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OK.. fine but right after that, I need you to watch this video. It's made by fellow Kossack LaughingPlanet. If you made a video I guarantee he'd give you a chance. This a docu-comedy that goes into the Sumatran rainforest, showing both the natural beauty of the jungle and the manmade destruction of it for palm oil. It also makes anyone who loves to travel awfully jealous!

The video brings up an interesting dynamic between two products; palm oil and shade grown coffee. Both are rain forest exports, but one leads to a shepherding of the jungle and the other leads to it's devastation. Unfortunately the destructive one is found in thousands of products, and the beneficial one is a luxury item. Ain't it always that way? :(

The first time I heard about the negatives of palm oil was in rossl' piece Are your Skittles Destroying the Rain Forest?

A specific type of vegetable oil may not sound like a particularly interesting subject, but palm oil is no ordinary vegetable oil.  It is one of the more destructive forces on our planet today.  Or maybe I should say that the machine of people and corporations in place to grow and distribute palm oil is one of the more destructive forces on our planet.  Either way, consuming this ingredient - which is in an unbelievable amount of foods and cosmetics and other things - is something which makes one responsible for encouraging this...

The rainforest is being cleared at an alarming rate, particularly in Southeast Asia, to make room for palm plantations.  Many species - both discovered and undiscovered - are being driven to extinction because of habitat loss.  The most notable is the orangutan, which could become extinct within the decade because of deforestation in Malaysia, Borneo, and Indonesia.

Now you've got the gist of it.  Palm oil plantations - while providing a considerable amount of jobs and a product that is used in many places - are hurting our climate (through the burning of forest and the destruction of a carbon sink), the local environment, and even small landowners.

I don't need Skittles or diesel this bad

In part 2 of Rossl' piece he lets us know that a boycott isn't going to be effective.

First, it's extremely hard to tell what products palm oil is in.  Palm oil can be labeled on a list of ingredients anything from "palm oil" to "palm kernel oil" to "cetyl alcohol" to "sodium laureth sulfate" to plain old "vegetable oil." And a lot of things that palm oil appears as can also be from other kinds of vegetables.  For instance, "vegetable oil" can be from palm or canola or olives or many other plants.  And with palm oil being in one out of ten consumer products, there is little hope of avoiding it completely.

Second, there's the biodiesel problem.  The majority of demand for palm oil is for the biodiesel market.  Ironically, this fuel that is supposed to help the environment is actually more detrimental than gasoline.  And it prevents a boycott from being effective.  

So, with boycotts being an ineffective tool, awareness is the way to go. Thanks to Laughing Planet for helping to bring that, and I hope you'll all support his efforts. You can do that by joining LP's facebook page and by subscribing and uprating his videos on youtube.

UPDATE: LP is right, that one orangutan picture is just too sad. Here are a couple pics he took in happier times.

Thanks for all the tips/recs, I didn't think y'all were coming but I am so glad you did join us.

Originally posted to CornSyrupAwareness on Tue Apr 20, 2010 at 01:09 PM PDT.

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