Disinformation enables deforestation

posted by Becky Ran

A new study released in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution finds that while palm oil may pose the most direct threat to the highest number of endangered species on earth, most people are unaware of the danger. Palm oil producers are adopting the tried and true techniques of coal and oil producers to greenwash the damage their products are doing.

“Why have efforts by conservationists failed to halt the expansion of oil palm plantations at the expense of tropical forests? We contend that part of the reason could be the aggressive public relations campaigns undertaken by the oil palm industry to promote public acceptance of palm oil and to dismiss the concerns of conservation biologists and environmentalists,” Koh and Wilcove write. “It is not unlike the campaign that some energy companies waged against efforts to curb global climate change.”

All of this is even more problematic since the new Obama administration has jumped on the agrofuels bandwagon – and plans to double our nation’s investment in so-called biofuels as part of his overall environmental strategy. Agrofuels are one of the major forces driving the increased production of palm oil in Southeast Asia and in Latin America. We need new policies limiting agrofuels and their negative environmental and social consequences, not policies requiring more of them.

Read more here.