OLDER STATUS POSTS: The Environmental Impacts of Drones on the Human and Natural Environment
Drones will provide enormous benefits and but also wreak havoc in ecosystems and human environments if not used appropriately. There are next to no controls on “model” drones as the FAA refers to them. Green Vegans has investigated inadequacies found in the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) process as it formulates policy and regulations scheduled to be published in September, 2015. Our findings revealed that the FAA is ignoring the National Environmental Policy Policy Act (NEPA). NEPA is the foundation all of us depend on for protecting ecosystems, the nonhuman species living thee and the human environment.
On January 27, 2015, Green Vegans petitioned the FAA to implement NEPA in its ground-breaking regulatory effort over drones of all types. We received a request from the Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) and office in the White House created by NEPA. Below is our media relese about our action. The four-page petition is available upon request.
January 30, 2015: MEDIA RELEASE / Green Vegans Petitions FAA Re: Drones and NEPA / Amazon Reported to be Selling 10,000 Drones per Month
Green Vegans, a Seattle-based human ecology organization, has petitioned the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to implement the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) before it finalizes policy and regulations that would apply to commercial drones under the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (the Act), in addition to “model” drones used by hobbyists. “Clearly,” said Will Anderson, president of Green Vegans, “the benefits as well as the environmental and social impacts from drones are enormous. The FAA must comply with NEPA on this major action by the federal government that covers what will soon be millions of drones, most of which at not going to be regulated by the Act.”
On Wednesday, President Obama, relating to the model drone that crashed on the White House lawn over the weekend stated, “We don’t really have any kind of regulatory structure at all for it.” The White House Council on Environmental Quality was given a copy of the petition.
Total Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), as drones are called by the FAA, will approach ~250,000 by 2035, of which ~175,000 will be in the commercial marketplace.” Significant is the fact that these figures do not include the far larger number of users in the model/hobby UAS category. See the entire letter here.
The next biennial International Whaling Commission (IWC) Meeting will be held 15-18 September, 2014 at the invitation of the Government of Slovenia, on the Adriatic coast at Portoroz. The sub-committee meetings will take place from 11-14 September. As in 2012, Green Vegans intends on sending an experienced three-person team for a week of on-site work. Of the three Green Vegans representatives, this will be our second, fourth, and ninth IWC meeting. This is our most expensive campaign. See our 2012 report for background. The biennial IWC meeting is a high-level, government-to-government convention that saves more, or kills more whales depending upon which side wins the votes. As of July, 2013, there were 88 nations registered to the convention. There are no other vegan environmental organizations represented. As a repeat, registered organization, Green Vegans has access to lobby the national delegations who operate at the State Department level. When they vote to save whales and create whale sanctuaries, Earth’s whales are saved. Progress in this forum is never easy. Though we will hold a separate fundraising event for this campaign, please pledge now. Most effective now would be a matching-grant donation.
IWC budget: We estimate it will cost $10,000 to $12,000 depending on airfares at the time.
Road barriers are the sections of concrete wall that run between lanes of opposing traffic on interstate highways. They are safety dividers for vehicles and their occupants that can stretch for miles without interruption. Studies about some of their impacts on wildlife have been contradictory. Despite what intuition tells us, it is not consistently proven that wildlife and domesticated individuals from other species are challenged and made more vulnerable to being killed by cars and trucks whee these barriers exist. This issue is not getting enough attention. These barriers must be modified to allow wildlife passage. We have a proposal applicable to many places where these barriers are placed but first Green Vegans will need to update its library of studies. Then, Green Vegans will present a petition for changes to barrier systems to state and federal agencies based on those studies. This is about preventing pain, terror, suffering and reducing environmental impacts that include habitat fragmentation. The construction of wildlife corridors built as “lids” and tunnels over and under interstate highways can be effective, but as a program, is not nearly enough. Project budget, $3,500.
Lolita is a captive orca whale held in the smallest pool in the U.S. Green Vegans board members have experience in this issue, its own scientific advisers, and long-term working relationships with the people leading the effort to free her. This is a large, capitol-intensive campaign. There are capable organizations who will work together but lack the funding to get Lolita back to the Washington State waters of her birth and her sub-pod, L25. Her “probable mother” is still alive (orcanetwork.org). Orca whales stay with their mothers for life. Green Vegans is capable of facilitating organizational effectiveness and play a supporting role to those expert nonprofit organizations who would forge working relationships with one another for the different phases of the campaign. A vegan donor or team of donors with deep pockets would have the honor of marketing Lolita’s freedom as a vegan campaign through a grant-making Green Vegans. Green Vegans, in concert with other organizations would create separate nonprofit corporate entities for this campaign. Serious donors with a cumulative pledge totaling $1.5 million minimum should get in touch with us. If you have any doubts about the value of this campaign, we recommend the movie Blackfish and the book Death at SeaWorld. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Birds versus Glass
This is an important issue currently on our website but American Bird Conservancy (ABC) is doing the best job of reforming, city by city, the architectural building standards that currently allow buildings to have reflective glass on their exteriors. Seeing the sky reflected on building exteriors, birds continue forward and slam into the hard surface, falling to their deaths. Hundreds of millions, perhaps a billion birds in North America alone are killed by reflective building exteriors. A related issue is urban lighting that attracts and confuses migrating birds. From a past conversation, ABC was interested in Green Vegan’s help for Seattle but we didn’t have the funds to follow through. Since then they have been successful in revising building standards in San Francisco. We will be contacting them for a reassessment when we get the donations needed. Project budget is $5,000.
The Green Vegans office is based in the home offices of board members. We utilize online technology so our educational materials are normally not printed. Board members have donated most of the office supplies and communication functions, and all administrative tasks excepting legal. We do need to pay for website maintenance, hosting, business and corporate licensing and reporting, postage/shipping, and at this point, need travel reimbursement. Budget, $5,000 per year.
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The Green Vegans Board of Directors and Volunteers
2012 – 2013 Green Vegans Campaigns
We sent a delegation to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) because you cared. Thank you. We met our funding goal.
Request for Funds to Attend IWC 64
Since 1997 Will Anderson and Tami Drake have attended five International Whaling Commission (IWC) meetings. We attended those meetings specifically to address aboriginal subsistence whaling (ASW) quotas. After those quotas are issued, the contracting governments divide the quotas between themselves through multilateral agreements. These quotas have been allocated every five years. Now, in 2012 at the 64th meeting of the IWC in Panama, another quota decision will be made, this time for six years. We will not have another chance to influence these quotas until 2018. As proposed, up to 2,430 whales will be killed under ASW with more allowed to be wounded and escape.
Three species of whales are included in the joint ASW US/Russian/Saint Vincent and the Grenadines proposal: humpback whales; gray whales; and bowhead whales. The Greenland proposal includes four: fin, minke, bowhead, and humpback whales. The quotas to kill them include five areas from Siberia to the Caribbean. Aboriginal subsistence whaling is a highly controversial, divisive, and sensitive issue. Few organizations are willing to oppose it entirely. Because of this, important aspects of this issue are not closely examined by the IWC member governments.
When positions are taken at the IWC, distinctions are usually made regarding the appropriateness and need for ASW on a case-by-case basis. In recent years the IWC has accepted “cultural” need as sufficient when demonstrated nutritional need should have been required. In addition, the ASW proposals are strategically lumped into one proposal, thus allowing the extraordinary differences in each case to be ignored. For instance, the Makah of Neah Bay, Washington State, supported by the U.S. Government without due diligence with regard to the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act, have proposed a highly controversial resumption of whaling that has incurred significant opposition but will be included in the US/Russian/Saint Vincent and the Grenadines joint proposal. This makes the Makah hunt and other highly questionable proposals nearly impervious to challenge. Other ASW proposals are approved though they involve horrendously inhumane killing methods even by whaling standards.
The joint US/Russian/Saint Vincent and the Grenadines ASW proposal includes the killing of humpback whales and their calves in the Caribbean. The Greenland proposal allows aboriginal whales to continue selling their whale meat to the public in supermarkets. As part of our advocacy at the IWC, we will address the ample documentation of the lack of necessity and cruelty of these hunts.
In the Green Vegans delegation, there will be three of us who can provide a uniquely complimentary and insightful ability to address these issues. We have the experience and leeway to oppose aboriginal subsistence whaling as it exists today. While some organizations will oppose one or two instances, none are willing to vigorously oppose them all. While we have advocated for whales for a number of highly respected organizations, we founded Green Vegans in 2009 to introduce a new perspective to deep ecology environmentalism and species’ rights — including the ASW debate and other issues at IWC. Green Vegans has been accredited by the IWC to attend as observers. As such, we will have access to the member country delegations where we will lobby for their support for the protection of whales.
Our professional histories have demonstrated that as we advocate for the whales, we do so while consciously showing respect for people who will strongly disagree with us. Will, Tami, and Toni have worked many years on behalf of gray whales. Will Anderson had lived in Alaska for seven years, traveled to two of the ten whaling villages there, and campaigned against Arctic offshore oil drilling after he founded an office in Anchorage for a major international environmental organization. His three decades of nonprofit experience includes hands-on advocacy and campaigning in dozens of environmental and species rights campaigns for several other organizations. From his kayak, and under government permit, Will has recorded both the sounds and photo identifications of gray whales in their Mexican calving lagoons. He has worked to block the resumption of Makah whaling since 1996. Will continues to focus his interests on the larger questions of human ecology through Green Vegans / The New Human Ecology.
Tami Drake was a co-founder and International Director of Ocean Defense International and has worked on the Makah Whaling issue since 1999, lobbying in Washington D.C. and attending three IWC meetings specifically regarding ASW. Tami also co-founded America’s Whale Alliance in 2005. This coalition of over 80 US groups was founded by Ocean Defense International in response to the apparent change of direction of the US government regarding its opposition to the resumption of commercial whaling. AWA’s unprecedented “Stop Whaling!” bus tour, garnered incredible support from West Coast residents. A 35-ft. long California municipal bus that was converted to run on bio-diesel was transformed into a whale bus by dedicated volunteers who worked tirelessly for weeks.
Toni Frohoff has a Ph.D. in Behavioral Biology, M.S. in Wildlife & Fisheries Sciences. She has co-authored two books (“Dolphin Mysteries: Unlocking the Secrets of Communications” (co-authored w/K. Dudzinski, Yale University Press 2008) & “Between Species: Celebrating the Dolphin-Human Bond (w/Brenda Peterson (Sierra Club/UC Press 2003), and has contributed to over a dozen books on wildlife and has written papers twork.org