Repeal Law That Threatens Lives and Safety of Environmentalists

Target: António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations

Goal: Repeal law that violates human rights and puts the lives of environmentalists in danger.

Environmentalists will soon be targeted by the Polish government for their beliefs. The Polish government passed a bill that will prohibit spontaneous gatherings of environmentalists at the world climate summit in Poland this year. Experts, NGOs, businesses, and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change will meet to negotiate Paris Agreements and often, spontaneous assemblies are necessary during the process. If spontaneous assemblies are banned, citizens will not be able to participate in the process, a violation of the freedoms of assembly, association, and speech. In addition, the bill grants the government the power to place attendees under surveillance and gather personal information without the attendees’ consent.

Another concern will be endangering environmentalists who have faced scrutiny in their home country. With more than 197 environmentalists murdered in 2017 for championing environmental rights, attendees are afraid the personal information the Polish government collects will be shared and jeopardize their safety at home. Certain groups are hesitant to attend if the bill is not repealed. A Filipino indigenous human rights defender, for example, has received threats from the army several times in her home country, and fears this bill would endanger her life even further.

There has been a group of attending organizations calling on the UN, EU members, and  Poland to repeal the law to protect human rights. Several ongoing environmental disputes in Poland might have induced this law in order to avoid unwanted protests. The UN should be actively trying to repeal the law, as it violates fundamental human rights; environmentalists should not feel unsafe for voicing their concerns at an event where that is exactly the purpose. Sign the petition below to urge the UN to help repeal this law.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Guterres,

The international climate change Conference of the Parties is being held in Poland this year. With experts, environmentalists, NGOs, businesses, and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change attending, there will be exchanges of ideas and opinions that will require spontaneous assemblies. However, Poland has passed a law–which has not been addressed by the UN–that prohibits spontaneous assemblies and subjects attendees to surveillance. Furthermore, the government has the power to collect personal information without the attendees’ consent, which is alarming for environmentalists who face scrutiny in their home countries.

In 2017 alone, 197 environmentalists were murdered for protecting lands, resources, and human rights. The United Nations was founded on the premise of protecting human rights and this has extended to environmental rights throughout the years. The climate change conference should be a safe space to discuss how we can be better stewards over the the planet and its resources, how we can protect environmental rights and preserve endangered communities. Mr. Guterres, I urge you to speak out against this law that bans the freedoms of assembly, speech, and association or move the conference to another location.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Evan Schneider

U.S. Military Must Reduce Toxic Waste and Contamination

Target: Jim Mattis, United States Secretary of Defense

Goal: Demand that the Pentagon work to clean up areas that have been contaminated with military pollution across the United States and worldwide.

The United States military is the world’s largest polluter, producing more toxic waste than the five largest U.S. chemical manufacturers combined. Both domestic and foreign U.S. military bases consistently rank as some of the most polluted places worldwide, with hazardous jet and rocket fuel components being major culprits for contamination. With hundreds of bases listed on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Superfund cleanup list, it is clear that something must be done.

In the United States, almost 900 of the 1200 sites identified by the EPA as being the worst polluted locations are former military sites and bases. According to retired Michigan congressman John D. Dingell, “almost every military site in this country is seriously contaminated.” Globally, the situation is even worse, from groundwater contamination in Okinawa to depleted uranium leftover from the Gulf War in Iraq.

It is time that the United States military and the Department of Defense (DoD) take necessary measures to clean up their toxic legacy. Sign this petition and demand that more be done to reduce waste and address the severe contamination found at military bases and other installations worldwide.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Secretary Mattis,

The United States military has the dubious honor of being the world’s largest polluter, with almost 900 of the EPA’s Superfund sites consisting of former military bases and other sites. Worldwide, U.S. military actions have left contamination at thousands of locations, from the nuclear fallout on the Marshall Islands and Guam to depleted uranium leftover in Iraq from the Gulf War. At home, Navajo Indian reservations have been poisoned by former DoD-contracted uranium mines. These are just a few of many examples.

It’s time that the U.S. military and Department of Defense act to address these issues that have exposed potentially many millions of people to hazardous waste known to cause cancer and other illnesses. We, the undersigned, urge you to step up efforts to clean up the pollution found at both domestic and foreign bases and to pledge to reduce waste moving forward.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Ian Cunliffe

Clean Power Trumps Pollution: Hold Super-Polluter Accountable

Target: William H. Spence, Chairman, President, and CEO of PPL Corporation

Goal: Demand one of the country’s top polluters enact clean power solutions.

Toxic: this is a fitting word for agents that cause impaired lung development, respiratory disease, and premature death. These effects just represent the toll on humans. The impact toxic air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions exert on the environment is manifest in a different kind of symptomology: rising water levels, erratic swings in temperature, dying ecosystems, and unforgiving natural disasters. A few years ago, an alarming study about America’s ‘super-polluters’ revealed that just 100 US companies released fully one-third of this country’s pollutants into the atmosphere. America ranks only behind China as the world’s largest polluter, so a mere 100 companies not only pollute US skies, they add millions of metric tons of environmental killers to the world as a whole. Of these 100 companies, energy giant PPL Corporation stands among the very worst. With continued federal deregulation and lacking EPA support, destructive organizations like these will continue to destroy our environment unchecked.

The Center for Public Integrity’s super-polluters list measured companies based on toxic air pollution and greenhouse gas levels. Two separate top-100 lists resulted, and several companies had the ‘honor’ of making both of these lists. Only PPL, however, had three offenders on both lists. In the time since this list’s unveiling, PPL has done little to mend its destructive practices. The organization remains the seventh biggest emitter of carbon dioxide in the country. Recently, PPL’s shareholders approved a measure requiring reports of how any climate change initiative would curtail their earnings. While some of the organization’s plants run by oil and natural gas, several—particularly in Kentucky—are powered by coal, a significant pollutant-inducer.

EPA leaders are continuing efforts to abolish the Clean Power Plan and its requirements for states to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Therefore, PPL may feel emboldened to abandon modernization investments for its plants. Sign this petition and urge PPL leadership to take a significant step into the future for the sake of progress and, more importantly, for the longevity of our environment.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Spence,

Across the country, similar stories unfold in disadvantaged regions. Much is emphasized about the economic well-being of these communities, but distressingly little is said about a more insidious, devastating problem. Residents of these regions are literally being choked and strangled over a long period of time. From Indiana to Kentucky to Pennsylvania, these residents and the very air they breathe are under assault from poison. Much of this poison rests in your organization’s hands.

You have the dishonor of being named one of the country’s most prominent super-polluters. Your emissions—most notably from your coal-powered plants—consistently rank you in the top 10 of carbon dioxide contributors in the United States. It is not too late, however, to reverse this trend— to put environmental and public health before profit margins.

Follow through with plans to create an energy infrastructure that better reflects the direction of the rest of the world. This will help you stay in step with your progress-minded competitors while implementing a new, better mission for your organization’s future. Honor the spirit of the Clean Power Plan and clean up the chaotic damage you have helped create.

Be a true consumer advocate and ambassador for change by leaving pollution and toxicity in the past and by forging a better, cleaner path forward.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Jason Hawkes

Tell FEMA to Stop Ignoring Climate Change

Target: William B. “Brock” Long, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Goal: Acknowledge the reality of climate change and include it in FEMA’s strategic plan for the next four years.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the U.S. government’s first responder to natural disasters, and it has dropped all references to climate change from its latest strategic planning document, which will guide its actions for the next four years. Administrator Brock Long, the head of FEMA and the person who signed off on this Strategic Plan, was appointed to this office by President Trump. He has been publicly evasive about humanity’s role in climate change, and even about its very existence, stating, “The term climate change has become such a political hot button that, I think, it keeps us from having a real dialogue.”

FEMA’s Strategic Plan refers to “rising natural hazard risk,” and “pre-disaster mitigation,” but does not address any conditions causing those risks, and completely avoids using the terms “climate change” or “global warming.” In the Emerging Threats section of the document, terrorism and cybersecurity are mentioned, while weather events, rising sea levels, and anything related to the possible impact of the earth’s escalating temperatures are all conspicuously and thoroughly absent. Climate change poses threats to life around the globe, and it is therefore extremely dangerous to the world at large for America’s emergency management system to ignore it completely. Sign below to demand that FEMA include climate change and fully address its risks in the strategic planning document.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Administrator Long,

As leader of FEMA, it is your responsibility to ensure that our country is prepared to deal with emergencies it may face as effectively and efficiently as possible. There is absolutely no way to do this if one of the largest threats to our country and to the planet—climate change and the risks associated with it—is not even mentioned in FEMA’s strategic planning document.

Natural disasters, rising sea levels, and increases in the surface temperature of the earth are extreme dangers to our planet, its wildlife, and the whole of humanity. Yet FEMA’s Strategic Plan mentions none of these things in its Emerging Threats section, and skirts around the conditions behind the “rising natural hazard risk” we face. This is irresponsible and unacceptable, and must be remedied. I urge you to ensure that climate change and all its associated threats are thoroughly addressed in FEMA’s Strategic Plan for the next four years.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Tumisu

Justice for Dozens of Horses Found Dead and Malnourished

Target: Aaron Balsamo, Executive Director of the Humane Society of Wicomico County, Maryland

Goal: Ensure the owners of the farm where dozens of horses were found dead face justice.

In Wicomico County, Maryland, more than two dozen horses were reportedly found dead and many were found malnourished in the back of a farm. Desperate, the horses had eaten the aluminum siding and fiberglass insulation on the side of the house, in addition to breaking the glass doors at the back of the house in search of food. Shocked, the county sheriff and the director of the Humane Society of Wicomico County are planning to take the horses to an undisclosed location, after having fed them hay and grain donated by local stores.

One horrible scene the sheriff recounts is a mare giving birth to a stillborn calf after it had gotten stuck in the birth canal. While the owner, Barbara Pilchard, was reportedly cooperative in helping rescue the remaining horses, she allegedly claimed that it was acceptable to let the horses decay in the fields. Authorities disagreed, asserting that infectious diseases could seep into the groundwater, which is why they are disposing of the bodies in in a lined landfill to keep groundwater safe.

Although one neighbor stated that she never saw an emaciated horse on the property before, the horses reportedly remained in the back of the farm where they were difficult to see. In addition, Pilchard was charged with 100 counts of animal neglect in 1995, when 200 cats were removed from her property. There had also been a complaint about the property about animal neglect, but there was no sufficient evidence to move the case forward.

These animals were reportedly forced to live in terrible conditions for who knows how long. They were forced to eat inedible materials because they were so desperate for food, allegedly neglected by their owners. Sign the petition below to urge the executive director of the Humane Society of Wicomico County, Maryland, to help ensure that these property owners can never keep animals again, if found guilty of neglect.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Balsamo,

The atrocious scenes you witnessed at the Pilchard farm, where dozens of horses were found dead or malnourished, is unimaginable. There is no acceptable explanation for any person who cares for animals to subject them to conditions under which they are forced to eat aluminum siding and fiberglass insulation. Mares should not be neglected when they are giving birth, resulting in a tragic stillbirth. With the Humane Society, the local police department, and volunteers working together, these horses will be relocated somewhere they will be taken care of.

Clayton and Barbara Pilchard should not be able to keep animals again, if found guilty of neglect. In 1995, Barbara Pilchard was charged with 100 counts of animal neglect after 200 cats were removed from the same property. There had been a complaint against them before, but there was not enough evidence to move the case along. It is clear that the Pilchards are not fit to keep animals; they are allegedly not able to keep them safe and fed. I hope that you keep animal welfare the first priority and prevent these two criminals from inflicting harm on any other animals in the future, should they be found responsible.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Robert Jones

Urge Norwegian Krill Fishing Company to Contribute to Antarctic Conservation

Target: Øyvind Eriksen, CEO of Aker ASA

Goal: Reduce krill fishing in Antarctica.

Antarctica, one of the world’s last great wild spaces, is being compromised as a result of industrial krill fishing. A Greenpeace study analyzed the movements of krill fishing vessels in the area and noted that the vessels are increasingly operating “in the immediate vicinity of penguin colonies and whale feeding grounds.” This means that the krill fishing vessels are adding human competition to the natural feeding cycle of these animals. The study also noted incidents of the krill fishing boats being involved in groundings, oil spills, and other accidents, which pose a serious threat to the Antarctic ecosystem.

Concern about the impact of fishing and climate change on the Antarctic ecosystem has led to a global campaign to create a network of ocean sanctuaries to protect the Antarctic seas. Furthermore, Greenpeace is calling for an immediate stop to fishing in areas that are labeled as sanctuaries. Frida Bengtsson, a representative for Greenpeace’s Protect the Arctic campaign, said: “If the krill industry wants to show it’s a responsible player, then it should be voluntarily getting out of any area which is being proposed as an ocean sanctuary, and should instead be backing the protection of these huge swaths of the Antarctic.”

Even though krill are very small organisms, they are the foundation of the Antarctic food chain. A combination of industrial krill fishing and climate change could have an adverse effect on the populations of larger predators. A study warned that in ten years’ time the penguin population could decrease by as much as one third as a result of changes in krill biomass.

There is a global demand for krill-based products, which are usually health products that claim to help a range of issues from heart disease and high blood pressure to strokes and depression. The krill industry is only expected to grow in the coming years. However, without any government in Antarctica, the responsibility for maintaining the ecosystem falls on all of the countries and companies involved in the industrial krill fishing industry. Since the 1970s, krill populations in Antarctica have declined by 80%. Unless changes are made, this decrease could continue and have adverse effects on the whole ecosystem. Sign this petition to urge Øyvind Eriksen, CEO of Aker ASA, to limit krill fishing in Antarctica and immediately stop krill fishing in sanctuary regions.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Eriksen,

As the CEO of a company involved in offshore fishing operations, you know how quickly the industrial krill fishing industry is growing. New countries like China are getting involved and countries like South Korea, who have had small fishing operations, are growing their business in krill fishing. The demand for krill-based products is growing as word of its positive health benefits spreads.

However, krill are necessary for the Antarctic food chain and without a large amount of krill biomass, other animals will suffer as a result. The entire Antarctic ecosystem is at risk if large companies like yours do not take a stand to protect it. I urge you to immediately stop fishing in sanctuary zones and to limit fishing in Antarctica to protect these fragile ecosystems.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Leonora (Ellie) Enking

Praise Indonesia for Protecting Endangered Species

Target: Siti Nurbaya Bakar, Minister of Environment and Forestry, Indonesia

Goal: Praise efforts to stop wildlife crimes and help protect endangered species.

A council court in Indonesia sentenced two slow loris traders to three and a half years in prison and fined them $7,620, a historical ruling which will help deter wildlife crimes. In the past, illegal slow loris traders were sentenced to only 3-12 months even if they were caught with dozens of slow lorises, an endangered species, in their possession. This severe punishment will help send a message to the media and the public about the seriousness of wildlife crimes and will, ideally, help deter them in the future.

The two defendants were arrested in September, 2017 by the West Sumatra Quick Reaction Forest Police Unit of the Law Enforcement Department of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry Sumatra Region. In their possession were nine caged Sumatran slow lorises, to be sold off on the streets or in illegal animal markets. Their teeth are usually clipped to make them easier to handle, making them susceptible to death from infection or blood loss before they reach the market. They are sold as pets, which is a craze fueled by YouTube videos portraying them as cute and cuddly.

Slow lorises are in danger of becoming extinct, and they belong in the wild, not in the hands of animal poachers or in homes. The collaboration between the Indonesian Department of Environment and the public courts to uphold severe punishments for wildlife crimes is helping deter future crimes. Sending a message that illegal trading is punishable up to the maximum penalty is the first step in protecting and conserving wildlife in Indonesia. Sign the petition below to thank the Ministry of Environment and Forestry for their efforts.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Minister Bakar,

An Indonesian council court and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry worked together to sentence two slow loris traders to the maximum penalty of three and half years in prison and a fine of $7,260. This harsh sentence sends out a message that wildlife crimes are punishable by maximum penalties. For the endangered slow loris, this is a momentous ruling, as these animals are caught and sold in illegal animal markets to be kept as pets. Prior to being sold, their teeth are clipped, making them vulnerable to infection and blood loss.

While the average sentence for illegal slow loris traders used to be 3-12 months, even with substantial evidence against them, this recent trial shows that the government is serious about wildlife crimes. If a trader is found guilty of intentionally saving, collecting, pet-keeping, and trading live protected wildlife, they are subject to maximum penalties. I want to thank you for leading the Ministry in helping ensure that protected animals in Indonesia are kept safe. I hope that you continue to enforce the rules and regulations to increase public awareness about protecting and conserving wildlife.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Michael Whitehead

Support Shoe Company’s Unconventional Role as Environmental Champion

Target: David Kahan, CEO of Birkenstock Americas

Goal: Back companies driven by missions of environmental sustainability and eco-friendly policies.

In response to the bold actions of some manufacturers in the wake of the Parkland massacre, a new tool for advocacy and reform has gained prominence: the ‘buycott.’ Rather than refusing to support certain businesses, as happens in a boycott, the buycott is designed to reward those organizations that step up to aid a popular cause. This approach reflects the increasing power of the consumer. For individuals advocating environmental and related animal welfare causes, a German shoe company has emerged as an unlikely but strong ally.

Birkenstock, a maker of comfort-based footwear, recently received an award from PETA’s youth branch for its strong advocacy of veganism. The company’s contributions to such causes—now spanning over five decades—are ingrained in its very production processes. Sustainability remains a key goal , with environmentally friendly materials such as water-soluble adhesives and natural cork safely taken from trees embedded in the makeup of Birkenstock’s popular sandals. These materials also make the shoes easily reusable at the point when many other types of footwear would have been discarded and relegated to waste piles. In addition to its products, Birkenstock likewise emphasizes environmental awareness in its packaging and even in its store designs. Carbon emission and consumed energy reduction are consistent priorities in these processes and in the planning of future campaigns.

Consumers can affect change by empowering organizations that share their values while sending a strong message to those who only value the bottom financial line. Sign this petition to support Birkenstock and other business leaders willing to support our environment and all its precious resources.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Kahan,

Social responsibility and sustainability are prominently featured on your website. You consistently demonstrate these commitments in actions as well as words. Congratulations on the Libby Award given you by PETA’s youngest members. While your commitment to veganism is admirable, you provide an even more far-reaching benefit to all of this planet’s living beings through your dedication to environmentally sound processes and initiatives.

Every day, you are demonstrating how a company can succeed without sacrificing quality, comfort, or, most importantly, integrity. In a world where our environment is increasingly under assault, it is heartening to see progressive entrepreneurs who recognize the value of our world’s natural resources.

Please continue your eco-friendly approach and know that consumers who care stand behind you every step of the way.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Osakabe Yasuo

Denounce Dog Cloning

Target: Kitty Block, Acting CEO of The Humane Society of the United States

Goal: Protect worker dogs and shelter dogs by helping to stop dog cloning.

Dog cloning is made possible by worker dogs who donate eggs and carry a litter. Those who have money and those who never want to say goodbye to their pet spend more than $50,000 to replicate their dog. The process includes a group of female dogs donating their eggs and acting as surrogate mothers. While surrogacy might be common among humans, dogs have no say when they are used for cloning purposes. They are subject to medical procedures for which they don’t sign waivers or consent forms. 

In addition to exploiting female dogs, cloning hurts countless other dogs that could be rehomed if only these canine lovers adopted instead of replicating their dogs. Instead of letting dogs move on, people who replicate their dogs choose to never say goodbye because they are privileged. In this way, they see dogs as tokens and things to be kept and collected, not as beings that should be valued for their individuality.

Instead of cloning dogs, pet owners can seek bereavement counseling and pet loss care. Cloning a dog will not replace the original pet; cloning a dog condemns animals to serve as a means to an end and condemns shelter dogs to be put to rest. Sign the petition below to urge The Humane Society of the United States to stop dog cloning and prove that it does indeed care for all animals’ welfare.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Ms. Block,

Pet owners condemn many animals to medical procedures when it comes to dog cloning. Involved female dogs are harvested for their eggs and serve as surrogates for pet owners who do not want to say goodbye to their dogs. Many spend more than $50,000 when they can just respect the pet’s passing or adopt a shelter dog and possibly save a life.

We should not treat dogs as things to be kept and collected, but as beings that should be valued and respected. This statement applies to working female dogs and to dogs that pass away. Instead of dog cloning, pet owners can seek pet loss counseling and look into adopting from a shelter. As CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, you have the clout to speak out against dog cloning and endorse adopting from shelters. We cannot claim to value dogs when we subject many of them to medical procedures and treat the ones that pass away as collectibles that should be preserved. I hope that you help stop this practice and ensure that all canines are protected.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: David, Flickr

Don’t Hide the Negative Effects of Fracking

Target: State Senator David Koehler, Illinois

Goal: Pass legislation that would enable more transparency in the harmful fracking industry.

The oil and natural gas industries have often been quiet about the negative effects fracking has on the natural environment and human health. However, new legislation in Illinois would require that fracking companies be more transparent about plans, chemicals, and consequences, which could potentially save the environment and human lives.

This Illinois bill, currently being debated by state legislators, would require companies to receive written approval before fracking on private property. It would also require these companies to inform property owners as to where pipelines will be. It will also require companies to release the names of chemicals used in the fracking process.

Fracking, if it cannot be eliminated, must at least be heavily regulated so that the negative consequences we have seen across the country do not repeat themselves. Sign the petition to demand that the bill to increase fracking’s transparency be passed.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Senator Koehler,

A new bill introduced in the Illinois state legislature would require the oil and natural gas industries to substantially increase transparency when it comes to fracking. Chemicals will be publicly disclosed, as will pipeline routes. Property owners will have more say as to whether or not their property is affected.

Oil and natural gas industries have gotten away with deception for far too long. Transparency must be increased so that the environment and human health can be protected. I demand you work with your fellow lawmakers to pass this bill.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Joshua Doubek