Oil? It Can Grow on Bushes!
THE sperm whale has been hunted with a persistence that has endangered existence of its kind. Factory-ship whaling has been banned, but it is estimated that these giants of the sea are still taken at the rate of about one every half hour. Why?
A large sperm whale yields several tons of sperm oil and spermaceti—a white waxy substance. Both of these substances are very valuable and bring wealth to the whalers.
Nevertheless, under pressure from conservationists, all countries, except Russia and Japan, have given up hunting them; and yet they have great difficulty in finding satisfactory substitutes. The oil is used for high-pressure lubrication, in protecting machine tools, in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and other products.
However, there is an alternative that is highly suitable—the jojoba (pronounced hohóba) bush. It grows wild in the deserts of Arizona, California and Mexico. Recent research reveals that jojoba oil can do all that sperm oil does—and better.
A jojoba bush grows about 3 m (10 feet) and after five years can produce 2.5 kg (5.5 lbs.) of beans annually. Oil yield is about 50 percent and the residue makes cattle feed.
The plants are really tough. The waxy coat on the evergreen leaves prevents drying out, so a jojoba bush can take great heat, can stand a year without water and can be grown in poor soil where nothing else grows. And they can live 100 years!
Israel has already many experimental plantations of jojoba in the Negev. It is said that the bushes can even be irrigated from the salty waters of the Dead Sea. In the drier parts of Cape Province, South Africa, many farmers are also raising jojoba plants. With oil becoming such a coveted commodity, growing it on bushes would not only benefit the long-suffering whale population but also be a very paying project.