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Questions about the environment

Background - 27 January, 2009
More on some of the detailed environmental questions we recieve.

How many different kinds of whales are there? Which ones are endangered?

You can read all about whale species and the threats to them at the whales section.

Are whales fish?

Whales are mammals, just like human beings. You can read about why this is an important difference at the link below.

I'm a student writing a report about an environmental problem. Can you send me information?

We get many requests at Greenpeace for help with general school reports about pollution and other environmental issues. We wish we could help each of you individually, but we try to keep our staff focussed on the tasks that people donate to Greenpeace for: to win campaigns for the environment.

We hope the following sources of information can point you in the right direction for help with your project:

Click here for information about overfishing, whales, and threats to our ocean environment.

Click here for information about Climate Change and Greenpeace's campaign to phase out fossil fuels.

Click here for information about toxic chemicals and what you can do to help ban them.

For information about the nuclear threat, including Star Wars, click here.

Click herefor information about Genetically Modified Organisms, and why we shouldall be worried about this massive uncontrolled experiment on nature.

Click here for information about threats to the world's last remaining ancient forests.

And don't forget that you can search through all the information at the Greenpeace site by going to our search page.

I've just seen a stranded whale - what can I do?

Whale strandings often end sadly because of well-intentioned but uninformed help. Flippers can be easily damaged by trying to move awhale back into the water. Whales can suffocate if their blowholes are obstructed. A whale on dry land's biggest danger is overheating: keep them cool and wet but DON'T obstruct the breathing through their blowhole. Get a qualified marine biologist to the scene as soon as possible. Call your nearest University or the Coast Guard for help.

Greenpeace does not run a stranded whale rescue programme. We apply our limited resources to stopping the greatest threats to all whales: commercial whaling and the thinly disguised pirate whaling by the Japanese and Norwegian fleets.

We wish we could help with every whale stranding, every case in which whales are in trouble anywhere in the world, but of course with our tiny fleet of four ships and little more than a thousand staff all over the world, we have to leave that job to other groups and other experts in local communities. Our role is to save the most whales we can by challenging the whalers on the high seas with our ships, to call the world's attention to the continued senseless killing, and to pressure the world's governments to create Whale Sanctuaries and better protection mechanisms through international law. Please visit our oceans web site to learn what else you can do.

Where can I find tips on how to lead a greener life / how to make a difference?

We are all part of the environment and what we do to the environment, we do to ourselves. Take a look at Greenpeace Canada's "Living Green"

There's an environmental polluter in my town: what can I do about it?

In all but a few exceptional cases, Greenpeace works on a global scale and does not address individual pollution sites one by one. Greenpeace has limited resources and so chooses to focus on major threats to ecosystems and species -- we simply don't have the ability to address destruction at all levels. For local issues, we have to count on people like you who care and are willing to fight for what you believe. We can send you our support and best wishes, and advice on creating a community campaign from our colleagues at Greenpeace Australia.

We can encourage you to seek help and advice from our community of cyberactivists, many of whom fight local battles against polluters in communities like yours. And we can offer you advice on how to run a campaign from one of our former colleagues.

You can also search through the Greenpeace archive for information about the particular issue you're trying to solve.

Good luck: there's No Time to Waste!

I've just witnessed a horrible mistreatment of an animal. What can I do?

Greenpeace doesn't address animal rights issues at a local level. We campaign for habitat protection and to stop the greatest threats to the natural world. You can contact the largest animal right's organisation in the world, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)

You can also join our thousands of cyberactivists on line to discuss the environment and related issues by going to our cyberactivist centre.

Where can I find information for young people?

You are never too young to make a difference in protecting our planet, and you are never too old to have fun! Visit our games page.

Take a look at the animated story of whales and you can also dive with the whales!

Learn more about how you can help save the ancient forests at our Kids for Forests website.

If genetically engineered crops and harvests are open to wind and insects which pollinate flowers or plants, how do we know that"organic" foods aren't accidentally contaminated by genetically engineered foods, because GE pollen have been deposited there without the distributor/grower knowing?

We don't. We can't. This is precisely one of the dangers of releasing Genetically Engineered plants in the wild. In some countries, there are restrictions on how closely genetically engineered crops have been allowed to be planted to normal crops, but there's no conclusive proof that these measures are effective. On the contrary, there's growing evidence that you simply can't segregate crops in the wild.

Cross-breeding isn't the only threat to organic food presented by genetically engineered plants. A strain of corn has been created by Monsanto which produces its own pesticide. Unfortunately, the pesticide it produces is one of the only organic deterrents to insect infestations, and one commonly used by organic farmers. But as with antibiotics, the more prevelant a toxin the more likely organisms are to build up a resistance, and Bt Maize, as it's known, is likely to end the effectiveness of one of the few natural pesticides available to organic farmers.