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

Demand Protection Against Rising Sea Levels

Target: Scott Pruitt, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency

Goal: Prevent widespread damage from flooding caused by climate change.

Rising sea levels are now an immediate threat to coastal cities. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, recently reported that rising sea levels are creating conditions for high-tide floods to occur on a far more regular basis than before. Major coastal cities like Miami and San Francisco are already experiencing more flood days than usual. The reports show that within 100 years major coastal cities will be flooding daily, with San Francisco sinking into the earth with every passing day.

Currently, some cities are adopting measures to prepare for the inevitable and reduce damage wherever possible. The extent of the damage is entirely dependent on how cities react, so it’s absolutely urgent that they begin enacting legislation to protect coastal towns now. Sign the petition below to demand the EPA get the ball rolling on tangible solutions.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Pruitt,

No community should have to worry about extreme flooding of their homes. Yet, people in major cities like New York, Norfolk, San Francisco, Miami, and more are at severe risk of losing their homes due to climate change-related sea level rises.

The one thing you can do is enact policies that require coastal cities to create a budget for dealing with sea level rises. Several cities already started without you, so get on the right side of history with this issue. I demand you enact a policy of this sort; it’s the least you can do.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Petty Officer 1st Class Stephen Lehmann

Justice for 200 Birds Found in Cockfighting Raid

Target: Alan Blankenship, Associate Circuit Judge, Stone County Circuit Court, Missouri

Goal: Ensure that the criminal leading a cockfighting ring serves the maximum sentence and pays maximum fines.

More than 200 birds were rescued from a property associated with cockfighting in Missouri recently. Investigators found birds in ramshackle wire cages, with no access to food or water. Several birds were found with injuries that were in line with cockfighting; cockfighting paraphernalia such as gaffs, spurs, and drugs (to maximize injury and enhance performance, respectively) were also found on the property. The cockfighting operation was discovered during an investigation that initially involved a search warrant for narcotics. The ASPCA was contacted, and both authorities carried out the warrant.

Cockfighting causes extreme injuries to the animals. Common injuries include broken bones, punctured lungs, and pierced eyes. The gaffs and spurs found cause these injuries, and the steroids cause enhanced aggression in the birds. There is a maximum fine of $10,000 and separate sentences of up to four years in prison for possession of paraphernalia and possession of birds.

There is no excuse for condoning such a distasteful activity. Demand the criminal who forced these animals to fight and suffer terrible conditions receive the maximum penalty for each offense.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Judge Blankenship,

According to several sources including the ASPCA, more than 200 birds were rescued recently from a property associated with cockfighting in Stone County, Missouri. Police were initially at the site with a search warrant for narcotics, but soon discovered paraphernalia for cockfighting. Authorities found  steroids to enhance aggression in the birds and fighting paraphernalia such as knives and daggers that would be attached to the birds at the property. In addition, birds were found in makeshift wire cages with no access to food or water. As you know, possession of birds and paraphernalia for fighting, and conducting a cockfight, have a maximum sentence of up to four years in prison each. An offender can also be fined up to $10,000.

I ask that you fine whoever led this cockfighting ring the maximum fine and sentence them to the appropriate number of years in prison. This illegal act condemns birds to inhumane conditions and makes them suffer from terrible injuries such as punctured lungs, pierced eyes, and broken bones. Whether it be dog or rooster, no animal should be forced to fight another for human entertainment. I hope that you think of the two hundred birds found at this residence; many of them have already been forced to endure atrocious conditions and serious injuries.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: JohnstonDJ

Make Access to Healthy Environment a Human Right

Target: Erik Solheim, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program

Goal: Support framework that would help defend environmentalists, not criminalize them.

John Knox, a rapporteur on human rights and the environment for the UN, is pushing to make the right to a healthy environment a human right. Environmentalists are targeted for defending the environment and vulnerable communities. Even more so in recent years, conservationists have been kidnapped, arrested, prosecuted, and outcasted for their work. Big business and those who have big stakes in natural resources such as land often target environmentalists who oppose their agenda. Last year, 197 environmentalists were murdered, according to Global Witness, a monitoring group.

However, the UN and other nations are showing support for the environment and its allies. The UN is currently scaling up training for judges, prosecutors, and police in environmental law. They also encourage them to work with companies who invest in human rights. Although environmental rights are still yet to be recognized in many nations, Knox is pushing for a UN resolution, which includes a policy framework to help support environmentalists and not criminalize them. His first policy is that states should ensure a safe, clean, and healthy environment that respects, protects, and fulfills human rights. His understanding of human and environmental rights allows him to see the connection between the two spheres.

Furthermore, he is pushing for support for vulnerable groups and acknowledgement of the role of business and governments in environmental and human rights.

Environmental rights are deeply intertwined with human rights. Often, those who cannot defend their own land and resources (water, food, air) suffer from exploitation. Knox’s ideas to implement a policy framework to support environmentalists and for the UN to recognize a healthy environment as a human right will help protect vulnerable communities and environmentalists. Sign the petition below to urge the UN to implement this framework.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Solheim,

The UN Environment Program is committed to improving the quality of life and environment for people without compromising that of future generations. In order to ensure quality of life for future generations, we must recognize that a healthy environment is a human right. Many groups and communities are vulnerable to environmental exploitation, for example through land grabs, illegal development, and development that promotes pollution. John Knox, the rapporteur on human rights and the environment, is proposing that a policy framework be put into place to help protect environmentalists and to also recognize a healthy environment as a human right.

Although the UN is committed to making sure that judges, police, and prosecutors are receiving more training in environmental law, we must extend this consideration to environmentalists and conservationists. Often, they are criminalized, but they are the ones who champion human and environmental rights when authorities and other groups do not.

Environmental health is closely linked to human health. People living in terrible conditions, ingesting polluted waters, inhaling polluted air, and having no access to natural resources, have their human rights revoked. They can no longer live in with dignity when they have no access to a healthy, clean environment. I urge you to push the UN to consider environmental rights as human rights and promote the policy framework to support environmentalists.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Osakabe Yasuo

Protect the Amazon from Deforestation

Target: Juwang Zhu, Director of the Division for Sustainable Development (DESA)

Goal: Amend Brazil’s new Forest Code to protect the Amazon.

The Amazon is in danger thanks to Brazil’s new Forest Code. The code, which was approved in the country’s Supreme Court recently, will have negative effects on the environment, as it places lax regulations around deforestation and does not protect the environment. In short, the new code, which replaces the 2012 code, puts economic interests above environmental protection. This new code is critical to Brazil’s future, as the Amazon nears a tipping point at which the forest will permanently become a savannah. This has implications for biodiversity, water supply, and climate change.

The new code was supported by an agribusiness lobby that ran propaganda in the news promoting ruralist interests and presenting them as scientific information. As a result, many parts of the code allow deforestation and development. An example is that deforesters who illegally cleared forest before 2008 will not be forced to pay the fines enforced on them. A member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences claims that this new code regularizes deforestation and and holds nobody accountable.

Conservations are concerned that illegally deforested lands will not be reforested without strict enforcement. Others are doubting the country’s judicial system and its ability to deliberate on complex technical questions regarding deforestation, socio-environmental issues, and climate change. Although the new code recognized the consequences of deforestation and set a basis for future socio-environmental cases, the Supreme Court did not uphold the constitution when it came to protecting the environment. They are allowing development and deforestation to continue. Sign the petition below to urge the Director of the Division for Sustainable Development, which holds the Committee for Forestry, to urge Brazil to amend the new code and implement more pro-environment policies.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Zhu,

In Brazil, a new code that replaced the 2012 Forest Code was approved recently. In it, it is obvious that the agribusiness and economic interests are favored over environmental protection. Farming on floodplains, urbanization projects, and no obligation to reforest illegally deforested areas are only a few of the policies deemed constitutional under the new code. Illegally deforested land may never be reforested again, as offenders are not being held accountable for their actions.

This new code is critical in Brazil’s history as the Amazon might reach its tipping point soon—the point at which the forest will turn into a savannah—causing extremely negative consequences. These consequences are tied to climate change, loss of biodiversity, and social and environmental issues. Without a voice to defend the environment, Brazil’s forests will continue to be cut down, with little hope of recovery.

As the Director of Sustainable Development and overseer of the Committee for Forestry, you are in a unique position to urge Brazil to amend the code. Although the code may now be the law of the land, perhaps they can set a precedent and amend a Supreme Court ruling if it means protecting the environment. I hope that you speak out against the new code and all the future consequences that will stem from it.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Josh Estey

Stop Cruel Plan to Slaughter Pigs Faster

Target: Sonny Ramaswamy, Director of USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Goal: Stop proposal that would lead to more painful deaths for slaughtered pigs.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) proposed New Swine Slaughter Inspection System would remove speed limits at pig slaughterhouses. This means slaughterhouses can increase production even more, totaling up to 1,300 pigs or more per hour, an increase from the average 1,100 every hour today. This is problematic for animal and workers’ welfare.

Workers might resort to excess force using electric prods when moving animals down the line. Furthermore, pigs might not be stunned efficiently, meaning they could become conscious during the killing process. Workers might handle the animals more roughly because they are being pressured to work more in order to kill more pigs in a day. This proposal mirrors the National Chicken Council’s petition to speed up poultry slaughter, which was rejected by the USDA.

Slaughtering pigs is already an inhumane act, and this new proposal to remove speed slaughter limits would impose even harsher conditions for animals. Sign the petition below to urge the USDA to stop the proposal and consider animal welfare.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Ramaswamy,

As the Director of the National Institude of Food and Agriculture, you have a responsibility to help solve challenges regarding food and agriculture. Recently, the USDA announced a New Swine Slaughter Inspection System, which would remove the speed limit of killing pigs in slaughterhouses. This would mean an increase from 1,100 pigs to 1,300 pigs per hour. This might also mean pigs are not stunned properly, resulting in pigs gaining consciousness during slaughter. Workers might feel the need to use excessive force through electric prods and rough handling to speed up slaughter and meet daily goals.

There is no need for a greater production from slaughterhouses. Already, they produce over 120 million pigs per year to feed the meat industry. We should be taking measures to reduce our carbon footprint through less meat consumption and looking into plant-based alternatives. Faster slaughter speeds will not only overwork slaughterhouse employees, they will jeopardize animal welfare. USDA has already rejected the National Chicken Council’s proposal to speed up poultry slaughter, and I hope USDA does the same for pigs. It would be hypocritical and unjust for you to pass a proposal similar to one that was rejected. I hope that you speak out against this new proposal and help protect animal welfare.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: PxHere