Limit Cruise Ship Tourism Near Maine National Park

Target: Paul LePage, Governor of Maine

Goal: Support island community in creating independent port authority to control tourism near Acadia National Park.

The town of Bar Harbor, Maine decided to purchase a vacant ferry terminal to better handle tourism throughout the Acadia region, in a 1,380-213 vote. This was a preventative measure against the development of a commercial pier where cruise ships could tie up instead of staying anchored in the harbor. Originally, Maine’s Department of Transportation wanted to put the 4.5-acre property on the market to attract investors. Although tourism generates millions of dollars, townspeople say it has become unsustainable both for people and the environment. Foot traffic has risen 257 percent since 2003, and over 230,000 passengers are expected to come ashore in 2018. Such a high number of tourists causes congestion, contamination to the local environment and an overall lower quality of life.

Previously, the Maine governor vetoed this measure, calling it “unnecessary municipal bureaucracy.” In reality, this initiative will not only help the environment, but provide more local autonomy. Moreover, it will allegedly prevent the accumulation of municipal debt if the abandoned ferry terminal were to become part of the private sector. Coastal communities like Bar Harbor shouldn’t be forced to compromise their wellbeing for economic reward. Based on Governor LePage’s track record for disrespecting democratic values, he must be reminded that his constituents have spoken. Sign the petition to pressure him to respect the people’s voice and not pursue any type of legislative intervention.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Governor LePage,

On June 12, 2018, residents of Bar Harbor on Mount Desert Island overwhelmingly voted to purchase an empty ferry terminal from Maine’s Department of Transportation for $3.5 million. As you are well aware, this was a means to prevent the suspected development of a quarter-mile-long commercial pier where massive cruise ships could tie up instead of anchoring in the harbor and transporting passengers to land on separate ferries. Over the years, this form of tourism has become a contentious issue for locals living near Acadia National Park. Despite the economic rewards that tourism allegedly brings to the island, large sea vessels overwhelm communities with hordes of short-term visitors and contamination of local waters.

Now it is expected that an independently owned port authority will yield positive results for working-class islanders. According to reports, there will be a pubic marina for cruise ships to use, but at the community’s own discretion. Expect limitations to be put in place. This way, the downtown waterfront of Bar Harbor won’t be burdened by such heavy foot traffic, 17-story high cruise ships obstructing the scenery, or polluted waters. For once in your tenure as Maine’s governor, don’t undermine the people’s voice or try to intimidate your political opponents. Admit defeat and allow this measure to follow through uninhibited.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Tony Hisgett

Denounce Ornithologist for Killing Endangered Bird

Target: David Yarnold, CEO of the Audubon Society

Goal: Denounce scientist who killed extremely rare bird in the Solomon Islands.

Deep within the forests of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, a male mustache kingfisher was photographed for the first time shortly before being killed for scientific research. This was Christopher Filardi’s decision, the director of Pacific Programs at the American Museum of Natural History’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation. According to his field journal, the bird ¨specimen¨ was collected for further speculation despite less than 1,000 remaining in the wild.

Although Dr. Filardi tried to justify his actions by saying that a specimen was needed to accurately record the bird’s features and decipher human impact on the birds’ survival, the scientific community is rightfully outraged. How can someone be searching for a bird for more than 20 years, only to take its life once it is encountered? Sign the petition to decry this unnecessary killing while urging influential conservationists to formally denounce such practices.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Yarnold,

As the CEO of the Audubon Society, you have the responsibility to serve as a watchdog in cases of unethical scientific research. Not long ago, fellow ornithologist Christopher Filardi stumbled across the extremely uncommon male mustache kingfisher on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands – its only known habitat. Moments after being photographed, this endangered species was euthanized. So far you haven’t expressed any outrage on this matter, which is disappointing, to say the least, considering the dwindling population.

In no way, shape, or form does the conservation of birds require killing rare ones for scientific study. Conservation biology doesn’t need to be so bloody. Such practices are going to send the wrong messages to future generations who will feel entitled to kill beautiful creatures found in nature. In short, it will set a dangerous precedent for human-animal interactions. Please rectify this cause by speaking out against this matter.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: American Museum of Nature History

Protect Napa Valley from Environmental Degradation

Target: Ivan Menezes, CEO of Diageo

Goal: Urge companies in Napa Valley not to overexploit the land.

Wine industry experts like Warren Winiarski are calling for limitations in Napa Valley, California over environmental concerns. In 1976, his Stag’s Leap Winery won top honors at a blind tasting in Paris that transformed the Napa region into a global wine contender. Since then, he has become one of many residents and local business owners concerned about the area’s gradual ecological decline. The problem: former rich oak woodlands are being converted into labyrinths of vines. Fewer trees mean less oxygen, less replenished groundwater, and more chances for soil erosion. Today the question persists: has Napa Valley reached its agricultural limit?

To raise awareness about these environmental concerns, there’s an ongoing local initiative called Measure C. The committee’s goal is to put a cap on the amount of oak tress to be cleared for the development of future vineyards. Currently there are approximately 500 wineries in the valley, which is only 30 miles long, five miles wide, and one of California’s most beloved natural treasures. Many of these companies are foreign-owned and seeking profits at all costs. Sign the petition to urge one of the largest enterprises in the area (though based in the U.K.) to respect the finite resources of Napa Valley.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Menezes,

As you’re probably well aware, there’s a growing movement in Napa Valley to preserve the integrity of the former landscape. Prior to the influx of vineyards over 30 years ago, this region was full of biodiversity, with plentiful livestock and fruit trees. Now the monoculture of grapes has taken over and augmented further deforestation, resulting in ninety-five percent of local oaks being cut down and replaced with grapes. Considering that developers aspire to expand operations in nearby hillsides, please commit yourself to preserving the last vestiges of the original terrain.

These woodlands play a vital role in Napa Valley’s ecology. What remains of the once-thriving oak forest serves an essential role in the valley’s watershed. Don’t allow the pursuit of power and wealth overshadow the importance of protecting natural resources like water and healthy soil. The reality of the situation is that more than a third of the remaining trees rest on fertile grounds that vineyard enterprises like yourself want to capitalize on. It’s estimated that by 2030, approximately 3,065 more acres will have disappeared due to the growing wine industry. We aren’t demanding your company go out of business, just that it embrace responsible farming. Know your limitations.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Tony Webster

Save the Endangered Pacific Marten from Extinction

Target: Greg Sheehan, Principal Deputy Director of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Goal: Place Pacific marten back on endangered species list to ensure survival.

Studies warn that Pacific martens in Oregon could face extinction within the next few decades if conservation efforts aren’t made. Found in remote forest habitats in coastal Oregon and Northern California, marten populations have been sparse across the board ever since they reemerged in 1996. Numbers have drastically dwindled due to trapping, roadside fatalities, and habitat destruction. In 2015, conservationists petitioned to put the species back on the endangered species list, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service deemed it ¨unwarranted.¨ This is what needs to change.

Ongoing research at the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station led by Katie Moriarty shows that there’s one community around the Oregon Dunes that’s especially vulnerable to extermination. What she discovered were restrictive living spaces for martens to inhabit with the nearby Highway 101 serving as a barricade. Considering that Pacific martens were considered extinct for 50 years, they deserve our utmost protection. The first step to saving them involves guaranteeing federal recognition of their endangered status. Take action by signing the petition.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Director Sheehan,

Reports from the U.S. Forest Pacific Northwest Research Station in Oregon say a population of Pacific marten will soon perish if they aren’t properly cared for. Wildlife expert Katie Moriarty from the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station is currently monitoring a richness (collective of martens) where only 71 adult martens remain in two small communities by the Umpqua River. One of the groups south of the river faces up to 99 percent risk of extinction according to the wildlife organization. All of this is due to habitat loss and human action.

Believed to have been extinct for 50 years, this rare species of marten only reappeared in 1996. Not having them federally classified as endangered seems ludicrous based on their legacy. Seeing that your committee expects to redetermine the Pacific marten’s status in October 2018, please understand that their survival depends on their inclusion into federal programs. Such classification will increase the likelihood of obtaining more lands for their future occupancy. Legal protections are essential for subpopulations around the Umpqua River to interact and reproduce at higher rates.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Oregon State University

Promote the Conservation of Cuckoo Bees

Target: Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks and the Minister Responsible for the Climate Change Office in Alberta

Goal: Guarantee the continual study of cuckoo bees to ensure biodiversity growth and environmental conservation.

The rare macropis cuckoo bee (Epeloides pilosulus) is charting new territory in western Canada. Recently the endangered species appeared in Alberta for the first time in recorded history. With mainstream news of bees primarily revolving around colony collapse and loss of habitat, scientists say this bee lineage represents a new part of the story.

Part of what makes this non-pollinating bee special is its ¨kleptoparasitic¨ adaptations. Specifically, they install their eggs in nests of other pollinating species. Called ¨social parasites¨ due to their ability to take over hives, they also allude to an area’s biological health. Since bees require plants for sustenance, more cuckoos (originally presumed extinct) signify that enough nutrients are supporting hosts. This tells researchers that honey bee populations may finally be recuperating.

The cuckoo bees’ expanded range  marks a major milestone in environmental studies, one conservationists should work diligently to protect. This migration should be vigilantly monitored to better track environmental progress in Alberta. Depending on where the cuckoo bees end up could help the scientific community better understand how bees are prospering. Let public support guide conservation efforts by signing the petition.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Ms. Phillips,

For the first time ever, the endangered cuckoo bee appeared at Elk Island National Park in Alberta. Even though these solitary specimens are considered parasitic based on how females lay eggs in pollinating bee hives – they’re indicative of an area’s biological health. These bees are completely reliant on their pollinating hosts for survival, who in turn depend on plants. Therefore, when plant species disappear, so do the cuckoo bees.

Seeing their new progressions signifies that fauna is flourishing in the area. Let’s maintain the momentum by investing in further investigations. One way to improve the likelihood of survival would be by planting ¨swamp candle¨ plants in marshy areas. In addition to colony collapse, the development of wetlands is another major threat to cuckoo bees. Yet more of them means improvements are underway and should be continuously monitored. For an insect assumed to be extinct to suddenly reappear is certainly worthy of further research efforts.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: linsepatron

Ban Synthetic Pesticides

Target: J. Erik Fyrwald, CEO of Syngenta

Goal: Support Switzerland in becoming the second country in the world to scrap the use of synthetic pesticides.

Switzerland will soon decide whether or not to entirely eliminate synthetic pesticides. Switzerland may be home to the world’s largest pesticide manufacturer, Syngenta, but over 140,000 people signed the referendum to divest from the industry. Thanks to direct democracy, the popular vote is expected to succeed with approximately 13 percent of Swiss farmers already using organic methods. The only other country with similar policies is Bhutan.

Grassroots organizer Etienne Kuhn launched the crowd-funded project in November, 2016. Now he’s expected to face opposition from agrochemical supporters trying to prevent legislative changes. Early advocacy will guarantee more public support as Switzerland begins its checks and balances. Industries would have to adapt within 10 years if the ruling passes. In the interim, aid Swiss citizens in phasing out synthetic pesticides by signing the petition below.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Ms. Bozzi,

Switzerland could soon become the second country in the world to entirely ban synthetic pesticides. This is good news for wildlife, including bees and fish, which are threatened by these harmful chemicals. These pesticides can also pose a hazard to the reproductive, endocrine, and central nervous systems of humans. Removing them entirely could have innumerable benefits for Switzerland as a whole.

Ten years for industry personnel should be enough time to plan accordingly. For once in the history of science, apply the precautionary principle by banning the use of these harmful chemicals.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Jeff Vanuga

Protect Earth’s Ozone from Hazardous Gases

Target: Erik Solheim, Head of United Nations Environment Programme

Goal: Cut back emissions of illegal chemical capable of disintegrating ozone.

Scientists recently detected troubling atmospheric levels of a substance capable of destroying the ozone. Known as CFC-11 (chlorofluorocarbon), this compound is particularly harmful due to its ability to break down ozone molecules. When CFCs disintegrate after years in the atmosphere, they release chlorine atoms that strip the ozone of its molecular properties. In the end, they contribute to the growing hole hovering above Antarctica that exposes the Earth to harmful radiation. More radiation hitting the Earth’s surface means imminent danger for humans, animals, and plants.

Originally, this product was developed in the 1930s as a refrigerant. Eventually used as propellants in aerosol sprays and solvents, it took a while for scientists to grasp its dangerous potential. Despite being banned in 1987 with the Montreal Protocol, evidence shows that illegal emissions have been steadily increasing in East Asia. To deter climate change, urge the United Nations Environment Programme to seriously tackle this dilemma through improved air monitoring stations, sanctions, and new diplomacy. We can’t afford to have CFCs degrading the airspace.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Solheim,

Recently scientists announced that CFC-11 (chlorofluorocarbon) is on the rise in the atmosphere. While your committee thought the chemical was declining, it has actually been increasing at an alarming rate in East Asia since 2012. Studies show that CFCs disintegrate stratospheric molecules and stay intact for approximately 50 years – meaning this ozone-depleting gas must be continuously monitored. Research says that ozone recovery could be delayed by a decade if this situation isn’t resolved soon.

When it comes to protecting the atmosphere, chlorine-based chemicals are public enemy number one. Global warming will only be accelerated as ozone depletion continues, gradually leaving humans with less protection from intense solar energy. The bigger the hole gets, the more likely non-melanoma skin cancers and respiratory problems such as asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis will transpire. Consider these options as we urge you to come up with new initiatives to rid the Earth of this toxic gas.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: NASA

Endorse Plastic-Eating Enzyme to Combat Plastic Waste

Target: Cory Booker, U.S. Senator from New Jersey

Goal: Encourage Congress to endorse enzyme capable of curbing plastic waste.

American and British scientists recently discovered a plastic-eating enzyme that could potentially lower mankind’s impact on the environment. What makes this substance unique is its ability to metabolize polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, at fast rates. Patented in the 1940s, PETs have a notoriously long lifespan prior to biodegrading and currently litter much of the biosphere, especially in marine ecosystems where aquatic animals are inadvertently digesting deathly amounts of plastic. Research shows that over eight million tons of plastic debris is entering the ocean every year.

Plastic contamination is becoming a rampant problem, since only 9 percent of it is recycled worldwide. Recently, a sperm whale was even found dead along the beach with over 64 pounds of plastic in its system. Although the enzyme prototype is still being perfected, legislative support from the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works is essential for future implementation. Backed by Congress, the laboratories involved could pioneer prospective rehabilitation projects and provide sustainable solutions to society’s plastic dependence. The sooner we rectify this crisis, the better.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Congressman Booker,

Researchers from Britain’s University of Portsmouth and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory recently made a scientific breakthrough after adding amino acids to a bacteria extracted from a Japanese dump. The modified enzyme is capable of quickly digesting polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, which is the most common type of plastic scattered across the Earth. As a member of the Superfund, Waste Management, and Regulatory Oversight congressional board, you have the potential to change the dangerous course we’re taking in terms of contaminating the planet.

While both facilities are still perfecting the strand, your endorsement will be paramount in order to someday introduce this product to the public sphere. Imagine the strides the United States could make in lessening our need for landfills while deterring plastics from reaching the ocean. Animals’ lives could be spared and new jobs created by producing innovative recycled products or creating new processing facilities across the country. This way, we can prevent further debris from reaching the ocean and hinder further ecological destruction. We urge you to support this important work.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Bo Eide