Stop Hydroelectric Dams from Destroying Cambodia’s Ecosystems

Target: Hun Sen, Cambodian Prime Minister

Goal: Prevent dams constructed for hydropower from negatively impacting fishing migration patterns and fishers’ and farmers’ livelihoods.

Eleven hydroelectric dam projects along the Mekong River in Cambodia threaten the area’s river ecology and fish populations. These dams could irreparably harm seasonal flood patterns and the livelihoods of the farmers and fishermen who rely on the river. Permanent environmental destruction will occur with the development of the hydroelectric dams.

During monsoon season, the Mekong River floods May through November and backs up into the Tonle Sap River and Tonle Sap Lake. After the rain ends and water recedes, the river flow reverses in the Tonle Sap River and it returns to being a tributary to the Mekong River. Farmers rely on the flood waters bringing nutrients and sediment to their farm fields and fishermen rely on the predictable fish migration patterns. Residents in the area have built their lives and culture around the flooding, constructing floating or stilted homes and using the natural patterns of the river for their income. The dams would significantly alter this hydrology, changing fish migration patterns, altering sediment deposition, and otherwise threatening the food security of the area. Fish and rice are food staples not only in Cambodia but in all of Southeast Asia.

The hydroelectric dams might be a step towards modernizing Cambodia but they will come at a cost. The livelihoods of the residents that the hydropower will purportedly help could be destroyed by this development. That is not to mention the significant environmental destruction. Sign the petition to prevent the destruction of the Mekong River and irreversible damage to the residents who rely on it.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Prime Minister Hun Sen,

The hydroelectric dam projects up and down the Mekong River threaten Cambodia’s ecosystems and residents. It is understood that the hydroelectric dams are meant to modernize Cambodia and provide electricity to the half of the population without, but this comes at a significant cost. The residents here have adapted to the predictable flood patterns during monsoon season, building their lives and culture around it. Farmers and fishermen rely on fish migration patterns and sediment deposition to feed themselves and the region. The majority of the region’s fish, rice, and vegetables come from small farms. Cambodia’s food security would be threatened, not to mention all of Southeast Asia. All of this would be permanently and negatively impacted by changing the hydrology of the Mekong River with more hydroelectric dams.

Please, do not let modernization destroy your ecosystems and residents’ lives. Consideration needs to be made for the damage to the Mekong River hydrology, fishing migration patterns, and the residents who rely on the river to feed their families. Stop the development of these hydroelectric dams and allow your citizens to carry on their way of life unimpeded.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Steven Pavlov

Stop Sanctioning Cruel Wildlife Hunts on Nature Reserves

Target: Johannes Nobunga, CEO of Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency

Goal: Do not allow wildlife hunting for sport at Kruger National Park or the adjacent private nature reserves—lands supposedly dedicated to “conservation.”

Tragically, a male lion was killed when he was most likely lured with bait out of Kruger National Park and into Umbabat Private Nature Reserve, allegedly by an American trophy hunter. Unconfirmed reports by the Daily Maverick suggest that this lion may have been the leader of his pride. If this is the case, his cubs will most likely be killed as well, as the other males of the pride vie for leadership. This tragedy should have been avoidable: the Associated Private Nature Reserves (APNR), which owns the land where the lion was killed along with over 1,000 square kilometers of land supposedly meant for “conservation,” did not include this lion in its hunting quota. However, the Daily Maverick reports that permission to hunt was given anyway, under the licensing authority of the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency. The organization allowed this despite receiving a Cease and Desist warning from two non-profits, EMS Foundation and Ban Animal Trading, threatening legal action if the hunt occurred.

This unfathomable cruelty is symptomatic of wider corruption. While the killing of this lion should have fallen outside the realm of permissible hunts as per the APNR quota sanctioned by the Kruger National Park and Provincial Authorities, many argue that no hunting should be allowed on these lands at all. The Daily Maverick article reports that the combined quota for hunting on the national private reserves Timbavati, Klaserie, Umbabat and Balule in 2018 was 4,467 animals, including “52 elephants plus a bull older than 50 in Umbabat which could potentially be a 100-pound tusker, which many argue should never be hunted. It also listed 36 buffalo (despite a 68% drop in numbers to 2,327 in 2017), 44 kudu, 19 warthogs, seven hippos, a lion, a leopard, eight hyenas, five giraffes and 4,171 impalas.” The killing of these innocent animals is a travesty that must be stopped. Sign below to demand that wildlife hunts be forbidden on national reserves and in Kruger National Park.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear CEO Nobunga,

The Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency must stop allowing wildlife to be hunted on lands that should be meant for conservation. The tragic killing of a male lion, supposedly lured out of Kruger National Park by an alleged American trophy hunter and killed in Umbabat Private Nature Reserve, was not permitted by the 2018 APNR hunting quota for those lands and never should have been sanctioned by your agency. The existence of this quota is itself an unacceptable cruelty, and should be eliminated entirely.

The innocent wildlife allowed to be hunted on these reserves must be preserved, especially as their numbers continue to plummet. Conservationists, activists, and tourists alike are fighting to stop the killing of these animals. Your agency even received a Cease and Desist warning from the EMS Foundation and Ban Animal Trading regarding the hunt of the male lion that you permitted to be killed. In addition to the cruelty of the unnecessary deaths of these animals, banning hunts would benefit the tourism industry, which relies on keeping these animals alive. I urge you to stop allowing wildlife to be hunted at Kruger National Park and the surrounding national private reserves.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Johan van der Merwe

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

Stop the Disappearance of Songbirds’ Habitat

Target: The Right Honourable Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland

Goal: Protect garden warblers from habitat loss by encouraging the growth and preservation of thick scrubs.

Scotland’s garden warblers may be in danger of total habitat loss due to an increasingly tidy countryside. The birds prefer to live in thick brush over anywhere else, and due to the disappearance of wild brush, the species is becoming harder and harder to spot. Habitat loss often leads to severe endangerment, and possibly extinction.

While wild brush can be a risk due to the possibility of wildfires, it is not fair to simply dispose of all that remains. Brush can easily be contained to certain areas, to create a natural reserve for the birds so that they may enjoy their chosen environment and have a chance to fortify their numbers to prevent possible endangerment.

As of right now, the garden warbler is on the “least concern” list, but is still disappearing. By protecting areas of wild brush, we can take preventive measures against further endangerment of these charming little birds. Sign this petition to demand protected brush areas across Scotland’s countryside.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear First Minister Sturgeon,

Garden warblers are at risk for habitat loss. The birds prefer and thrive in thick brush, which is becoming rarer in Scotland’s increasingly tidy countryside. Understandably, there is a concern about wildfires caused by leaving thick brush to lie everywhere, yet it is not fair to the birds to remove every last trace of it. Habitat loss leads to endangerment, which can lead to extinction in a short time.

Currently, the garden warbler is on the “least concern” list, and you must not let that change. By preserving areas of thick brush as protected safe spaces for the warblers, we can let them thrive in their favored environment, thus eliminating a possible threat of their disappearance down the line. Please fund the creation of such safe spaces by ensuring the preservation of wild brush in the countryside.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Francesco Veronesi

Save Marine Life and Reduce Plastic Waste

Target: Dr. Wijam Simachaya, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Kingdom of Thailand

Goal: Stop mass amounts of mismanaged plastic waste from killing marine animals by minimizing the use of plastic.

A pilot whale that washed ashore in Thailand tragically died after five days in the care of veterinarians, who removed 17 pounds of plastic from the whale’s stomach. They pulled about 80 soaking wet plastic trash bags from inside the whale. Plastic debris is a global problem and is massively dangerous to wildlife—especially marine animals, because so much of this waste ends up in the ocean, where these animals mistake it for food. This is what scientists at the Thailand Department of Marine and Coastal Services say is the likely cause of this pilot whale’s death. As Nick Mallos of the Ocean Conservancy states, “Whether it’s a straw or whether it’s a bottle cap, those items can be eaten by animals, and they pose threats through getting stuck in their digestive tracts. It can tear their stomachs. So these products in their entirety are problematic, but what’s equally, if not even more, concerning is that over time these materials are in the ocean, they begin to break up into smaller and smaller pieces.”

According to a study in the journal Science, Thailand was among the six countries with the most “mismanaged plastic waste” in 2010. In light of the example of this whale’s death—which is one of the hundreds of thousands of marine deaths caused by plastic that go largely unnoticed by humans—many are calling on Thailand’s government to take action to reduce plastic by taxing either producers or consumers. As Enric Sala, a marine ecologist with National Geographic, points out, “Every minute [there] is the equivalent of a garbage truck full of plastic going into the ocean. The problem is so huge, but the solution is easy. We can stop plastic from getting into the ocean, and this has to happen at different levels.” Sign below to demand that Thailand do its part and reduce its plastic waste to save our oceans.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Dr. Simachaya,

The horrific death of a pilot whale that washed ashore on the beaches of Thailand with 17 pounds of plastic lodged in its stomach is indicative of the massive threat posed to our ocean environments and marine life by plastic waste. This threat cannot continue to go unchecked. According to marine ecologist Enric Sala, “Every minute [there] is the equivalent of a garbage truck full of plastic going into the ocean.” Thailand must do its part to help solve this problem.

A study reported that Thailand was one of the top countries with “mismanaged plastic waste” in the year 2010. This problem is rampant in the Asia-Pacific region in particular, and it is therefore your responsibility to ensure that your country does its part. Now is the time to reduce Thailand’s plastic waste and ensure that it is better managed, by imposing taxes either on companies that produce these plastics or on the consumers who use them. I urge you to protect our environment for future generations, and to save the lives of the innocent creatures being killed by human waste. Please take steps immediately to reduce Thailand’s plastic use and keep our oceans clean.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Fabi Fliervoet

Stop the Decline of Australia’s Large Fish Species

Target: The Honourable David Littleproud, Australia’s Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources

Goal: Protect Australia’s large fish species from further decline.

Excessive fishing has caused a decline of 30 percent in several of Australia’s large fish species. While climate and habitat change also play a role in this decline, it has recently been shown that overfishing is the lead cause. And while 30 percent in the past decade may seem like a small decline, it is a slippery slope when it comes to wildlife vulnerability and endangerment.

Every wildlife species is important to the ecosystem, but large fish are especially vital as they control the krill and plankton populations as well as any potential overgrowth of seaweed or algae. Marine ecologists are pushing for a review of the current fisheries and their impact on the environment; unfortunately, assistant minister for agriculture and water resources Anne Ruston claims there is no need for such a review, calling the fisheries “world class.”

We cannot allow overfishing to cause a further decline in large fish species. The loss of even a single one could do irreparable damage to the oceans and overall environment. Sign this petition to demand the ministry allow the review and aid in the protection of large fish species.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Minister Littleproud,

Australia’s seas have seen a slow but steady decline of several large fish populations due to excessive fishing, in addition to climate and habitat change. This is a slippery slope, as 30 percent can easily become more, and lead to extinction within years. Every species of fish is vital to the ecosystem, and larger fish control the population of smaller ones as well as any overgrowth of seaweed or algae.

You must allow for a review of Australia’s fisheries as soon as possible. Excessive fishing has been a problem for years, causing a decline in many other fish species as well as endangering other marine wildlife. Fisheries need to be evaluated and possibly changed in order to protect these fish species from further decline.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Sea Dave

Ban Single-Use Plastic Products in the European Union

Target: Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament

Goal: Support proposed ban of single-use plastic products in the European Union.

In an effort to reduce carbon emissions and keep marine environments pristine, the European Commission proposed a ban on some single-use plastic products and a drastic decrease in the use of others. The ban targets products like plastic cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers, and sticks for balloons. It would also call for the reduction in the use of plastic food containers and drink cups by blocking their ability to be freely used. This plan mimics the practice of charging a nominal fee for plastic bags at supermarkets. The proposal awaits the approval of EU governments and the European Parliament.

In a statement the Vice President of the European Commission, Jyrki Katainen, said: “Plastic can be fantastic but we need to use it more responsibly. Today’s proposals will help business and consumers to move towards sustainable alternatives.”

Sign this petition to urge the president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, to support the ban of single-use plastic products.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Tajani,

The European Commission has proposed a ban on certain single-use plastic products and regulations that would drastically reduce the use of others. This would help to keep carbon emissions low as well as protect the fragile marine ecosystems that are most affected by single-use plastic waste. I urge you to support this proposed ban on single-use plastic items in the European Union.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Hans Braxmeier

Praise Costa Rica for Banning Fossil Fuels

Target: Carlos Alvarado, President of Costa Rica

Goal: Praise Costa Rica government for banning fossil fuels.

President Carlos Alvarado has announced a complete ban on fossil fuels in Costa Rica. This establishes the small country as a major leader in political action that fights against climate change. While announcing the ban, Alvarado said: “Decarbonization is the great task of our generation and Costa Rica must be one of the first countries in the world to accomplish it, if not the first. We have the titanic and beautiful task of abolishing the use of fossil fuels in our economy to make way for the use of clean and renewable energies.”

The country has already committed to using renewable energy resources. Costa Rica gets over 99% of its electricity from renewable energy and last year the nation went 300 days without the use of fossil fuels for electricity. Although no specific plans were unveiled around the compete ban of fossil fuels, Costa Rica seems poised to be one of the first nations to succeed in using only renewable energy sources.

Sign this petition to praise the Costa Rican government for its commitment to phase out fossil fuels.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Alvarado,

Your recent announcement on the ban of fossil fuels in Costa Rica sets up your nation to be one of the first to move to using 100% renewable energy. This ban shows a huge commitment to a cleaner, more sustainable Costa Rica; it also invites other nations to follow in your wake. I urge you to continue to enact policies that support environmental sustainability and I congratulate you on your decision to phase out fossil fuels.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: John

Reduce Toxic Fumes in Rural India

Target: Dr. Harsh Vardhan, India’s Minister for Environment, Forest, & Climate Change

Goal: Reduce air pollution threatening rural populations in India.

Air pollution in India threatens rural citizens’ health, but monitoring and regulations focus on urban areas. With 70% of India’s population living in rural areas, the majority of India remains unprotected from inhaling hazardous air pollutants.

Researchers have modeled concentrations of ozone and particulate matter in the air across India and correlated these to premature mortality. Of the 7.6 million air pollution-related deaths per year worldwide, one million are estimated in India. The majority of these premature deaths are in rural populations from circulatory and respiratory conditions due to low air quality. Although the rural areas lack the industry and high transportation numbers generally associated with significant air pollution, rural areas experience other contributors such as indoor cooking over open flame and rural energy fueled primarily by wood, dung, or biomass. These, in addition to the pollution from factories and increasing use of cars in urban areas, contribute significantly to India’s air pollution, which disproportionately impacts often overlooked rural populations.

Monitoring and regulations associated with tracking and minimizing air pollution often focus on industrial and/or urban areas. However, as is the case in India, rural populations suffer as much if not more from the ill effects of poor air quality. Sign the petition to encourage Indian officials to focus pollution control efforts on their rural populations.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Minister Vardhan,

Industry, increased transportation, and the use of wood, dung, and biomass as fuel in rural areas is polluting India’s air. An estimated one million Indians die prematurely every year due to circulatory or respiratory conditions related to toxic air pollution. Many come from rural areas of India, where 70% of your population is living. Yet most of the resources and research on the effect of air pollution is focused on urban areas. This leaves the majority of your populations vulnerable to the adverse health effects of increased ozone and particulates in the air, taking an average of 3.4 years off the average lifespan of your citizens. Industry and transportation are often targeted in urban areas as the major polluters, but the burning of wood, dung, and biomass as primary fuel sources in rural areas are significant contributors to declining air quality.

Monitoring and research is required to understand and evaluate the health effects of inhaling these toxic pollutants. Education will also help in reducing the significant contributors to air pollution from rural life. Minister Vardhan, please, focus resources on curbing air pollution not just in urban areas but in rural areas, where the majority of India’s population suffers.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: McKay Savage

Ban Commercial Fishing in Australian Marine Park

Target: Josh Frydenberg, Environment Minister of Australia

Goal: Protect endangered hawksbill turtles by keeping marine park closed to fishing.

The critically endangered hawksbill turtle has been spotted migrating towards the Coral Sea marine park in Australia. Unfortunately, the Australian government plans to open the park to commercial fishing very soon, which could easily mean the end of the species. Worse, environment minister Josh Frydenberg is defending this decision.

Commercial fishing is one of the leading causes of endangerment and extinction among aquatic wildlife, due to the animals getting snagged on fishing lines or caught in drift nets. It is also very disruptive and destructive to their habitat and feeding habits; krill and other small fish are caught with lines or in nets, and even seaweed and other plants can be disturbed or uprooted this way. The Coral Sea currently serves as a highway between the hawksbill’s nesting beaches and feeding grounds, but if commercial fishing is legally permitted, both the species’ nesting and feeding will be heavily compromised.

The hawskbill turtle has already been hunted to near extinction for its shell. If commercial fishing is allowed to disrupt their habitat and lifestyle, the species could disappear forever. Sign this petition to demand the Coral Sea marine park be kept free of fishing.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Minister Frydenberg,

Your support of the Australian government’s decision to allow commercial fishing in the Coral Sea marine park is a dangerous one. The Coral Sea currently serves as the highway between the nearly-extinct hawksbill turtles’ nesting beaches and feeding grounds, and the legal allowance of commercial fishing will badly disrupt their habits and daily lives. They will either become snagged on fishing lines or caught in nets.

The hawksbill turtle has already been hunted to near-extinction for their shells, and if their habitat is infringed upon, they will disappear forever. Do not allow commercial fishing in any part of the Coral Sea marine park. You must allow this park to remain a safe space for the hawksbill, along with any other vulnerable aquatic wildlife.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Aquaimages