[Coral-List] Don Baker Mystery Event/oil palm pollution Don't Blame the BioFuels

Tom Williams ctwiliams at yahoo.com
Mon Aug 27 15:28:23 EDT 2007

Clarification Don't blame the biofuel craze as Palm
Oil prices have always reflected the price of
petroleum oil which can be used to displace palm
oil...welcome to the market place.  Also in the
mentioned countries use of palm oil for in-country
generation may be because of the price of diesel which
is usually an imported product requring massive

Having lived in KK and worked in Sandakan - there
were/are so many different stresses - overfishing,
agricultural over-fertilization, and where does all
the sewage go (especially in Tawau and Sandakan.

KK reefs had been destroyed by dynamite/carbide
fishing, by the fertilizer from the rivers to the
south, and by drainage and stilt house

Google Earth shows alot of green coastal waters
compared to the north and west Sabah coasts maybe
someone with newer sat images could do something.

Tom Williams 

--- Gene Shinn <eshinn at marine.usf.edu> wrote:

> Don, Your story about pollution from the oil palm
> plantation 
> pollution 26 km from  Lankayan Island reminded me of
> an article I had 
> read about the Netherlands using this oil as a green
> source of energy 
> for power plants. Here is the story. I did not write
> it. I just pass 
> it along as an example of "be careful of what you
> wish for". Gene
> >
> >January 31, 2007
> >Once a Dream Fuel, Palm Oil May Be an Eco-Nightmare
> >
> >AMSTERDAM, Jan. 25 - Just a few years ago,
> politicians and 
> >environmental groups in the Netherlands were
> thrilled by the early 
> >and rapid adoption of "sustainable energy,"
> achieved in part by 
> >coaxing electrical plants to use biofuel - in
> particular, palm oil 
> >from Southeast Asia.
> >
> >Spurred by government subsidies, energy companies
> became so 
> >enthusiastic that they designed generators that ran
> exclusively on 
> >the oil, which in theory would be cleaner than
> fossil fuels like 
> >coal because it is derived from plants.
> >
> >But last year, when scientists studied practices at
> palm plantations 
> >in Indonesia and Malaysia, this green fairy tale
> began to look more 
> >like an environmental nightmare.
> >
> >Rising demand for palm oil in Europe brought about
> the clearing of 
> >huge tracts of Southeast Asian rainforest and the
> overuse of 
> >chemical fertilizer there.
> >
> >Worse still, the scientists said, space for the
> expanding palm 
> >plantations was often created by draining and
> burning peatland, 
> >which sent huge amounts of carbon emissions into
> the atmosphere.
> >
> >Considering these emissions, Indonesia had quickly
> become the 
> >world's third-leading producer of carbon emissions
> that scientists 
> >believe are responsible for global warming, ranked
> after the United 
> >States and China, according to a study released in
> December by 
> >researchers from Wetlands International and Delft
> Hydraulics, both 
> >in the Netherlands.
> >
> >"It was shocking and totally smashed all the good
> reasons we 
> >initially went into palm oil," said Alex Kaat, a
> spokesman for 
> >Wetlands, a conservation group.
> >
> >The production of biofuels, long a cornerstone of
> the quest for 
> >greener energy, may sometimes create more harmful
> emissions than 
> >fossil fuels, scientific studies are finding.
> >
> >As a result, politicians in many countries are
> rethinking the 
> >billions of dollars in subsidies that have
> indiscriminately 
> >supported the spread of all of these supposedly
> eco-friendly fuels 
> >for vehicles and factories. The 2003 European Union
> Biofuels 
> >Directive, which demands that all member states aim
> to have 5.75 
> >percent of transportation run by biofuel in 2010,
> is now under 
> >review.
> >
> >"If you make biofuels properly, you will reduce
> greenhouse 
> >emissions," said Peder Jensen, of the European
> Environment Agency in 
> >Copenhagen. "But that depends very much on the
> types of plants and 
> >how they're grown and processed. You can end up
> with a 90 percent 
> >reduction compared to fossil fuels - or a 20
> percent increase."
> >
> >He added, "It's important to take a life-cycle
> view," and not to 
> >"just see what the effects are here in Europe."
> >
> >In the Netherlands, the data from Indonesia has
> provoked 
> >soul-searching, and helped prompt the government to
> suspend palm oil 
> >subsidies. The Netherlands, a leader in green
> energy, is now leading 
> >the effort to distinguish which biofuels are truly
> environmentally 
> >sound.
> >
> >The government, environmental groups and some of
> the Netherlands' 
> >"green energy" companies are trying to develop
> programs to trace the 
> >origins of imported palm oil, to certify which
> operations produce 
> >the oil in a responsible manner.
> >
> >Krista van Velzen, a member of Parliament, said the
> Netherlands 
> >should pay compensation to Indonesia for the damage
> that palm oil 
> >has caused. "We can't only think: does it pollute
> the Netherlands?"
> >
> >In the United States and Brazil most biofuel is
> ethanol (made from 
> >corn in the United States and sugar in Brazil),
> used to power 
> >vehicles made to run on gasoline. In Europe it is
> mostly local 
> >rapeseed and sunflower oil, used to make diesel
> fuel.
> >
> >In a small number of instances, plant oil is used
> in place of diesel 
> >fuel, without further refinement. But as many
> European countries 
> >push for more green energy, they are increasingly
> importing plant 
> >oils from the tropics, since there is simply not
> enough plant matter 
> >for fuel production at home.
> >
> >On the surface, the environmental equation that
> supports biofuels is 
> >simple: Since they are derived from plants,
> biofuels absorb carbon 
> >while they are grown and release it when they are
> burned. In theory 
> >that neutralizes their emissions.
> >
> >But the industry was promoted long before there was
> adequate 
> >research, said Reanne Creyghton, who runs Friends
> of the Earth's 
> >campaign against palm oil here.
> >
> >Biofuelswatch, an environment group in Britain, now
> says that 
> >"biofuels should not automatically be classed as
> renewable energy." 
> >It supports a moratorium on subsidies until more
> research can 
> >determine whether various biofuels in different
> regions are produced 
> >in a nonpolluting manner.
> >
> >Beyond that, the group suggests that all emissions
> arising from the 
> >production of a biofuel be counted as emissions in
> the country where 
> >the fuel is actually used, providing a clearer
> accounting of 
> >environmental costs.
> >
> >The demand for palm oil in Europe has soared in the
> last two 
> >decades, first for use in food and cosmetics, and
> more recently for 
> >fuel. This versatile and cheap oil is used in about
> 10 percent of 
> >supermarket products, from chocolate to toothpaste,
> accounting for 
> >21 percent of the global market for edible oils.
> >
> >Palm oil produces the most energy of all vegetable
> oils for each 
> >unit of volume when burned. In much of Europe it is
> used as a 
> >substitute for diesel fuel, though in the
> Netherlands, the 
> >government has encouraged its use for electricity.
> >
> >Supported by hundreds of millions of euros in
> national subsidies, 
=== message truncated ===

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