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Deforestation & Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Palangkaraya in Central Kalimantan, Inodonesia. Oct 2015.

Forest fires in Indonesia cause haze and green house gas emissions. Slash-and-burn practices used by palm oil producers are the source of these fires. Palm oil that comes from these plantations is used to make biodiesel to reduce green house gas emissions... Wait... What??

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Malaysia 2014
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"Slash"
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Palm Plantation
Jakarta Post
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The process of creating 1 gallon of biodiesel from palm oil that was grown on previously forested land and cleared via slash and burn releases 1,272.6 pounds of carbon dioxide. Burning 1 gallon of gasoline produces about 19.6 pounds of carbon dioxide.

Known Values:

The production of 400,00 kiloliters (kL) of biodiesel requires about 410,000 metric tons (MT) of crude palm oil.1
Approximately 100,000 hectares (ha) of palm plantations are needed to yield that volume of palm oil.1
Primary rainforest was calculated to release 610 megatons (MT) CO2/ha. Peatland was calculated to emit 6,000 MT CO2/ha.2
About 19.6 pounds of CO2 are produced from burning a gallon of gasoline.3

Calculations:

610 MT CO2/ha x 100,000 ha = 61,000,000 MT CO2
61,000,000 MT CO2 gets evolved to produce 400,000 kL of biodiesel.
61,000,000 MT CO2 = 1.3448 x 10 11 pounds of CO2
400,000 kL = 1.0567 x 108 gallons of crude palm oil (CPO)
(1.3448 x 10 11 lbs CO2)/(1.0567 x 108 gal CPO) = 1272.644124 lb CO2/gal CPO

References:

1Obidinski, R., Andriani, R., Komarudin, H., Andrianto, A. (2012). Environmental and social impacts of oil palm plantations and their implications for biofuel production in Indonesia. Journal ecology and society, 17 (1), p. 3. doi : 10.5751/ES-04775-170125
2Fargione, J., Hill, J., Tilman, D., Polasky, S., Hawthorne, P. (Feb 28, 2008). Land Clearing and the Biofuel Carbon Debt. Science, 319(5867), pp. 1235-1238
3How much carbon dioxide is produced from burning gasoline and diesel fuel? (May 19, 2017). Retrieved November 5, 2017, from https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=307&t=11

Fishing boat at Promthop Cape in Phuket Thailand moving through smoke-haze pollution. The haze is coming from Indonesia which is about 1500 miles away. This photo was taken 24 Oct 2015.

Deforestation and forest degradation account for up to 12% of global carbon emissions - more than the emissions from all the planes, trains, automobiles and ships in the world. (Mario Bocucci, Head UN-REDD Program Secretariat, 2015)

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Source – BBC News

A joint study between Harvard and Colombia estimated that fine particulate found in haze coming from fires in Sumatra & Kalimantan hastened the deaths of 100,000 people. (Koplitz, S., et al 2016 Environ. Res. Lett. 11094023)

Cifor - Borneo Atlas Interactive Map
Borneo is the 3rd largest island in the world and at the heart of the palm production industry. Borneo has the highest rate of deforestation in the world, losing about 350,000 hectares per year since 2001. The majority of forest that remains is due only to the fact that the elevation is too high to be considered viable farm land.

Borneo Elevation Map

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By Sadalmelik - Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2198630

Forest conversion and plantation development as currently practiced are significant sources of green house gas emissions. Deforestation and land conversion contribute 15-25% of global carbon emissions. (Obidzinski, K, et al, 2011)