Effects of Climate Change Shows Correlations with Human Trafficking

Cambodia, an exotic land filled with bright colors, city lights and ancient temples is a popular vacation spot. A remarkable country with exquisite culture holds one of the darkest secrets alive today. Very much a real and disturbing reality; we come to unfold this problem and discuss the problems of human trafficking in this area. In fact, children as young as 5 are being sold as slaves in exchange for sex. A problem that has been around for a while is being made worse by the problems caused by climate change.

The sex industry in Cambodia has been around since 1999. Human trafficking is happening due to thousands of victims in need of natural resources like food, water and trees. It affects 2-3 thousand children and young teens each year. Families are deceived by con artists telling them that their daughters will work for hotels, restaurants, hair salons or complete clerical work in order for them to bring money for their families. Truth is, con artists actually take their daughters into sex industries and force them to have intercourse with older men.

The livelihoods of most families that live in rural villages are affected by the changes brought on by climate change in that area. According to the United Nations, women feel these affects the most. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reports that, “Lifestyle and well being of women is put in greater danger by climate change, associated with a high rate of human trafficking.” 

UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner declared, “Women often play a stronger role than men in the management of ecosystem services and food security. Hence, sustainable adaptation must focus on gender and the role of women if it is to become successful.” Climate change will take a toll on environmental living especially women development.

Most of women development effects from climate change can result from: increased temperatures, severe weather, rise of sea level and droughts. Three main issues of climate change that can be linked to human trafficking are: 

Water: As climate change causes droughts, it would be more difficult to attain water. As women are forced to travel greater distances to find and capture potable water they are at a higher risk of kidnapping and con-artists who are linked to the sex trade industry.

Agriculture: Climate change causes severe weather patterns that could make temperature rise and fall more drastically making seasons shift. As these seasons shift crops will be affected the most. It would be difficult for people to grow food. To offset the decrease in crop output women would be forced to look for better paying jobs to pay for food they otherwise might be able to grow themselves. The need for higher economic stimulation would make these jobs offered by sex trade con artists seem more valuable than they might have before. 

Trees: Climate change and the resulting droughts would put a strain on the forests that supply the paper industry in Cambodia with their trees. As paper mill production drops workers may lose their jobs and would in turn be forced to look elsewhere for employment.

The lack of economic growth in Cambodia has made women’s lives even more difficult than before. The lack of education in this area for women makes them think that human trafficking is one of their only ways out. Researchers from the UN have concluded that women in developing countries are likely to be victims when being exposed to exterior threats. In a recent study by United Nations, trafficking has gone up by 30% in Cambodia since 2009 which may be linked to the increase in climate change during that time.

Solutions to climate change may revolve around education and technology use. To overcome this risk we need to find a way to provide green technologies, retain water and other natural resources. Foundations should contribute money to different types of energy sources that can offset the effects of climate change while at the same time providing security for the lives of women.

The United Nations in Cambodia is currently working with the royal government of Cambodia to support the development of policies, action plans and training for government officials towards human trafficking. They are promoting a victim-center approach to all human traffickers teaching them how to take measures to fight the sex trade system. UN is also providing education for sex slave victims in rural areas. With education, women are less likely to become victims if they understand the dangers that they may face.

Support Cambodia human development reports (CHDR) along with the United Nations Cambodia to stop sex trade and provide women with the education and technology to aid and improve their livelihoods from the effects of climate change.

You can help by signing this petition here to stop Cambodia trade acts which includes prostitution, human trafficking and the deterioration of human rights! 

Photo Credit: http://www.burgessct.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/HumanTrafficking.jpg


Paper or Plastic? No More!

Baby turtle eating plastic

As a regular at a your local grocery store, you complete your usual chore of grocery shopping and decide to buy more food compared to your usual intake. The cashier asks if you would prefer “paper or plastic”. The thought of carrying a paper bag that is more prone to break than a plastic one doesn’t seem practical; so you decide to choose plastic instead. At home, you feel relieved carrying all the food at once without having it rip apart, but the guilty feeling looms over you as you think about your recent decision at the grocery store. Now you have piles of plastic bags left over. With no particular use with them you end up throwing them in a non-recyclable compost. Now your guilty conscious should come into play. Looking at this decision you may find this as a huge problem today. We must grasp the awareness on how to recycle plastic bags, understand the harm they produce and how cities are making a courageous choice by banning it. 

In the early 1950’s, Swedish engineer Sten Gustaf Thulin invented the “plastic bag”. He wanted to create a bag that was lightweight and convenient for people to hold. Unfortunately, this lightweight modern bag has factored to many disasterous pollutants from the effects of production use. Part of production use includes burning fossil fuels; because of this, 22.5 to 30 million bags waste about 11 barrels of oil each year. 

According to the California Integrated Waste Management Board, “California uses more than 19 billion plastic bags every year. People have been treating them as litter instead of an environmental issue”.

Without a doubt people have been using plastic as litter. On land, people throw plastic in drainage systems, which can block the drainage and factor to many types of flooding. A good example would be the flooding that occurred in Bangladesh, India between 1988 and 1998. 

On water, plastic bags have been affecting the marine debris and marine animals. To animals, plastics seem like food; when ingested, it can kill an animal instantly. 100,000 deaths that include ingestion and strangulation occur within animals like sea turtles, sea gulls and dolphins per year. 

This environmental problem can lead to hazardous health effects too. The durability of the plastic bags takes centuries for them to decompose. Even when it decomposes, it releases toxic substances in our environment. Some of these toxic substances include bisphenol A (BPA) and PS oligomer. Exposure of BPA and PS oligomer is an alarming fact for hormonal dysfunction in humans. Most hormonal dsyfunction can link to cancer, diabetes, obesity, sexual reproductive development and hyperactivity.

In 2010, California’s ban on plastic bags became a NO; but cities in California are fighting to change the decision to a YES. So far they have implement the ban in local markets and chain stores by gaining the senator’s support. The success of the support has issued the senator to restrict the ban in multiple California cities. San Francisco is the first known city to ban plastic shopping bags. Since then, other cities have followed like San Jose, Fairfax, Sunnyvale, Monterey, Los Angeles and Malibu. 

Some solutions to these problems would factor to our knowledge on recycling and the use of reusable bags. Recycling plastic bags is another way to decrease impact on the environment. A proper teach-in class on recycling is the key to educate people about our environment. When you learn how to recycle; it can prevent a habitat from proliferating to become hazardous.  

A reusable bag has helped the environment decrease in it’s plastic production use. About 20,000 plastic bags can be reduced if someone were to shop with a reusable bag everyday. Most reusable bags are inexpensive and durable. They can hold more capacity compare to a plastic bag. 

So next time you stop by your local grocery store and the cashier askes “plastic or paper?” You proudly show off your reusable bag and reply “Neither. Keeping it green.” 

To support the ban of plastic bags in nation-wide cities you can sign this petition here

Photo credit: http://animalconnection.ning.com/notes/Top_5_Types_of_Land_Litter_and_Their_Danger_to_Wildlife