Orangutans a week die because of this devastation.
- There are now less than 500 Sumatran tigers and 3000 Sumatran Elephants left in the wild.
- Palm oil is contained in 40% of products in Australian supermarkets.
- It is not mandatory to label palm oil in Australia.
- There is an alternative. Companies can source Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) which is planted on already degraded land or grassland NOT rainforest.