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Page added on May 25, 2019

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Sustainability is a balancing act

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EVERYONE now wants to champion sustainability. This is good, and we need to get everyone on board to contribute to sustainability.

Schools and universities provide an excellent platform to garner support for the sustainability agenda. In fact, the government should allocate a special budget to raise awareness about sustainability. This would be a worthwhile investment for the future of the nation.

It is encouraging to see that many universities in Malaysia have declared their commitment to support the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They now feature prominently in the academic and research programmes of the UCSI University.

Concern over sustainability has gathered momentum on a global scale as scientists continue to generate convincing evidence about climate change, environmental pollution and resource depletion. All the evidence suggests humans are mostly to blame.

In the rush to develop, we have upset nature’s fragile balance. This imbalance has escalated the emission of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. If left unchecked, it would increase global warming, creating havoc for the world’s climate.

As the world’s population grows, the demand on resources also increases. Scientists predict that if the present rate of production and consumption of food and other resources continues, coupled with a neglect of the environment, we are heading for a future of acute resource deficiency and environmental pollution that can even threaten our survival. Those are the forces that have driven world interest in sustainability.

Food production is now a subject of concern among those advocating sustainability. These are mainly civil society groups who actively alert the world on the growing threats to sustainability. They have called on policy makers to support food crops that are efficient in terms of land use.

In addition, food production processes must not disrupt the balance of nature and should be environmentally safe.

They are saying no to genetically modified crops, which scientists have strongly recommended as a viable option to overcome global food shortages. This presents a dilemma for food crop agriculture, including oil palm.

In terms of land use, oil palm is the most efficient among the 17 oil crops that supply the world.

The oil palm industry has also been significant in alleviating poverty in the producing countries like Malaysia and Indonesia. And poverty eradication is the number one goal of the UN SDGs.

Palm oil is also affordably priced, hence it provides nutrition for the poor in consuming countries like India and other developing nations.

But these groups are not in favour of palm oil. Their main grouse is the claim that oil palm cultivation has led to deforestation.

Forests are important stabilisers of the world’s greenhouse gases. They provide the natural capacity to absorb carbon dioxide, a key green house gas.

Though the oil palm trees perform equally well in removing carbon dioxide from the air through photosynthesis, critics are still not satisfied. They claim that as a mono crop, oil palm supports lower biodiversity.

Oil palm is also vigorously blamed for the declining population of orang utan. This has helped to gain the sympathy of consumers.

Critics also say that clearing of peat forests to plant oil palm releases greenhouse gases. But experts say there is a way to deal with planting oil palm on peat soil. Research has shown that the release of carbon from peat can be reduced significantly by smartly adjusting the water table.

Experts also agree on the need to use biotechnology to further raise the yield of palm oil. For many years now, the average national palm oil yield has stagnated below what is possible. Many blame this on the poor transfer of technology especially to the smallholders community.

Admittedly, palm oil is up against many challenges in meeting the growing world appetite for sustainability. Since sustainability is about satisfying the three pillars of people, prosperity and environment, palm oil just needs to find the right balance.


14 Comments on "Sustainability is a balancing act"

  1. peakyeast on Sat, 25th May 2019 5:34 pm 

    No – sustainability should definitely NOT be a balancing act. The consumption should be way below replenishing rates in order to mitigate fluctuations.

    Constantly evaluating the exact limits and scaling consumption up and down is bound to end in disaster much like what we have now – and is the plan of a total idiot.

    It should be obvious, but obviously not…

  2. Davy on Sat, 25th May 2019 6:49 pm 

    Humans are a top predator and a disrupter species. We are not meant to be sustainable. We exploit and adapt all places we put a foot print on. This was the case 200,000 years ago as it is today. Population and consumption are the difference today. The consumption is mostly tech driven but also just the sheer number of people consume enormous amounts of water and biomass. This means when we talk about sustainability it is in a relative sense as in Anthropocene sustainability as in keeping ourselves alive. Planetary sustainability is just not in the cards. It is over and it will just be a matter of time. The world could maybe handle 500MIL of us but not 7BIL. Nothing we can do at 7BIL population can be sustainable. Even efforts at sustainability are not sustainable because modern man uses unsustainable tech and energy to be sustainable. Most people are just oblivious to this hence all the fake green shit.

  3. Sissyfuss on Sun, 26th May 2019 9:05 am 

    A healthy environment is a balancing act and homo saps are doing everything they can to match their unbalanced lifestyles to the creed of growth is god and god is good. To state that replacing forests with palm oil plantations is a wash sounds like a sales pitch, not a scientifically based observation. The merchants are growing desperate to sell you their damnable goods for that’s all they know, whether it’s the halcyon days of the 50s or the helacious days of 2020.

  4. Cloggie on Sun, 26th May 2019 10:31 am 

    The American “Athenian” Richard Spencer is familiar with Kunstler and peak oil…

    From 1:51:22

  5. Cloggie on Sun, 26th May 2019 10:47 am 

    I’m sorry, after 1:51:22 Spencer says that he is pro-EU, where the BNP fella wants everybody to vote for Brexit.

    The reference to Kunstler and peak oil occurs after 1:47:00.

  6. Robert Inget on Sun, 26th May 2019 10:57 am 

    Labor SAVING devises, farm machines, including
    those made with energy produced with fossil fuels
    have made feeding seven billion plus populations

    Emissions from machines, chemicals, livestock, invented to serve growing populations are destroying climate status quo. (see delayed planting)

    Growing/mining surplus of one commodity retards prices making farming/mining unprofitable.

    Food is being used as a political weapon.
    Withholding affordable fossil fuels without
    realistic renewables policies in place is ‘cart in front of horse’ madness.

    With no solid, tested, methods in place to mitigate
    ‘the Venus effect’ we need to throw out balance and get on to radical technologies.

    If you object to ‘radical’ than define effects of
    inevitable, melting permafrost.

  7. Cloggie on Sun, 26th May 2019 12:37 pm 

    Summer in Europe 2019 expected to be worse than in 2018.

    38C to become the new normal:

  8. makati1 on Sun, 26th May 2019 6:30 pm 

    Sissyfuss, yes, it’s ALL about money and greed. Americans lead the pack on that one bt a long distance. They are in the process of destroying all of their allies in the name of $$$. They even threaten the country that is passing them by with war to try to sell their inferior goods.

    I really hope that the SHTF in the US this year or next so bad that it is mortally wounded and has to contract all of it’s military back into the 50 states to control the masses. I don’t care if the value of dollars goes to toilet paper levels. It is already there and will be the first to go. The Land of Debt deserves what is coming in spades. GO TRUMP!

  9. Harquebus on Mon, 27th May 2019 7:36 pm 

    Growth is not sustainable. While population or economic growth is pursued, sustainability will not be achieved.

    “The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.” — Prof. Albert Bartlett

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