Rainforest Protection Issues

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May 13, 2009

RELEASE: Malaysia's Global Oil Palm Rainforest Land Grab Just the Beginning of Larger Land and Water Scarcity Issues


Over-developed, over-populated, and land and water scarce Asian and Middle East nations embark upon global land grab to produce food and agrofuels; threatening global human rights, rainforest and other natural ecosystems, and regional and global ecological sustainability. Deadly global ecological issues require global citizens to unite in escalating protest action!

By Earth's Newsdesk, a project of Ecological Internet (EI)
CONTACT: Dr. Glen Barry, glenbarry@ecologicalinternet.org

Remaining intact old forests far to valuable to be turned into toxic, oil palm monoculturesRelatively rich countries in Asia and the Middle East, short of food and water at home, have leased or purchased more than 20 million hectares of farmland in Africa and Latin America, equal to 25 percent of Europe's farmland. This global "land grab" by foreign governments and companies is a result of last year's food crisis and a shortage of arable land and water. About one-quarter of these investments are for biofuel plantations [search]. Ecological Internet's current global campaign against Malaysian oil palm plantations in the Amazon rainforests [1] fits within the context of this larger trend.

Malaysia‘s federal land agency will soon break ground on a joint venture with a Brazilian firm to establish 30,000-100,000 hectares of oil palm plantations in the heart of Brazil's Amazon rainforest. Sime Darby, a Malaysian palm oil producer, will invest $800 million for 200,000 hectares (500,000 acres) of palm oil and rubber plantations in Liberia. "It is increasingly difficult to acquire arable plantation land in Asia and thus it is imperative that new frontiers be sought to meet increasing demand," said Ahmad Zubir Murshid, chief executive of Sime Darby. "Sime Darby will also have the first mover advantage over future entrants into Liberia in terms of securing choice land."

"This flood of land grabs by emerging nations, mostly of land under local customary land tenure, is eerily reminiscent of past and ongoing European and U.S. colonial practices," states Dr. Glen Barry, Ecological Internet's President, who is a practicing Political Ecologist and hold a Ph.D. in Land Resources. "We are witnessing the intensification of social turmoil caused by climate change, land and water scarcity, and over-population and inequitable consumption. Until these root causes of global ecosystem collapse are addressed, there is no chance of achieving equitable and just global ecological sustainability."

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China leases land in Cuba, Mexico and has extensive holdings in Africa. The huge Korean company Daewoo Logistics Corporation signed a deal to lease 1.3 million hectares in Madagascar to grow maize and oil palm, which caused political conflicts that led to the overthrow of the government in 2009. A group of Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia, holds the largest foreign ownership or control of African farmland in Sudan. Last year, the United Arab Emirates negotiated several farmland deals with Pakistan. Qatar has agricultural land in Indonesia, the Philippines, Bahrain, Kuwait and Burma.

Oil palm development continues to clear some thirty square miles of carbon and biodiversity rich habitat a day to provide cheap cooking oil and transport biodiesel. Oil palm agrofuel is heralded as a climate change mitigation measure, yet the initial rainforest clearance leads to much more carbon release than its production and use avoids. Establishment of toxic, monoculture oil palm plantations in the Brazilian Amazon (almost certainly, eventually to fuel cars in the United States) would be a global ecological tragedy for biodiversity and climate, and a crime against local peoples and humanity.

Large scale biofuel and intensification of industrial agriculture production in general runs counter to urgently addressing climate change and threatens to cause more deforestation, hunger, human rights abuses, and degradation of soil and water. Global ecological sustainability and local well-being depend critically upon ending all industrial development in the world's remaining old forests -- including plantations, logging, mining and dams. Globally there are not enough old forests to maintain climatic and hydrological cycles, meet local forest dwellers' needs, and to maintain ecosystems and the biosphere in total.

Ecological Internet seeks to build an empowered network of global citizens committed to global ecological sustainability and confronting ecocide wherever it occurs. Our Earth Action Network campaigns just as aggressively against European, American and even NGO ecological misconduct. Emerging nations are valid targets for protest as they mimic Western environmental and social errors. We clearly have the Malaysian government's attention as they are hurriedly removing documents from the web regarding their oil palm venture in the Amazon.

"There is little new land being made, and much of what remains must be protected and restored as large, intact ecosystems to maintain climate, water, biodiversity and to keep Earth habitable. Ecological requirements for global sustainability should guide our protest actions and not political correctness. Together our protests have recently stopped such projects in Papua New Guinea and Ivory Coast. Together let's continue speaking ecological truth to power and let people deal with it. First and foremost, local peoples must be assisted globally to resist this new wave of ecological imperialism and to fully protect, restore and benefit from intact, standing old forests," asserts Dr. Barry.

### ENDS ###

[1] Action Alert: Malaysian Oil Palm Threatens Brazilian Amazon
Thus far 2,310 people from 68 countries have sent 75,570 protest emails

Ecological Internet provides the world's largest and most used climate and environment portals at http://www.climateark.org/ and http://www.ecoearth.info/ . Dr. Glen Barry is a leading global spokesperson on behalf of environmental sustainability policy. He frequently conducts interviews on the latest climate, forest and water policy developments and can be reached at: glenbarry@ecologicalinternet.org


The human community has been manipulated by Masters of the Universe (MOTU) who disingenuously have been perpetrating possible fraud by duplicitously engaging in the promulgation of 680 trillion dollars of toxic financial innovations. These dodgy financial instruments are called derivatives and are designed by self-seeking, self-proclaimed ‘financial engineers’ for the purpose of increasing their own wealth and the wealth of the “sophisticated ‘investors’” who play along with them. These “inventors” of what are known as asset and credit bubbles (note well, bubbles are known to burst) have had a large role to play in collapsing the global financial system and cratering the human community’s real world economy.

Of course there are other groups of arrogant and greedy leaders who qualify as Masters of the Universe. What is important is that they know who they are. As anyone can imagine, they do not care to be called out or held to account for the unearned wealth they have accumulated and stashed in tens of thousands of Swiss bank accounts.

It would probably take two volumes to lay out what is happening. The first book would present the ways Masters of the Universe distinguish themselves from others and a second book would contain a list of people who meet the minimum standards to be one of the MOTU.

What the family of humanity needs to understand more clearly and quickly is this: Masters of the Universe among us serve nothing higher than themselves and no one other than themselves, co-conspirators and their minions in their pernicious efforts to recklessly and conspicuously overconsume Earth’s perishable fruits and to relentlessly hoard Earth’s non-perishable resources.

save the rainforest by going to http://bit.ly/3IAahQ.

Masters of the Universe are conspicuously silent and duplicitously in denial about the planetary emergency the family of humanity can see before us on the horizon. These leaders prefer that we ignore the human-driven global challenges for which my not-so-great generation of arrogant and greedy elders bears a lion's share of responsibility. MOTU would have us believe that their patently unsustainable lifestyles are somehow not threatening to destroy life as we know it or Earth as a fit place for human habitation by our children and coming generations. The hubristic, avaricious and personally protective reactions of these leading elders to real threats to human wellbeing and environmental health could result in tragic and calamitous consequences for our children. MOTU place primary value on the only object of their true desire and affection: the distinctly human-designed and manmade Economic Colossus called the global political economy.

For these ideologues, economic modelers and magical thinkers, the Earth is like an enduring maternal presence, a gigantic cornucopian teat at which the human species can endlessly suckle without precipitating catastrophic revenge effects that could produce some sort of colossal ecological wreckage, one that leaves this world we are blessed to inhabit in shambles.

What a sham it is that such a fantastic and utterly unreal view of the Earth has been widely shared, consensually validated and commonly held up as truth by the super-rich and powerful for the realization of their own immediate selfish interests.... come what may for the children, biodiversity, Earth's body and its environs.

What a shame.

To Dr. Glen Barry

Dear Glen

I sent out an alert about Malaysia funding the development of Oil Palm in Brazil etc. to our mailing list of over 1,000 in Malaysia and beyond under the title "Malaysia's Global Oil Palm Rainforest Land Grab". But the Malaysian server Streamyx (which has a monopoly in Malaysia) just blocked it, ie it never reached any of the e-mail addresses (including our other e-mail addresses like this one).

So it is clear that we still do not have freedom of information in this country. Sorry about that.


What wrong with Malaysian companies investing into Africa and/or Latin America ? So long as they do it the legal way, they are infact helping these poor nations. Unlike their US and European counterparts who plundered and stripped these countries of their natural resources.

Imagine for a moment that we are looking at an ocean wave, watching it move toward the shore where it crashes finally at our feet. The wave is moving toward us; however, at the same time, there are many molecules in the wave that are moving in the opposite direction, against the tide. If we observe that the propagation of the human species worldwide is like the wave and the reproduction numbers of individuals in certain locales are like the molecules, it may be inaccurate for the latter to be looked at as if it tells us something meaningful about the former.

Abundant research indicates that most countries in Western Europe, among many other countries globally, have recently shown a decline in human population growth. These geographically localized data need not blind us to the fact that the absolute global human population numbers are skyrocketing. The world’s human population is like the wave; the individual or localized reproduction numbers are like the molecules.

Perhaps a "scope of observation" problem is presented to everyone who wants to adequately understand the dynamics of human population numbers.

Choosing a scope of observation is a forced choice, like choosing to look at either the forest or the trees, at either the propagation numbers of the human species (the wave data) or localized reproduction numbers (the molecular data). Data regarding the propagation of absolute global human population numbers is the former while individual or localized reproduction data are the latter.

From this vantage point, the global challenge before humanity could be a species propagation problem. Take note that global propagation numbers do not vary with the reproduction data. That is to say, global human propagation data and the evidence of reproduction numbers of individuals in many places, appear to be pointing in different directions. The propagation data are represented by the wave; the reproduction data are represented by the molecules moving against the tide.

In the year 1900 world’s human population was approximately 1.2 to 1.6 billion people. With the explosive growth of the global human population over the 20th century in mind (despite two world wars, ubiquitous local conflicts, famine, pestilence, disease, poverty, and other events resulting in great loss of life), what might the world look like in so short a period of time as 41 years from now? How many people will be on the planet at that time? The UN Population has recently made its annual re-determination that the world’s human population will reach 9.2 billion people around 2050, and then somehow level off. No explanation is given for how this leveling-off process is to occur.

We can see that the fully anticipated growth of absolute global human population numbers is about 8 billion people for the 150 year period between 1900 and 2050.

Whatever the number of human beings on Earth at the end of the 21st century, the size of the human population on Earth could have potentially adverse impacts on the number of the world’s surviving species, on the rate of dissipation of Earth’s resources, and on the basic characteristics of global ecosystems.

For too long a time human population growth has been comfortably viewed by politicians, economists and demographers as somehow outside the course of nature. The potential causes of global human population growth have seemed to them so complex, obscure, or numerous that a strategy to address the problems posed by the unbridled growth of the human species has been assumed to be unknowable. Their preternatural, insufficiently scientific grasp of human population dynamics has lead to widely varied forecasts of global population growth. Some forecasting data indicate the end to human population growth soon. Other data suggest the rapid and continuous increase of human numbers through Century XXI and beyond.

Recent scientific evidence appears to indicate that the governing dynamics of absolute global human population numbers are indeed knowable, as a natural phenomenon. According to unchallenged scientific research, the population dynamics of human organisms is essentially common to, not different from, the population dynamics of other organisms.

To suggest, as many politicians, economists and demographers have been doing, that understanding the dynamics of human population numbers does not matter, that the human population problem is not about numbers, or that human population dynamics have so dizzying an array of variables as not to be suitable for scientific investigation, seems not quite right.

If I may continue by introducing an extension of my perspective.

According to the research of Russell Hopfenberg,Ph.D., and David Pimementel, Ph.D., global population growth of the human species is a rapidly cycling positive feedback loop in which food availability drives population growth and this recent, astounding growth in absolute global human numbers gives rise to the misperception or mistaken impression that food production needs to be increased even more.

Data indicate that the world’s human population grows by approximately two percent per year. All segments of it grow by about 2%. Every year there are more people with brown eyes and more people with blue ones; more people who are tall and more short people. It also means that there are more people growing up well fed and more people growing up hungry. The hungry segment of the global population goes up just like the well-fed segment of the population. We may or may not be reducing hunger by increasing food production; however, we are most certainly producing more and more hungry people.

Hopfenberg’s and Pimentel's evidence suggests that the magnificently successful efforts of humankind to increase food production in order to feed a growing population has resulted and continue to result in even greater human population numbers.

The perceived need to increase food production to feed a growing population is a widely shared and consensually validated misperception, a denial both of the physical reality and the space-time dimension. If people are starving at a given moment of time, increasing food production cannot help them. Are these starving people supposed to be waiting for sowing, growing and reaping to be completed? Are they supposed to wait for surpluses to reach them? Without food they would die. In such circumstances, increasing food production for people who are starving is like tossing parachutes to people who have already fallen out of the airplane. The produced food arrives too late; however, this does not mean human starvation is inevitable.

Consider that human population dynamics are not biologically different from the population dynamics of other species. Human organisms, other species and even microorganisms have essentially similar population dynamics. We do not find hoards of starving roaches, birds, squirrels, alligators, or chimpanzees in the absence of food as we do in many "civilized" human communities today because these non-human species are not annually increasing their food production capabilities.

Please take note that among tribal peoples in remote original habitats, we do not find people starving. Like non-human species, “primitive” human beings live within the carrying capacity of their environment. History is replete with examples of early humans and more remote ancestors not increasing their food production annually, but rather living successfully off the land for thousands upon thousands of years as hunters and gatherers of food.

Prior to the agricultural revolution and the production of more food than was needed for immediate survival, human numbers supposedly could not grow beyond their environment’s physical capacity to sustain them because global human population growth or decline is primarily determined by food availability. Looked at from a global population perspective, more food equals more human organisms; less food equals less human organisms; and, in one and all cases, no food equals no humans.

Thank you.

Steven Earl Salmony

AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population, established 2001