Joelle and I have huge soft spots for animals, and let's face it, I don't have them for much else. I urge you to help the orangutans, because they are awesome, and because they're related to us. Actually, maybe not. I'm trying to figure out if the men I've dated are proof of the missing link or if they completely disprove natural selection. In any case, please copy and paste this (or use the one on the site--I tweaked mine a bit, obviously) and use it to harass your representatives. The site automatically inputs it for you once your address is entered, and they won't harass YOU in return. Sweet deal, right?
As a fan of fellow primates as well as an awesome human being, I strongly urge you to co-sponsor the Wyden-Alexander Amendment to the Federal Farm Bill.
This amendment would make it a crime in America to knowingly import, sell, buy or transport illegally-sourced wood and wood products. Would you sell a stolen car? No, because it's illegal. Same idea, right? In addition:
Illegal logging triggers a chain of events that results in further deforestation, large fires and carbon emissions. This reckless and unregulated logging often occurs in national parks and indigenous reserves, destroying large areas of intact habitat many critically endangered species need to survive. For example...
* Indonesia is undergoing some of the most rapid deforestation in the world, up to 88% of which is illegal. A recent U.N. report declared a state of emergency for the orangutan, predicting the species could go extinct within the next 20 years. Illegal logging has recently taken place in 37 of Indonesia's 41 national parks, some of the last strongholds of the endangered orangutan. These numbers? Not awesome.
* The Amazon Basin, home to a rich biodiversity which includes jaguars, ocelots and macaws, is under severe threat due to the illegal logging of mahogany. An estimated 80% of exported Peruvian mahogany is illegally sourced. This constitutes a grave threat for indigenous people, who often fall victim to novel diseases and violent confrontations with illegal loggers. ILLEGAL loggers: Not awesome.
* In the Congo Basin, the illegal timber trade is associated with the illegal trade in wild-caught meat, or bushmeat, including gorillas, chimpanzees and other protected species. In addition to the risk of extinction for wildlife, the bushmeat trade poses a serious disease risk to the local human population, as documented by recent outbreaks of the Ebola virus and other zoonotic diseases associated with the handling and consumption of bushmeat, which are not awesome.
* In the Russian Far East, approximately 50% of timber harvested is sourced illegally. This contributes to lasting corruption within state forest management and the timber industry in addition to endangering local wildlife. Illegal logging in the Russian Far East has been linked to the future risk of extinction for the Amur leopard and the Siberian tiger, and those risks are not awesome.
The insatiable demand for cheap wood products and luxury hardwoods in the United States, Europe and Japan is driving illegal logging operations worldwide. Yet America has no law against importing illegally harvested wood into the U.S. That is not awesome!
The Wyden-Alexander Amendment to the Federal Farm Bill will give enforcement agencies a powerful tool in the fight against illegal timber traffickers and increase the risks associated with illegal timber trade without creating more obstacles for legal trade, thus leveling the playing field for businesses that already do things the right way. Score one for fair capitalism!
The diverse groups and people supporting this amendment include major industry representatives, labor and human rights proponents, environmental organizations, and Jessica Sager, who I hear is awesome.
It's time to let criminal timber barons know that America won't subsidize their destruction of vital wildlife habitat. I strongly urge you to support inclusion of the Wyden-Alexander Amendment in the Federal Farm Bill and take this vital step to protect habitat for the world's disappearing wildlife.
Thank you for considering my views on this issue, because they are awesome.