Sunday, February 28, 2010

Orangutans and Human Evoluation

The Department of Developmental and Comparative Psychology conducted an investigation pertaining to Orangutan problem solving skills. Orangutans were given a tube with a floating peanut inside, and an incentive (reward) to get the peanut out of the tube. All the orangutans collected water from a well and spat it inside the tube to get the peanut!

This is a very fascinating discovery because it shows the thinking capacity of orangutans. They can problem-solve on their own, as well as use water as a tool.

Orangutans also make musical instruments, by taking leaves off a twig. Scientists say that this is the first time an animal has been “known to use a tool to help it communicate”.

The orangutans will put the leaves in their mouth to lower the frequency of their call. This helps ward off predators, and orangutans will use this when they feel threatened, and to communicate to other orangutans nearby. The leaves make their call sound ‘bigger’ so the predators think they are dealing with a large animal, even if the are not.

Orangutans frequently use and make tools to obtain food, and some are quite innovative.
Tool making is how we trace the evolution of human culture.

Jane Goodall observed chimpanzee’s making tools, and on her website it says: Until then, experts thought humans were the only animals who could make tools. In fact, tool-making was part of scientists' definition of "human.”
If tool-making was something only humans could do, does this make chimps human? Jane’s discovery opened a new debate about what it really means to be a human being.

Friday, February 26, 2010

If You Don't Need Palm Oil - Why Kill Orangutans For It?

From the Girl Scout website: "Each baker produces Girl Scout Cookie varieties without palm oil."

So why do the Girl Scouts even use it in the first place?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sustainable Palm Oil isn't Sustainable

Will Orangutans exist in 2020? It's your choice.

Sustainable palm oil is in its early stages of implementation. As of now it isn't regulated, there are simply guidelines to follow. There is no legal framework surrounding the requirements of sustainable palm oil. Plantations are LYING and saying they are sustainable, but they ARE NOT. NO ONE IS ENFORCING OR REGULATING IT - IT'S AN "honor code". It will take years before sustainable palm oil has legal requirements/penalties.

Unfortunately we don't have years. IN TEN YEARS ORANGUTANS WILL BE EXTINCT. We don't have time to see if we can create and pass laws for sustainable palm oil plantations to follow. 

Also, "sustainable" means that those plantations produce lower emissions. But has nothing to do with saving Orangutans from being extinct.


Will Orangutans exist in 2020? It's your choice. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Letter from Amanda Kalina and my response



Girl Scouts of Colorado received your letter. I know you have contacted many councils across the country, including our national office in New York. Below is information we have on this issue with our bakery, Little Brownie Bakers. I can only speak on behalf of Girl Scouts of Colorado and our relationship with Little Brownie Bakers. Thank you.

Statement about Palm Oil in Girl Scout Cookies

As a socially responsible company, the manufacturer of Girl Scout Cookies in Colorado, Little Brownie Bakers, takes its commitment to the environment very seriously. Little Brownie Bakers conducts its business in ways that respect the environment and demonstrate good stewardship of our world's natural resources. Their comprehensive approach to palm oil use reflects this commitment. Specifically, Little Brownie Bakers uses the minimal amount of palm oil possible to ensure that products meet consumers’ nutrition and taste expectations. In addition to maintaining the quality of their products, the oil blends they use allow them to reduce or eliminate trans fats while minimizing saturated fat content. Little Brownie Bakers:
· Only purchases palm oil from growers committed to growing sustainable palm oil as demonstrated by their membership in the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a group working worldwide to promote the growth and use of sustainable palm oil
· Is a member of RSPO
· Offsets its palm oil use through the purchase of GreenPalm Certificates, similar to the carbon offset concept

Amanda Kalina
Director, Public Relations
Girl Scouts of Colorado

Dear Amanda Kalina,

Thank you for sending me a message about Little Brownie Bakers. I am so glad you have sent me information regarding their stance with palm oil. I hope I can help both you and Little Brownie Bakers to make a healthier, patriotic, and environmentally friendly choice.

 "What I saw was horrendous. Coming back from Borneo made me doubt if there was any hope for mankind". This is how Iolo Williams, a wildlife expert describes his experience in Borneo. I hope that my letter stresses the importance of this issue, and how the companies you have trusted are doing nothing to help the situation.

 Valerie Phillips of Greenpeace says that, “the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil gives the companies [with membership] a green front and encourages more consumption, which is precisely the cause of the problem.” Let’s explore deeper into this.

You are holding up on your end as a member of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil. On their site they state that members are expected to “actively and constructively communicate and support the continuation of the Roundtable process and the implementation of Roundtable projects.” Unfortunately this company is using you to spread messages that are false. For annual membership fees exceeding $2,000, you should demand the truth.

 Sustainable palm oil plantations should comply with global environmental standards. They should contribute to a good practice. The RSPO doesn’t evaluate these plantations, and there are no official laws concerning sustainable palm oil practices. The RSPO has a list of ‘Principles and Criteria’ that companies are to follow. Environmentalists main concern about these P&C’s is that there is no legal framework to enforce them, and companies are allowed to meet the criteria at their own pace. In other words, most criteria to be certified as “sustainable” is never met.

 As if that isn’t concerning enough, those that claim to have sustainable palm oil don’t even keep it separate from other palm oils! informs us that “the ‘green’ palm oil is not generally kept separate. It usually goes in the same tanker.”

 Eddie Tango, a representative of the Centre of Environmental Law and Community Rights describes the P&C as, “a voluntary initiative so the company cannot even be held accountable for failing to meet standards.”

 Torry Kuswordono, of Friends of the Earth Indonesia goes to say that, “all of the companies have gotten complaints” and that they are, “not following the principles and criteria of RSPO but still have the certificate.”

Another sad aspect of deforestation for palm oil is the deception communities face. Wilmar International has been a member of the RSPO and has faced numerous complaints since 2004, in both court and the media. Investigations by the IFC, a member of World Bank, into these complaints uncovered very serious social and economic impacts:
1.Illegal use of fire to clear lands
2. Clearance of primary forests
3. Clearance of areas of high conservation value
4. Take over of indigenous peoples customary lands without permission
5. Failure to provide free informed consultations with the indigenous people, therefore gaining community support.
6. Failure to abide by negotiated agreements
7. Failure to establish agreed areas of smallholdings
8. Social conflicts triggering repressive actions by companies and security forces
9. Failure to carry out and wait for approval of legally required environmental assessments

10. Illegal clearance of tropical peat and forests

 Regardless, according to Forbes, “Wilmar International enjoyed a 24 percent increase in net profits in the first nine months of this year, allowing the company's director and joint chief operating officer, Martua Sitorus, to become Indonesia's second-richest man, with an estimated net worth of $3 billion.” Martua is rewarded for helping kill off the orangutan species.

 We are murdering orangutans, and there are companies trying to deceive us. And of course they are, there is a lot of money to be had in palm oil. The net profit of Indonesia’s 40 richest men has doubled in the past year to 42 billion. And much of this growth is due to palm oil expansion.

 Now that you know some facts, I hope that you reconsider your support of Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil.

 Unfortunately GreenPalm isn’t any better. For around $10 anyone can buy a “certificate”. The only reason to purchase a certificate is for a company to cosmetically improve their image. We already know that the palm oil that claims to be sustainable is not, so holding a “certificate” you can post on your website or foods doesn’t do much good. Also, the money goes straight towards the plantations. The plantation owners (all, not just those that claim to be sustainable) have profited over a million dollars because of GreenPalm.

 Why have all the plantations profited? GreenPalm boss Bob Norman says this arrangement provides an incentive for farmers to grow sustainable palm oil without all the cost of running a separate supply system. Without any regulation, though, we can be pretty sure the money is pocketed.

 Also, poor migrant workers on palm oil plantations are beating orangutans to death when they trespass. Orangutans share 96.7% of our genetic makeup, and we are killing them for cookies. These plantation workers are paid by loggers, who encourage them to beat orangutans to death, according to The Independent, a UK newspaper.

The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation has reported orangutans being buried to death, as well as a logger dousing an orangutan in petrol and burning it down with the forest.

Iolo Williams, a wildlife expert witnessed baby orangutans clinging to their mothers and getting their hands chopped off near the Borneo rainforest. "What I saw was horrendous. Coming back from Borneo made me doubt if there was any hope for mankind".

Stories like this bring tears to my eyes. I believe in mankind. I believe in our world. I believe and support organizations like the Girl Scouts. We are human and we have to come together. We have to stand for something, or we will fall for anything. We have to demand that palm oil is removed from all products.

WE MUST BOYCOTT PALM OIL! It's the only way.

Well, if we don’t use palm oil, what will we use? There is a myth that palm oil is a healthier alternative since it doesn’t have trans-fat. This is not true.

Palm oil is not a healthy alternative because it has a large amount of saturated fat. There are many other oils that are both trans-fat free and low in saturated available.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute warned that the high content of saturated fat found in palm kernel oil and palm oil puts people at risk for heart attack or stroke.

The National Institute of Health did a study on the effects of palm oil. The results suggest that palm oil would not be a healthy substitute for trans fats by the food industry.

So what should you use instead of palm oil? Canola oil is trans fat-free. Canola oil is known as the healthiest of all cooking oils. It is low in saturated fat, high in mono-unsaturated fat (lowers cholesterol) and is the best source of omega-3’s. The Mayo Clinic supports the health benefits of using canola oil.

Where is canola grown? The United States and Canada. Not only is it a cash crop for our country, with major customers being Japan, China, Europe, Mexico, and Pakistan, but it helps our environment since it is grown here. Palm oil has to be shipped from Indonesia, whereas canola oil just has to be shipped domestically. We are saving our environment by many emissions by buying locally. We also help our economy when we buy products grown here.

 Canola oil is a healthier alternative to palm oil. It’s better for the environment. It helps our economy. Most importantly, canola oil doesn’t kill orangutans.

We can save them. Help me, and help our world. Switch to canola oil. Your cookies do not need to include palm oil. Please spread awareness about this. We are in this together.

Sarah Ware

Monday, February 22, 2010

First Call Of ACTION

This picture shows two Girl Scouts that refused to sell cookies because of the palm oil, which contributes to 5,000 orangutan deaths each year.

It's Girl Scout Cookie Season! Join us in our effort to save the orangutan.

When you come across the Girl Scouts selling cookies say:

"I'd love to buy your cookies, but I don't support the use of palm oil in them. However, here's a $1 donation for your troop. Please write to headquarters and ask them to stop using palm oil in their cookies."

The $1 donation will be the equivalent of what the local troop would receive off of you buying two boxes of Girl Scout cookies. The rest goes to headquarters. 

Thanks. I'd love to hear how your efforts are going. Support the local troops - DON'T SUPPORT PALM OIL!

We are in this together!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Girl Scout Letter

We only have 12 years to help save orangutans before they become extinct. Learn how the Girl Scouts can help save this species. I believe in this organization, and I trust that they will make the right choice - to better our world. Join me in spreading awareness about this. We can make a change.

Dear Connie Lindsey , (president of the Girl Scouts USA)

My name is Sarah Ware. I’m a former Girl Scout of Troop 206. My mother was a dedicated troop leader for many years, and happily exhausted herself planning getaways at Camp Glen Spey, coordinating holiday caroling, volunteer days, and special meetings to earn new badges. Today I am still friends with the girls in my troop.

The Girl Scouts helped build my confidence, improved my relationships, and most importantly, gave me the impression that I am valued, and that I can make a change in this world. This is what I want to pass on to my future daughters.

Today I spent hours in the grocery store, making changes to my grocery list, exercising my consumer power to buy products that do not harm the environment. It was exhausting, frustrating, and rewarding.

I always support Girl Scouts selling cookies. It’s a nostalgic moment for me, and I believe in the program.

Courage. Confidence. Character.

When I got to the car and read the ingredients in the Samoas cookies, my heart sank. I felt deceived.

INGREDIENTS: Sugar, Vegetable Oil (Soybean and Palm Oil, Partially Hydrogenated Palm Kernel and/or Cottonseed Oil)

Not only does partially hydrogenated oil contain trans fat, which is linked to cancer, the type of partially hydrogenated oil that make up these cookies is even more concerning. Palm oil is used because it’s a cheap form of vegetable fat. That’s great for our pockets, but what does it do to the environment? Across the Indonesian islands, specifically Sumatra and Borneo, the farmers (and those that support them) are damaging the rain forest on such a large scale that experts expect the extinction of the orangutan in the wild by around 2020…unless they are stopped. Plantations such as these have ruined 90% of orangutan habitat.

I do love my Samoas cookies, but not enough to support the extinction of our distant relative, the orangutan. The orangutan shares 96% of mans genetic makeup.

Five million acres are cleared every year for these plantations. That's the size of New Jersey, my home state, where as a child I lived by the Girl Scout Law. 

Where in the world can you find elephants, tigers, rhinos, sun bears, leopards, and orangutans living together, in their natural habitat? The Indonesian Islands. Every year their habitat decreases by five million acres. We are burning down forests to make way for plantations, and not only causing the animals to suffer from smoke inhalation, but we are hurting those families that live in urban villages.

The negative effects of these plantations continue to snowball. To reach these plantations, new roads are being built, giving poachers an easy free ride to hunt deeper in the rain forest.

It’s heartbreaking. In 2005 the Indonesian government announced plans to expand oil palm plantations, intruding into the last substantial areas of forest, including protected ones. Unfortunately corruption seems to overrule these “official regulations.”

The Orangutan could be extinct in as little as 12 years. We have to act fast. I’m asking you, and our fellow Girl Scouts to take my hand. We have the power to help the world.

“Girl Scouts of the USA is the premier leadership development organization for girls where young women discover their potential, connect with others, and take action in their communities and the world.”

Let’s unite as girls and women, mothers and daughters, sisters and aunts. Let's include our sons and brothers, our husbands and fathers, our uncles and pop-pops.

I understand that you are a part of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. This is concerning, because this company is using cosmetic marketing to justify the expansion of plantations. No tropical oil is “green” or contributes to a “sustainable world.”

“No challenge is too big to tackle, and no one is too powerless to make an impact.” That is how VolunteerMatch describes your spirit. They go on to say that “Lindsey shows what’s possible when you turn your passion into action.”

If there’s anyone that could make a difference, it’s you. You have the power to educate young girls about the importance of consumer decisions. Educate them about palm oil plantations. These girls are our future. If we impress this upon them early on in life, we can make a huge difference in our world. Each purchase we make is a vote.

The Girl Scouts website says that each baker produces Girl Scout Cookie varieties without palm oil. I’m asking you to please, re-evaluate your stance on this critical issue. Alter your ingredients. Show the little girl inside me, and the little girls so dedicated to selling cookies that they stand for something bigger and better. Find a substitute for palm oil (and if you really wanted to reach for the stars, soybean oil as well).

Let’s show the world what we’re made of. Stop using palm oil in the production of Girl Scout Cookies and use ingredients that don’t harm our world. Let everyone know what the Girl Scouts stand for.

Courage. Confidence. Character.

We have the courage to stand up for what’s right. The confidence to support these values. And the character to make a difference.

I will do my best to be:
Honest and fair, friendly and helpful,
Considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and
Responsible for what I say and do, and to
Respect myself and others, respect authority
Use resources wisely, make the world a better place
And be a sister to every Girl Scout.

Sarah Ware

*Please send a letter to the Girl Scout Headquarters, asking them to stop using palm oil in their cookies!!*

Interesting article about two Girl Scouts that refused to sell cookies to stand up for what they believe in. YOU GO GIRLS!