at a glance
Feel the Green Celebrate International Environment Day 2011 with movies, music, a pop quiz and more. Sunday June 5 at The FCC Phnom Penh, 8 p.m.
The effects of climate change are obvious and widespread.
For starters, glaciers around the North Pole are rapidly shrinking, and temperatures in the Arctic are rising twice as fast as elsewhere around the globe.
In the oceans, coral reefs, notoriously susceptible to rising sea temperatures, are undergoing massive die-offs. In Indonesia last year, scientists recorded that nearly 80 percent of the coral around Aceh, a province in northern Sumatra, were “bleached,” or dead. Similar discoveries have been made elsewhere in Indonesia, as well as Thailand, Sri Lanka and Malaysia.
Average temperatures around the world have been creeping upward for the last 130 years. But, the United Nations says, the last 11 of 12 have been the warmest by far.
Among the planet’s scientific community, there is zero debate that human contribution to global warming is real and that something must be done to reign in our emissions of greenhouse gases.
In fits and starts, world leaders have inched toward discussing action. But the issues are complex. And a furious scrap over who should pay and how much has calcified battle lines between poor countries and rich.
It’s enough to make a sane person drink. And since June 5 is International Environment Day, The FCC Phnom Penh and the Group for the Environment, Renewable Energy and Solidarity, or GERES, plan to tip a few and raise awareness of the planet’s unraveling heat problem.
The “Feel the Green” party, as it has been named, will feature an environmental cartoon in the afternoon, and in the evening: music, environmental movies and a pop quiz, so people can determine their own level of environmental awareness.
“The quiz and the movie will be the main awareness raising material, by making it lively and fun, we want people to really question themselves about the environmental challenges we are facing and how they can do something,” said Elida Delbourg, Social Marketing and Communications Director for GERES.
The theme of Environment Day 2011 is “Forests” — which Cambodia still has some — and Feel the Green will focus on forestry issues as it affects local communities.
“Cambodia is one of the most deforested countries in Southeast Asia, given that 80 percent of domestic energy needs are covered by wood, which people use for boiling water and cooking,” Delbourg said. “Consequently, the dual issues of deforestation and biomass energy are eminently present in this country. Intensive wood burning in domestic areas also has other undesirable effects, such as the release of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, and the development of lung and eye diseases.”
The UNDP has classified Cambodia as among the countries most vulnerable to global warming, Delbourg points out. And climate change will most certainly have a negative impact on livelihoods.
“Cambodia will suffer from the effects of global warming due to excessive emissions in other parts of the world. Like other countries in Southeast Asia, Cambodia is expected to experience higher and more intense rainfall,” Delbourg said. “The effects are likely to include more severe water scarcity and more frequent floods, resulting in crop failures and food shortages.”
GERES has been working in the Kingdom since 1997, and its projects include the Cambodia Fuelwood Saving Project (CFSP), which aims to reduce household charcoal consumption, relieve pressure on the country’s forests and lower greenhouse gas emissions. In 1998 the project introduced the New Lao Stove, a fuel efficient cook-stove.
“Marketing was primarily aimed at low-income urban families who commonly use this type of equipment. The stove’s main advantages lie in its ability to reduce charcoal consumption by up to 25 percent and its durability of up to 3 years, three times longer than traditional cook-stoves,” Delbourg explained.
The introduction of the stove reduced charcoal demand nationwide by 32,000 tons, which translates to 211,000 tons of wood not taken from the country’s forests and 501,024 tons of carbon emissions not belched into the atmosphere of Mother Earth.
Such sums mark a meaningful accomplishment for a country the size of Cambodia, and the project is proof that small changes can add up to major contributions.
Making a Difference
On a personal level, experts point to three actions to help reduce your carbon footprint.
One: Reduce the amount of gas you burn — buy fuel efficient cars, drive less, use public transportation, ride a bike, skate, walk.
Two: Use fuel-efficient appliances.
Three: Cut down on everyday electrical use.
Learn more at the Feel the Green celebration, June 5 at the FCC Phnom Penh, 8 p.m.