Remove Anti-Animal Rights Politician from Job in “Wildlife Protection”

Target: Ryan Zinke, United States Secretary of the Interior

Goal: Remove avid anti-animal rights figure from a position that would give her complete control over the fate of our nation’s endangered species.

A woman who has spent most of her political career fighting against the protection of endangered species has been promoted to a leading role in the United States Department of the Interior. Despite her stance against endangered animals, Susan Combs will help oversee federal wildlife policy.

No endangered species will be safe under Combs’s rule. She has referred to endangered species lists as “incoming scud missiles.” These words and other harmful political stances have prevented Combs from receiving official Senate confirmation. However, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has found a loophole by awarding Combs an acting role in the interim.

Susan Combs will not protect natural landscapes of the United States. She will destroy them. Sign the petition to demand that she be removed from her position immediately.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Secretary Zinke,

Susan Combs, a woman who has spent her entire political career fighting against endangered species, is now in charge of their “well being.” She has been given this duty despite Senate opposition.

Combs will not serve the American people’s interests. She will not do her duty to protect the United States and its natural landscapes. I demand she be removed from her position in the Department of the Interior immediately.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Bureau of Land Management

Praise India for Punishing Celebrity Guilty of Illegal Hunting

Target: Pradeep Nandrajog, Chief Justice of Rajasthan High Court

Goal: Praise Indian court for protecting wildlife animals and holding illegal hunters accountable.

A famous Bollywood star in India has been sentenced to five years in prison and fined $153 for poaching a species of protected Indian antelope. It is believed that the actor, Salman Khan, and four other actors were present in the car during the incident in 1998, but fled when caught, leaving the dead animals behind. The other actors were found not guilty due to lack of evidence.

Without a special permit, most wildlife species are off limits to hunters in India. Khan was arrested for hunting two antelopes and three other gazelles, and eight years later, he was convicted of killing the antelopes. The charges hung over him for the next decade, but in 2016, he was found not guilty of poaching the gazelles. The allegations first came from a witness who wrote down the vehicle number as it sped away from the scene. In 2018, finally, Khan was found guilty of illegal poaching.

Because of his status and affluence, Khan continues to be showered with affection from his fans. Although he has a history in court for drunken misbehavior, domestic abuse, and a fatal hit-and-run, his male followers empathize with him, claiming that he is only a human male who makes mistakes. This is a toxic attitude, but sentencing him to prison and issuing a fine signals that not even celebrities should walk free if they violate wildlife laws. Sign the petition below to praise the Rajasthan High Court for protecting wildlife and enforcing laws regardless of status.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Chief Justice Nandrajog,

Salman Khan, a famous Bollywood actor, has been sentenced to five years in prison and fined for illegal hunting in 1998. While filming a scene, Khan (and allegedly several other actors) killed the animals, which were then a vulnerable and protected species. While the other actors were acquitted, Khan is going to pay the price for harming wildlife.

Celebrities should not be given a free pass when it comes to following wildlife regulations. Although Khan’s fans still adore him after allegations and instances of domestic abuse, drunken misbehavior, a fatal hit-and-run, and illegal poaching, I am glad that the court is serving justice for wrongly killed animals. I applaud your efforts in enforcing wildlife laws, even for citizens of high social and economic status. With this guilty verdict, India demonstrates that it does not tolerate illegal hunting and will do what it takes to protect wildlife.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Bernard Dupont

Regulate Electronic Waste to Protect Waterways and Public Health

Target: Kepha Ombacho, Kenya’s Director of Public Health

Goal: Create and implement policy to regulate e-waste, protecting environmental and public health.

Kenya generates 44,000 tons of electronic waste (any device that uses a plug or battery) each year, posing great public and environmental health hazards. Electronic waste is a huge problem across the world, with 45 million tons produced in 2016, but in Kenya, this waste is not regulated. This is a growing problem for waterways such as the Nairobi River, where e-waste is dumped and toxins are distributed to agricultural areas. While there are three facilities licensed to handle e-waste, they are all currently running under capacity because of a lack of awareness about the dangers of e-waste and how to dispose of it properly.

A rise in income and a decline in electronics prices have contributed to this problem. Kenya also receives large amounts of e-waste from Europe, which is a common practice for developing countries. Across Southeast Asia, many landfill workers make money from recycling electronic parts or separating precious metals from the plastics. Direct contact with dangerous materials like lead, cadmium, and chromium are associated with developmental and behavioral problems, especially with children. In addition, these toxins accumulate in soil, waterways, and food.

Regulating e-waste has the potential to increase awareness about proper disposal practices not just with electronic waste, but with plastic waste. It also has the potential to turn the conversation to harmful consumer behaviors. Consumers often discard older electronic models when they still work or keep broken ones in their homes without disposing of them properly. Kenya’s government must implement a policy to regulate e-waste before it causes any more damage to the environment and its people. Sign the petition below to urge the Kenya’s director of public health to push for this legislation.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Director Ombacho,

Electronic waste is a huge problem across the world, but it is even more so in Kenya, where 44,000 unregulated tons are produced each year. Because there is no policy regulating e-waste, it is common practice to dump it into waterways, streets, and regular garbage bins. Electronic waste is highly detrimental to human health; it causes developmental and behavioral problems, especially in children. Toxins from e-waste also accumulate in soil, waterways, and food. The Nairobi River is now an awful e-waste dumpsite, and the rest of Kenya’s waterways are affected.

Kenya can make a positive impact on global e-waste by implementing a policy to regulate it. This waste has potential to improve recycling for all types of garbage, such as plastic. It can also help steer the conservation to changing consumer habits, not only regarding proper waste disposal and recycling, but also being mindful of purchasing new electronics when old ones can be repaired or traded in. Although widespread access to electronics may signal social and technological progress, we must ensure that it does not cause environmental degradation and public health deterioration. I hope that you implement a policy to regulate e-waste and help protect environmental and public health.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Sascha Pohflepp

Trump, Tell Unethical EPA Chief ‘You’re Fired!’

Target: Donald Trump, President of the United States

Goal: Remove the EPA administrator for ethics violations.

Seemingly every day, more details emerge about the egregious ethics violations committed by EPA head Scott Pruitt. With this continuous stream of allegations, more demands for Pruitt’s resignation or firing emerge as well. Recently, over 60 members of Congress sent a letter to President Trump calling for the embattled EPA chief’s resignation.

Most of the allegations swirl around gross financial abuse of organizational funds, including millions of dollars in extravagant travel expenses, office furniture worth more than the annual salary of the average American worker, use of emergency vehicles as ‘escorts’ to a  lavish restaurant, and a security detail that far eclipses security for the president himself.

Even more troubling , however, are the actions that have a direct impact on the future of a vital American agency. In line with the unprecedented number of lobbyists now circling the EPA, Pruitt rented a luxury room from a well-known lobbyist in the energy industry that falls under EPA regulation. When concerned EPA employees exposed these abuses, they were punished with demotion.

While other EPA employees categorize Pruitt’s tenure as a “low point,” President Trump continues a wholehearted defense of his foot soldier in unprecedented assaults on environmentalism. Sign this petition to hold the president to his campaign promise of “draining the swamp.”

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Trump,

‘Drain the swamp.’

This was one of your most consistent and passionate rally cries. With your continued defense of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, you have broken this pledge.

Will you stand in support of someone who views office furniture as more valuable than a year’s worth of work from the average American? Will you pat the back of an individual who believes he is entitled to travel, accommodations, and security rivaling that of the president? Will you pledge your allegiance to a ‘swamp creature’ who uses his influence and taxpayer dollars to advance his own interests, or will you pledge allegiance to the United States of America and the individuals who elected you to be ‘their’ champion?

The choice is clear. Back Pruitt, or back the people.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Keep Nuclear Waste Away From Residential Areas

Target: Greg Clark, Minister, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Goal: Abandon plans to build nuclear waste storage facilities near residential areas.

As more nuclear reactors are built, the problem of storage continues to grow. In the UK, Britain is approaching residents of small towns with cash incentives to greenlight geological disposal facilities or underground nuclear waste storage. The process of choosing a suitable site and preparing and storing nuclear waste is highly technical, but still pose significant risks. This leads to a conflict between residents and scientists and those who support nuclear waste storage facilities. Britain has had a history of councils trying to built nuclear waste disposal sites without the consent of the public, which continues to feed mistrust today.

In 2012, residents and the media exposed a plan to build a 4.5 square meter nuclear facility in Northwest England near residential homes. The facility would hold Britain’s highest-levels radioactive waste; the plan was shut down due to public opposition after it was discovered that the plan were kept secret from residents. Now, local towns across Wales and England are being approached with incentives as high as $3.5 million a year to host the storage facilities, which would be built underground through a multi-barrier safety approach. This process includes turning the waste into insoluble glass, encasing them in steel containers  and then sealing them deep underground with cement or clay. The approach provides safety precautions to avoid leakage, but these plans require geological considerations such as water flow. 

While many countries have found areas that are suitable, such as Finland’s granite bedrock off the country’s west coast away from people, Britain is struggling to find appropriate areas. An expert claims that one suitable geological area might be one near the large metropolitan area in London and Oxford, but says he cannot see a facility being built there. 

To protect residents from potential radioactive disasters, we must ensure that storage facilities are thoroughly assessed before any plans begin. Their safety should not be bought through incentives; it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that clean energy does not jeopardize public health. Sign the petition below to ask Britain’s Minister of Business, Energy, and Industrial Energy to help protect the public from radioactive disasters. 

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr.Clark,

Britain is currently trying to find local towns to house nuclear waste. While most of Britain’s waste sits above ground today, underground waste facilities seem like the safest approach, due to a multi-barrier approach that helps prevent leakage. However, Britain is approaching local towns across England and Wales, offering incentives for towns to house radioactive waste, causing conflict between anti and pro nuclear waste storage facilities. 

While underground facilities take safety precautions, there are still risks involved, especially when said facilities are built in proximity to residential areas. These geological sites must be chosen carefully, to ensure that natural conditions do not pose an even higher risk. Finland and Germany provide a positive example of facilities taking into account scientific and political expertise on where the best potential sites are. Britain should follow suit and connect with locals and scientists before beginning projects. 

As Minister of the Britain’s Business, Energy, and Industrial Energy, you have a responsibility to ensure the UK has clean, affordable energy, but also to ensure that nuclear energy processes do not jeopardize public health. I hope that before building any nuclear waste facilities, that you take into account public health and scientific expertise. The public should not have to suffer from radioactive disasters that could have been prevented.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: D5481026

Protect Europe’s Heaviest Flying Bird

Target: Borja Heredia, Head Avian Species Team, UN Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals

Goal: Promote and increase support for organic farming to help protect great bustard populations.

The European great bustard is an endangered species suffering from intensive agriculture and man-made structures. It is an important species because it has the potential to determine the health of an area’s biodiversity. Spain and central Europe house the largest populations of great bustards, but their numbers have been steadily declining in Ukraine and Russia, especially. Poor management and conservation programs, along with intensive agriculture, have negatively affected their numbers in these areas.

Intensive agriculture uses pesticides and fertilizers that kill off insects in open landscapes, where great bustards live. If these lands use toxic chemical inputs, the bird no longer has insects to eat. Great bustards can be used as a flagship species (or symbol) for areas that use less-intensive agriculture. If we focus on protecting the great bustard, the entire health of open landscapes in Europe will also improve.

Another issue great bustards face are structures that obstruct their way, which often result in fatal interactions. Power lines are hazardous, as great bustards fly in low altitudes and cannot see them. Railway cables, wind parks, and roads are also a problem because they are barriers to movement and fragment landscapes.

To restore populations across Europe like they have done in Germany, conservation efforts must be implemented through decreased use of pesticides and fertilizers, leaving fields fallow, and ensuring that the birds have enough resources to support their young. Sign the petition below to urge the UN Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals to promote organic farming to protect the great bustard population.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Heredia,

The UN Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals has the capacity and expertise to help protect endangered animal populations. The European great bustard is one such endangered species–Europe’s heaviest flying bird which has suffered declining populations over the past few decades. Intensive agriculture, which uses pesticides and fertilizers, power lines, roads, and railway cables have all contributed to its decline. However, Germany has shown that with successful conservation efforts and collaboration between various stakeholders, it is possible to restore their populations.

Organic farming, a less intensive form agriculture which typically does not use fertilizers or pesticides and allows time for the fields to recuperate, is one solution to the great bustard’s decline. If the UN promotes organic farming through different campaigns and interventions such as encouraging consumers to purchase organically-farmed produce, and helping farmers adopt more eco-friendly farming practices, we can still save the bird’s populations.

The great bustard can be used as a flagship species for open landscapes across Europe. Intensive agriculture kills off insects and plants, which negatively affects the bird’s resources for survival. If we protect it, we are protecting a whole region, simultaneously. I hope that the UN can devise and implement a campaign to promote organic farming, which can be a part of a bigger conservation effort to save the great bustard. I firmly believe that with collaboration across various stakeholders such as land-owners, farmers, conservationists, and hunters, we can help save the great bustard.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Franceso Veronesi 

Demand Michigan Reject Nestle’s Exploitative Water Program

Target: Rick Snyder, Governor of Michigan

Goal: Demand that Michigan reject the proposed water extraction program by Nestle.

Nestle has plans to build a water extraction plant in Michigan, and when the public was questioned for approval, over 80,000 negative comments came in. The plant was still approved by the state legislature to begin construction later this year. There were less than 100 total approvals of the plant submitted through public comment, so why is Michigan still moving forward with the plant?

Nestle is a corporation known for destroying whatever environment it touches. Counties and states from all over the country have previously rejected Nestle’s plan for bottling plants, leaving them to search for whoever will say yes. Unfortunately for the people of Michigan, who are still recovering from the water crisis, Michigan said yes. Stand with us and sign the petition below demanding Michigan reject this plant before it’s too late.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Governor Snyder,

Michigan has been through enough in the last few years in regards to water quality. The state finally ended its free water bottle program and declared the water in Flint safe to drink again. These are landmark actions of progress that show the state is moving forward.

So, why are you so content on poisoning the water again? Nestle is known for polluting the environment it drills into, and Michigan is already a sensitive environment. There’s no good reason to destroy a landscape that is currently recovering from previous damage. We demand you stand on the right side of history and reject Nestle’s proposal. The people of Michigan have spoken, and it’s time to listen.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Alan Murray-Rust

Don’t Give Endangered Lands to Harmful Corporations

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

Goal: Don’t give endangered lands to companies with rich histories of environmental degradation.

Endangered land in Indonesia, and all of the habitats and species that come with it, may soon be destroyed. The government of Indonesia is planning to complete a “land swap” with peat companies. This swap will take untouched, yet severely endangered, natural lands and throw them into the hands of companies that have a proven history of environmental degradation.

This proposed swap comes after severe fires destroyed much of the nation’s peatlands. These fires released extremely dangerous amounts of carbon into the air. Since then, Indonesia has attempted to regulate peatlands. This latest swap is part of these efforts. However, this land swap will still result in environmental damage, just in new areas.

The land affected is estimated to be the size of Lebanon. Sign the petition to demand that this land be protected. Ask Indonesia’s government to scrap plans for the proposed land swap.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Minister Bakar,

Land the size of Lebanon, untouched by deforestation and industrialization, may soon be destroyed in your government’s proposed “land swap” with corporations. Though this land swap is part of your government’s efforts to regulate the exploitation of peatlands, this move will still inflict damage on your environment. The companies you are proposed to swap with have a history of unsustainable practices.

The shrinking, untouched land of your nation must be protected. I demand that you and your government throw out the proposed plans to swap Indonesia’s endangered lands and natural habitats.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Alasdair MacDonald

Stop Marine Animals From Drowning in Abandoned Fishing Gear

Target: Benjamin Friedman, Deputy Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Goal: Eradicate ghost gear that pollutes the water and severely disrupts delicate marine ecosystems.

Fishing equipment lost or discarded in the ocean, also known as ghost gear, is killing over 100,000 marine animals every year. The abandoned refuse pollutes waters, and it’s an accumulating threat to the delicate balance of the oceanic environment. Animals that become entangled in ghost gear suffer physical injury and drown, while other unfortunate creatures remain entrapped to die of starvation.

Fish, turtles, sharks, dolphins, whales, seals, birds and more get ensnared in ghost gear, unable to free themselves. Frighteningly, the entire wildlife food chain is affected because when one animal is caught up in the debris, its predators attempt to consume it and also become relentlessly trapped. Just one ghost fishing net, line, or trap can kill an enormous number of oceanic dwellers.

Tons of ghost gear ends up at the bottom of the ocean, continuously killing animals for no reason. In addition to destroying marine life, it also harms the underwater habitats of sediment-dwelling organisms and coral reefs. Making matters worse, ghost gear is composed of highly resilient and durable material that is estimated to take up to 600 years to deteriorate.

Every effort must be made to correct this problem before it is irreversible. Our government has a responsibility to protect the environment, and the problem will only worsen if effective steps are not taken to address the threat of marine garbage. Sign the petition to demand that ocean clean-up research be conducted and intensive action taken to save the ocean and its inhabitants.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Deputy Undersecretary Friedman,

Every year, lost or abandoned fishing nets, lines, and traps claim the lives of countless sea animals that become ensnared and unable to escape. This refuse problem, classified as ghost gear, has become increasingly threatening with the expansion of globalized fishing operations. Furthermore, the discarded fishing gear was designed and manufactured for durability and could take up to 600 years to break down.

The research and efforts that have been made to abate this problem are simply not enough. The issue of overall marine debris must be addressed in order to halt and reverse the obvious damages to oceanic ecosystems. This mounting environmental issue also directly harms human beings by creating pollution and diminishing food sources.

The ghost gear resting at the bottom of the ocean is deadly to countless aquatic animals, and it subjects living creatures to physical harm and a lingering death for absolutely no reason. It wreaks havoc on the entire wildlife food chain as predators also become imprisoned to await an agonizing death. I demand that extensive efforts be made to research the escalating problem of ghost gear in our oceans, and I insist that appropriate and intensive action be taken to protect the ocean for current and future generations.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: ECONYL

Do Not Allow Pesticide Manufacturers to Destroy Biodiversity

Target: Donald Trump, President of the United States

Goal: Block a proposed merger between two giant pesticide manufacturers that could result in the collapse of entire ecosystems.

The European Union (EU) has approved a merger between Monsanto and Bayer, two of the world’s largest chemical manufacturers that have both created a slew of deadly pesticides. These toxic products have devastated insect populations, which in turn is causing the slow extinction of many bird species and the collapse of entire ecosystems. The United States must block this merger or else the production of many pesticides, including bee-killing neonicotinoids, will likely expand greatly.

Pesticides have been linked with a loss of biodiversity worldwide, as important pollinators like butterflies, honeybees and birds have been poisoned and can no longer fertilize the many plants wildlife and humans rely on for food. Biodiversity has been further reduced thanks to the proliferation of genetically modified seeds and other GMOs produced by Monsanto. Rather than banning toxic pesticides or strictly regulating GMOs, the EU has paved the way for more of the same, and the planet will likely suffer as a result.

If the United States blocks this merger under existing antitrust laws, it will prevent these two companies from exerting immense control over the fate of agriculture and the environment worldwide. Sign this petition to demand that President Trump turn down this exceptionally bad deal for America and the planet as a whole.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Trump,

Pesticides are a major threat to the many species of birds, insects and other animals on our planet. If the Bayer-Monsanto merger is approved in the United States, it will likely mean that more of these toxic chemicals will be pumped out into American soil and waterways, causing potential harm to untold numbers of animals and people. This merger is bad for agribusiness in the United States and even worse for the global environment.

You must strongly oppose this attempted power-grab over agricultural policy and production by these two huge conglomerates. If these companies are allowed to merge, small farmers will suffer and bee populations may continue to plunge, putting future food security at stake. For the sake of this country and the planet as a whole, you must not allow this bad deal to go through.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: CGP Grey