If we “do the math,” we can preserve that amorphous thing popularly referred to as “nature,” according to Anna Lieb at PBS Nova:
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I’ve done the math, and for $1.20, you can preserve a 19-inch by 19-inch square of rainforest habitat—home, on average, to 0.000006 long-tailed macaques and 0.0000001 pangolins. All you have to do is pay a bit more for palm oil, found in roughly half of all grocery store items: chocolate bars, cereal, and lipstick, to name a few.
“Most people probably consume some palm oil every day,” says David Wilcove, a professor of ecology at Princeton University. The ubiquitous stuff is squeezed from the fruit of trees whose rapidly expanding cultivation has infamously contributed to widespread deforestation in southeast Asia, and increasingly, parts of South America and Africa.
I derived the numbers above from a study appearing this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), part of a collection authored by over 80 researchers from 50 institutions spanning ten different countries.