IMAT 2017 Q8 [Conclusion | Palm Oil]

Though relatively few people know it by name, palm oil is found in over fifty per cent of processed supermarket goods, from soaps to snacks. This vegetable oil, which is taken from the fruit of the oil palm tree, causes a great deal of environmental concern. The clearing of tropical forests to grow oil palm plantations threatens the survival of orangutans and other endangered species. The land conversion often happens on carbon rich peat soils in a process which releases significant greenhouse gas emissions. Yet even some environmental organisations warn that alternative vegetable oil crops may require much larger areas of forest to be converted to agricultural land.

Which one of the following is a conclusion that can be drawn from the above passage?

A. A ban on palm oil alone would not solve all of the environmental problems associated with vegetable oil production.

B. If farmers stopped clearing tropical forests for oil palm plantations, endangered orangutan populations would recover.

C. The environmental risks associated with oil palm plantations are not well understood in tropical countries.

D. To produce the most profitable crops, oil palm plantations must be grown on carbon rich peat soils.

E. There is no motivation for manufacturers to stop using palm oil in their products.

Summary of Steps to Solve Drawing Conclusion Type Questions:

  • Read the Question (Every question)
  • Go through the text and underline evidence
  • Read the answer and eliminate the outliers
    • (easiest to eliminate contradictory conclusions)
  • Using the underlined evidence and examples, prove each conclusion. Ask yourself “is this another piece of evidence? Or is this proved and strengthened by what’s in the text?”
  • Remember to ignore bias and disregard answers that may be true in the real world, but are not supported in the text.

The goal of this passage seems to be awareness. The author admits that it may not be well known but it is causing a large problem. There is no clear solution so the motives of the author are probably to educate us more about it and hopefully support the cause.

A. A ban on palm oil alone would not solve all of the environmental problems associated with vegetable oil production.

If we look at the last sentence, we can see that, although this is a huge problem, if we stopped producing palm oil, the other vegetable oils produced could actually cause more harm to be done to the environment. Therefore our conclusion should not be whether palm oil is bad because although it is bad, it is better than others. This is why A is the correct answer.

B. If farmers stopped clearing tropical forests for oil palm plantations, endangered orangutan populations would recover.

We cannot conclude this statement. The damage done already could be permanent and have everlasting effects. Therefore B is incorrect.

C. The environmental risks associated with oil palm plantations are not well understood in tropical countries.

This cannot be inferred, they could know what they are doing but continue to do so for the money. We cannot confirm nor deny whether or not these problems are known elsewhere, therefore C is incorrect
.
D. To produce the most profitable crops, oil palm plantations must be grown on carbon-rich peat soils.

Although this may be true, it is not an important conclusion that can be drawn. The cost or profits of the companies are not of our concern, we are more worried about the environmental impact here. Therefore D is incorrect.

E. There is no motivation for manufacturers to stop using palm oil in their products.

We do not know the motivations of the manufacturers. The manufacturers could be paying large taxes on palm oil if some governments have certain green policies, or some manufacturers love wildlife and will pay you to stop using things in products for example. Therefore E is incorrect.

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