Target: Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency Gina McCarthy
Goal: Stop the burning of coal to protect birds from mercury poisoning
A study conducted by scientists in Virginia found that mercury leftover from a coal factory negatively affected birds living in the area. The mercury and other toxins from the factory traveled downriver, where it polluted the water and soil. Since the levels of mercury in the atmosphere has quadrupled since the industrial revolution thanks to the burning of coal, the Environmental Protection Agency needs to ban this practice to protect the wild birds in the United States.
In Waynesboro, Virginia, college student Kelly Hallinger and her professor Dan Cristol were tasked with studying the effects of mercury found at a coal burning factory. They recorded hours of birdsong, and when Hallinger began to analyze her recordings, she found that the wrens and other songbirds that lived south of the factory were singing songs that were shorter and less complex than those who were living in areas that weren’t polluted. Other scientists who are studying the effects of pollution and pesticides are finding other negative results reflected in the wildlife. These findings are startling and disturbing.
Mercury poisoning affects birds and their chicks much in the same way that it affects human beings. Mercury attacks the nervous system, and when this poison is exposed while a baby is still in the womb, the baby will encounter problems with speech, learning, and memory. With baby chicks, mercury poisoning will kill them, and when exposed to adult birds it will impair their ability to communicate with one another.
Bird songs are extremely complex, and it is crucial to the survival of songbirds. Some birds will learn how to sing through their father, and other birds are naturally born able to sing. Mercury poisoning in the water, soil, and the atmosphere are negatively affecting these animals, and it comes from the burning of coal. Tell Administrator McCarthy to place a ban on coal burning to prevent further harm to our birds.
Dear Gina McCarthy,
I am writing this letter to inform you of the dangers of mercury poisoning to our songbirds. The levels of mercury in our atmosphere is increasing, and the amounts of mercury found in animals is also increasing. This is dire news, as mercury impairs the cognitive development of many animals. Birds that have been exposed to mercury do not sing very well, and this is crucial to their survival.
I am writing this letter urging you to place a ban on coal burning. Most of the mercury that exists in our atmosphere comes from the burning of coal. It has already been proven that coal is a dirty resource, and it is a resource that will run out. We need to shift our focus towards clean energy if we want our wildlife to thrive.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Dan Pancamo via Flickr