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The monster that is Palm oil (4 Viewers)

DMW

Well-known member

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Totally agree, although I haven't come across many environmentalists who actually support palm oil. I know there is a 'calories per hectare' argument advanced by anti-meat lobby, but wouldn't necessarily class such views as environmentalist.
 

raymie

Well-known member
United States
I've said it before and I'll say it again, habitat loss in its many forms is more of a threat to biodiversity than climate change.
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
I've said it before and I'll say it again, habitat loss in its many forms is more of a threat to biodiversity than climate change.
The two are not mutually exclusive. If you set aside protected habitat, but then climate change suddenly results in a shift in plant communities, the original protected fauna may not be able to adjust. Habitat destruction makes climate change effects worse...back in the Pleistocene there was enough continous pristine habitat that animals could track changing environments by shifting their ranges south and north. Much harder to do that if you have carved up the territory into little pockets of habitat surrounded by urban, suburbun, and agriculture developments.
 

qwerty5

Well-known member
United States
I know there is a 'calories per hectare' argument advanced by anti-meat lobby, but wouldn't necessarily class such views as environmentalist.
The anti-meat people forget that animals turn inedible plant material into edible meat. Cattle are grazed on millions of acres which could not produce food for humans. And if the cattle grazing is managed properly, the grassland ecosystem basically remains in its natural state. For things like chickens, which are not grazed, I would suggest that anti-meat people try eating a diet of only corn and soybean meal for several days, and see how they like it. I'm guessing they would be more than happy to eat a piece of fried chicken after that.
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
The anti-meat people forget that animals turn inedible plant material into edible meat. Cattle are grazed on millions of acres which could not produce food for humans. And if the cattle grazing is managed properly, the grassland ecosystem basically remains in its natural state. For things like chickens, which are not grazed, I would suggest that anti-meat people try eating a diet of only corn and soybean meal for several days, and see how they like it. I'm guessing they would be more than happy to eat a piece of fried chicken after that.
I wasn't really having a pop at vegetarians, just saying the specific argument some make about the energetic efficiency of palm oil is flawed because they don't factor in the habitat destruction element.
I'm afraid the same arguments can be advanced with respect to cattle grazing, where grasslands have replaced natural habitats such as rainforest and cloud forest. Cattle grazing remains a major threat to these habitats. For sure natural grasslands such as you have in the USA and parts of Central Asia is a different matter - as you say, the key is managing that grazing properly to retain biodiversity.
I haven't met many vegetarians who really miss eating fried chicken - most seem to eat pretty well and I must admit many vegetarian dishes are tasty and appealing to an omnivore like myself. I'm not personally a big fan of soya products which look like fake meat, but its not true to say that they'd get sick of eating soya after.a few days.
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
I wasn't really having a pop at vegetarians, just saying the specific argument some make about the energetic efficiency of palm oil is flawed because they don't factor in the habitat destruction element.
I'm afraid the same arguments can be advanced with respect to cattle grazing, where grasslands have replaced natural habitats such as rainforest and cloud forest. Cattle grazing remains a major threat to these habitats. For sure natural grasslands such as you have in the USA and parts of Central Asia is a different matter - as you say, the key is managing that grazing properly to retain biodiversity.
I haven't met many vegetarians who really miss eating fried chicken - most seem to eat pretty well and I must admit many vegetarian dishes are tasty and appealing to an omnivore like myself. I'm not personally a big fan of soya products which look like fake meat, but its not true to say that they'd get sick of eating soya after.a few days.
Indeed, the poster seems to somehow think a vegetarian diet is impossible or that vegetarians don't exist. I've met many vegetarians or variations (People who include fish for instance in their diet, but no land critters), some of who have been pursuing this diet for decades. Apparently due to one stat I saw approximately 5% of the US population are vegetarians. Nowadays, it's never been easier to be one, given the variety of foods on the market and recipes available. I am not a vegetarian, but I have had to reduce meat intake, especially red meat, due health reasons. I've made my fair share of awesome vegetarian dishes.

Also, historically, most people never ate nearly as much meat as we do, especially red meat. Outside of the rich, it wasn't uncommon for folks to really only eat meat once or twice a week. Overconsumption of meat has no doubt led to increases in a variety of health conditions plaguing first world countries.
 
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Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
The anti-meat people forget that animals turn inedible plant material into edible meat. Cattle are grazed on millions of acres which could not produce food for humans. And if the cattle grazing is managed properly, the grassland ecosystem basically remains in its natural state. For things like chickens, which are not grazed, I would suggest that anti-meat people try eating a diet of only corn and soybean meal for several days, and see how they like it. I'm guessing they would be more than happy to eat a piece of fried chicken after that.
The two major problems with this statement is that:

A: It assumes that cattle are only raised in environments that naturally support cattle or at least cow-like critters. That's true in some places, but vast amounts of rainforest in Brazil and elsewhere have been chopped down and converted to cattle pasture.

B: That even in appropriate habitats, cattle don't do damage. Remember, native grassland ungulates embark on seasonal migrations often over large sections of territory. That isn't always easy to replicate with domestic cattle and other livestock, who are often allowed to overgraze an area, damaging waterholes and converting grassland to desert.
 

DMW

Well-known member
The two are not mutually exclusive. If you set aside protected habitat, but then climate change suddenly results in a shift in plant communities, the original protected fauna may not be able to adjust. Habitat destruction makes climate change effects worse...back in the Pleistocene there was enough continous pristine habitat that animals could track changing environments by shifting their ranges south and north. Much harder to do that if you have carved up the territory into little pockets of habitat surrounded by urban, suburbun, and agriculture developments.
That's true, but the climate change lobby has all but drowned-out concern about more immediate direct threats to biodiversity. We have the irony that biofuel made from palm-oil is touted as "renewable" and "eco-friendly", and because it pays homage to the "climate emergency" agenda, nobody bats an eyelid.
I've not read about climate change suddenly changing plant communities, but I've witnessed all too often the way palm oil suddenly changes plant communities in SE Asia from the most diverse on the planet to a literal monoculture almost overnight. And we are talking about landscape-level changes here over an entire region.
I hear lots of rhetoric about there being no polar bears in the Arctic in 50 years (or whatever the latest moving goalpost point of catastrophe is), but absolutely nothing about the countless species lost to the palm oil plague.
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
People try to turn this into some sort of dilemma where we can only fix one or the other. We can worry about climate change and worry about palm oil plantations. If anything, rainforests are major carbon sinks and so preserving them is a way to help a teensy bit with climate change

As far as plant communities, there are many many studies showing that shifts in climate lead to shifts in plant communities. Hell, we have a new hire in our department whose major research focuses on how plants respond to changes in snow cover and such. It's also pretty obvious: if a region is suddenly warmer and dryer, than plants adapted to warmer and dryer conditions will do better, and in the long-term spread and replace the existing poorly suited plants

Here's just one summary of a recent paper:
 

DMW

Well-known member
People try to turn this into some sort of dilemma where we can only fix one or the other. We can worry about climate change and worry about palm oil plantations. If anything, rainforests are major carbon sinks and so preserving them is a way to help a teensy bit with climate change

As far as plant communities, there are many many studies showing that shifts in climate lead to shifts in plant communities. Hell, we have a new hire in our department whose major research focuses on how plants respond to changes in snow cover and such. It's also pretty obvious: if a region is suddenly warmer and dryer, than plants adapted to warmer and dryer conditions will do better, and in the long-term spread and replace the existing poorly suited plants

Here's just one summary of a recent paper:
What if one of the "solutions" to the problem is to hugely exacerbate the supposed effects of the problem? Biofuels are being promoted as environmentally friendly and part of the campaign against global warming. I'd rather have no biofuels and still have the natural forests that were destroyed to help produce them.

Regarding changes in plant communities due to climate change, yes of course that is happening. But it isn't happening "suddenly" in the way that a palm oil plantation happens.
 

MJB

Well-known member
The anti-meat people forget that animals turn inedible plant material into edible meat. Cattle are grazed on millions of acres which could not produce food for humans. And if the cattle grazing is managed properly, the grassland ecosystem basically remains in its natural state. For things like chickens, which are not grazed, I would suggest that anti-meat people try eating a diet of only corn and soybean meal for several days, and see how they like it. I'm guessing they would be more than happy to eat a piece of fried chicken after that.
Back on the Unsupported Assertions bandwagon?

If millions of acres of grasslands are grazed by cattle, then most of that could indeed produce food for humans. Grassland ecosystems grazed by cattle do not remain in the natural state. Intestinal pests of cattle are tackled by dosing them with targeted chemicals that, upon excretion end up in cowpats that in prior decades would have been broken down by specialised insects, but now these insects have vanished across much of the cattle-rearing areas, resulting in a more complex and less soil-friendly slurry that is slow to break down. The absence of grassland insects has in many places resulted in severely-reduced populations of birds and small mammals that depended on these insects, and in turn has reduced populations of raptors. The insects that have benefitted are those that are wholly or partly dependent on blood, leading to increased mosquito populations.

I'm not vegetarian by any means, but what I've described above is commonplace in grassland areas that support high numbers of domestic cattle.

One pertinent reference is Ian Newton's recent Uplands and Birds in which he details the research that links upland impoverishment with the reduction of biodiversity of valley (ie lowland) grasslands where cattle are kept at varying densities, a situation that is repeated in lowland grasslands away from uplands.
MJB
 

JWN Andrewes

Poor Judge of Pasta.

A not for profit organisation that may be of interest.
 

jurek

Well-known member
I agree that it is very dangerous to the future of mankind that all conservation was replaced by fighting global warming only.

And palm oil plantations are among the most damaging ways to reduce CO2. They are planted in lowland tropical rainforest climate, which is highest in biodiversity and endemism. They also generally drive new deforestation - either directly or by competing with other farming for land. One count is that a plot of peat forest freshly burned because of oil farming in South-east Asia would take over 70 years to break even the CO2 produced by destroying the rainforest by CO2 saved by palm oil produced.

About cows - here, the situation completely depends from the place. It is both true that fresh burning rainforest for cow farming in Brazil is damaging, and that low intensity cow farming in Europe, on sites converted centuries ago and unsuitable for other agriculture, protects biodiversity. Here the one-all-approach not to eat meat is itself damaging. Often it uses the false comparison of beef farming with potato or wheat farming (not farming of almonds and other replacements of animal products in vegan diets).
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
What if one of the "solutions" to the problem is to hugely exacerbate the supposed effects of the problem? Biofuels are being promoted as environmentally friendly and part of the campaign against global warming. I'd rather have no biofuels and still have the natural forests that were destroyed to help produce them.

Regarding changes in plant communities due to climate change, yes of course that is happening. But it isn't happening "suddenly" in the way that a palm oil plantation happens.
Biofuels is only one option, and something I generally don't see pushed nearly as hard as wind and solar. Also biofuels can be produced from crops and plants other than palm oil, including garbage and algae. Biofuel focus in most places is focused on local production; you lose a lot of benefit to biofuels if you have to export them from the other side of the world.

It also supposes that biofuel is the major reason that palm oil plantations exist. However, the majority of production goes towards food usage, and for that matter over half of it goes to Asian countries, not Europe or USA. This site has some interesting stats:


By all means push for bans on palm oil exportation, but complaining about climate change and biofuels is going to do squat.
 

Mysticete

Well-known member
United States
I agree that it is very dangerous to the future of mankind that all conservation was replaced by fighting global warming only.

And palm oil plantations are among the most damaging ways to reduce CO2. They are planted in lowland tropical rainforest climate, which is highest in biodiversity and endemism. They also generally drive new deforestation - either directly or by competing with other farming for land. One count is that a plot of peat forest freshly burned because of oil farming in South-east Asia would take over 70 years to break even the CO2 produced by destroying the rainforest by CO2 saved by palm oil produced.

About cows - here, the situation completely depends from the place. It is both true that fresh burning rainforest for cow farming in Brazil is damaging, and that low intensity cow farming in Europe, on sites converted centuries ago and unsuitable for other agriculture, protects biodiversity. Here the one-all-approach not to eat meat is itself damaging. Often it uses the false comparison of beef farming with potato or wheat farming (not farming of almonds and other replacements of animal products in vegan diets).
The question is how much beef is homegrown and ethically ranched in Europe, and how much is imported from countries with less sustainable ranching. The European Union is for instance the third biggest importer of Brazilian Beef.
 

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