Please put protest to proper pinna

Greenpeace logo

pinna: cartilaginous outer ear; also called the auricle.

The Herald last Friday reported a Greenpeace protest in Auckland which barricaded the entrance to a building used by Fonterra. The activists sparked a bomb scare by chaining a package to an elevator car. The package contained a speaker system. The police complain that because they were not advised of its contents they had to treat it as suspicious and staff were kept out of the building for about an hour. Greenpeace claim they did in fact tell the police what was in the package before the protest.

What was the protest about? Palm kernel oil, rain forests, the orangutan and climate change. It was aimed at Fonterra, our best and biggest exporter and a company that feeds more people than you could imagine. Therefore undeniably a company of untrammelled wickedness.

Greenpeace called on Fonterra and the Government to end the importation of palm kernel grown on areas of destroyed rainforest which it said was driving climate change and endangering several species, including the orangutan.

“As the palm industry opens up new frontiers across Indonesia, companies like Fonterra, which is expected to spend $230 million this year buying up a quarter of the world’s traded palm kernel, are helping to fuel this destruction,” said Greenpeace communications manager Suzette Jackson.

I have some suggestions for Greenpeace.

Fonterra don’t fell forests

The local government is responsible for the rain forest. It’s a bit late to attack the traders in the natural products being grown there, since the forest was cut down months or years earlier to grow the crops.

To be consistent, you must also complain to the local people, for they grow their food in areas where, of necessity, the forest is removed for the purpose. You had better explain to the locals how they might obtain food without removing the forest, but you must have thought of that and by now you have a plan for it.

The important thing is that all over the world, forest is usually removed by people wanting simply a place to live and to grow food. It’s really short-sighted and cynical of you to attack a third party like Fonterra.

There’s no excuse for the local government not to control this issue and so if it isn’t being controlled then it shows they don’t want to or they are being paid not to. I think your real enemy is the local government, and that money changes hands before the forest clearing takes place. It’s real corruption of that kind you must object to, and not the legitimate trading activities of third parties.

The protest against felling rain forests has turned into an incessant grizzle, wearing on the patience. Please consider this story in the New York Times of January 30, 2009. Among other things, it says:

By one estimate, for every acre of rain forest cut down each year, more than 50 acres of new forest are growing in the tropics on land that was once farmed, logged or ravaged by natural disaster.

I suspect there is less urgency in this matter than you seem to imbue it with.

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13 Thoughts on “Please put protest to proper pinna

  1. Richard C on 26/09/2010 at 5:49 pm said:

    Palm kernal – the waste product of the palm oil industry (Fonterra not a player).

    Cognitive dissonance at Greenpeace ?

    • Well, it doesn’t appear to be a waste product, so it may not be a case of cognitive dissonance. However, I don’t know if Fonterra uses it.

      I found the following description of palm kernel oil:

      In comparison palm kernel oil, even though it comes from the same fruit, is very different from the oil obtained from the rest of the fruit. In fact, palm kernel oil resembles coco oil and is semi-solid or solid at room temperature. When it is eaten it produces a soft sensation in the mouth, similar to cacao. This makes palm kernel oil popular among chocolate lovers. Due to its neutral taste and long life, palm kernel oil can also be used as a substitute for cacao and fats found in milk.

      Palm kernel oil is used in cream made from sugar, condensed milk and doughnut fillings. It is also found in biscuits and cakes giving them a softer texture and sweeter taste which lingers in the mouth. Palm kernel oil is also used to make special kinds of margarines and is found in ingredients used when baking cakes, croissants and bread, giving these products added volume, a soft texture and making them last longer. Palm kernel oil is also favoured when making sweets, cream for coffees and peanut butter.

      Palm oil has been an important foodstuff in West Africa for several thousand years and is refined and broken down into countless ingredients in all kinds of food and non-food items we use daily without knowing.

      See this page from Colombia.

    • Richard C on 27/09/2010 at 7:45 pm said:

      Palm kernel is a by-product of the palm oil industry the product of which is edible and inedible. A major inedible use is in cosmetics as moisturizer additives but Greenpeace is not protesting Fonterra’s participation in the oil product aspect (unless it markets a coffee creamer or suchlike with a palm oil additive but that’s not the protest)

      From “How the palm oil industry is cooking the climate”, Greenpeace:

      “This report shows how, through growing demand for palm oil, the world’s largest food, cosmetic and biofuel industries are driving the wholesale destruction of peatlands and rainforests. These companies include Unilever, Nestlé and Procter & Gamble, who between them account for a significant volume of global palm oil use, mainly from Indonesia and Malaysia”

      No mention of Fonterra in that document (I searched).

      Fonterra doesn’t use palm kernel directly either, it is the dairy farmers (cooperatives) that use it as a feed supplement for the cows and the milk is then bought by Fonterra (cooperative entity). This is Greenpeace NZ’s mis-directed protest.

      From your link above: “Also, palm kernel meal, a byproduct of palm oil, is used in the production of concentrated foods and as a supplement in animal food.”

      If the nuts were not harvested for oil, I doubt there would be a kernel market; it would be uneconomic. There would certainly not be large scale deforestation specifically for the kernel market.

      I live close to Port of Tauranga and regularly drive past the palm kernel importers shed (J, Swap). Fonterra has nothing to do with that operation

    • Great stuff, Richard, thank you.

    • Richard C on 28/09/2010 at 10:32 am said:

      Remember too the Greenpeace palm kernal protest at Mt Mauanganui where they boarded a ship anchored off-shore and prevented it from docking.

      I note that Greenpeace contradict themselves in their own report “How the palm oil industry is cooking the climate”,

      From the report:

      “Indonesia has destroyed over 28 million hectares of forest since 1990, largely in the name of land conversion for plantations. Yet the area of oil palm or pulp wood plantations established in this period was only 9 million hectares. This clearly implies that most of the companies obtained permits to convert the forest only to gain access to the timber. Rainforest continues to be destroyed for plantations because of the financial value of the timber”

      So timber milling is the main reason for deforestation – not palm oil, according to Greenpeace.

  2. Richard C on 26/09/2010 at 7:25 pm said:

    Greenpeace also closed down Newcastle’s Port Waratah on Sunday morning.

    “Spokeswoman Annika Dean said nine protesters attached themselves to infrastructure, calling it an “emergency” action to highlight climate change, which she blamed for recent fires in Russia and floods in Pakistan.”

    “These weather events are consistent with the scientific predictions for climate change. We feel like Australia’s coal exports are contributing to this problem.”

    Except that there’s a problem with that assumption and a plausible alternative explanation.

    From “Weather blocker: jet stream stops and causes disasters”, Sydney Morning Herald:

    “Climate change has been cited as one possibility, but scientist Gerald Meehl of the National Centre for Atmospheric Research in Colorado told the New Scientist magazine there was no way to test the theory, as the resolution in climate change models was too low to replicate weather patterns such as blocking events.

    Another cause could be low solar activity, Mr Fisher said.

    Low solar activity has already been linked to an increase in cold winters in Europe, with activity on the sun declining since 1985, Professor Mike Lockwood of the University of Reading said in findings published in April.”–jet-stream-stops-and-causes-disasters-20100812-120th.html

    Obviously feelings are the prime analytical tool at Greenpeace; critical thinking seems to be an unnecessary imposition

    • Richard C on 27/09/2010 at 7:50 am said:

      The group was “Rising Tide”, not Greenpeace. I was thinking of the recent Greenpeace protest against Fonterra’s use of coal in NZ .

      (also suffering the effects of a nasty bout of work).

  3. Andy on 27/09/2010 at 11:54 am said:

    We shouldn’t forget that biofuels are also a cause of deforestation.

    Environmentalists seem to often have a blind spot for the damage caused by their pet hobby horses. This is especially true of wind energy and biofuels, where reality is often left out of the argument.

  4. Antony on 27/09/2010 at 6:47 pm said:

    Can someone explain to me how chopping mature rainforest and replacing it with a Palm plantation is a climate crime? The way I understand it, mature rainforest has a reasonably stable biomass and releases about as much carbon as it absorbs so is approximately carbon neutral. New Palm plantation on the other hand absorbs many times more carbon than it releases as it grows and even when mature due to the removal of the oil and other parts of the plant from the system continues to absorb carbon even after it becomes mature…

    Maybe a biodiversity crime, but not a climate crime…

    • Richard C on 27/09/2010 at 7:57 pm said:

      Greenpeace’s tenuous case.

      From “How the palm oil industry is cooking the climate”,

      “Forest ecosystems currently store about one and a half times as much carbon as is present in the atmosphere. Without drastic cuts in GHG emissions, climate change – which is in part driven by forest destruction – may soon tip these carbon stores into sources of emissions. Resulting temperature increase could disrupt ecosystems in ways that provoke yet more greenhouse emissions, potentially leading to further acceleration of climate change.”

      Note the use of the obligatory words “may”, “could” and “potentially”.

  5. Clarence on 28/09/2010 at 11:40 am said:

    The surest way to drive deforestation is to apply a tax to efficient livestock farmers, somewhere in the world. When those farmers reduce their outputs, as intended, one of two things will happen. Either the lowest-income people who would have consumed that production will now starve. Or more marginal land will be brought into production to make up the shortfall – such land being afforested at present.

    So if we really want to drive planting of more palm oil plantations, we should apply an ETS to New Zealand dairy farmers. But I suppose Greenpeace would protest violently against any such stupidity…….

  6. Gary on 28/09/2010 at 7:02 pm said:

    What happend to Jatropha for aviation fuel….? Another hoplessly lost Green cause.

  7. Richard C on 07/10/2010 at 8:25 am said:

    Greenpeace NZ are at it again with a new miss-directed anti-palm kernal video

    Fonterra slams Greenpeace

    Fonterra should divert their inept spokesperson to other duties and draw the attention of their legal department to this statement:

    “Fonterra’s use of palm kernel fuels rainforest destruction”

    1. Greenpeace’s parent body attributes rainforest destruction to timber milling.

    2. Palm kernal is a waste product of the (huge) palm oil industry.

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