Al Gore’s palm oil train wreck gets worse

From Stanford University , more bad news coming from Al Gore’s failed Goldman Sachs palm oil fantasy.

Stanford researchers show oil palm plantations are clearing carbon-rich tropical forests in Borneo

Expanding production of palm oil, a common ingredient in processed foods, soaps and personal care products, is driving rainforest destruction and massive carbon dioxide emissions, according to a new study led by researchers at Stanford and Yale universities.

The study, published online Oct. 7 in the journal Nature Climate Change, shows that deforestation for the development of oil palm plantations in Indonesian Borneo is becoming a globally significant source of carbon dioxide emissions.

Plantation expansion is projected to contribute more than 558 million metric tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere in 2020 – an amount greater than all of Canada’s current fossil fuel emissions.

Indonesia is the leading producer of palm and palm kernel oil, which together account for more than 30 percent of the world’s vegetable oil use, and which can be used for biodiesel. Most of Indonesia’s oil palm plantation expansion is occurring on the island of Borneo, also known as Kalimantan, which occupies a land area nearly the size California and Florida combined. Plantation leases, covering 32 percent of Kalimantan’s lowlands outside of protected areas, represent a major land bank that is slated for development over the next decade, according to the study.

In 2010 alone, land-clearing for oil palm plantations in Kalimantan emitted more than 140 million metric tons of carbon dioxide – an amount equivalent to annual emissions from about 28 million vehicles.

Home to the world’s third-largest tropical forest area, Indonesia is also one of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gasses, due to rapid loss of carbon-rich forests and peatlands. Since 1990, development of oil palm plantations has cleared about 16,000 square kilometers of Kalimantan’s primary and logged forested lands – an area about the size of Hawaii. This accounts for 60 percent of Kalimantan’s total forest cover loss in that time, according to the study’s authors.

“Despite contentious debate over the types and uses of lands slated for oil palm plantations, the sector has grown rapidly over the past 20 years,” said project leader Lisa M. Curran, a professor of ecological anthropology at Stanford and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. By combining field measurements with analyses of high-resolution satellite images, the study evaluated lands targeted for plantations and documented their carbon emissions when converted to oil palm.

The study’s researchers generated the first comprehensive maps of oil palm plantation expansion from 1990 to 2010. Using cutting-edge classification technology, developed by study co-author Gregory Asner from the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology, researchers quantified the types of land cleared for oil palm plantations, as well as carbon emissions and sequestration from oil palm agriculture.

“A major breakthrough occurred when we were able to discern not only forests and non-forested lands, but also logged forests, as well as mosaics of rice fields, rubber stands, fruit gardens and mature secondary forests used by smallholder farmers for their livelihoods,” said Kimberly Carlson, a Yale doctoral student and lead author of the study. “With this information, we were able to develop robust carbon bookkeeping accounts to quantify carbon emissions from oil palm development.”

The research team gathered oil palm land lease records during interviews with local and regional governmental agencies. These records identify locations that have received approval and are allocated to oil palm companies. The total allocated leases spanned about 120,000 square kilometers, an area slightly smaller than Greece. Most leases in the study occupied more than 100 square kilometers, an area slightly larger than Manhattan.

Using these leases in combination with land cover maps, the team estimated future land-clearing and carbon emissions from plantations. Eighty percent of leases remained unplanted in 2010. If all of these leases were developed, more than a third of Kalimantan’s lowlands would be planted with oil palm by 2020.

Despite these large numbers, accurate information about leases is not readily available for public review and oversight, even after the leases are granted. The average Kalimantan resident is unaware of plans for local oil palm development, which can have dramatic effects on residents’ livelihoods and environment, Curran said.

“These plantation leases are an unprecedented ‘grand-scale experiment’ replacing forests with exotic palm monocultures,” said Curran. “We may see tipping points in forest conversion where critical biophysical functions are disrupted, leaving the region increasingly vulnerable to droughts, fires and floods.”

Combined with results generated from their more detailed district-level study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers emphasize that sustainably producing palm oil – a stated goal of the Indonesian palm oil industry – will require re-evaluation of awarded oil palm plantation leases located on forested lands.

###

The research study, “Carbon Emissions from Forest Conversion by Kalimantan Oil Palm Plantations,” was supported by the NASA Land Cover/Land-Use Change Program, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Santa Fe Institute and the National Science Foundation.

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74 Responses to Al Gore’s palm oil train wreck gets worse

  1. bluejohnmarshall says:

    To destroy rainforest to grow a crop for palm oil is stupid given the loss of diversity and wildlife habitat and that there are other products available such as rape seed oil. But if the attention of the palm growers lapses the rainforest will grow back. Give it ten years untended and we are back to total rainforest.

  2. dahun says:

    I wonder how it is that the scientists doing the study never seem to acknoledge that palm trees utilize carbon dioxide.

  3. A crime against humanity, a crime against the orangutans and a crime against nature.

  4. Edohiguma says:

    Makes as much sense as “biofuel”. Considering that it has Al Gore involved that’s not much of a surprise.

  5. dahun says:

    …and yet Brazil’s effort to replace gasoline with ethanol produced [from] sugar cane is praised and held up as an example of being “green” when 25 million acres of rainforest is being used to produce ethanol.

  6. ImranCan says:

    There is no better example of the evil of the green movement than the push for biofuels with the so obvious “unintended” consequences that went with it.

    Well done. Idiots.

  7. Jason H says:

    Do as I say, not as I do.

  8. Gamecock says:

    I wonder if the scientists doing the study read National Geographic Magazine. NatGeo reported this FOUR years ago.

    http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/geopedia/Borneo

  9. Palm oil is a disaster for so many reasons.

    But please can you illustrate this piece with a photograph of palm oil rather than (presumably) Jatropha.

  10. Gary says:

    Yet another headline that has nothing to do with the story.

    You do realize that palm oil is a completely different species then jatropha, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palm_oil and that environmentalists have been concerned about tropical deforestation caused by palm oil plantations for years? http://ran.org/palm-oil

    But anything goes to find an angle to smear Al Gore and Goldman Sachs, right?

    Cut. Paste. Think

  11. Vince Causey says:

    As many have predicted, the dash for biofuels – especially of the palm oil variety – will lead to a ravaging of tropical rainforests on a scale hitherto unseen, whilst doing next to nothing to abate co2 emissions.

    Sadly, now that the legislation has been enacted in the EUSSR, no power can reverse it. Brakeless and without steering, the machinery of the State will continue moving forward, even while it is staring down into the abyss.

    Even Orwell, in his most fevered “doublespeak” imagination, would never have imagined how burning down tropical rainforest to grow crops that are then burnt in the engines of vehicles could have been called green by the men at the Ministry, much less that the public would have believed them.

  12. Byron says:

    If You have a look around the web it`s interesting to note that there seems to be as many green groups wanting to ban palm oil from foodstuffs because of it`s environmental impact as there are those promoting it as biofuel . Usual schizophrenic econut mindsets at work

    Growing things to feed people = BAD
    Wiping out rainforests to make dodgy and expensive fuel that is prone to a whole host of problems and causes people a lot of inconvenience = GOOD

    Shooting a wild duck for supper = BAD
    Slaughtering raptors and bats with dodgy and expensive wind turbines that don`t generate any useful supply and causes people a lot of inconvenience = GOOD

    Cutting down a tree to make any number of usefull items = BAD
    Banning burning off and the thinning of scrub to create firebreaks in fire prone areas so that next fire season 173 people die and almost two thousand homes are burnt down = GOOD

    The only thing the Green zealots seem to be consistent in is their overwhelming misanthropy , so much so that making humans suffer or die seems to take precedent over any environmental concerns

  13. It is always fascinating to witness the claims from the exact same people who profess to be “helping to save the Planet”, are really the worse polluters of all. Al Gore can definitely take a bow for his concerted efforts which all seems to boil down to making the mighty dollar. What is it with Democrats and their hypocrisy and why is it always linked to the money.

  14. wws says:

    We had to destroy the rain forest in order to save it!!!

  15. KevinM says:

    I don’t get the AlGore reference. Did he invest in palm oil?

  16. Grey Lensman says:

    Heading an article on Palm Oil is a picture of Jatropha. Does not make a lot of sense, much like the paper. Totally different plants

    Industrial toxic oils such as Rape, should be burnt and valuable foods such as palm oil promoted. Notice how Rape, GM corn, Soy oils get promoted as healthy foods but Palm Oil is “industrial.

    Notice also no flack at all directed at the soy destruction o the Amazon Rain Forest not at its ability to mimic female hormones and block mineral adsorption, with concomitant nasty effects on people. No mention is made of the vastly higher yield of Palm oil, nor its preference for poor soils. Neither is mention made of what alternative crops the people can grow, wheat maybe, or Brussels sprouts?

  17. George Warburton says:

    The Malaysian province of Sarawak, also on the island of Borneo, is also turning over very large amounts of land to palm oil production. The victims of the process are the peoples and animals of Sarawak. The fight against palm oil should focus on the environmental destruction and its consequences. CO2, at less than 400 parts per million, is good for all living things.

  18. Shevva says:

    You can’t make much money of off rain forests.

    @dahun, what uses more CO2 rain forest or a plam tree plantation? If you’ve ever been to a rain forest you’ll know it can grow quite thick.

  19. RockyRoad says:

    More CO2 in the Atmosphere?

    Good!

  20. Kip Hansen says:

    Anthony: Why in the world is this article accompanied/headed by a photo of Jatropha Curas? Jatropha, while used to produce organic oil which can be turned into diesel-type fuel, is NOT a palm and has nothing whatever to do with palm oil plantations. Oil Palms are of the genus Elaeis and look like, well, palm trees.

  21. Karl Maki says:

    My question is: To what extent is demand for palm oil driven by subsidized blending of biofuels into diesel worldwide? I ask because if there is any relationship here, the author of piece has gone far out of his way in avoiding almost all mention of it. There is one reference only to this use, and only in passing: “…which can be used for biodiesel.”

    Does anyone have a sense of this?

  22. markx says:

    Not sure palm oil is so bad compared to what we do in the west – seems very efficient – no cultivation required once planted, provides tree cover, good yields:

    Palm: average oil yield of 3.66 tonnes/ha/year,
    Soy: 0.4 tonnes/ha/per year
    Rapeseed (canola) 0.6 tonnes/ha/per year.

    Maybe its all a plot by big (soy and canola) oil?

  23. Rob Potter says:

    Sorry, but this is a poor analysis. The new palm oil plantations will fix massive amounts of CO2 – probably more than the old-growth forest was doing. You may not want to clear old-growth forest for other reasons, but CO2 emissions are not one of them.

  24. Grey Lensman says:

    Out of simple economic good sense, a modern palm oil plantation has virtually zero inputs. Used fruit bodies and dead fronds are used as fertilizers. Used fruit bodies are also used as fuel to fire the refinery. Bio diesel, made from their own palm oil is used to fuel the vehicles.

    rodents are controlled by breeding and keeping barn owls.

    insects are repelled by growing selective plant barriers.

    The plantation powers the homes of the workers.

    over their 17 year life plus the palms consume vast amounts of co2.

    When they are needed to be replaced all the old palms are recycled.

    The yields per acre are astronomical compared with any other bio product. Just look them uo and compare.

    But they are now using the land under the palms. Doubling its usage. many schemes are beig tested and verified.

  25. Rosalind Hunter-Anderson says:

    Just wondering why your illustration is not of a palm oil tree.

  26. Bob Tisdale says:

    And that reminded me of a commercial.
    Palmolive – “You’re Soaking In It”

  27. Pamela Gray says:

    Uh…Do you suppose the people who live there might be a little peeved that someone from another country is leering into their bedroom window, and then has the audacity to tell them to change their er…habits because that someone does not like what they are leering at?

  28. Dr. Bob says:

    This article points out only the food based uses of palm oil. Much of the oil is destined for use a fuel in Europe under mandates that are leading to replacement of 20% of Europe’s transportation fuel with biomass derived fuels. This was done with no regard of the carbon intensity of the fuel source in the past, but a slight enlightenment of the European Commission has put pressure on palm derived fuels. Thus only “green” palm plantations, those that were established long ago and cannot be burdened with huge iLUC carbon emissions are used for fuel. This leaves the rest of the palm oil for used for food and other human consumption applications. And then Greenpeace steps in and criticizes Pizza Hut and KFC for using this palm oil in processes. One example of this campaign can be seen at: http://www.fastcompany.com/1648744/greenpeace-social-media-campaign-forces-nestl%C3%A9-stop-using-unsustainable-palm-oil

    But the true issue is the massive use of palm oil for fuel. Dr. Jim Hileman, now of FAA Environmental programs, formery at MIT, conducted a detailed study of the life cycle emissions of jet fuel derived from palm oil and found the Carbon Intensity of palm derived fuels can be 8X that of fossil fuel. Another failure of the Green Agenda, and Algore’s investments in alternative fuels.
    http://www.thegreencarwebsite.co.uk/blog/index.php/2011/05/11/biofuel-use-in-aviation-could-be-less-green-study-shows/
    http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2011/green-jet-fuels-0511.html

    As typical of NGO’s, they focus on what draws attention and not on reality. If they wanted to do something useful about the explosive growth of palm plantations, they could start be pointing attention on the European biofuels mandates such as Directive 2003-30-3c and 2009-28-EC.

  29. pat says:

    another great CAGW idea that may be phasing itself out:

    8 Oct: Bloomberg: Yoga Rusmana/Eko Listiyorini: Palm Oil Exports From Indonesia to Sink Most in Four Months
    Palm oil shipments from Indonesia, the world’s largest producer, are poised to tumble the most in four months in October because of weak demand from importers.
    Exports may slump 12 percent to 1.41 million metric tons from 1.6 million tons in September, according to the median of estimates from four plantation executives, a refiner and an analyst compiled by Bloomberg. That’s the biggest drop since June when shipments fell 13 percent. Output may climb to 2.43 million tons from 2.05 million, the survey showed. Stockpiles are about 2.6 million tons, according to three respondents…
    Stockpiles in Indonesia may be higher than estimated in the survey. Inventories have hovered between 3.5 million tons and 4 million tons since 2010 compared with popular estimates in the range of 1.5 million tons to 2 million tons, said Dorab Mistry, director at Godrej International Ltd., on Sept. 6…
    Reserves in Malaysia, the second-largest producer, probably climbed 15 percent in September to a record as production surged and demand slowed. Inventories increased to 2.43 million tons from 2.12 million tons in August, according to the median of estimates from five analysts and two plantation companies compiled by Bloomberg…

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-07/palm-oil-exports-from-indonesia-set-to-sink-most-in-four-months.html

  30. Anthea Collins says:

    Looking at the picture, it seems to me that the amount of CO2-absorbing leaf area in the palm oil plantation must be vastly less than that of the closely-packed, and bigger, rain forest trees they have replaced. So, yes, oil palms DO take in CO2 but relatively little compared to the rain forest trees. Just suggesting …

    Anthea

  31. Richard Day says:

    Gore should make an extended visit to all the palm oil plantations in Indonesia. The ensuing killing frost will end that nonsense.

  32. Grey Lensman says:

    This is a very simple issue, made complex by eco warriors. They are caught in a blind, Globull Warmists but with eco values.

    They dont mix.

    Notice from the posts above, nothing, or very little about Soy.

    Yes a lot of social injustice but it applies equally to rice paddy, copper mines, tin mines, soy plantations. The poor will be branded as squatters and evicted to profit corrupt administrators.

    No mention of the destroyed forests of Europe

    No mention of the fact that good forest management restores forests, restores diversity. No mention of maximum use of land for all uses. No mention of EU set aside rules, farmers paid not to farm land.

    No mention of the alternative uses of scrubland/swamp so poor it will not support even jungle growth.

    no mention of corrupt officials that “sell reserve land and primate protected areas. Of course there is no records, no paper trails, no money trails. Just blame the deadly palm oil.

  33. Tom B. says:

    And has anyone done a comparison of the CO2 uptake of the forest that is destroyed vs the palm trees that are planted? Is it comparable, or are we impacting long term CO2 capture by doing this?

  34. KevinM says:

    Trees absorb CO2.
    And then they release it back when they burn or decompose.
    If you want to use trees to sequester carbon, you must preserve them at end-of-life.
    But if you do that, you’ll have to replace rotting plantlife with some other fertilizer.

  35. plaasjaapie says:

    The clearing of primal forests to put in palm oil plantations has been going on for decades. I took a bus ride from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur in 1992. At that time they were clearing the ancient primal forests that had been there since the dinosaurs and putting in mile after mile of palm oil plantations.

    It’s worth noting that the watermelons’ plans for “green” products make massive use of palm oil. Virtually all environmentally friendly cleaning products use it as a basic feed stock.

  36. Power Grab says:

    Indonesia does not care about playing the AGW game, right? I’m guessing they have figured out which way the wind is blowing with respect to things like soybeans, the first choice for a source of biofuels. Today, on this page:

    http://www.agweb.com/article/high_prices_offset_some_crop_yield_loss/

    I found this comment:

    “Soybeans yields are the smallest since 1995.”

    Since American agriculture has taken many hits from weather lately (check out the current prices for grains and soybeans, and compare them to 20 years ago), and the cooling of the planet will likely lead to more trouble for farmers, and since you have to plant trees years before you expect to reap a harvest from them, I think they’re just acting on the basis of enlightened self-interest.

    Plus, contrary to what so-called “health experts” say in the US, palm oil and palm kernel oil are better for your diet than soybean oil. Large parts of the world depend on palm oil as their primary cooking oil, and they are healthier – if you can take as proof their lower expenditures on health care and the ease with which they are able to produce healthy children.

  37. dahun says:

    …and Shevva, rain forests are continuously dying and decaying into carbon dioxide, so when all is taken into consideration the difference is minimal. The fact is people need to eat and palm oil is food. So-called environmentalists want to stop production of palm oil except that they don’t mind it when it is burned for fuel.

    The arguement against palm oil is just another unscientific, ill-thouight out, agenda based a campaign based on an agenda rather than any real problem.

  38. GingerZilla says:

    Let’s save the world for future generations by starving their grandparents today. But since Gore and Hanson’s grandchildren will live off the profits of the climate scam I guess everything is okay in the world again /sarc

  39. dahun says:

    I think the far-left might discriminate against palm oil because it tastes good.

  40. Billy Ruff'n says:

    I’m surprised it’s taken so long for the greenies to wake up to rainforest destruction in the name of “saving the planet”. In 1997 I anchored my boat in the Morova Lagoon in the Soloman Islands just off Vanunu Island. That evening a local fellow visited us in his dug-out canoe and soon the deck was covered with things he had brought to trade (money being of limited value in this part of the world). After our trading session concluded, we asked him if there were any churches in the area and he offered to take us the following Sunday morning if we would provide the gas for his outboard engine. He told us he was taking us to a small village church, but to get there we would need to pass through a “logging camp” and the Malaysian Chinese that ran the place might not take well to white people being there. “They don’t like foreigners who take pictures of their work, ” he told us. We left the cameras on the boat.

    When we landed at the pier of the logging camp we were told by the Chinese guard that we could not pass through the camp. Several Soloman Islanders, who were also on their way to church, objected and we were eventually allowed to go with them to the church. Later, our guide, who went by the name “Feral Philip”, told us about the origins and operations of the Malay loggers. In short, it went something like this: Government officials in Honaria formed a “natural resources development company”. They were given at no or nominal cost rights to “rainforest development”. The local company sold the logging rights on Philip’s island to a Malay company who promised to clear the rainforest so palm oil plantations could be planted. The foreign company then began clear cutting the virgin rainforest, and selling the teak and other hardwoods abroad. They then planted palm oil seedings in the place of giant teak trees. As you might guess, the clear cutting was progressing much faster than the planting of the plantation. This “development” was justifed by government officials as “social progress”, Feral Philip told us, because it promised jobs to local islanders (which were few and paid poorly) and it was supposed to provide a renewable source of oils when the plam trees matured several years hence.

    Philip was not happy with the scheme — from experience he knew the government officials were corupt, but he also knew his island would not be helped by the “development” of the rainforest. He said, and this is a direct quote translated from the pidgin English of a semi-literate, totally “off the grid” Soloman island villager: “They spoil the environment (yes, he used that word). They are killing the lagoon. The trees they plant do not hold the soil and when it rains the mud flows into the lagoon and kills the coral. The fish go away and we have less to eat. We told them what would happen, but they didn’t listen.”

    I don’t know what happened to the palm oil plantation under development in 1997, but if you go to Google Earth at 8 deg. 42 min. 29 sec. North and 158 deg. 03 min. 48 sec. East you can still see the scar on the hill side left by this undertaking. Today it looks like the Malays left as soon as the rainforest had been cleared. Something tells me Feral Philip got screwed in the name of socially progressive sustainable development and the pursuit of environmental friendly bio-feul.

  41. Grey Lensman says:

    Its not Money, Nor Palm OIl, Nor copper mines but the crooks behind it.

    I think Lord Chris fingered the railway engineer and the jatropha scam. The financiers made millions, the farmers nothing.

    Standard practice.

  42. dahun says:

    The past ten years have seen dramatic reductions in pollution from fossil fuels and even a huge reduction in carbon dioxide creation. This has been due to the more and more extensive availability and affordability of domestic natural gas. According to the US Enegy Department there is a 350 year minimum worldwide supply. The US has over one trillion barrels of shale oil in the now off-limits Green River Formation alone. We have hundreds of years of coal supply that can be cleaned cleanly and converted to gas, oil or gasoline fuel. Natural gas, if used in cars and trucks alone would eliminate the need for every drop of imported oil.

    We have an abundence of energy wealth and a president intent on restricting this energy in any way he possibly can. He is ignoring available affordable means of cleaning the air and demanding fantasy “solutions’ that are neither affordable or workable. In fact they are a fantasy that are causing a $400 billion a year oil trade deficit, unnecessary tensions and conflicts due to oil and is ignoring a resource that, coupled with other countries, could make the despots, dictators and terrorists that profit from oil irrelevant. .

  43. Chris says:

    plaasjaapie says:
    October 8, 2012 at 7:59 am
    It’s worth noting that the watermelons’ plans for “green” products make massive use of palm oil. Virtually all environmentally friendly cleaning products use it as a basic feed stock.

    No, that’s not true. Here is a list of palm free products, and at the bottom is a substantial list of palm free cleaning products.
    http://www.orangutans.com.au/Orangutans-Survival-Information/Helping-you-buy-responsibly-Palm-oil-free-alternatives.aspx

  44. Chris says:

    Rob Potter says:
    October 8, 2012 at 7:01 am
    Sorry, but this is a poor analysis. The new palm oil plantations will fix massive amounts of CO2 – probably more than the old-growth forest was doing. You may not want to clear old-growth forest for other reasons, but CO2 emissions are not one of them.

    Do you have any data to back up that assertion? Here’s what Meine van Noordwijk, Regional Coordinator for Southeast Asia and Principal Ecologist for the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) says: “”This is the classical debate on flows versus stocks, of plant physiology versus systems ecology — currently the pulpwood as well as the oil palm plantation sector are fighting the battle with claims that they improve the C sequestration rates from something like 0.5 t C/ha/yr for maturing forest to values of 3-5 t C/ha/yr for fast growing plantations — while the world should care about the release of about 250 t C/ha of existing stocks before this increase in rates can be realized,” van Noordwijk told mongabay.com. “It will take 50-100 years before [carbon storage at this sequestration rate] equals 250. Meanwhile the average life on an oil palm plantation is less than 25 years.”

  45. dahun says:

    Only a far-left ideolog would suggest that a product grown on trees does not meet their definition of sustainable.

  46. Grey Lensman says:

    Palm oil is an excellent cooking oil, rich source of vitamin e and has so many practical uses. They make sweetened condensed milk from it here. Much better than Soy stuff. The growth sector is Organic cold processed and very high value.

    The global catering trade depends upon it. The soy Industry with fellow travellers the Conola guys hate it.

  47. I’m not a huge Gore fan, but this article is horribly misleading given that Gore has not invested in palm oil…

    Oddly enough, I actually did some research with this study’s lead author (Kim) on palm oil plantations in Borneo back in grad school. Did a project comparing lifecycle carbon emissions from palm oil biodiesel to that of normal diesel; the former is about 4-12 times worse. Also spent three days in Borneo, which was amazing.

  48. Grey Lensman says:

    Zeke said

    Quote

    Did a project comparing lifecycle carbon emissions from palm oil biodiesel to that of normal diesel; the former is about 4-12 times worse.

    Unquote

    Not a very well done project then, Perhaps three days in Borneo was too much time.

  49. Power Grab says:

    @Grey Lensman says:
    October 8, 2012 at 10:09 am
    “Palm oil is an excellent cooking oil, rich source of vitamin e…”

    Indeed. One time at university I sat next to a young man from Africa during lunch. He had the most perfect, beautiful teeth I have ever seen. I asked him what kind of cooking oil his family used while he was growing up. He said it was palm oil.

  50. Athelstan. says:

    This is a world scale human idiocy, the Indonesians do not give a flying **** about diversity and the rainforest, still less do they care about mmCO2.
    They illegally allow [turn a blind eye] loggers into the virgin forest, who cut the trees down, the tree boles are roughly dressed, sent to Thailand for sawing to size and then on to China to end up in as furniture in a living room somewhere in Europe etc.

    i. the wood smoke from the clearance burning after the logging is completed: is a global catastrophe, it is so bad, that it can be observed by remote sensing.

    ii. Someone said [above], the forest can grow back – well that’s debatable, the soils are leached the flora and fauna, the diversity is gone, the soil will take eons to regenerate, secondary forest is poor to thin the eco-system is obliterated…but who would clear the oil palms in the unlikely event the owners would want to return the forest back to it’s original state?

    iii. Indonesia makes billions from the oil palm, Indonesia works only via corrupt practice and bribes – that’s how business is done: they are far from eco-warrior altruists.

    iv. Western governments [especially the UK] are always praising Indonesian efforts to ‘combat global warming’ – I dunno who is more stupid………….or should I say duplicitous?

    v. Until the West weans itself off the AGW mania [plants for fuel] and until the West halts using oil palm products – period [no chance], there will be no change in Indonesian Oil palm exploitation of virgin rainforest.

    Any ‘green’ shill who advocates palm oil substitutes as a means for vehicular transportation, ‘is a full hamper short of a picnic’.

    And, anyone who despairs about the plight of the Orang [pongo pygmaeus], will want to kick Al Gore back to his ancestry.

  51. John Doe says:

    The plant in the picture is a Chinese Tallow. I got a bunch of them. They grow like weeds in the right conditions – sandy well drained soil and lots of water. Just wondered who titled the article palm oil and selected a Chinese Tallow for the picture. Those green globes are actually about the size of a chick pea. :-)

  52. ntesdorf says:

    It’s another own goal scored by Al Gore and the International Gang of Idiots. Hopefully they will soon lose interest in the scam, production will cease and in a few years of neglect it will revert to Jungle. Destroying rainforest to grow a crops for fuel is stupid when there is coal, oil, gas and nuclear power available. It results in loss of diversity, wildlife and wildlife habitat.

  53. Annie says:

    Byron @ 6:06 am on the 8th Oct 2012:

    Sad but true…

    On my last two visits Down Under I was dismayed to see that there is now a huge amount of undergrowth in Marysville and surrounds. There is undergrowth all along the roadsides and those roads are needed as escape routes. I can see it all happening again. Do we blame conservationists now or lack of will by the government et al to reduce the risk of another Black Saturday? Marysville lost 34 of those 173.

    Perhaps someone should find a biofuel use in the area and then the clearing would be done.

    Sarc/

  54. I lived in SE Asia for the best part of a decade, and have seen palm oil plantations first hand, and have been to Borneo a number of times.

    These plantations are vast. Some cover hundreds of square kilometers. There is an almost complete absence of animal and bird life in these plantations. As you fly over Borneo, rivers that flow out of untouched forest are deep green in colour. Where the forest has been cut down for agriculture and plantations the rivers are mud brown. Not only are these plantations ruining the land and the wildlife, they are ruining the rivers.

    Palm oil plantations are the worst ecological disaster of my lifetime. And despite the protestations above that environmentalists are against biofuels from palm oil, you hear almost nothing from them. I have been concerned about this issue for a long time and have followed it closely, so I know.

  55. Ben D says:

    This post is verging on dangerous ground inho, if the CAGW and AGW activists subgroup are not bad enough, and they are,..the’ parent global conservationist movement are definitely the very worst of contemporary humanity!

    No reasons forthcoming at this time as it is so self evident to those whose intuitive faculties are sufficiently developed, and besides,…it will be written into history before very long so be patient just a little longer please..

  56. Goldie@iinet.net.au says:

    This is what happens when amateurs get on the environmental campaign trail. There is no such thing as an environmental free lunch and these people need to understand that. All they have done is trade a potential (though unlikely) disaster for an actual disaster. In their arrogance they seem to think that they have stumbled across a solution that those trained in the field of environmental management have overlooked. Unfortunately the amateur in this case has some political power and hence the disaster is bigger than normal. I would venture to suggest that if we looked at the habitat loss associated with this, it would represent an impact greater than all of the marine oil impacts that have ever occurred and the problem is, it is almost permanently irriversible.

  57. Rob Potter says:

    Chris says:
    October 8, 2012 at 9:28 am

    ”This is the classical debate on flows versus stocks, of plant physiology versus systems ecology — currently the pulpwood as well as the oil palm plantation sector are fighting the battle with claims that they improve the C sequestration rates from something like 0.5 t C/ha/yr for maturing forest to values of 3-5 t C/ha/yr for fast growing plantations — while the world should care about the release of about 250 t C/ha of existing stocks before this increase in rates can be realized,” van Noordwijk told mongabay.com. “It will take 50-100 years before [carbon storage at this sequestration rate] equals 250. Meanwhile the average life on an oil palm plantation is less than 25 years.”

    0.5 is high for a mature forest on some estimates I have seen (depends on the type and maturity of the forest – some are negative), but the figures quoted are a reasonable estimate of the increase in fixation used in a number of studies for calculating carbon credits. What I am not sure from this quotation is where the figure of 250 t C/ha is coming from for “existing stocks” – what does this represent? Is he converting the entire existing stored C in the forest into CO2? This is quite wrong as the majority will remain fixed in the harvested wood and in the soil.

    What you have to remember is that no-one is neutral in this debate – everyone is presenting the numbers to support their case, but there are no agreed on parameters for what to include in a “systems” approach. The guy you quote is obviously arguing against palm oil plantations, so he is bringing in another parameter to show it is bad. Someone arguing the other case will argue that this is invalid, or bring in something else.

    I have no dog in this fight, since I don’t think increased CO2 is any kind of an issue, but I thought the original study quoted was missing the fact that palm plantations are one of the most efficient CO2 fixation systems around (along with corn and sugar cane). Remember that every carbon atom in the harvested palm oil represents one molecule of CO2 and the amount of oil produced – tons per hectare – is much higher than the increase in biomass in a mature forest. sure, the forest has a lot already stored, but how much is this increasing?

  58. higley7 says:

    “Plantation expansion is projected to contribute more than 558 million metric tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere in 2020″

    I love to see how they dream up these estimates. Absinthe anyone?

  59. “…In 2010 alone, land-clearing for oil palm plantations in Kalimantan emitted more than 140 million metric tons of carbon dioxide – an amount equivalent to annual emissions from about 28 million vehicles…”

    28 million vehicles.

    Or, to see it another way: In California, the estimated Vehicle Registration by County for the period of January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2011 was 31,802,483 vehicles).

    Either stop the land-clearing for oil palm plantations in Kalimantan or cut off California’s oil supply.

    Either one lowers the the GLOBAL CO2 by 140 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.

  60. RHS says:

    Where is the WWF when they are really needed? Besides too busy getting the most money from big oil…

  61. dlb says:

    “This post is verging on dangerous ground inho, if the CAGW and AGW activists subgroup are not bad enough, and they are,..the’ parent global conservationist movement are definitely the very worst of contemporary humanity!”

    I think you might be treading on dangerous grounds yourself with that comment. Many of the commenters here including myself are appalled by the loss of highly biodiverse tropical forests to a palm oil monoculture, despite our scientific skepticism of AGW.

  62. Grey Lensman says:

    Athelstan said

    Quote

    They illegally allow [turn a blind eye] loggers into the virgin forest, who cut the trees down, the tree boles are roughly dressed, sent to Thailand for sawing to size and then on to China to end up in as furniture in a living room somewhere in Europe etc.

    Unquote

    It is illegal to export raw or dressed logs from Indonesia.

    What happens is that some “traders” bribe the local Administrators and they then get to export the cargo. However, if they paid the wrong people or the wrong amount, pirates seize the ship and sell the cargo.

    Its not about Palm Oil. Its about crooks, fraud, corruption across the board.

    The Eco warriors choose not to fight the correct battles. As one commenter said, who goes after the EU rules.

    Palm oil is a hugely productive food crop. Its use for fuel really is both moot and unnecessary. The attacks and fake claims re CO2 are funded, directed and orchestrated by Big OIL, the Soy and Conola, people. Thats why you never see the same claims against them despite them being far worse offenders (if you like)

    We need the food resource, we need the jobs etc. It is not difficult to ensure balance. Start by catching and locking up the crooks. Ensure better practices. Look what practical common sense and law did with our air( ref London and Los Angeles).

    .

  63. Ben D says:

    I’m appalled also dlb by so many things that are going on in the world outside my own local environment, but I would not presume to know absolutely what is ‘best’ for the planet in the context of a multi-billion year old evolutionary journey towards God knows what! Nor do I suspect any mere mortal does yet many think that what makes most sense to them now in this temporary existence, is best for the Cosmos in the absolute terms, what arrogance!

  64. David Cooke says:

    But it’s hardly a train wreck for the smart businessmen who make what they quite appropriately call a ”killing” out of destroying other countries’ forests.

  65. David Ball says:

    David Cooke says:
    October 9, 2012 at 4:10 am

    A former fellow traveller of yours, Patrick Moore, who has been to the places you claim are “being destroyed” has some serious evidence that you are incorrect. You will find on this site that you need to substantiate claims with evidence. Also, the sources of you claims will be checked. Time to put up or shut up.

  66. markx says:

    dlb says:
    October 8, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    ‘….Many of the commenters here including myself are appalled by the loss of highly biodiverse tropical forests to a palm oil monoculture, despite our scientific skepticism of AGW…”

    Not this one.

    The arrogance of (much of) the west in this matter is beyond belief. These countries need development, jobs, income, education…. Brazil was hounded for developing rain-forests and developing their grasslands. I suspect some of the motivation was not wanting the competition in corn, beef and soybean (that sound like Nth America?) Now Brazil ranks as the number one or two world exporter in all those commodities. People are buying and eating that stuff, so I guess someone is happy. No doubt some Brazilians are wealthier.

    Want forest? Replant your own, the ones cut down centuries ago. Want biodiversity, don’t worry, it will happen given time, just look after that forest. Want to keep the biodiversity we have got? Buy or lease those old forests in the tropics and supply an income to that populace, and taxes to that government.

  67. Grey Lensman says:

    I would love to know the real difference between a palm oil estate, a Scottish pine forest, a USA swathe of wheat on the prairies, etc.

    I also ask that you compare yields of palm oil, soy oil and conola oil. see who is conning who.

    Using palm oil as fuel in the plantation makes sense. But most is used for food and food products, so why would anybody want to boycott it.

    The picture above was palm oil fruiting bodies, bit like giant raspberries. the fruit has the palm oil and the seed inside, the palm kernel oil. the resultant seed cake is a good animal feed. As you can see, each body has a huge biomass when used. thus leftovers used as both fuel and fertilser.

  68. dahun says:

    When Brazil has cut down its rainforest to grow sugar cane for ethanol it was glorified as an example we should follow. When Brazil has ambitious plans to utilize 5% of its “rainforest”, which the government claims is clear cut forest land that is not rainforest, they are considered barbarians.

    If someone kills an endangered hawk or eagle they face a year in jail and fines up to $100,000; unless of course you operate a wind farm. Then the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of hawks, eagles, condors, bats and other birds is ignored.

    we have a government that says it wants to help the poor and, by waging a war on fossil fuel, places more and more people in poverty every day.

    The truth of the rainforest debate most certainly does not lie at the extremes of either side recorded here.

  69. Al Gore is the train wreck supreme

  70. Power Grab says:

    Grey Lensman says:
    October 9, 2012 at 9:58 am
    “I would love to know the real difference between a palm oil estate, a Scottish pine forest, a USA swathe of wheat on the prairies, etc.

    “I also ask that you compare yields of palm oil, soy oil and conola oil. see who is conning who.”

    This doesn’t really address your request, but I venture to say that using palm oil for food or fuel or whatever purpose is less energy-intensive because it doesn’t require a factory to do the extraction. On the other hand, who would have guessed that those dry soybeans and canola contain enough oil to make them a major source of oil.

    There are so many cons and scams currently being promoted, it makes my head spin. :-P

  71. markx says:

    Athelstan. says October 8, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    “…Someone said [above], the forest can grow back – well that’s debatable….”

    No, he is correct – was clearing some roads through land in Indonesia a few years ago (bulldozers, sorry!) – we thought it was original forest (albeit selectively logged) – but what we found underfoot, besides very poor soil, were many broken ceramic rubber cups, and later, clear signs of irrigation channels. A bit of research revealed the whole area had been a large functioning rubber plantation back in the 1930s.

    “…… Indonesia makes billions from the oil palm, Indonesia works only via corrupt practice and bribes …..”

    Not strictly so – it is a good growing economy and a pretty orderly place. (Great place, great people by the way).

    But, an interesting observation re corruption – does not matter at all as long as it is localized. The money all eventually gets back to the community (bribed guy buys new car, renovates s house , eats out more, gets a mistress etc).

    The problem (for a community or country) comes when the money is moved internationally.

    We joked when greater autonomy was granted to regional governments in Indonesia that they were just regionalising the corruption – instead of going to (or near) the top, money went locally…. Well, it did wonders for the place – 15 years later those regional cities are absolutely thriving!

  72. Grey Lensman says:

    Another historical “proof” that jungle regrows. As exploration and development “encroached” on the pristine amazon jungle, more and more discoveries were made of lost cities, roads and agricultural areas with really fertile artificial soils, covering vast areas. Along with massive tracts of terra-forming in the very remote Bolivian amazon.

    Easy to google the reports and verify. seems one of the unknown secrets of fertile jungle soil was “biochar”

    Who would have thought it?

  73. Lisa M Curran says:

    why don’t you actually read the paper? Or perhaps our April 2012 Proceedings in the National Academy of Sciences…I would be eager to respond to any questions! We do full carbon accounting including CO2 from oil palm growth/sequestration, secondary forest regrowth. The paper includes all the leases allocated to companies. There are many other studies comparing oil palm production, soy, sugarcane, corn too.
    I have spent 30 years in Kalimantan working on forest dynamics, logging practices – lived 5 years in logging concessions – that were then converted to oil palm plantations. We have long-term studies of local livelihoods both benefits and costs. Over 3.5 million people reside or live around these oil palm plantations. We found ~20-25% of lands converted are agroforests – lands farmed or used by communities for fruit gardens, rubber or other products. We mapped these lands with resident communities who have lived in the very locale for over a century. We are not ecowarriors. I think oil palm has tremendous benefits for income and production – but not how its practiced now. That’s why we did a detailed painstaking effort to get the info as balanced and conservative assessments as possible. This is a 11-13$ B industry – mostly for human consumption and use…cooking oil livestock feed …30% world edible oil. Much much less important for biofuel….btw, Mattius Klum (photographer) and I pitched the Bornean land use story to National Geographic, designed the study, provided the images and information. Our Indonesian collaborators are included throughout the piece. Thanks for your interest.

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