Selecting a single issue was incredibly difficult. I am passionate about numerous issues, but there are also many more I know little about. After a lot of thinking, I narrowed it down to three options, all of which pertain to wildlife, since that is most closely related to my major.
The first issue I selected was the issue of pharmaceutical pollution. Chemical traces of drugs end up in the sewage system, which passes water into the aquatic ecosystems. This issue has led to increased hermaphroditism in frogs. This is relevant to society because if changes are not made, frogs could become extinct. Frogs are important because they are an indicator species. The presence of frogs in an ecosystem correlates with the habitat being healthy. This issue is based of the P of profit in the 3 P’s of sustainability because the pharmaceutical companies profit from the production of medicine, and the P of people can be applied because people rely on medicine. I personally find importance in this issue because I have a love for animals and think that humans contribute to the decline of too many species that would be thriving without our interference.
The next issue I selected was the palm oil crisis. Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil obtained from the African palm oil tree. Since palm oil is found in a variety of products from food to shampoo, the demand is increasing. There is an agricultural aspect to palm oil, but the increased demand has led people to the rainforest. There destruction of the rainforest is taking away the homes of orangutans. Palm oil has two of the three P’s of sustainable, profit due to the industry and people based off the demand. This issue is important to society because people use products everyday that have palm oil in them, yet palm oil is not being grown sustainably. This issue is important to me because I love animals and want to help the orangutans survive in their natural habitat.
The last issue I selected was the plastic crisis and the affect it has on birds, specifically albatrosses. These incredible birds often eat plastic and debris from the ocean because they mistake it for food. Albatrosses, specifically, skim the water to get fish and other food, which results in the consumption of plastics floating in the water. The adults can regurgitate the plastic, but their chicks cannot. Relating to the 3 P’s of sustainability, the only one applicable to this crisis is profit for the plastic companies. This issue is important to society because it means that our waterways are overly polluted. This pollution is not only killing birds but also many other animals. I personally find this issue important because it can easily be fixed by recycling plastics.
Selecting an issue was difficult, but I ultimately decided to focus on the palm oil crisis because it is an issue I do not know a whole lot about. Although I find all of the issues I selected important, I think people are aware of the plastic crisis and I think it is harder to fix the pharmaceutical pollution. I feel like I, along with other people, can benefit the most from more knowledge about the palm oil crisis. Pertaining to the three P’s of sustainability, palm oil is profitable and people have created a demand for it, but it is harmful for the planet. The palm oil industry profits from the variety of products they produce with palm oil since it is not only used in household products but is also edible. People benefit from using the products they want, but many people are unaware of the crisis and what items they purchase that are contributing to the decline of the orangutan population. The palm oil industry attempted to farm palm oil trees, which was good for the planet, but the increased demand has led to unsustainable practices. I intend to explore this issue by researching the ways that the crisis has escalated and what products contain palm oil so that I can stop using them and help educate and encourage others to stop using palm oil products. I anticipate having issues finding the information I want, such as why palm oil is used over a sustainable ingredient. I also think it will be challenging to eliminate my use of all items containing palm oil and to get other people to follow in my footsteps. I am both afraid and curious to discover where palm oil is lurking in the everyday products I may be using, but also to discover the sustainable alternatives.