Blood Oil This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

December 17, 2012
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Imagine that you and your mom are homeless because your house burned down. You wander through a barren town and down alleyways searching for food. Suddenly, a man appears and kills your mom before you can stop him. Then he kidnaps you and holds you hostage, and no one helps you.

Too often this is the plight of the orangutan.

Orangutans live on the island of Borneo, north of Java, Indonesia. They are Asia's only great ape, which might lead you to think that they are highly protected. Wrong. Orangutans are critically endangered.

Borneo – the third-largest island in the world – includes Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei. Its major export is palm oil, a common ingredient in many products, not just food. To the workers in Borneo, palm oil is more important than the orangutan.

Palm oil comes from the oil palm, which are farmed on vast plantations to keep up with worldwide demand. Acres of rainforests are demolished to make room for these palm oil plantations. Acres of orangutan habitat are being destroyed for this oil. After the palm fruit is harvested, the plantation must be burned to the ground to release nutrients back into the soil – a necessary step because Borneo has very poor soil. Frequently, the burning is uncontrolled, and fires spread into surrounding forest where orangutans live. About nine orangutans are killed every day because of palm oil. In the past two decades, 50,000 orangutans have been killed.

Who is using palm oil? Well, if you have ever eaten popcorn, granola bars, Pop tarts, or Nutella, you have unknowingly supported the destruction of the rainforest and the death of orangutans and other species in Borneo.

We have a choice. We can simply continue eating our palm oil–filled snacks, or we can take a little extra time to figure out which foods contain palm oil, then choose alternatives. It's not hard. The alternative is a healthier choice anyway. The protection of orangutans and their environment is crucial. Borneo has the oldest rainforest on the planet, and at this rate humans will destroy it all in only a few decades. If our demand for palm oil continues, orangutans will be extinct by 2015, and their home will be totally destroyed in 20 years. If that happens, as thoughtless consumers, we will only have ourselves to blame.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

AloneandFree said...
Apr. 28, 2014 at 10:05 am
wow..thank you for writing that I love animals so i guess i wont be eating any of that again i dont want them to be exstinct.
jadeheavens said...
Apr. 24, 2014 at 10:57 pm
Thank you for writing this article about protecting the environment, and doing such a great job!
SecretFlame said...
Apr. 22, 2014 at 11:24 am
Well done, very well done. It's short and concise and paints a very accurate image of the problems that are going on in Borneo. Great article!
Sasha.The.Sheep said...
Apr. 10, 2014 at 5:42 pm
This is wonderful it really makes you think about what we are consuming and how its effecting different habitats and wildlife! Really good information and interesting to read
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