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Lael Goodman

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About the author: Lael Goodman is an analyst with the Tropical Forest and Climate Initiative at UCS. She conducts research and analysis to support reducing tropical deforestation as a way to mitigate climate change. Specifically, Ms. Goodman focuses on deforestation caused by the palm oil industry and protecting tropical peatlands. See Lael's full bio.

Palm Oil and the Art of Procrastination

“Procrastinate now, don’t put it off.”  – Ellen DeGeneres

Procrastination is a funny thing. While procrastination is theoretically acknowledged to be negative, people seem to delight in the concept. The internet is full of commentary on procrastination from web comics to a classification system to funny sayings. In fact, I bet a number of you just might be reading this blog to procrastinate some other work – am I right?! Read More

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Pizza Hut, KFC, and Taco Bell’s New Relationship with Palm Oil: It’s Complicated

Every time I visit my hometown in Grand Rapids, Michigan, I go out for pizza with my parents. You’d think I’d be jonesing for a local pizza joint, but the truth is I want Pizza Hut. I grew up on their pan crust cheese pizza and it will always have a special place in my heart (and stomach!).  So when I heard that Yum! Brands, Inc (Yum!), owner of Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell and America’s second largest fast food chain had come out with a new palm oil commitment, I was pretty happy. Read More

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Not Where You Expected to Find Deforestation?: Examining the Palm Oil Commitments of 40 of America’s Top Companies

A lot can change in a year.

Thirteen months ago, UCS released a report scoring 30 of America’s top companies’ palm oil commitments. Since that time a lot of things have happened, both good and bad. Back then, nobody knew that Meghan Trainor was all about that bass or how fancy Iggy Azalea is. We are one step closer to buying Cuban cigars on American soil and a machine landed on a comet! Read More

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Days of Haze: How Palm Oil and Landscape Fires Affect Health in Southeast Asia

On a recent trip to Singapore, after the day’s discussion about how best to stop deforestation in Southeast Asia had ceased and the jet-lag was just beginning to take a hold of me, I hopped into bed to fall asleep. Or probably more accurately, I collapsed into bed. I turned on the television and what I saw on the screen was surprising. Read More

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McDonald’s Palm Oil Commitment Fails on National Fast Food Day

Hold on to your hats because this coming Sunday is a day for parties. The Internet tells me that three different holidays fall on Sunday, November 16. First, it’s National Button Day which makes sense because who doesn’t love buttons? It’s also Have a Party with Your Bear Day. I’m thinking the best way to rejoice might be to listen to a classic childhood song. And lastly, it’s National Fast Food Day. Read More

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Bunge Jumps into Deforestation-Free Palm Oil with a Splash

On Monday Bunge, an agribusiness and food ingredient company based out of White Plains, New York, indicated its intention to ensure the palm oil that it sources will be deforestation- and peat-free. Coming from one of the largest traders of palm oil in the world, Bunge’s announcement is significant for what it means for both the world climate and for ecosystems at risk due to palm oil production. But to me it also signifies that the status quo—palm oil that is linked with deforestation and peatland destruction—is a sinking ship that is increasingly risky to stay aboard. Read More

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Growing Pains: Why Companies Need to Learn to Eat Their Vegetables and Move Beyond GreenPalm Certificates

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was formally established in April of 2004, meaning that earlier this year it celebrated its 10th birthday. Happy birthday, RSPO! Yet many companies at the roundtable party want the RSPO to stay just the way it is, without moving towards greater sustainability. Read More

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Fires in Indonesia and Accountability in Singapore: What to Expect This Summer in Southeast Asia

Last week, an official from Indonesia’s national disaster agency warned that fires from Indonesia are likely to spread haze to Singapore and Malaysia yet again. A year ago in June, air pollution levels in Singapore reached record highs because of these fires. Read More

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Peat Soils vs. the Forests Above: Which Holds More Carbon?

At first glance, tropical peat soils might not seem all that exciting. Dead branches and leaves that have not fully decomposed because of waterlogged conditions? Once upon a time, even I might have found this, well, boring. Read More

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What do Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Indonesian Forests All Have in Common?

The answer, of course, is Harrison Ford. He stars in Showtime’s new dramatic documentary series on climate change Years of Living Dangerously, and deforestation due to palm oil is Ford’s latest crusade. Read More

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