Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Are Palm Oil Farmers Destroying Indonesia’s Forests?

With the deforestation fires that has now caused serious pollution in the neighboring city-state of Singapore, are Indonesian palm oil farmers destroying their country’s vital tropical rain forests? 

By: Ringo Bones 

Well, the endemic problem recently acquired headline news status yet again after air pollution levels in the neighboring city-state of Singapore now exceeds the UN’s established acceptable air pollution levels during the middle of June 2013, the annual mass slash and burn farming methods of Indonesia’s industrial palm oil farmers had once again gained headline news status even though such environmentally destructive activity became large enough to cause unacceptable levels of air pollution in Singapore and other neighboring states since 1997. Given such environmentally destructive methods of palm oil production had never been condemned, never mind cracked down, by post Suharto Indonesia, should consumers of the world unite to boycott any product using Indonesian palm oil? 

According to the latest findings, most of the slash and burn farming activities done by industrial scale palm oil producers are mostly done on the ecologically sensitive - but unprotected by the Indonesian government - primeval wooded swamplands and tropical equatorial peat bogs of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The internationally recognized Pollution Standards Index peaked at 371 over Singapore City back in Thursday, June 20, 2013 before falling to about 218 later in the day. A Pollution Standards Index or P.S.I. reading over 200 indicates very unhealthy air and a P.S.I. score above 300 is considered hazardous – even for individuals with a relatively healthy respiratory system. The “Hell Haze” produced by the slash and burn practices of large scale farming of palm oil in Indonesia has been considered an “annual” problem since the late 1990s, when Singapore City’s P.S.I. peaked at 226 back in 1997.    

While a sizeable portion of the Singaporean police have now been stationed in Malaysian and Singaporean owned palm oil companies stationed in Singapore in order to break up “unauthorized” mass protests in case they occur, the average Singaporean citizen seems for now just toughening out the “haze hell” of the slash and burn practices of palm oil producers of neighboring Indonesia. Will it only be a matter of time when the Singapore air pollution reach a certain high level to trigger rhetoric of armed conflict between the governments of Indonesia and Singapore? 

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