Target: Li Keqiang, Premier of the People’s Republic of China
Goal: Stop breaking ships and releasing harmful chemicals, wastes, and pollutants into the environment
Ship-breaking is the dangerous practice of dismantling old ships and recycling or reselling the salvageable parts. This highly profitable business is extremely hazardous because it is unregulated for safety. Ship-breakers are routinely exposed to carcinogens, lethal toxicants (such as mercury and lead), and asbestos, all without the appropriate protective gear. Likewise these destructive pollutants contaminate the air, soil, beaches, and ocean where the operations take place.
Occurring mostly in China and India, ship-breaking has severe and widespread environmental consequences. Employees regularly remove asbestos-laced items with bare hands and release the harmful fibers into the air. Residual oil from the ships leaks into the sea, hindering underwater plant growth by blocking the necessary light for photosynthesis. Also, the oil prevents the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the ocean and air, negatively affecting marine animals. In addition to destroying the shore, metal fragments from the ship mix with beach sand and create serious safety hazards.
Ultimately, this type of total pollution results in the deaths of numerous coastal organisms and reduces biodiversity. Humans, animals, land, and atmosphere are all placed in extreme danger during this disorganized, careless procedure. While many impoverished nations depend on this trade to boost their economies, the damage to our environment is much too costly to allow this practice to continue.
Sign the petition below to demand that ship-breaking be abandoned for more environment-friendly methods. Convince China’s lawmakers to stop endangering both people and nature for the sake of money.
Dear Mr. Li Keqiang,
China’s ship-breaking efforts account for over 30% of the entire ship-breaking industry. While this business is highly profitable and beneficial to your economy, the overall damage to the environment is much too costly a price. Not only does ship-breaking expose workers to deadly chemicals like asbestos and mercury; it releases pollutants like oil, lead, and carbon dioxide into the ocean and atmosphere.
Dismantling ships is a dangerous, unregulated process that presents many safety and environmental hazards. According to an article from activist group Young Power in Social Action, an inspection of Chinese ship-breaking yards revealed that “Toxic waste was burnt in open fires. Asbestos was removed without proper protection for workers…Yards were heavily polluted by oil, heavy metals and other toxic substances.” This pollution is not limited to your establishments, either; it has unfortunately spread beyond the confines of your ship yards, tainting local water sources and contaminating nearby beaches.
The ship-breaking trade is more dangerous than it is lucrative, producing an absurdly high amount of human fatalities and destruction to nature. For this reason, I urge you to stop deconstructing ships using such careless protocols. Please, pursue a more environment-friendly method of recycling ships that does not result in total pollution.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Naquib Hossain from Ottawa, Philadelphia, Dhaka via Wikimedia Commons