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The Many Forms of Environmental Vigilance

Dear Friend and Reader:  
Last week we noted the upcoming climate march in New York City this month, and the need to go beyond 'symbolic gestures' in the effort to slow global warming. Clearly it's urgent to get live bodies in visible places in massive numbers, demanding action and solutions.
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Compare Bristol Bay, Alaska, with an open-pit mine in Utah at the NRDC BioGems site, and the choice to protect this ecosystem seems obvious. Photo by Robert Glenn Ketchum via NRDC.
Along with radical direct action, there are also many smaller-scale ways to lend your voice and to vote with your wallet. These actions are just as necessary, even if they're best thought of as 'first steps' rather than the entirety of your civic engagement on environmental issues.
Consider, for example, the ongoing fight against the proposed Pebble Mine: a massive open-pit gold and copper mine a Canadian company wants to open in the watershed that feeds Alaska's sensitive Bristol Bay. Bristol Bay supports nearly half of the world's sockeye salmon population and generates hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity annually -- including 14,000 jobs (mainly in the fishing industry).
According to Dennis McClerran, an administrator with the Environmental Protection Agency, the mine would “pose significant risks to the fragile ecosystem.” As we've seen with environmental disasters caused by industry the world over, “significant risk” too often translates into utter devastation.
So what can you do? Step one would be to register your public comment with the EPA before the Sept. 18 deadline. Step two: spread the word. Step three: contact your state senators and representatives if you live in the U.S. Even if you don't live in Alaska, your elected officials need to know that environmental protection is a top priority for you when you vote.
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White-headed Vulture flying at Kruger National Park, South Africa. Photo by hyper7pro under Creative Commons license.
In international environmental issues, BirdLife International is calling attention to the rapid decline of vultures in Africa and Europe, following their catastrophic recent decline in Asia.

The culprit? An anti-inflammatory drug commonly used in livestock called diclofenac, for which there is at least one alternative drug that is not toxic to birds (meloxicam).
Vultures have an undeserved reputation as creepy harbingers of death, thanks to their habit of circling in the air looking for carrion to eat. In truth, the many species of vulture are critical to mitigating disease in developing nations, as they clean livestock carcasses set out by farmers.
According to BirdLIfe International, however, the commercial availability of diclofenac has wiped out 99% of vultures in India, Pakistan and Nepal.
Veterinary diclofenac is also now commercially available in Italy and Spain, two European countries with strong vulture populations -- prompting BirdLife International's campaign to Stop Vulture Poisoning Now.
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Buycott can remind you which products are produced by companies you're boycotting, and why it matters.
Finally, how often have you wandered the aisles of your grocery store wondering if the maker of your favorite cereal is in league with Monsanto and has opposed GMO-labeling laws, or whether that new 'natural' shampoo is truly Earth-friendly or just another attempt at green-washing?
At least two free smartphone apps are available to help you make more-informed choices as you shop. Each has its benefits and limitations; neither is an endpoint for action, but rather a way to enhance your consumer awareness and introduce some activism into your day-to-day life.
Buycott lets you see a company's 'family tree' of ownership, its contact info, and any boycott campaigns against it. GoodGuide gives scores based on such factors as ingredients known to be carcinogens and other health, environmental and social impacts.
That said, “Consumers need to be very carefully educated as to what these scores mean if it's going to serve the purpose GoodGuide says it does,” John R. Ehrenfeld, executive director of the International Society for Industrial Ecology, told The New York Times.
In other words, consider these apps a starting point in your activism, not its entirety.
Developing Nations Split on UN Climate Summit
Top leaders from India and China, two of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases, are not attending this month's United Nations climate summit, reported Bloomberg Sept. 4.
According to two UN diplomats wishing not to be identified, China's President Xi Jinping and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi have told the UN Secretary General they will not attend the Sept. 23 meeting of world leaders to discuss ways to mitigate global warming.
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The Marshall Islands, a group of 29 atolls and coral islands, stands an average of only two meters above sea level; but it shouldn't take imminent submersion to take action. Photo by Litia Maiava.
The announcement comes as a disappointment to Tony deBrum, a foreign minister of the Marshall Islands in the northern Pacific Ocean, who said in a statement, "We expect solidarity from our developing country compatriots, not excuses."

Amateur Hour at Fukushima Daiichi? Yikes!

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, was sued Wednesday Sept. 3 by a small group of current and former workers for unpaid wages, reported Reuters. The workers, wearing masks to conceal their identities, claim that TEPCO failed to pay promised hazard allowances.

The lawsuit demands almost $600,000 in unpaid wages from TEPCO and several subcontractors that hire unskilled workers for the disaster cleanup.
"Workers are not getting promised hazard pay and skilled workers are leaving. It's becoming a place for amateurs only, and that has to worry anyone who lives near the plant,” said Tsuguo Hirota, the lawyer coordinating the lawsuit.

Good News About Blues
New studies by the University of Washington show that blue whale populations off the California coast have rebounded to nearly 97 percent of historical levels, NPR reported Sept. 7. Blue whales, the largest animals on the earth, had been hunted close to extinction.
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Worldwide, blue whales once numbered in the hundreds of thousands. They can be as long as three school buses and weigh more than 300,000 pounds, suggesting that size may limit population density in any given area. Photo by Marc Carpenter.
While researches are still concerned about ship strikes, they say it's unlikely to threaten the animals' recovery in the area, which has increased to 2,200 blue whales.

The findings are an encouraging example for other marine populations -- although so far, the local population off California is the only area where blue whales have rebounded, and contains the greatest concentration. Only an estimated 5,000-12,000 survive in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
Cole Monnahan, the study's lead author, said, "The recovery of California blue whales from whaling demonstrates the ability of blue whale populations to rebuild under careful management and conservation measures."

Whales species around the globe still must contend with serious threats -- everything from a persistent Japanese whale fishing industry to damaging low-frequency sonar by the U.S. Navy. Yet every incremental environmental success is reason to take heart and dig in, stepping up our game on the most pressing challenges we face.

Yours & truly,

Amanda Painter and the ECO editorial team

You may forward Planet Waves Monsanto Eco to your friends. They can sign up for this free environmental newsletter from Planet Waves. View this edition as a webpage.

Planet Waves Monsanto Watch (ISSN 1933-9135) is published each Tuesday evening in Kingston, New York by Planet Waves, Inc. Publisher: Eric Francis Coppolino. Editor: Amanda Painter. Business Manager: Chelsea Bottinelli. Web Developer: Anatoly Ryzhenko. Research, Writing and Editing: Planet Waves Monsanto Watch is produced by a team consisting of Elizabeth Michaud, Amanda Moreno, Amanda Painter, Amy Elliott, Carol van Strum, Len Wallick and Chad Woodward.

Virgo Birthday Reading Available Now!

Dear Friend and Reader:

The Virgo birthday (and Virgo rising) reading is ready and it is magnificent; the perfect gift for your favorite Virgo.

Planet Waves
I went overboard on this one -- it consists of three 40-minute segments, including an extended 'astrology afterthoughts' section and tarot reading using the Voyager Tarot by James Wanless.

In the extra astrology section, I cover the influence of the Uranus-Pluto square on Virgo and Virgo rising, which may be the most interesting alignment for experiencing this generational aspect.

I've focused the reading on relationships, the more personal kind and also those with mentors, teachers, healers and students. I offer an extended, excellent delineation of Chiron as it relates to Virgo and how it's coming across to you now at this time in your life, when you are under a long Chiron transit.

Your reading includes a live teleconference about your astrology, as well as access to last year's reading so that you can review your astrology from the past four seasons, and check my accuracy. Please note that the price for the Virgo reading increases to $49.95 tomorrow, so you'll want to order it now for the best price.
You may listen to a free audio preview here.

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