Sunday, November 16, 2014

Google these animal experts for a wealth of stimulating writing

A listing from the blog of Steven Wise, Nonhuman Rights Project:

Lori Marino the NhRP’s former science advisor, now working for her Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy; Joyce Poole, the internationally esteemed elephant expert who is working with the NhRP right now to develop the affidavits we need for our litigation; Chris Green, my former star Harvard Law School student, now ALDF’s director of legislative affairs; Carter Dillard, ALDF’s director of litigation; Marc Bekoff, former professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, now a writer and animal activist doing more things than any one person should be able to do; David Casselman, LA Animal protection attorney extraordinaire; as well as many others who came up to me and wanted to know more about the NhRP, or already did know about us and wanted to know how they might help.

At a conference and celebration of the Performing Animal Welfare Society, the work of NHRP (in filing suit in a NY court for Tommy the imprisoned chimp as a person with rights) received a standing ovation.

Yes - let's all stand for standing for animals, in courts of law.

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Good Idea!

Animalit has suggested for some time that Canada have a Royal Commission on the Status of Animals and a Minster of Animal Welfare, and finally a party -- the Green Party -- has called for a Parliamentary Committee on Animal Welfare. Sameer Muldeen, the Greens' Animal Issues says, “Voluntary codes of practice for farmed animals have failed to protect vulnerable animals ... Isn't it finally time that humane treatment of animals in transport becomes law in Canada?”

We can all write to Gerry Ritz, the Minister of Agriculture and ask that farm animal transport regulations be updated to modern values. It's not that hard to outlaw cruelty such as beating, dragging, starving and crushing pigs and cattle.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Biggest international fast-food restaurant should be all organic and cage-free

Why is it that you can get a Subway sandwich with eggs in Europe and the UK knowing the eggs are free-range, but in Canada only 7% are free-range, because there's insufficient "cost efficient supply"? Why can't North America get this right? Who's trying to take too much profit?

The great day will be when Subway is all vegetarian.

Monday, September 22, 2014

What is the core of secondary school science?

Schools in British Columbia have been closed by a teachers' strike for five weeks of classroom time, and the provincial government has now said that the time won't be made up, except that teachers should concentrate only on core instruction for this year.

The question, among many others highlighted by the strike (such as how individual should "individual learning" be? and how many specialist helpers do teachers need in the classroom, to lighten the load of teaching?) is: what is core instruction? Ever more time is spent on frills and field trips, visiting talkers with their own agenda, and digital departures from simple reading and writing.

One example of extras is the involvement some schools have in the Tour de Rock bike ride for cancer fundraising, and Terry Fox Run for the same cause. One doesn't know why these are now part of the curriculum, but maybe the time spent on them would be better spent on Science classes, during which students could learn about the "bad science" (as many researchers admit it to be) produced by using animal models for human disease research. They could also explore what the funds raised in disease charities are actually going to, and why cancer hasn't been "conquered" over the 40-odd years that the Terry Fox foundation has been killing millions of lab animals. Wouldn't it be great if students at least in secondary school got to do some real research into science ethics and use of sentient animals in cruel studies?They could start by going to:  (New England Antivivisection Society).

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Climate Change March -- are these banners made of plastic?

Wouldn't it be great if all the people world-wide who came out for the climate change march, came out for marches specifically against deforestation, factory farming, and the (petro-chemical-based) plastics industry? Those are the things (loss of Earth's plant cover, off-gassing of nitrous oxide and methane, and the birth of plastics from the oil industry post WWII) that have caused Earth's climate to change so radically in our times.

What are the marchers actually asking the politicians to do? It is up to US, consumers and residents of Planet Earth, to make the difference, i.e. to: stop eating meat, stop paving and developing landscapes for personal profit, to plant trees and refuse plastic commodities. More petroleum reserves go into plastics manufacture than anywhere else, and plastics are NON-BIODEGRADABLE, AND ONLY MINIMALLY -- AND TEMPORARILY -- RECYCLED.

How many plastic toys, pieces of garden furniture, kitchen ware, house siding, bathroom fittings, storage containers, water bottles, pill bottles ... etc. etc. ... do YOU own? If you keep pets, how may plastic food dispensers, water bowls, pet toys, nylon leads, collars, grooming tools and barn equipment do you use? So next time we march to the shops to do our shopping, the best solution is to come home WITHOUT plastic objects and plastic packaging, and without industrial factory-farmed meat. Marching can't hurt and may stimulate hope, but marching in itself cannot change anything.

(PS Don't forget to read organizer Bill McKibben's books, for the nitty-gritty details -- The End of Nature is a good one to start with.)

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Monday, September 15, 2014

What do Japan & Vancouver Aquarium have in common? Being on the wrong side of whale-history


The future for Earth's cetaceans, we can only hope and believe, is better than the recent past in respect of hunting and aquarium captivity. The tide of informed opinion is running as strongly as the North Atlantic current, as far as those cruel activities go. The International Court of Justice ordered Japan to cease whaling in the Antarctic, and Vancouver's City Council has taken steps to prohibit VanAqua's future breeding of orcas and belugas.

What VanAqua and Japan have in common is a stubborn stiff-necked irrational backward-looking resistance to the new ways of treating our cetacean sisters and brothers. From Paul Spong of British Columbia's Orca Lab:

" Japan complied, in a manner of speaking, announcing that it would not return to the Antarctic next season. However, it immediately went about plotting counter measures aimed at resuming Antarctic Whaling at the soonest possible moment. Japan’s current plan seems to be one of fine-tuning its old rejected plan, making it more “scientific” and less blatantly commercial. It is difficult to see how Japan can accomplish this without bending or breaking the rules that govern science and fair play. Nevertheless, Japan seems bent on trying.

Meanwhile, the simple truth is that for the first time in well over 100 years, whales will not die in agony in Antarctic waters during the coming southern summer. The accompanying silence will be as profound as that which followed the cessation of hostilities in World War I. Despite the passage of time, people around the world still pause at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month each year to remember that moment in 1918 when suddenly, there was peace."
by Paul Spong
September 14, 2014

(But Paul Watson's Sea Shepherd ships are heading down to Antarctica this year anyway, just in case ...  Other bad news is that Greenland and Denmark have persuaded Commission voters to let them murder 10 more humpbacks.)

On the topic of Vancouver Aquarium's decision to appeal the Vancouver ruling against breeding captive whales, Victoria's Times Colonist (daily paper) reminds us that cetacean existence revolves around their properly "nomadic and unfettered traverse of the oceans" as "massively active creatures". "Rescuing" sick or injured ones and then breeding them so that offspring never know their true nature, freedom and heritage as whales is a massive betrayal, and dressed up as "science"is about as genuine or admirable as the Japanese "research" in Antarctica.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

No science literacy means no international peace

In a summer of horrific news from the world, especially its "middle east" regions, here is some more worrying news: science literacy is about 41%. Most kids don't learn much Science in school (why not?), and obviously most politicians don't seem to have a clue about it. An elderly retired teacher who taught Math in a local private school (and learned it at the feet of the first female graduate in Maths from Cambridge), explains that poor teaching leads to lack of interest among students, including future Education students, so that no one wants the Math classes in schools and whoever gets stuck with it never liked or understood more than the basics ... and the cycle continues.

Most likely the same sort of thing is happening with the Life Sciences, as well as with Chemistry and Physics. All those kids who love dinosaurs and outer space when young, lose their obsessions. Why? Education tilts increasingly toward "expressing yourself" (and your ethnic identity), which usually means favouring the Arts. Maybe that is why the general public doesn't support or know about the amazing trusts and organizations that do exist to wrestle with climate change, soil loss, species loss and the root cause of all our ecological devastation: human overpopulation.

The 60% who need to get educated about the sciences include policy makers who still encourage economic growth, despite the fact that they want to wring it out of a planet which is not growing and whose natural resources are shrinking. These illiterates would do well to start with Alan Weisman's latest book, Countdown, which is written in ordinary language with journalistic story-teller flair. He takes us from one horrifically overcrowded city to another: Mexico City, Karachi, Mumbai, Tehran, Beijing and the rest and explains why the 7 billion who live on Earth are already too much, and the 10 billion expected by the end of the century are a disaster.

Climate change? The main cause of that is agriculture (more than factories, power sites or transport worldwide) -- i.e.,  too many mouths to feed. He explains how the "Green Revolution" has turned into the brown revolution, and how certain cultures are trying to out-reproduce each other, to the destruction of us all plus all the other animals on the planet. Baby races and resource wars:  the stunning thing is that the solution is so obvious, so easy, so non-technological, so rational ... just stop breeding. If each couple had but one child between them, the human population would shrink as exponentially as it has destructively expanded, and Weisman takes us to the experts who explain why an aging population is also socially and economically a benefit, not a threat.

It's a grim read, but fascinating, and packed with science-based facts all copiously footnoted. Read it and weep.