You may sometimes feel that the number and scale of problems facing the world are overwhelming, and that as an individual, you don't have much power. But that's not the case. By joining forces with others who care about the same issues, you can amplify your voice and put considerable pressure on corporations whose activities harm people and the environment and politicians who do too little or nothing to prevent corruption, human abuse and environmental destruction.One of the most positive qualities of the internet is its capacity to bring people from all over the world together to campaign on issues of shared concern. Below are some of the organisations doing wonderful work to hold people in power to account.
Six year old Avaaz is one of the biggest. Campaigning on human rights abuses, tax havens, political corruption, refugees, environmental destruction and species extinctions, its membership is currently well over 47 million people from over 194 countries. Avaaz sets its priorities annually through all-member polls and also tests which issues to campaign upon by conducting random surveys of its members. Al Gore describes Avaaz as "an inspiration", and Gordon Brown said of Avaaz "do not underestimate your impact on leaders." To read about some of Avaaz's campaigning successes, see https://secure.avaaz.org/page/en/highlights/
To join, all you need to do is to sign a petition. Here are examples of current petitions:
Zuckerberg, social media & the Brazilian elections: https://secure.avaaz.org/campaign/en/wa_destroys_democracy_loc_fr_pa/?slideshow
Stop the exinction crisis: https://secure.avaaz.org/campaign/en/extinction_crisis_loc/?fpbr
The unbearable cruelty of meat: https://secure.avaaz.org/campaign/en/meatless_day_loc/?fpbr
You can also start your own Avaaz Community Petition.
Avaaz also uses a crowdfunding model to engage in direction action for some of its campaigns. You can fund those campaigns you care about if you so choose. Here are some current examples:
End the plastics plague (clean up our oceans): https://secure.avaaz.org/en/plastic_plague_loc/?slideshow
Protect 50% of our planet from human exploitation: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/living_planet_loc_sus/?slideshow
Crack down on toxins which kill pollinating insects: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/bees_final_battle_loc/?slideshow
Rainforest Rescue has campaigned since 1986 on the protection of forests and biodiversity around the world. The pace of rainforest destruction has not slowed: there are still around 10.4 million hectares, about 6.3 million of which is primary forest lost every year. Of rainforests,more than half of what used to exist - just 5% of Earth's land area - has been destroyed, and with it one of the world's most biodiverse ecologies. Rainforest Rescue does not just campaign on rainforests, though: it also covers forest loss in Canada, the United States and Australia and many other countries. Current campaigns include:
38 Degrees is so named "because 38 degrees is the angle at which a pile of snowflakes becomes an avalanche. When enough gather in the right place, they become an unstoppable force. 38 Degrees campaigns are inspired by this idea, giving individuals a chance to join an avalanche of people working together for a better world." It operates on a similar basis to Avaaz and addresses the same sorts of issues, but with a UK focus. Current campaigns include:
Stop Tilbury Expansion. The former Tilbury Power station is a high biodiversity brownfield site supporting many rare or threatened invertebrate species and many of conservation concern, and development threatens them. https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/bee-before-sea-stop-tilbury-expansion
Ditch plastic rings on beer & cider cans. https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/ditch-plastic-rings-on-beer-and-cider-cans
Responsibility for product lifecycles: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/cradle-to-grave
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals campaigns about animal abuse. One of their current campaigns is to end the importation of fur into this country. Did you know that not all fur purporting to be fake is actually fake? Some of those poms on trendy bobble hats are real fur, although there is nothing to indicate this on the composition labels. China is now the world's major exporter of fur. A country where there are no animal rights, animals (wild, farmed, and stolen domestic pets) can live in brutal conditions and die in appalling ways, as undercover films on You Tube show. Fur farms were outlawed in this country in 2000, but fur is now, sometimes illicitly sometimes not, making its way back onto our high streets - and on to our heads, our handbags, our boots, our coats, a generation after the anti-fur organisation Lynx made it unacceptable . https://secure.peta.org.uk/page/17235/petition/1
Respect for Animals continues the anti-fur compaigning work of Lynx, after Lynx was crushed in litigation by the fur industry inthe 1990s. http://www.respectforanimals.org/
Petitions on this site are started by individuals around the world, on local, national and global subjects. There is a handy grouping of petitions by subject (e.g. environment, wildlife, politics,corporate responsibility and many others) so you can browse those petitions of interest to you.
One that is current at the moment is a petition asking the UN to adopt a Declaration of Rights of Mother Earth to complement the Human Rights Declaration.
"Human wellbeing and prosperity can no longer be at the Earth's expense, but instead must serve the Earth. Humankind should stop abusing and treating Nature as a commodity in the same way that people were treated throughout history. The adoption by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 of the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" was a landmark to end such abuses. Today, in order to stop the abuse of Nature, we need the same landmark declaration for Rights of Nature."