The earth in its long existence, has seen change in its environment constantly, yet nothing like what we as a race have caused. Human effect on the earth was once thought to be minuscule relative to the greatness of its processes. This is no longer the case. There are now so many of us burning billions of tons of fossil fuels and cutting down forests that we have ourselves become geopolitical agents. We have changed the chemistry of our atmosphere, causing ice to melt, sea levels to rise and climates to change.
World Orphan Fund is taking initiative that a growing third world country desperately needs, but more than this we are seeking to offset the effects of the pollution that each of us, as individuals, is contributing. As the first known
organisation to do so, we are providing you with the opportunity to reduce your own ecological footprint and plant a tree.
The planting of trees can bring diverse groups of people together, empowering communities through its collective betterment and improving the quality of life for locals. In developed nations, our own efforts may be limited in offsetting global warming, World Orphan Fund is providing you with a way to do so, planting a tree as a charitable act that keeps on giving.
Trees add a wealth of benefits to their surrounding environments; as biological entities that have abilities to combat global warming. In one year, an acre of mature trees can an amount of absorb carbon dioxide which equates to you driving your car for 42,000 kilometres.
The qualities of trees and forestry go far beyond aesthetics, besides cleaning the atmosphere from pollutant gases, in a single year an acre can also store 2.6 tons of CO2 and provide enough oxygen for 18 people. Proving a beautiful canopy and habitat for wildlife, which are increasingly threatened due to human threat, trees also help prevent soil erosion and water pollution.
Cambodia has one of the worst deforestation rates in the world. Home to more than 700 species of animals, the nation ranks fourth highest in its deforestation rate among major forest countries. Between 1990 and 2010, Cambodia lost 22% of its forest cover, around 2,850,000 ha. This has only accelerated over the past decade due to the need to expand crop production. World Orphan Fund Cambodia seeks to work against the rapid destruction of natural ecosystems, which is why we are organising the plantation of trees as part of our reforestation program. Additionally, for every project WOF delivers, we plant native trees that offset the amount of carbon released by the deliverance of our projects.
World Orphan Fund is taking control to work towards a more sustainable future and a healthier environment. We have developed our operations to have minimal impact on the environment and reduce our ecological footprint. One of the ways we have done so is through changing the means in which we provide charity to the poor and needy through prioritising renewable practices. Our food handouts are no longer distributed through ‘easy’ Styrofoam or plastic packaging but those coming to collect food bring their own pots and utensils. Styrofoam and plastics are commonly used materials which in developing countries like Cambodia are polluting areas with no proper garbage disposable systems and are non-biodegradable, i.e. they last forever.
To continue to greatly disrupt the equilibrium of this earth we would be soon confronting the greatest threat ever to have faced humanity and destroying the planet for future generations. The UN Human Development Report for 2007, ‘Fighting Climate Change’, underlines the point that; the poorest countries and most vulnerable citizens will suffer the earliest and most damaging setbacks, even though they have contributed least to the problem. The impact of climate change has been likened to that of a third world war, particularly for’ low-income people for whom effects are now predicted to be disproportionate and catastrophic’. In 2007, the European Commissioner for the Environment stated that ‘Damaged economies, refugees, political instability and the loss of life are typically the results of war. But they will also be the results of unchecked climate change’.
2016 is bringing along with it unprecedented effects of climate change. The ocean warming phenomena known as El Niño is causing unusually heavy rains in some parts of the world and drought elsewhere. In Sydney, temperate weather has seen residents experience four seasons in one day, a strange recurrence in the midst of summer, far beyond normal weather patterns.
Yet there is little doubt the more damning repercussions are in drought affected areas across the globe. In Somalia alone three million people are hit by crop failures and food shortages, and Ethiopia is currently experiencing the worst drought in 50 years. Despite the millions its government has spent on drought-protective measures, Ethiopia will need $1.1 billion to buy food for more than 18 million people this year.
For a nation where 30 percent of the population live on less than $1.25 a day, the droughts in Ethiopia are eroding harvests and amounting to a foreboding food shortage.
Southeast Asia is not going to be left unaffected, Thailand which is the region’s second biggest economy and neighbour to Cambodia is experiencing particularly severe droughts in recent years.
We do not want to be the generation that looked at the evidence of climate change, understood the consequences and then continued on a path that condemned millions of the world’s most vulnerable people to poverty and ecological disaster.
As individuals we cannot blame the issue on ‘greater’ structural powers when we do not intend to affect change ourselves. It is important not to disregard these small changes we can adopt into our lives, as a collective we have the ability to make
immense changes to society.
We live in a world today that is divided at many levels, people are separated by immense gulfs in wealth and opportunity. All too often, religious, cultural and ethnic identity are treated as a source of division and difference from others. In the face of all these differences, climate change provides a strong reminder of the one thing we share in common, on which all of our survival rests; the Earth.