defra endangered species subsidize habitat

Good Intentions Gone Awry?
biofuel palm oil

How Your Fuel Bills Subsidize Deforestation

The UK is making a one-year commitment to raise awareness about endangered species, whilst simultaneously making a twenty-year commitment to risking their habitats by increasing demand for palm oil. We excerpt this 2013 article from The Ecologist, Mar 6.

by Helen Buckland

The UK's DEFRA (Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs) launched ”If They’re Gone.......”, a new year-long campaign to raise awareness about the threats facing four iconic endangered species -– orangutans, elephants, tigers, and rhinos.

Yet governments subsidize fuel for power stations to generate electricity -– a move which would lead to the destruction of these species’ habitats.

Bio-fuels are not the solution to our energy needs or carbon reduction goals. In many cases, burning bio-liquids for energy is significantly worse for the climate than fossil fuels.

Palm oil is the cheapest bio-liquid on the market -- and linked to severe environmental degradation.

In Sumatra there is now more than four times as much land under oil palm monoculture as there is remaining habitat for the orangutan, a species which shares its forest home with Sumatran tigers, elephants and rhinos.

The palm oil industry is associated with poor working conditions, child labour, health and safety risks, and even fatal land conflicts in producer countries including Indonesia, Malaysia, Ecuador and Honduras; land-grabs are now being reported in Liberia and Cameroon.

Indonesia and Malaysia produce the majority of the world’s palm oil, and the rapid growth of the industry in both countries is linked to deforestation, the destruction of peat-lands and the emission of vast quantities of carbon. Indonesia is the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases after the US and China, and 80% of those emissions result from deforestation.

To read more

JJS: How can people who love nature be so complacent about government spending and getting? Sure, they hope to take over the government and redirect spending. But even if they gain power, they’ll make mistakes, intentionally or not. The only sure solution is to take the power of discretionary spending out of the hands of politicians and put it into the pockets of citizens. That is, pay citizens a dividend from public revenue.

From where would government get so much revenue? From society’s spending for land and resources, sort of like Alaska charging oil royalties and paying residents an oil dividend. Oil stands out as a source of wealth but the source that does not stand out is an even bigger source of wealth, and that is downtown land. Recover the socially-generated value of surface land, of buried resources, of the airwaves, of ecosystem, and of government-granted privileges like everything from patents to corporate charters and governments will have plenty of money to disburse as dividends to citizens.

The citizenry will invest in the right energy sources, especially when taxes, fees, and fines fall on the unsustainable wrong sources.


Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics and helped prepare a course for the UN on geonomics. To take the “Land Rights” course, click here .

Also see:

A Smaller Example of a Larger Principle

Even Without Eco-Rights & Land Rights Enforced

More Cash Increases Wealth, But Nutrition, Too?

Email this articleSign up for free Progress Report updates via email

What are your views? Share your opinions with The Progress Report:

Your name

Your email address

Your nation (or your state, if you're in the USA)

Check this box if you'd like to receive occasional Economic Justice announcements via email. No more than one every three weeks on average.

Page One Page Two Archive
Discussion Room Letters What's Geoism?

Henry Search Engine