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

Stop Killing Cambodia’s Endangered Animals for Meat

Target: Hun Sen, Cambodian Prime Minister

Goal: Stop the illicit trapping of wild game in Cambodia that threatens many endangered species in the area.

Many endangered species in Cambodia are threatened by the population’s demand for bushmeat. This demand has burgeoned into a significant illicit market for commercial hunters and is decimating wildlife populations in the tropical forests of Cambodia.

Bushmeat is wild game (often trapped illegally) from non-domesticated animals in tropical forests. Some poor rural areas use bushmeat for sustenance but more often than not hunters are urban elite who view bushmeat and the hunt as a status symbol. Many consider bushmeat to be a delicacy or to have health benefits over domesticated meat, but often eating bushmeat is a pathway for the transfer of tropical diseases such as Ebola from animals to humans.

Cambodia is a prime location for illegal game trade, which can include many endangered species such as sun bears, hog deer, and the Sunda pangolin which are caught for eating. Other animals such as baby Asian elephants can also become accidentally ensnared in bushmeat traps. Experts estimate that over half of the species illegally trapped are nearing extinction. Many Cambodians are unaware that many of these species are endangered; to those who are aware, the scarcity makes bushmeat even more desirable to obtain.

The demand for bushmeat has decimated populations of many endangered species in Cambodia and there is no end in sight. Crackdowns on individual hunters and the removal of traps has been largely inadequate to curb the trapping of these protected species. More education is needed to change the public’s view on bushmeat and reduce demand. Additional enforcement will also help to limit activities of larger-scale bushmeat trade organizations. Sign the petition for Cambodia to educate its citizens and crack down on illicit bushmeat trade and protect endangered species from extinction.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Prime Minister Hun Sen,

Illegal bushmeat trade in Cambodia has reached unprecedented levels, pushing many endangered species near extinction. Trapping of endangered species for sale as food, especially rare tropical animals, should not be tolerated by the government.

Although some may blame subsistence hunters for the decreasing wildlife populations, the trapping and consumption of bushmeat is seen as a status symbol for elite, who simply don’t care that these animals are critically endangered. They also don’t care when other animals, such as baby Asian elephants, not intended to be trapped become ensnared and die at their hands. This cruel practice needs to end.

Cambodia should educate the public on the ill effects of bushmeat trade, including loss of biodiversity, unintentional trapping of non-game animals, and the potential transfer of tropical diseases to humans. The current enforcement resources are not sufficient to end the illegal bushmeat trade and protect these endangered species. Please, educate your citizens to reduce demand for bushmeat and enforce restrictions on commercial hunting organizations participating in this illicit activity. It is critical to the conservation of your nation’s precious wildlife.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: A. J. T. Johnsingh, WWF-India and NCF

Do Not Bail Out Dirty Energy

Target: Rick Perry, Secretary of the United States Department of Energy

Goal: Stop intervention into the energy industry on behalf of aging coal-fired power plants.

A leaked memo from the Department of Energy revealed plans by the Trump Administration to force power grid operators to purchase electricity from declining coal-fired power plants in order to prevent their shutdown.

The proposal would use two federal laws, the Defense Production Act of 1950 and the Federal Power Act, to direct electricity grid operators to purchase power from “more reliable” sources that have fuel located on-site, i.e. coal-fired, power plants. These plants are noncompetitive with cleaner, cheaper power plants that use natural gas and renewables, and are facing decommissioning and switchovers to other fuel sources. The leaked memo cites national security issues in encouraging the support of struggling dirty energy plants, however, grid operators and other experts reject the administration’s premise that there are reliability concerns with the current mix of natural gas and renewables for power generation. Instead, the Trump Administration is feeding into public concerns for national security in order to support ailing industries that should be eliminated by attrition in the marketplace.

This is an unacceptable intervention by the government to instill fear and force an agenda of dirty energy. Sign the petition to discourage the Department of Energy from intervening on behalf of aging coal-fired power plants and instead bolster our energy independence using clean, renewable energy.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Secretary Perry,

The bailout of dirty energy companies under the guise of national defense is despicable. Coal-fired power plants are rightfully being eliminated by attrition because they cannot compete with cheaper, cleaner power such as natural gas and renewables. The energy industry is not experiencing any of the alleged reliability issues used to justify this unprecedented intervention.

This is not an issue of energy security or national defense, but one of politics. America wants cleaner energy, not a federal bailout of coal-fired power plants undergoing decommissioning. Do not collapse under pressure from President Trump to promote an agenda of dirty energy.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Rahm Emanuael

Save the Endangered Pacific Marten from Extinction

Target: Greg Sheehan, Principal Deputy Director of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Goal: Place Pacific marten back on endangered species list to ensure survival.

Studies warn that Pacific martens in Oregon could face extinction within the next few decades if conservation efforts aren’t made. Found in remote forest habitats in coastal Oregon and Northern California, marten populations have been sparse across the board ever since they reemerged in 1996. Numbers have drastically dwindled due to trapping, roadside fatalities, and habitat destruction. In 2015, conservationists petitioned to put the species back on the endangered species list, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service deemed it ¨unwarranted.¨ This is what needs to change.

Ongoing research at the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station led by Katie Moriarty shows that there’s one community around the Oregon Dunes that’s especially vulnerable to extermination. What she discovered were restrictive living spaces for martens to inhabit with the nearby Highway 101 serving as a barricade. Considering that Pacific martens were considered extinct for 50 years, they deserve our utmost protection. The first step to saving them involves guaranteeing federal recognition of their endangered status. Take action by signing the petition.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Director Sheehan,

Reports from the U.S. Forest Pacific Northwest Research Station in Oregon say a population of Pacific marten will soon perish if they aren’t properly cared for. Wildlife expert Katie Moriarty from the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station is currently monitoring a richness (collective of martens) where only 71 adult martens remain in two small communities by the Umpqua River. One of the groups south of the river faces up to 99 percent risk of extinction according to the wildlife organization. All of this is due to habitat loss and human action.

Believed to have been extinct for 50 years, this rare species of marten only reappeared in 1996. Not having them federally classified as endangered seems ludicrous based on their legacy. Seeing that your committee expects to redetermine the Pacific marten’s status in October 2018, please understand that their survival depends on their inclusion into federal programs. Such classification will increase the likelihood of obtaining more lands for their future occupancy. Legal protections are essential for subpopulations around the Umpqua River to interact and reproduce at higher rates.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Oregon State University

End Illegal Importation of Hazardous Waste

Target: Prayuth Chan-ocha, Prime Minister of Thailand

Goal: Crack down on illegal importation of electronic waste from other countries.

Since the Chinese ban on waste importation went into effect, the surrounding countries, especially Thailand, have been under siege by the illegal importation of hazardous electronic waste. Many companies are now taking advantage of China’s initiative to protect its environment by illegally accepting wastes that no longer have an outlet for disposal. This is putting an extreme strain on Thailand’s resources and threatens the health of the environment and Thailand’s citizens.

Electronic waste, or e-waste, comprises nearly any item with an electric cord or battery and contains metallic components that can be separated out and recycled. The waste processing required to do this also exposes workers to the hazardous components of e-waste, which include lead, cadmium, and mercury. Many workers in waste processing plants reportedly have minimal protections from inhaling significant amounts of toxic fumes. Prolonged exposure to these materials can cause cancer and other serious health conditions.

Thai police recently seized many tons of illegally imported e-waste from facilities that were not permitted to import foreign e-waste. Since this e-waste was allegedly imported using a loophole for secondhand appliances, acceptance and processing is essentially unregulated and threatens Thailand’s environment and citizens. This is especially true for employees of waste processors which handle this illicit material.

Thailand has laws in place to limit movement of e-waste across borders, but these are insufficient and at times unenforced. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has pledged increased inspections throughout the country to discover this hazardous material, but this only helps after the material has entered the country. Additional regulations and enforcement need to be in place to prevent its importation. Sign the petition for the prime minister to implement and enforce broader regulations to protect Thai citizens from exposure to hazardous e-waste.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Prime Minister Chan-ocha,

China’s ban on the importation of waste, particularly electronic waste, has opened the doors for increased illegal importation by waste processors in neighboring countries such as Thailand. This puts a strain not only on law enforcement officials to seek out and prosecute offenders, but on human health and the environment as well. The processing of electronic waste in order to recover the recyclable components also exposes the toxic components of electronic waste such as lead, cadmium, and mercury. These are known to cause serious health conditions, including cancer. It is critical to the protection of Thailand’s citizens that these materials be regulated to prevent adverse health impacts to workers and potential contamination if these toxins are leaked into the environment.

Ratification of the Basel Convention to prevent importation of hazardous materials has been insufficient in limiting these materials from entering the country. It is not enough to increase inspections in order to discover the material after it has been imported. Regulated processing of hazardous e-waste is critical to the protection of human health and the environment. Please, expand and enforce regulation of this dangerous material.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Fairphone

Promote the Conservation of Cuckoo Bees

Target: Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks and the Minister Responsible for the Climate Change Office in Alberta

Goal: Guarantee the continual study of cuckoo bees to ensure biodiversity growth and environmental conservation.

The rare macropis cuckoo bee (Epeloides pilosulus) is charting new territory in western Canada. Recently the endangered species appeared in Alberta for the first time in recorded history. With mainstream news of bees primarily revolving around colony collapse and loss of habitat, scientists say this bee lineage represents a new part of the story.

Part of what makes this non-pollinating bee special is its ¨kleptoparasitic¨ adaptations. Specifically, they install their eggs in nests of other pollinating species. Called ¨social parasites¨ due to their ability to take over hives, they also allude to an area’s biological health. Since bees require plants for sustenance, more cuckoos (originally presumed extinct) signify that enough nutrients are supporting hosts. This tells researchers that honey bee populations may finally be recuperating.

The cuckoo bees’ expanded range  marks a major milestone in environmental studies, one conservationists should work diligently to protect. This migration should be vigilantly monitored to better track environmental progress in Alberta. Depending on where the cuckoo bees end up could help the scientific community better understand how bees are prospering. Let public support guide conservation efforts by signing the petition.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Ms. Phillips,

For the first time ever, the endangered cuckoo bee appeared at Elk Island National Park in Alberta. Even though these solitary specimens are considered parasitic based on how females lay eggs in pollinating bee hives – they’re indicative of an area’s biological health. These bees are completely reliant on their pollinating hosts for survival, who in turn depend on plants. Therefore, when plant species disappear, so do the cuckoo bees.

Seeing their new progressions signifies that fauna is flourishing in the area. Let’s maintain the momentum by investing in further investigations. One way to improve the likelihood of survival would be by planting ¨swamp candle¨ plants in marshy areas. In addition to colony collapse, the development of wetlands is another major threat to cuckoo bees. Yet more of them means improvements are underway and should be continuously monitored. For an insect assumed to be extinct to suddenly reappear is certainly worthy of further research efforts.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: linsepatron

Praise Chile for Nationwide Plastic Bag Ban

Target: Sebastián Piñera, President of Chile

Goal: Congratulate Chile on being the first nation in the Americas to institute a nationwide plastics ban, and ask that it encourage others to do the same.

Chile just became the first country in the Americas to institute a nationwide ban on plastic bags. Chile’s leadership is crucial in beginning a trend of similar legislation all over this part of the world.

Outspoken support of the plastic bag ban by the president resulted in a vote that was near unanimous in Chile’s Congress for passing the legislation, with wide public support as well. The ban was originally focused only on Patagonia, the southernmost tip of Chile, but was broadened to include the entire country. Within the next six months, all major retailers will no longer be allowed to use plastic bags. Smaller businesses will have two years to comply with the ban. Chile’s previous president had already banned the use of plastic bags in many coastal regions.

Plastics pollution, especially single-use plastics, plagues the ocean environment and marine life all over the world. Estimates by Sea Turtle Conservancy reveal that marine mammal deaths from plastics pollution total around 100 million per year. This nearly incomprehensible statistic is just one of the reasons for instituting plastic bag bans around the world, as has already been done by Bangladesh, Rwanda, Kenya, and other nations. Sign the petition to congratulate Chile on their nationwide plastic bag ban as an important step in protecting Chile’s coastline, as well as the ocean in general.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Piñera,

Your government’s ban on the use of plastic bags is monumental, both in its protection of the environmental and its importance in beginning this trend in the Americas. The ocean is of vital importance, as are its inhabitants. However, they are plagued by pollution all over the world.

Conservation organizations estimate marine mammal deaths in the millions per year due to plastic pollution, so eliminating Chile’s 3.4 billion plastic bags per year is commendable. I applaud your leadership in reducing the threat of plastics pollution to marine life and ecosystems. I hope you encourage your neighboring countries to do the same.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Andrew Latham

Save the Chinese Giant Salamander From Extinction

Target: Han Changfu, Minister of China’s Ministry of Agriculture

Goal: Preserve dwindling populations of the critically endangered Chinese giant salamander.

One of the world’s most awe-inspiring amphibians – and a cultural icon in the regions it calls home – may soon be no more if immediate action is not taken. In recent months, researchers have discovered a dishearteningly low number of Chinese giant salamanders in China’s wildlands. The animals are quite a sight, with the potential to grow up to six feet lengthwise and up to 150 pounds in weight: the size of a tall human being. These lizard-like wonders also have a cherished place in Chinese lore, as they may have inspired the renowned yin and yang symbols.

Unfortunately, the uniqueness of these animals also makes them an attractive target for poachers and for individuals who value them as an ingredient in Chinese medicine or for exotic food. Other factors such as pollution and subsequent habitat loss have also compounded the plight of these kings among salamanders. Ironically, one of the greatest recent threats rests in the release of commercially farmed salamanders back into the wild. When these released animals breed with the purebred salamanders, it weakens the species as a whole: a species that is called a “living fossil” precisely because its genetic makeup has seen virtually no major alterations in its 150 million-plus year history.

Sign this petition to urge the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture to heighten its efforts at conserving some of history’s most wondrous animals.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Changfu,

The Chinese giant salamander has remained entrenched in Chinese history and culture. You have made admirable efforts at preserving and conserving these living beings by placing them on your endangered species list, holding poachers accountable under the law, and by encouraging the release of these animals from farms.

Despite these efforts, your country’s famous salamanders –  “living fossils” of historical importance to the world as a whole – stand on the brink of extinction. Recent reports reveal a distressingly low percentage of these animals in the environment, with an even lower percentage from the original, millennia-long strain of wild salamanders. The farm release programs may have contributed to this latter problem by, in the words of one researcher, “genetically swamp[ing] out” the original salamanders. These same researchers advocate for a modified captive release program that emphasizes the preservation of the wild salamander’s genetic lineage.

If extinction does claim the Chinese giant salamander, the elimination of such an apex predator from the food chain has the potential for crippling effects that reverberate throughout entire ecosystems. Please take every measure to ensure these amazing natural wonders remain part of your country’s heritage for many more centuries.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: SH Jefferson