Palm tree oil is now used in the large majority of products that are in circulation in western society, which is causing a detrimental effect to the environment. To extract the palm oil from the palm tree, the tree is burnt down and the oil taken. In addition, fires are started to burn down ordinary trees and replace them with palm tree plantations, which is rapidly increasing the prospect of extinction for wild orangutans that are native to Indonesia.
Additionally it has caused a severe environmental disaster across Indonesia, as air pollution intensifies as a result of fires that are swept throughout Indonesia and neighbouring countries. This air pollution is contributing to the already dire air pollution in Indonesia which is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths per year in the country. The fires are producing major concerns globally as they emitted the same amount of carbon dioxide as the United States economy does in a year, in a little over three weeks in September last year, making it the worlds biggest polluter.
The devastating nature of the fires last year were largely because of companies draining the rainforest by digging irrigation canals across the rainforest, causing fire to spread with tremendous speed, overwhelming the Indonesian fire service and the multitude of life that depends on the rainforest for survival. The fires have undoubtedly created a blot and scar on Indonesia’s natural and physical beauty, and has been primarily caused the western desire for palm oil, which has rapidly increased illegal deforestation as companies and citizens seek to exploit this profitable trade, culminating in a £30 billion worth of damage that cause by the fires.
Nonetheless there are some things that can be done to alleviate the crisis and prevent an “ecopocolypse” from happening again. For example always check the label to see where palm oil comes from and research to see if it is sustainably sourced as it could help retain some of the precious rainforest, which the people of Indonesia desperately need to help grow the tourism sector.