"Because you can't hug a tree if you can't find one."

9/16/2007

Palm oiling the planet

Years ago, the Netherlands made an effort to reduce their fossil fuel dependency by converting their power plants to burn palm oil. Of course, palm oil is no more native to the Netherlands than petroleum, so they had to import massive quantities of the stuff from Malaysia and Indonesia. As it turns out, this was not such a good idea.

It seems that it’s hard to predict the outcomes of our collective human actions. There are 6 billion of us after all, so whatever we do, it is on a large scale. Whatever we need, we need a lot of it: fuel, food, water, transportation or jeans. Even climate-change skeptics would have to admit that resource use on that scale must have some environmental impact. And collectively, we tend to act out of convenience, greed, habit – too rarely do we act after considering the long term impact. So, in how many ways do we continue to (knowingly or unknowingly) palm oil the biosphere?

We need to realize that reducing our environmental impact doesn’t mean burning fuel B rather than fuel A, or consuming one brand instead of another. Not even if it’s the car-du-jour. The energy it takes to live the American Way of Life is the problem. The palm oils of the world are just an easy out for anyone that can’t imagine what life would be like without our current levels of consumption and waste.

1 comment:

Beth in the Fake Plastic Fish Tank said...

I love your blog and your point of view. It's hard, isn't it, when the administration is encouraging people to consume, consume, consume. Shop and fly, everyone, or the terrorists win. But we shouldn't be demoralized. There are a lot of people out here who realize that cutting our consumption is not just good for the planet; it's good for our "souls."