although the world Wildlife Fund around the world has changed its name to the World Wide Fund for Nature, the original name remains the official one in the United States and Canada. As an international nongovernmental organization, it was founded in 1961 in Switzerland to help with the conservation, research, and restoration of the natural environment, changing its name in 1986, although still keeping its initials (WWF) around the world.
Although over many years the WWF became famous for its protection of endangered fauna—its symbol remains a panda bear—it has also been keen to preserve natural environments, seeing its role as helping endangered flora as much as fauna, with the change in its name reflecting this. Indeed the WWF now recognizes that the single biggest threat to the environment today comes from global warming, and as a result it has campaigned for companies and individuals to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
1114 World Wildlife Fund
The major area where the WWF initially concentrated its energies was in reducing deforestation, especially in Brazil, Central Africa, and the Russian Far East. This has seen U.S. experts from the WWF-U.S. taking part in projects in these regions, and also in other parts of the world. They have been involved in recording the level of deforestation, and in many cases illegal logging, and notifying the relevant governments as well as bringing extreme levels of deforestation to world attention.
Traditionally, the WWF has organized throughout the United States at a city, town, and village level, with the education of young people being at the forefront of its approach. This means that the WWF has devoted much of its time and energy to encouraging students to gain a greater interest in the environment and the threat of global warming through the provision of resource kits, booklets, and lectures. Many of these items have been available free of charge, or heavily subsidized, with many schoolchildren becoming interested in the world of the WWF through television documentaries and other media sources such as the internet.
This has seen the developing of educational problems to allow more students to plan ways of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Among the children who have been involved in WWF projects have been some of those displaced by Hurricane Katrina, who have been better able to understand the problems leading to the hurricane. To that end, the WWF hosts the Southeast Climate Witness Program, which allows students to attend a Climate Camp in June 2008 and to take part in the Youth Summit in Washington, D.C., in the following month. Many schools around the United States also raise money for the WWF that is used for the campaign against climate change.
Although it has long been a community movement, the WWF has also started working heavily with businesses. This change has seen the WWF and some of its partners collaborating with 12 prominent companies including the Collins Companies, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Nike, Polaroid, and Sony. These large corporations have agreed to work toward reducing their carbon dioxide emissions by over 10 million tons each year, which, as a result, has led to many smaller companies becoming aware of their effect on the generating of greenhouse gases and working to reduce their emissions. The WWF has also tried to get, with less success, the energy utility companies to reduce the emissions of their operations.
SEE ALSO: Animals; Climate Change, Effects; Deforestation; Economics, Cost of Affecting Climate Change.
BIBLIOGRAPHY. J. Brooks Flippen, Conservative Conservationist: Russell E. Train and the Emergence of American Environmentalism (Louisiana State University Press, 2006); World Wildlife Fund, www.worldwidlife.org (cited November 2007).
Justin Corfield Geelong Grammar School, Australia
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