India is a thriving democratic nation with tremendous potential to achieve just, equitable, and ecologically sustainable national development that could last forever. Yet India is heading towards social and ecological collapse unless it stops burning coal and clearing its natural ecosystems, especially important old-growth forest remnants. The momentum of unfettered economic and population growth sweeping India is so severely damaging to the environment that failure to stop burning and cutting threatens the nation’s reliable climate, food and water supplies, and its future potential for sustained national advancement. India is an amazing place in so many ways. There is still hope that they will come to understand the importance of a different development model based upon intact natural ecosystems.
Sadly, the great and ancient nation of India is following the failed development model of the Western overdeveloped nations. Its policies have come to equate liquidating natural ecosystems for temporary economic gain with true and lasting national advancement. Nowhere is this clearer than in India’s failure to establish national land use regulations and end its ever-growing dependence upon coal for energy. If India does not stop burning coal and destroying its natural ecosystems, it will soon face social and ecological collapse. The repercussions of the wholesale collapse of such a populous nation would be of such magnitude that it might well contribute significantly to collapse of Earth’s one shared biosphere.
Nowhere is lack of land-use planning regulation in India more evident than in southern Kerala state. The “Evergreen” state is known for its greenery and important remnant Western Ghats Forests which still hold viable populations of Asian elephants and tigers. Their monsoon-fed green water towers provide ~40% of India’s water. A highly credible scientific mapping plan – the Western Ghats Experts Ecology Panel Report (WGEEP), often referred to as the “Gadgil report” after its lead author – has been developed for the area to establish zoning of ecologically important areas to ensure sustainability, particularly of water for the Western Ghats region.
Yet this cutting-edge land-use planning effort has been put on hold after a barrage of unfair attacks by vested political and economic interests. Ecological Internet’s Dr. Glen Barry – while visiting Kerala – noted this appears to largely be due to the corrupting influences of the Goa mining industry, Syro-Malabar Church and Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council, and petty scientific jealousies between rival researchers. These established elites are all protecting their economic interests over the environmental needs of the poor.
The Gadgil report would identify natural ecosystems crucial to Western Ghats’ and India’s long-term development (including all remaining old-growth forests, which have dwindled to less than 7% of their former extent) and establish a much needed data-driven methodology to map and restrict ecologically sensitive areas from development. The report by the Madhav Gadgil committee is based on cutting-edge environmental science and, if implemented, will definitely protect Kerala’s much-diminished forests and shrinking water resources and slow the process of climate change. Unless Kerala’s forests are protected and restored, the seasonal monsoons which deposit much of India’s water in these green water towers are threatened, as are large herds of Asian elephants and individual tigers which are signs of healthy and connected ecosystems.
Similarly the Indian political system appears incapable of weaning itself from a deepening coal addiction. India is planning 455 new coal plants (compared to 363 in China). Most of India’s coal is found under natural forests, and recently bans on mining in forested areas were lifted, to make coal production easier. Unlike China, which is a tyrannical ecocidal mess, India is a democracy, and there is greater potential for change through reform rather than a need to replace the entire system. The question is whether India will succumb to the greed of a small but powerful minority who want to usurp the larger community’s fundamental rights of access to clean air, water, and food. India’s political establishment should embrace long-term sustainable development programs as developed by one of their own greatest scientists in the WGEEP report. If India fails to embrace legal regulatory structures to protect ecosystems, its national material prosperity will be short-lived, and never equitably extended to the poor.
The Areng Valley in the Cardamom Mountains of south-west Cambodia is threatened with flooding by a Chinese hydropower dam. This biodiversity gem – home of the Siamese crocodile and indigenous Khmer Daeum – is to be destroyed for a relatively small amount of electricity. Standing large, connected, and ecologically intact old-growth forests are required for local and global ecological sustainability and well-being.
Located in the Areng Valley of the Central Cardamom Protected Forest in southwestern Cambodia, the proposed 108 mega-watt Cheay Areng Hydropower Dam is a major threat to an area known as the biodiversity jewel of Southeast Asia. This project would produce a small amount of electricity, while irreversibly changing the people, wildlife, and environment of the Areng Valley. The Cambodian government is expected to soon decide whether to build this dam, as proposed by the Chinese hydropower company, China Guodian Corporation.
If the Cheay Areng Dam proceeds it will:
* Flood a priceless and protected rainforest which is a biodiversity hotspot in Southeast Asia;
* Wipe out the world’s largest remaining wild population of the critically endangered Siamese crocodile, while threatening more than 31 endangered species;
* Increase access for illegal loggers and wildlife poachers who are already rapidly decimating Cambodia’s forests;
* Forcibly relocate more than 900 Khmer Daeum villagers-indigenous people who have lived on this land for more than 600 years-while also flooding their ancestral farmlands and spirit forests.
* Require loans from China for more than $320 million, while only producing a small fraction of Cambodia’s energy needs.
Local villagers and NGOs are struggling to stop this travesty. Please help protect the Areng Valley by sending an email to Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen and his ministers asking them to Save Areng Valley and the Siamese crocodile, before it is too late!
To the Hon. Kenred Dorsett (Minister of the Environment),
The Hon. Obie Wilchcombe (Minister of Tourism, and Member of Parliament for Bimini),
and The Hon. V. Alfred Gray (Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources,
Like all of the Bahamas, the islands of Bimini are intrinsically defined by the water that surrounds them. Not only has the water shaped and molded the islands themselves, but it has also defined the experience of those that visit these islands, as well as those that call the Bahamas their home. For everyone that loves little Bimini, their affection for its stunning blue water is at the base of their affinity for these precious ‘Islands in the Stream.’
Bimini’s impressive tourism industry has always revolved around the water. Big game fishing, SCUBA diving, boating, sailing, bone fishing, snorkeling, kayaking, and a variety of wildlife encounters all contribute to the island’s flourishing eco-tourism industry.
In order to preserve this industry, and improve upon it going forward, I call on you to act strongly and swiftly regarding two important proposals.
First, I urge you to finalize the full protections for the North Bimini Marine Reserve. Bimini’s inshore ecosystems are the foundation for the entire Tourism Industry on the island, and every individual and business will benefit from this Reserve being formally protected.
Second, I plead with you to ensure that the absurdly ill-conceived idea of creating a cruise ship terminal on Bimini’s western shore never becomes a reality. The damage that this would have on Bimini’s coral reefs would be catastrophic, and that would only be the beginning. The dredging and damage required for such a project could permanently deteriorate the very thing that everyone loves most about Bimini, the amazing blue waters.
Bimini’s tourism industry has been growing in recent years, while other islands in the Bahamas have not had the same good fortune. Please keep in mind that everyone who has ever come to Bimini came for what the island already offers; Extraordinarily blue water, exotic wildlife, beautiful beaches, thriving fisheries, vibrant coral reefs, friendly locals, and an escape for the generic, over-developed landscape found elsewhere in the region.
Protecting and improving upon Bimini’s ecological health and beauty is truly in the best interests of the island’s economy, its people, and all those who cherish their time there.
Please help us ensure a bright, blue future for Bimini.
Industrial Shrimp Aquaculture is causing massive environmental and social problems around the world, including mangrove forest loss, wild fisheries decline, shoreline erosion, coral reef and sea grass loss, displacement of countless coastal communities, loss of traditional livelihoods and displacement of countless coastal fishing and farming communities, human rights and labor abuses. And, most of this imported shrimp has serious health issues attached because of overuse of antibiotics and pesticides, and contaminants injected into the harvested shrimp to add more weight and thus dirty profits for an unscrupulous shrimp processor willing to risk your health for his profits.
Please sign our pledge to not eat or sell imported tropical shrimp.
Kenyan Government Moves Quickly to Push Port Through, Circumventing Local People and Kenyan Law
Though the presidential election still remains in dispute in Kenya, with the opposition charging fraudulent and erroneous voting, the left hand of the government is busy pushing forward the multi-billion dollar project to build a second national port. The process is being so quickly moved that the recent Environmental Impact Assessment for the port has been completed, published and the public comment period expired, all before it was made public or local stakeholders were given opportunity to review it – in contravention of Kenyan law.
The building of this monumental port, whose need has never been clearly established, represents one of the largest projects in recent history in East Africa and perhaps the entire continent. The port is poised to impact one of the world’s most vitally important sites of cultural and conservation importance: the Lamu Archipelago. This gargantuan project is estimated to cover 1,000 acres, including plans for an oil refinery and terminal, international airport and railway track to Southern Sudan. In Lamu alone, 6,000 families are likely to be displaced by the project but local people in the region have never been consulted concerning the project nor have they been allowed to review the recent environmental impact assessment performed. Local leaders, environmental groups, hoteliers and other locals dependent upon the region’s natural resource base as well as cultural leaders fearing the destruction of Lamu’s unique cultural heritage have banded together to oppose the construction of the port which stands to devastate both the culture of Lamu and its natural environment.
The site proposed for the port could not be any more environmentally damaging, posing tremendous negative impact on Kenya’s mangroves, corals, and threatened marine fauna. In 1980, 60,000 hectares off the coast north of Lamu was designated a Biosphere Reserve under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Project in recognition of its international conservation importance. The intention of this designation was to preserve in perpetuity the outstanding biodiversity, natural resources and ecology of the area through management that incorporates the full participation of local people. The proposed port flies in the face of such international aims. To build the port, pristine forests in the region of the port site would require extensive felling. The mangroves of the Lamu Archipelago represent more than half of Kenya’s mangroves, covering some 342 square kilometers. The port site sits squarely in the center of the archipelago which will exacerbate, rather than minimize impact. Increased rates of degradation would seriously imperil this fragile ecosystem and reduce its capacity to mitigate the effects of climate change. Extensive dredging, of the order necessary to allow ships to pass from the open sea into the channel, would further impact huge stands of mangroves and corals and degrade areas in the vicinity with the dumping material. Marine wildlife – in this area which is supposed to be nationally and internationally protected – would be devastated.
Impacts on local people and wildlife from the project stand to be irreparable. In the past, local fishermen have hailed creeks in the area as shrimp sanctuaries, vital to local subsistence. Several species of sea turtles use protected bays and inland channels regularly in the winter as feeding grounds and many species of reef fish and crustaceans feed here. The importance of this region to a critically endangered species, the dugong (Dugong dugon), is of paramount concern; these creatures rely on shallow sea grass beds exclusively for their survival. Dredging and cutting of the magnitude proposed would have a catastrophic impact on this animal, one of the nation’s most threatened species, and virtually ensure local extinction.
Opening up the Lamu Archipelago to transport and refining of oil is clearly incompatible with aims of biosphere reserve designation. Incidental and accidental spillage on the periphery of such an internationally important environment must be factored into any risk assessment associated with construction and clearly has not been. Anywhere along the Kenyan coast the effect of a large scale spill on both commercial and artisanal fishing industries would be significant, but particularly devastating to the Lamu Archipelago. Such spills are not atypical. In the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea, for example, minor oil spills occur frequently. In areas where shipping is most heavy, such as in Israeli waters, as many as 22 small spills were recorded in 1990. Any oil spilling within the vulnerable inland channel around Manda Bay would be concentrated there, having little outflow, and thus the corals and related marine life supported therein would be impacted directly before any diffusing of oil occurred that would take it out to the open sea where it would further impact fringing reefs and pelagic species. Ship traffic also poses a major, sustained risk of damage to coral reefs and related marine life through oil pollution. Kenya’s coral reefs support in the order of 80% of the artisanal fishing industry. Worldwide, coral reefs are experiencing severe die-offs associated with global warming and ocean acidification. Threats to corals posed by this project are not limited to oil spillage and oil pollution, but a host of associated effects, including smothering by sediment from dredging and land conversion, contamination by pollutants from industrial activity as well as untreated sewage and municipal wastewater from construction crews and new developments (airport, railroad and refinery.) Additional pollution sources that would impact the larger marine realm from both shipping and road/rail transportation include discarded solid waste, spills of mineral and organic matter from bulk cargo loading operations, chemical and thermal discharges from power generation facilities, and discarded garbage from incoming and outgoing ships. It is worth noting that there has been a 70% decline in fish species in the area of the existing national port in Mombasa.
A second port situated in the Lamu Archipelago also threatens the thriving base of tourism that currently exists in the region. Sports fishermen come from all over Europe to catch and release the region’s magnificent pelagic and reef species of fish. The region has enticed dignitaries and royalty for years due to its idyllic beauty, remoteness and incredible marine wildlife and nearby big game. In 1997, Princess Diana brought the two young princes to stay at nearby Kiwaiyu Safari Village within Kiunga Marine Reserve. Old Lamu Town has attracted tourists for decades with its rich history and culture and an additional concern for port construction at this site lies with another UN designated site – that of Lamu, itself, with its World Heritage Site status. Elders in Lamu foresee the demise of their culture and way of life as they already watch prostitutes arriving from the interior in anticipation of the boom town to be. If a port and oil refinery were to open, an international airport would hardly be necessary as the region would lose forever its appeal – both biological and cultural.
A former minister of Parliament in Kenya, Mr. Omar Mzee, was quoted in the New York Times as saying, “This is going to be a total mess. The government is thinking of the national G.D.P. This will not benefit Lamu. It never has.” (NYT, 1/12/10)
The creation of Kenya’s second port stands to degrade and potentially devastate this vitally important internationally recognized site of conservation importance – the central Lamu Archipelago – and stands to benefit few except those in high places. It is no wonder that the recently conducted Environmental Impact Assessment, contracted by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), has thus been quickly rushed through and the public commentary period dodged. Local people have a right to review whatever assessment has been made of the impact that this proposed project will have, particularly if it was done with any degree of integrity. However, NEMA did not make it public nor distribute it to all stakeholders. Kenyan law clearly mandates that EIAs must be announced publicly and made available prior to the public commentary window. Obviously, law is not an issue given the vast sums of money to be gained from construction of this unnecessary port.
Please take action to save the Lamu Archipelago! Write a letter of complaint to NEMA demanding that the Environmental Impact Assessment for the port be made public to local people and all stakeholders in accordance with Kenyan law. A sample letter follows:
As a concerned citizen, I am writing to express my grave concern over the failure of NEMA to share the EIA conducted in association with the planned second national port with all the relevant stakeholders, including local people and local NGOs. This breach is a contravention of Kenyan law as it is NEMA’s duty to carry out a public forum and share the findings of the EIA with all relevant stakeholders. The proposed site of the second national port is situated proximate to a highly sensitive and internationally recognized site of conservation importance, notably a UN Man and the Biosphere designated Biosphere Reserve and also two national reserves. The EIA is thus critical to establishing potential effects on an area that is not just important to Kenya, but also internationally. The port project poses potentially devastating effects on mangrove forests, endangered sea turtle populations and critically endangered dugong and it is imperative that these environmental impacts be assessed openly and that the public be given sufficient opportunity to comment.
Since 1980’s, the remote Mentawai Islands have been attacked by fishermen using dynamite to explode the reef in order to kill fish. With increasing tourism and local populations, the bombers can no longer operate in secrecy. This practice must stop! We are petitioning the Indonesian government to help Mentawai patrol her western border in order to stop bomb fishing and other illegal activities.
The survival of Pacific salmon is threatened by European salmon feedlot viruses.
Canada must stop ignoring positive lab results for the flu-like ISA virus, an internationally controlled salmon pathogen. Salmon feedlot viruses travel between oceans, multiply and mutate into higher virulence. Salmon feedlots are pouring their waste into the migration routes of the last great wild salmon runs of Canada, threatening wildlife, communities, a common food resource and the future of the eastern Pacific. Thousands of people are fighting this, we need your help.
Target: Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister, State Government of West Bengal From: thepetitionsite.com
Bengal is a region of productive agricultural land and rich biodiversity, with its wildlife including fishing cats, leopards, tigers, the river terrapin, the Himalayan salamander, elephants and hundreds of different birds. The survival of its wildlife and ecosystems, and in turn agriculture, depend on its natural wetlands. These wetlands, however, have been disappearing rapidly.
During the 1970’s and 80’s, a huge number of natural wetlands were filled in for development as people migrated from the newly independent Bangladesh. They still are disappearing and scientists predict that they will all be gone by 2030 unless action is taken.
The wetlands not only support an abundance of wild animals and plants, with the possibility for developing ecotourism, they also provide vital ecosystem services, including flood mitigation, carbon absorption and the filtering of pollutants. Letting the last ones go would be an ecological disaster.
Although laws exist to preserve wetland habitats, they are rarely enforced.
Tell the state government to take action immediately on this increasingly urgent issue.
I was very disturbed to learn that the law of Grenada still allows the killing of endangered species such as sea turtles. We need to protect them worldwide to prevent their extinction.
Sea turtles are highly migratory and their killings in Grenadian waters affect their population throughout the Caribbean, where 70% of its Nations have banned all turtle hunting, developing profitable turtle watching tourism.
I was also shocked to learn that in Grenada captured turtles are kept upside down on their back sometimes for days before being slaughtered, enduring tremendous suffering. This is animal cruelty and so is the practice of slitting their belly when still alive! Turtle eggs are relentlessly poached and even the only turtle species (leatherback) legally protected in Grenada is still hunted.
We need to institute a total moratorium on sea turtle hunting and to efficiently enforce these turtles’ protection.
Walmart: Stop human rights abuses in your factories – 1000 Signatures Needed to Reach Goal
Sign this petition to Walmart’s VP of Ethical Sourcing, Rajan Kamalanathan, to demand that factory owners end human trafficking immediately and allow independent monitors to audit all of their factories.