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

Adapt New Technologies to Save North Atlantic Whales

Target: James Landon, Director of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Office for Law Enforcement

Goal: Adapt new regulations for the fishing industry to reduce harm to whales in the wild.

The North Atlantic right whale is facing extinction within the next 20 years due to serious entanglement issues in the ocean caused by methods used in the commercial fishing industry. Most fishers and crabbers use long ropes to keep track of the traps they lay at the ocean floor, something that is seriously damaging whale health. Whales get caught in these ropes and their instinct is to roll, which entangles them further. North Atlantic right whales are currently losing population numbers and not producing as many young as they used to, due to the stress on their bodies from the fishing industry. Less than 20o of these whales exist in the ocean right now.

There is a solution, though. New technology has led to advancements in rope-less trapping in the fishing industry, using sonar GPS signals and other advancements to track any cages or traps. Wildlife groups are calling on the National Marine Fishers Office to step up and help enforce the use of these new technologies. We are going to send a letter to the head of this organization to demand a change in behavior, before it’s too late. Sign the petition below to add your voice to the fight!

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Landon,

We are begging you to make some simple policy changes to the fishing industry that you help regulate. In order to save the whales, we need to implement the newest technology across the world. Please make regulation changes to ensure that whales can stay protected.

If we don’t take these steps now, then we might lose a precious species altogether. Please stand with us in protecting North Atlantic right whales.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Janice Waite

Protect Us from Polluters: Eliminate Corruption in the EPA

Target: Donald Trump, President of the United States

Goal: Remove political appointees with conflicts of interest from the EPA.

Close to 50% of EPA political appointees have ties to industry under the current administration, according to a study by the AP. With high-ranking officials in positions to ignore or bend the rules for former employees, questions regarding conflict of interest are raised. How can the EPA protect the public and enforce environmental regulations with so many employees having questionable loyalties?

The EPA recently named Steven Cook as the new chair of the Superfund Task Force, after the former chair resigned amid scandal. Cook has been at the EPA since February of 2018 as the deputy assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management, but prior to that spent over two decades as a lawyer for LyondellBasell Industries, one of the country’s largest chemicals, plastics, and refining companies, and a known past and allegedly present-day polluter. Of the approximately 1,300 toxic cleanup sites that the Superfund Task Force is in charge of monitoring, six are the responsibility of Lyondell Chemical Co., a subsidiary of Cook’s former employer. In 2010, Lyondell Chemical Co. settled with the U.S. government for $250 million for the cleanup of these six Superfund sites as well as nine other polluted sites. LyondellBasell is suspected by the EPA of polluting over thirty other sites.

The person previously entrusted to defend a known polluter is now in charge of supposedly expediting cleanup at their pollution sites, and many others. Rather than recuse himself, Cook, along with many other EPA officials previously from these industries, hides behind the flimsy belief that the ethics briefings mandated by the EPA are enough. But these are not sufficient to guarantee impartiality or the public’s safety. Sign the petition to call for the investigation and removal from the EPA of political appointees with ties to companies being regulated.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Trump,

The EPA under your administration has become a corrupt, toothless organization. Rather than protecting the environment and enforcing regulation, the EPA under your guidance is being systematically dismantled from within by employees who formerly represented or worked for the companies they are supposed to be regulating. The AP identifies one-third of last year’s 60 hires to the EPA as former lawyers or lobbyists for EPA-regulated companies. Nearly half of political appointees under your administration have some connection with industries regulated by the EPA. Steven Cook, the chair of the Superfund Task Force, spent over twenty years as a lawyer for a company whose sites he is now in charge of remediating.

This kind of flagrant ethical violation will not be tolerated by the American people. Discontinue the appointment of regulators from companies that are regulated, and remove people like Steven Cook, Nancy Beck, and countless others from positions where they can benefit their former employers. We need and deserve a clean environment, free from unregulated and unmitigated pollution.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: WhisperToMe

Environment vs. Polluters: Don’t Let the EPA Tip the Scales in Pollution’s Favor

Target: Charlotte Bertrand, Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator of the EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention

Goal: Continue measuring the impact of environmental damage and human health when crafting environmental policies.

As the ethics scandals continue piling up for EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, he is continuing to enact damaging and counterintuitive environmental policies largely unchecked and under the radar. The latest affront to the EPA’s mission came when Pruitt announced that the agency would fundamentally change the way it shapes regulatory guidelines. The regulations put in place by the EPA have large implications for both the environment and public health. These include environmental laws that limit pollutants contaminating the air and water.

In the wake of other detrimental decisions regarding deregulations on emissions and asbestos, the EPA is aiming to restructure the cost-benefit analysis model it utilizes in creating its regulations. Currently, these analyses take into account much more than financial numbers. Rather, they also strongly consider hidden costs such as the dangers a substance might pose to a person’s health, or the slow-building destruction it might bring to our lands and our resources. For example, due to its negative effects on the environment, a previous analysis of carbon put its social cost at 36 dollars per ton. Under the new EPA leadership, the cost of this pollutant has plummeted to just five dollars per ton. Cost-benefit analysis has been a centerpiece for crafting such environmentally important policies as the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act. Altering this vital tool will strike a blow to the heart of these important protections.

The EPA has opened this proposed change to input from experts and from the public. Sign this petition to let the leadership know that Americans value the preservation of our environment and our health over corporate profits.

PETITON LETTER:

Dear Ms. Bertrand.

The EPA recently devalued the role of public health data in informing EPA policy. And with your asbestos decision, you dismissed the carcinogens lurking in our environment that will impact the health of citizens for decades to come. Now the EPA wants to say once again that the health and well-being of our citizens and of our environment just does not have that much value.

The proposed changes to the agency’s cost-benefit analysis system will benefit only one sector of our population: corporations that crave more deregulation in their unending quest for greater profit. You did not take an oath to work for or service these entities. Your oath is to the environment and the people inhabiting it that have always stood central to the EPA’s true mission.

We the people value wellness. We value our health and the health of our children. And we value the well-being of the world that we will leave to future generations….hopefully in a better way than we found it. This is our cost-benefit analysis, and it should be yours as well.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Environmental Protection Agency

Denounce Ornithologist for Killing Endangered Bird

Target: David Yarnold, CEO of the Audubon Society

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

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

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

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Yarnold,

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

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

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: American Museum of Nature History

Protect Napa Valley from Environmental Degradation

Target: Ivan Menezes, CEO of Diageo

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

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

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

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Menezes,

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

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

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Tony Webster

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

Praise Colorado For Advancing Clean Energy

Target: David L. Eves, President of Xcel Energy

Goal: Praise Xcel energy for pledging their future to clean energy.

Colorado’s biggest energy supplier just announced a huge victory for the clean energy sector, when they detailed a plan to remove 2 coal plants from Southern Colorado. The removal of the plants isn’t all, though, the company plans to replace the plants with the largest clean energy package ever to replace a coal plant. On top of all that, the plan is scheduled to save ratepayers over 200 million dollars.

This news is a huge step for Midwestern states like Colorado, who have relied heavily on fracking and coal plants for far too long. As Colorado pledges themselves for clean energy, neighboring states like Wyoming and New Mexico have reason to follow in their footsteps. Victories like this have a snowball effect and should be congratulated. Sign the petition below to thank the CEO of Xcel for getting the ball rolling.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Eves,

Thank you for embracing the new generations of energetic possibilities. It is not every day that a major utility commits to shifting from coal to renewable energy, but Xcel appears to be doing this with its recently-announced decision to replace two coal plants in Colorado with renewables. Decisions like yours are crucial to implementing a reform to our energy industry.

If every energy manufacturer were like you, we would already be completely energy self sufficient. Thank you for choosing the future and for doing away with our archaic coal plants, one at a time. We thank you for your service to the environment.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: PD Tillman