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Towards a great forest transition – part 2

Towards a great forest transition – part 2

P & G Palm Oil Supplier in Kalimantan
Greenpeace© Ulet Ifansasti

A fundamental sea-change is required in the global approach to tackling deforestation, and it requires a new focus on engendering institutions of cooperation rather than competition.

The ‘boycott palm oil’ approach has become a staple strategy in parts of the global environment movement, especially in the West. The idea is that by ceasing consumption of palm oil, Western consumers can directly contribute to reducing deforestation by alleviating the demand that is driving the expansion of palm oil plantations.

The problem is that several studies in recent years have shown that this strategy is not only unlikely to work, it is instead likely to have devastating environmental consequences.

Read: Towards a great forest transition – part 1

University of Bath scientists recently showed in Nature Sustainability that banning palm oil could drive greater rates of deforestation, by switching demand to less efficient edible oils like sunflower or rapeseed which use more land, water and fertiliser, and have lower productivity and shorter lifespans. These other oil crops also store less CO2, and require up to nine times as much land to produce than palm oil.


In the near to mid-term, the scientists found, policy should be directed at ensuring the sustainability of production because import restrictions would be ineffective in stopping deforestation or protecting the environment

The study confirmed years of previous research from scientists at the University of Oxford and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature

A major study in Annual Review of Resource Economics published this year has provided further corroboration for these findings. The Annual Reviews study led by German scientists is worth noting as it is one of the most authoritative analyses of the best scientific literature to date.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

‘Credo’: economics is a belief system – and we are ruled by fundamentalists

‘Credo’: economics is a belief system – and we are ruled by fundamentalists

Economics is much more than the study of money, writes Paul Mobbs. It is a belief system, and in its ‘mainstream’ incarnation, one that serves a very useful purpose – for those that reap the benefits. But as Brian Davey shows in his insightful new book, it’s letting the rest of us down: failing to deliver human wellbeing, while driving ecological calamity.

It is the gap between physical reality and ‘supernatural’ belief, such as orthodox economists’ rejection of ecological limits, which is both driving today’s ecological crisis and preventing politicians from implementing effective solutions.

Brian Davey’s new book, Credo: Economic Beliefs in a World in Crisis, is an analysis of economic theory as if it were a system of religious belief.

It’s a timely book. The simplistic, perhaps ‘supernatural’ assumptions which underpin key parts of economic theory demand far more attention. It’s a debate we’ve failed to have as a society.

However, while simple to state, this analysis also throws up a major problem for the ‘ecological view’ of the world. If economics is a belief system, how can we persuade the devotees of economics – in particular politicians – with rational arguments when their outlook is based upon a self-justifying ‘faith’ in materialism?

In and of itself money is not ‘evil’. Money simply allows us to exchange goods more easily. As outlined in the more formally religious terms of The Bible, it is the “love of money”which is the “root of all evil”.

The pursuit of material wealth inevitably brings sorrow as we neglect the innate, non-material value of the people and living things around us – a point upon which many of the world’s other great religions tend to agree.

What’s wrong with economics? The way people actually behave

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…


Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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