Why Is Palm Oil So Controversial?

Seeing deforestation, habitat loss, climate change, and land theft, experts are calling for sweeping changes to the palm oil industry.

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Source: Stratman2


What's your favorite palm oil product?

Palm oil is used in close to 50% of packaged products at the supermarket, and according to the 2021 IPCC report, land use change for needs such as conversion from forest to oil farm is the second greatest contributor to human-induced climate change, behind fossil fuel use. The deforestation caused by palm oil causes not just climate change, but habitat loss for endangered species, land conflicts with Indigenous communities, and more. But while there’s some activists pushing palm oil bans/boycotts and other activists pushing sustainable palm oil, both solution proposals face some major challenges. Today, we discuss what palm oil is, why it’s responsible for so much destruction, and where we go from here. With special guest Dr. Janice Ser Huay Lee: Assistant Professor at the Asian School of Environment at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

The Sweaty Penguin is presented by Peril and Promise: a public media initiative from The WNET Group in New York, reporting on the issues and solutions around climate change. You can learn more at pbs.org/perilandpromise.

Support the show and unlock exclusive merch, bonus content, and more for as little as $5/month at patreon.com/thesweatypenguin.

Writers: Hallie Cordingley, Ethan Brown
Editor: Frank Hernandez
Producers: Olivia Amitay, Ethan Brown, Megan Crimmins, Shannon Damiano, Frank Hernandez, Dain Kim, Caroline Koehl
Ad Voiceover: Sabrina Rollings
Music: Brett Sawka


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The Sweaty Penguin
The Sweaty Penguin is a digital news source and podcast aiming to make environmental issues less overwhelming and politicized and more accessible and fun.


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