6 Dec, 2023
Many people enjoy walking as a recreation, and it is one of the best forms of exercise. One of the many benefits of walking is the time spent enjoying nature. Spending time outside is important for the body, mind and soul.
Get outside and enjoy nearby parks, green spaces, nature preserves and communities...all while improving your health.
Regular, brisk exercise of any kind can improve confidence, stamina, energy, weight control, life expectancy and reduce stress. It can also reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, strokes, diabetes, high blood pressure, bowel cancer and osteoporosis.
Scientific studies have also shown that walking, besides its physical benefits, is also beneficial for the mind, improving memory skills, learning ability, concentration and abstract reasoning, as well as reducing stress and lifting spirits.
Sustained walking sessions for a minimum period of thirty to sixty minutes a day, five days a week, reduce health risks and have various overall health benefits, such as reducing the chances of cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, anxiety and depression. Life expectancy is also increased even for individuals suffering from obesity or high blood pressure.
Walking also improves bone health, especially strengthening the hip bone. It lowers the more harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, while raising the more useful good high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
Studies have found that walking may also help prevent dementia and Alzheimer's.
5 Dec, 2023
The trophy hunting industry is driven by demand, and sadly, demand for animal trophies is prevalent worldwide. Even in the face of extinction, imperiled species are still being hunted every day in order to serve as the centerpiece of someone’s décor. It is unconscionable in this modern day when species are under so many threats to survive.
Killing For Trophies: An Analysis of Global Trophy Hunting Trade is a report that provides an in-depth look at the scope and scale of trophy hunting trade and isolates the largest importers of animal trophies worldwide.
The result of a comprehensive analysis of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Trade Database, the report found that as many as 1.7 million hunting trophies may had been traded between nations during a ten year period, with at least 200,000 of that being made up of categories of species, also known as taxa, that are considered threatened.
Research found that 107 different nations (comprised of 104 importing nations and 106 exporting nations) participated in trophy hunting in one decade, with the top twenty countries responsible for 97 percent of trophy imports. The United States accounted for a staggering 71 percent of the import demand, or about 15 times more than the next highest nation on the list—Germany and Spain (both 5 percent).
Of the top 20 importing countries, most of the trophies were killed and imported from Canada (35 percent), South Africa (23 percent) and Namibia (11 percent), with the largest number of threatened taxa coming from Canada to the U.S., followed by African nations to the U.S.
Three of the four threatened taxa from the highly-prized species known as the “Africa Big Five” (African elephant, African leopard, and African lion) are among the top six most traded of imperiled taxa. African lions in particular had the strongest statistically significant increase of trophy hunting trade, with at least 11,000 lion trophies being traded worldwide in only 9 years.
Other big five species also remain popular with trophy hunters, with over 10,000 elephant trophies and over 10,000 leopard trophies being legally traded worldwide in one decade. Like African lions, elephant trophy hunting trade has increased significantly.
4 Dec, 2023
An essential part of any movement for social change is the effort to create new legislation. You don’t need to be an expert on law or politics to lobby your elected officials, but you do need to know how to communicate with them effectively.
The first step is to find out who they are. Next, get to know as many legislators as you can. Don’t wait until you or your group want to introduce a bill or to lobby your legislator to vote one way or the other on an issue. Lay the foundation before you start a legislative campaign. Attend “town meetings” where legislators meet with voters to answer questions. Write to thank them for taking specific positions that you support.
Arrange to meet with them, even if it’s on an issue that you don’t feel strongly about. The important thing is to establish a rapport. It’s also very helpful to get to know elected officials’ aides, who are often much more accessible than the legislators themselves and can often provide you with good “inside” information.
Legislators prefer to be contacted by the following means (in order of preference): Individualized letters by mail; Phone calls; Individualized letters by fax; Individual e-mails; Form letters and e-mails. Be sure to provide your name, address and phone number on the envelope, in the letter, and in all e-mail messages and make sure you are able to articulate the issue should you get your elected official or an aide on the phone.
In your correspondence with elected officials, discuss only one issue at a time. Keep it short; one-page letters are best, and two pages is the maximum. The more personal the correspondence appears, the more seriously it will be taken. State the purpose of your letter or e-mail in the first paragraph. Support your argument with facts, not emotions. Don’t assume that the legislator knows all about the issue. Provide background information. Identify the bill or ordinance by title and number. Be polite and positive. Never threaten; today’s opponent could be tomorrow’s ally on another issue. Clearly state what you want him or her to do. Don’t be self-righteous about being a “citizen” or a “taxpayer”; your readers will assume that you are both.
When addressing the letter and envelope, be sure to use the proper form for the address and salutation. On the envelope and inside address, refer to any legislator as “The Honorable.” The salutation for state or federal representatives is “Mr.” or “Ms.” The salutation for state or federal senators is “Senator.”
When writing to U.S. senators, use the following format and address:
The Honorable [first and last name]
Washington, DC 20510
When writing to U.S. representatives, use the following format and address:
The Honorable [first and last name]
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
MEETING WITH LEGISLATORS
When meeting with elected officials, make an appointment well in advance. Go by yourself or, at most, with one other person. f you are going with a group of people, decide on a spokesperson ahead of time.
Dress conservatively and professionally. Know about the legislator and his or her voting record; compliment him or her on past achievements. Be friendly and positive.
Don’t turn down a chance to meet with a legislative aide; go to the meeting and behave as if you were meeting with the elected official.
Know the title and bill number of the legislation that you want to discuss. Provide one-page fact sheets to give background information.
Don’t speak as a member of a national organization. Know your facts. Don’t become emotional. Don’t waste the legislator’s time; make your points briefly and clearly, and then thank him or her and leave promptly.
Remember that how you communicate is as important as what you communicate. People who care about the earth and animals are often stereotyped as too emotional. We can change that image by doing our homework, staying calm and polite, and keeping our statements concise.
4 Dec, 2023
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program spends millions of taxpayer dollars to inhumanely kill as many as 100,000 wild predators annually. More accurately described by its former name, Animal Damage Control, Wildlife Services spends millions of dollars each year to kill thousands of wild animals (like coyotes, foxes, and badgers) in the name of protecting crops, livestock, private property, and "natural resources" such as birds who are endangered or favored by hunters.
The methods used to kill these animals include shooting from helicopters and airplanes, trapping, poisoning and denning (poisoning pups in their dens). Trapping and poisoning injure or kill "non-target" animals such as deer, birds, and companion animals—even endangered species. All this, despite the development of non-lethal methods to protect livestock and crops, and evidence that killing predators doesn't even solve the problem.
Coyotes and other predators provide easy scapegoats for the many difficulties faced by ranchers, and an easy target for Wildlife Services. But overall, predators account for a small percentage of livestock losses. The vast majority of livestock loss is caused by disease, severe weather and difficulty during calving or lambing. While coyotes and foxes are blamed for bird population declines, in most cases, habitat loss and/or fragmentation is the real culprit. Once this has taken place, these populations are more vulnerable to predation by other wild animals.
Though lethal predator control may seem a simple solution, reducing predator populations only occasionally increases bird population increases, and then only for a short time. Such increases require continued and widespread lethal predator control, continuing the cycle of cruelty without ever tackling the actual problem.
Changing livestock husbandry practices and adopting non-lethal strategies can go a long way toward reducing or eliminating predator-caused livestock losses over the long term.
Husbandry practices include:
- bringing sheep into a barn during lambing (when they are especially vulnerable)
- corralling livestock at night
- removing livestock carcasses before they attract coyotes, bears, or other predators.
Non-lethal means of reducing livestock depredations include:
- livestock-guarding animals
- electric fencing
- aversive conditioning of attacking predators.
Finally, improving and preserving habitat, as well as installing fencing that excludes predators, are long-term, inexpensive solutions that will serve both people and wildlife.
4 Dec, 2023
Residents living in towns and cities can play a major role in ensuring insect pollinators survive and thrive around them.
With global bee and butterfly populations in decline, the nature of cities is shifting so that they often contain more diverse and abundant populations of native bees than nearby rural landscapes. However, urban conservation programs are largely lagging behind, in that they continue to invest in education and outreach rather than programs designed to achieve high-priority species conservation.
New research into urban ecology is changing how we view the biological value and ecological importance of cities globally. But in order to ensure this has a recognizable effect on issues such as global food security and ecosystem service provision, policies now need to be better aligned with this newly unfolding image of urban landscapes.
Urban gardens are increasingly being recognized for their potential to maintain or even enhance biodiversity. And by growing a variety of plants from around the world, gardeners can play an important role in ensuring that a range of food sources is available for many different pollinators. This international collaboration demonstrates those theories can also be applied globally, to the potential benefits of people and communities across the world.
Urban habitats have traditionally been rather neglected by ecologists and conservationists who are interested in pollinators. However, recent research globally has demonstrated that towns and cities can support large, diverse communities of bees and other insects that play an important role in pollinating urban food crops, particularly in gardens and allotments. It's important that we raise the profile of these insects to influence planning policies, ensuring that building and infrastructure development, as well as conservation strategies, takes this into account.
The diversity of people living in cities creates a diversity of aesthetic landscaping preferences, which in turn leads to a diversity of flowering plants which supports diverse populations of bees. And because native bees can live their entire lives in relatively small spaces when food sources are present, insect pollinators put high-priority and high-impact urban conservation within reach, and small actions can yield large benefits for pollinator conservation.
Recent research is also showing that improving the wild pollinator populations in urban areas improves species diversity and abundance in nearby agricultural lands. So intensifying conservation efforts for urban insect pollinators constitutes an opportunity for meaningful urban conservation, moving beyond traditional education and recreation programming towards a series of cascading benefits throughout rural and urban landscapes.
Because the world’s food security depends upon bees and other pollinators, attending to populations of urban pollinators is important. The global pollinator crisis is one environmental problem that an individual urban resident can do something about. There is no need to get a bee hive which can increase competition for resources with native bees. Simply plant more diverse flowers of different sizes, let valuable 'weeds' grow an extra week or two before mowing them from your lawn, leave some bare unmulched ground for solitary ground nesters, learn to appreciate the aesthetic of yards of others who plant for bees, and then watch the urban pollinators flourish.
4 Dec, 2023
Over 87,000 man-made chemicals are currently in use. Virtually all have not been tested for threats to wildlife and humans.
Wildlife populations are constantly confronted with a massive array of pollutants released into the environment. In the last 80 years, the world chemical output has grown 500-fold, contaminating entire landscapes, accumulating in bodies of animals and plants, and altering and disrupting the DNA of wildlife in those places.
You can help save the planet and its animals by reducing your use of toxic chemicals.
- Buy products that say "biodegradable" and "non-toxic" on the label
- Use natural alternative to pestisides
- Don't use chlorine bleach
- Avoid products with EDTA, NTA, phosphates, sodium hypochlorite or chlorine bleach
- Use rechargeable or mercury-free batteries
- Plant disease and pest-resistant plants in your garden
- Use environmentally friendly cleaning and hygiene products
- Use compost and mulch to improve your soil instead of pesticides and fertilizers
- Use only lawn companies that use ecologically sound Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
3 Dec, 2023
Performing captive wildlife -- elephants, lions, tigers, bears, baboons, monkeys, camels, llamas -- all endure years of physical and psychological pain and suffering in traveling acts to "entertain" an uninformed audience.
Animals used in the circus and other traveling acts travel thousands of miles each year without water, in railroad cars or trucks not air conditioned in summer or heated in winter. Elephants are forced to stand in their own waste, chained in place for up to 100 hours while being transported from one performance to another. These performing animals do not receive the proper care, nutrition and environmental enrichment required for their well-being.
Elephants suffer terribly while being used for human "entertainment." Elephants have three basic needs -- live vegetation for food, family relationships, and freedom of movement -- all of which are denied in the circus setting. In captivity, baby elephants are wrenched from their mother at one year of age and are trained with abusive domineering methods. Perhaps as the result of the ongoing stress and abuse they endure, there have been dozens of premature deaths of elephants used in the circus.
Compare the existence of captive elephants to those left in the wild. Elephants in the wild live as long as 70 years. Wild elephants live in herds and have a large extended family with strong social bonds. Baby elephants stay very close to their mothers for the first three years of their lives, and the females remain with their extended families throughout their lifetime. They roam up to 25 miles a day foraging for food and water. They take dust baths and find comfort during hot weather by wading in water and standing in the shade.
Large exotic cats used in the circus don't fare any better. In the wild, large cats roam for miles each day; they hunt for food, sleep in the sun and lead a fairly solitary existence. Exotic cats used in the circus are allowed none of these behaviors. They live and travel in small cages in close confinement with other cats. They have little room to move around and are never provided with any environmental enrichment.
Elephant training is almost always based on fear and intimidation; trainers must break the spirit of these magnificent animals in order to control them. It is not uncommon for an elephant to be tied down and beaten for days at a time while being trained to "perform." During their training and throughout their lives in captivity elephants are beaten with clubs, shocked with electric prods, stabbed with sharp (ankus) hooks and whipped.
Cats used in the circus are also trained by inherently cruel and dominating methods to force them to perform tricks that are unnatural and undignified. Exotic cats are often whipped, choked and beaten during their training sessions. To force a cat, such as a tiger, to stand on her hind legs, her front paws are often burned with cigarette lighters. To make the cats used in the circus run "enthusiastically" into the circus arena, they are often prodded with pipes or frightened by loud noises to make them appear excited to perform.
It is no wonder that out of frustration and rage elephants used in circuses have been responsible for over 40 human deaths worldwide since 1990. Denied their natural behaviors, and stressed by being kept in close quarters and being forced to constantly perform inane tricks, captive cats also strike back against those responsible for their confinement. There have been more than 75 documented human attacks by felines since 1990.
No traveling animal act, regardless of size or appearance, is capable of handling exotic wildlife in a humane manner. Federal USDA inspection records of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus show more than 100 instances of substandard animal keeping between 1992 and 1997 alone. Although such a record of non-compliant items is not rare, citations are seldom issued. Each year only approximately a dozen of the 2,000+ licensed animal exhibitors in the U.S. are cited, and just one or two may have their license suspended or revoked by the USDA. Fines are frequently suspended.
Despite poor enforcement of animal welfare laws to protect animals in circuses, hope is on the horizon. A movement is underway to restrict or ban traveling animal acts at the local and state level. Traveling acts using animals have been banned in a number of cities in Australia and Canada. Several towns in the U.S. have prohibited animal acts and a few large cities are considering bans. Bills restricting circuses have been introduced in several state legislatures in recent years, and legislation was introduced in Congress to prohibit the use of elephants in circuses and for rides.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Do not patronize any form of entertainment that uses animals. Tell your friends and family to boycott all animal circuses and other animal acts. Instead, support one of the growing number of circuses that do not use animals. Do not allow elephant rides or other animal acts to be used for fundraising purposes in your community. Contact the event sponsors and urge them to promote humane, animal-free circuses instead. Support legislation to protect captive exotic animals.
If you witness animal cruelty at an event, document it in writing and/or with photographs or videotape and report it to your local humane society and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA): USDA Animal Care, 4700 River Road, Unit 84, Riverdale, MD 20737-1234, Phone: 301-734-4981 Fax 301-734-4978.
2 Dec, 2023
Your goal is to become a resource on earth and animal issues for the media. You can start by letting them know that you exist and by cultivating contacts. You don’t have to be an expert on every issue, but you should be open to learning about issues when they come up in the news. You want your local media to think of you when anything involving the environment or animals is in the news and to know that they can come to you for a timely comment or information.
If your group is just starting out, you’ll need to develop some identifying literature. Even if you intend to use literature from larger groups, you need to have at least one brochure, fact sheet or flyer that identifies your organization and describes its purpose and goals. You will also need some letterhead stationery. These materials are invaluable when working with reporters, who are always interested in the local angle.
CREATE A MEDIA LIST
Create a media list and organize it into the following categories: Wire services; Local print media; Local radio; Local TV. Record the name and title of each contact person (you may have more than one contact person for each organization), the name of his or her publication or station, and his or her address, telephone number, and e-mail address. For print media, get the names of the news editor (also called the city editor, news director, or assignment editor), the features editor, and the person responsible for the community calendar or bulletin board.
Organize media information according to whether the publication is daily, weekly, monthly or web-based. Find out the publications’ deadlines and make a list of your local TV news programs’ broadcast times. This will help you plan your demonstrations and actions so that they will best fit into the TV stations’ schedules and will prevent you from calling stations about an upcoming event while they are busy preparing to go on the air.
Try to keep profiles of your media contacts, with comments on whether they are sympathetic or hostile to certain issues and whether they have covered earth and animal-related issues in the past. It’s also a good idea to date your notes so that you’ll know when you contacted them last, what you contacted them about, and how they reacted.
Once you’ve created your media list, send a brief letter to each contact explaining the purpose of your group and offering information on issues. Include your group’s identifying fact sheet or brochure. This alone is probably not enough to get the media to contact you (usually you have to become known in the community), but it is a start.
WRITING A NEWS RELEASE
News releases—short announcements about newsworthy events—are sent to newspapers, magazines, and TV and radio stations to interest them in doing stories. Because news directors receive hundreds of releases every day, yours must look professional and present the facts quickly, or it will never be read.
Keep it short; one page is best. Write a concise, catchy headline that summarizes the story. It should be written in the style of a newspaper headline, using active verbs. Use the “inverted pyramid” style to write the release. Put the most important facts in the first paragraph and supporting information in descending order so that the least important information is last. The first paragraph should answer the “five W’s”: who, what, where, when, and why. Underline the text that gives the location, time and date of the event. The final paragraph should describe your group and reinforce your message with a quotation from your spokesperson.
Never editorialize. Use quotations to express opinions. Quotations should be attributed to a specific individual, such as the appointed spokesperson for your upcoming event, not just your group.
Proofread the release carefully for grammar and spelling. Ask someone else to read it and to give an objective opinion. If you have the time, set it aside and look it over again the next morning. Eliminate redundancy, use short words and phrases, and simplify complex ideas. Make it dramatic and attention-getting, but be prepared to substantiate everything that you say. Double-check the facts. It is virtually impossible to correct a release once it has gone out. But if you do make a mistake—especially in the time or location of an event—call those who received the release as soon as possible.
The time you give the media should be the ideal time for them to see your event. If your event starts at 11 am, you may wish to tell the media that it’s a little later so that they don’t arrive to see activists who are still figuring out where to stand or are simply chatting.
Use white, regular-weight, letter-sized (8.5-by-11-inch) paper. Include your group’s name, address, and website (if you have one) in your letterhead. Type “NEWS RELEASE” at the top of the first page. Always refer to releases as “news releases,” not “press releases.” The same goes for “news conference” versus “press conference.” Type the date in the upper-lefthand corner. Type “For Immediate Release” above the date. Be sure to give the contact’s full name. Be certain that the contact is always available at the phone number listed on the release, and include both daytime and evening numbers if necessary.
Center the headline, type it in all capital letters, and place it about 2 inches from the heading above it to provide space for editors’ notes. Directly below the headline, type the subhead. The subhead, which should be centered and underlined, gives a bit more detail about the event but, like the headline, is still short and catchy. Begin the body of the release below the subhead and about a third of the way down the page. Leave wide margins for reporters’ and editors’ notes.
Don’t use zeroes for times (“11 am,” not “11:00″) or letters after numbered dates (“August 22,” not “August 22nd”). Never continue on the back of a page. Instead, end the first page with a complete paragraph and type the word “more” centered at the bottom. At the end of the release, center and type “-30-,” “###,” or “Ends.”
A media kit is a packet of information given to reporters who come to your demonstration, event or news conference. It helps to get your message across and makes you look professional. A media kit can include a news release, a facts heet, photographs, background information on or a history of the issue, copies of relevant documents and background on your organization. Package the kit in a two-pocket folder (found in any office supply store) and put a label on the cover with your group’s name and the words “Media Kit.” If you have a photograph, you can put it on the cover, but it is not essential.
SERVICING A NEWS RELEASE
Before deciding how and when to deliver your release, establish what you want to accomplish. Do you want something printed or broadcast before the event, or do you want the media to attend and cover the event? Generally, it’s better to get coverage of events such as film showings, meetings, and fundraisers before they occur. In such cases, you should send releases at least three weeks in advance to the “community calendar” or “bulletin board” sections of your local paper. If, on the other hand, you’re organizing a picket or demonstration, you’ll want news coverage of the event itself. In this case, fax and/or e-mail your news release one day before the event.
Regardless of what type of event you’re planning, keep in mind that reporters need an interesting angle. When you make a media call or send out a news release, be sure that it is for something newsworthy. Remember, the media don’t like to feel “used” to promote a cause. Reporters want what they’re writing to be legitimate news, not propaganda. If your information or event isn’t newsworthy, don’t contact the media because you’ll only anger them and waste their time.
Use interesting visuals in your demonstrations. Tie your demonstration in with current events, such as an upcoming holiday or a popular current news story. Focus on local aspects. In addition to sending a news release, call the news desk to inform them. Do not read your entire news release to them; just inform them of the event, date, location and times.
When you send a news release to more than one person in an organization, let each person know who else is receiving it. Nothing infuriates an editor more than working on a story and then finding out that someone else at the paper is doing the same story for another section.
After the demonstration, assign volunteers to gather the coverage. At least two people should record television coverage and check the newspapers for stories and photos. These clips can be sent out with your next news release to show that what you’re doing is newsworthy.
If a newspaper covers your event but the news wires (Associated Press, Reuters) don’t, call the wires to let them know that they can pick up the story from the paper. If your event is of national interest, call the national television news desks in New York to let them know that they can pick up footage from the local affiliate.
Reporters work against deadlines. If you call editors or reporters when they are rushing to meet a deadline, you won’t get your story in the news, and you may alienate them as well. The best time to call contacts at a morning paper is between 9:30 and 10 am. As it gets later, the staff will be more pressed for time. Call contacts at an evening paper in the late afternoon when the paper has just gone out.
It is best to call radio or TV reporters as early in the day as possible—between 8 and 9 am—if you’re trying to get on an evening broadcast. Don’t call after 1 or 2 pm for a 5 pm story; the staff is rushing to edit the news that they already have. As a general rule, talk to the media as far before deadlines as possible, then follow up on the day of the event.
Develop and maintain professional relationships with the media in your community by being courteous and responsible. Return calls promptly—remember those deadlines! Be enthusiastic, cooperative, friendly, and truthful. If you make a mistake, admit it promptly. Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know, but I can find out.” Then do so.
WORKING WITH WIRE SERVICES
Wire services are news-gathering agencies that sell stories to newspapers and radio stations around the country. They should be your first points of contact for delivering a news release or making media calls. If you can interest the wire services, your story will be sent to all the subscribing media in your area or even across the nation. The biggest wire services are the Associated Press (AP) and Reuters. Many of the nation’s largest papers—The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, The New York Times—also have news services, which means that if you interest them in your story, it may be sent nationwide as well.
Getting a story “on the wire” is a valuable accomplishment. It is worth the great deal of effort that goes into developing good relations with wire service reporters. Many TV, radio and print assignment editors answer calls asking for coverage by saying, “We’ll see what comes in over the wire.”
To find out which wire service bureaus are in your area, look in the telephone book or call your local newspaper office. Any reporter can tell you where the nearest bureau is. If the newspaper is a member of the AP, it also submits stories to the AP.
Send the bureau manager a letter describing your organization, and supply the names, addresses and telephone numbers of your best contact people. Offer to supply information or the local angle on earth and animal issues.
The daybook is a listing of scheduled events for the day. Each evening and morning, AP and United Press International (UPI) send the daybook to their members. Assignment editors use this list to decide how to assign reporters and camera crews. Always send two news releases to the wire services—one for the daybook and one for the assignment editor. Call both the daybook editor and the assignment editor to follow up. To get listed in the daybook, send your news release about a week before the event. If that’s not possible, you may still be able to get listed by calling the information in to the daybook editor.
You might also be able to get a photograph of your event on the wire. If you’ve just had a demonstration, e-mail your pictures along with your news release.
Call your closest radio bureaus. Be prepared to do an interview on the spot if they are interested. They’ll tape it for later use.
WRITING LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
You can get great exposure for earth and animal issues by writing letters to the editors of newspapers or magazines. Make it a point to read local papers and magazines for articles that provide fuel for letters to the editor.
A spokesperson, not necessarily the group leader, should be appointed for each event. Members of your group need to be prepared to answer media questions with a brief sentence and then direct further questions to the spokesperson, who will be prepared with media kits and all the facts. This helps prevent the media from interviewing an inarticulate or unprepared person. Your group must decide ahead of time what the spokesperson should and should not say. The spokesperson should be well dressed. Though you must appoint a spokesperson, everyone at the event should be familiar with the topic because reporters will often want a second comment from others involved.
Never speak “off the record”; everything is on the record. Also, watch out for jokes, which can create misunderstandings. Don’t get bullied into a simple “yes” or “no” answer to a complex question. Give the facts that are necessary to address the issue.
Study the professionals on national interview shows. Develop a few good phrases and examples that will catch a reporter’s ear, and rehearse them. No one becomes an expert overnight. The key is to practice, practice, practice!
State important points clearly and briefly. It’s helpful if you understand what media professionals consider newsworthy. The following are primary characteristics of newsworthy stories:
- Timeliness: The media are interested in what’s happening today, not yesterday.
- Proximity: The closer the event is to the media’s target audience, the more likely it will be considered news.
- Prominence: You may get more media attention by getting well-known people involved.
- Conflict: The media love covering opposing factions.
- Novelty: If you’re doing something for the first time, the media are more likely to respond; they get tired of the same old thing.
- Importance: The more people who will be affected or interested, the more likely you are to receive media coverage of an event.
Your information or event does not have to meet all these criteria, but it should meet most of them.
RADIO & TV TALK SHOW INTERVIEWS
You can reach thousands of people through talk shows. Call in to make comments when earth and animal related subjects are discussed and during “open phone” segments. It’s even better if someone from your group can be a talk show guest.
If your group is expecting a visit from someone with a particular area of expertise, try to get the person on a talk show. Or try to get yourself on one. Contact television and radio stations several weeks in advance. Send a letter to the show’s director describing your credentials or those of your speaker as well as possible discussion topics and reasons why they would interest the audience. As with a news release, be sure to provide your telephone number. Prepare a list of people whom your speaker would feel comfortable debating in case the show wants to present both sides.
Once you are booked on a show, listen to it or watch it so that you’ll know what style and format to expect. To prepare, do the following:
- Study the issue.
- Practice being interviewed. Tape yourself with a recorder or video camera.
- Anticipate difficult questions and plan your answers.
- Memorize good quotations, anecdotes and facts.
- Have a friend ask you hard questions in a hostile, aggressive way so that you can be prepared for a difficult interview.
- Decide on the five main points that you want to make during the show. Memorize a fact or an example for each one.
- Try to make your five points, even if the interviewer doesn’t ask the “right” questions. Don’t feel limited by the questions. You can answer them and still talk about your points. Practice saying, “The real question here is …” or, “That relates to a larger issue, which is ….”
- If you’re doing a TV show, be careful about how you dress. Wear plain, solid colors rather than patterns, but avoid solid black, white and red. Green and blue film especially well. Smile, and don’t fidget or touch your face or hair.
- Try to make your point in eight seconds or less. TV news shows look for “sound bites”—statements that can be plugged into a 60-second story. If you take 45 or 60 seconds to make your point, your spot won’t be aired, so use short sentences.
- Speak slowly and carefully (but not too slowly!), and think before answering the question.
- Don’t say anything that you wouldn’t want edited out and aired separately. The reporter may interview you for five minutes but air only eight seconds of it. Don’t worry about repeating yourself: It just increases the chances that what you want to be heard actually will be.
- If the reporter is hostile, don’t get flustered, raise your voice or get shrill. Stay calm and concentrate on making your five points. Remember, the reporter is not your real audience.
- Talk directly to the interviewer, not to the audience or camera. If you steal side glances at the camera, you’ll look nervous or shifty.
Holding a news conference is a good way to fall flat on your face … unless you have a really important story. Hold a news conference only when the following criteria are met:
- The media can get more from it than they could from photographs and news releases.
- You have important or newsworthy people available to present your story.
- Experts will be available to answer questions.
- The story involves something that has to be seen to be understood.
- The media are inundating you with telephone calls, and rumors must be dispelled.
Use the following format when holding a news conference:
- Hold the news conference in a location that is convenient for media professionals, such as in a downtown hotel, and provide light refreshments. The best time to have a news conference is 10 or 11 am.
- Start promptly with a concise statement from your spokesperson.
- Have media kits ready and explain the material to the media.
- Call on the expert to read a short statement.
- Answer questions.
- End the news conference on time. It should not last more than 30 or 40 minutes. Reporters will ask further questions if they wish to do so.
If possible, issue invitations one to two weeks ahead of time by sending a “media alert.” Explain the details of the news conference and what will be addressed. If you are holding the news conference right away, alert the media by telephone. Call the wire services to get it on the daybook.
Be careful to allow only media professionals, not members of the general public, to enter the room. Assign someone to check media IDs at the door. Courteously refuse entry to all others. Hand media kits and news releases out as soon as reporters arrive. If a major statement is being made, you may want to issue the news release after the statement. After the news conference, follow up with media inquiries as quickly as possible. Make every effort to accommodate requests for personal interviews. Deliver news releases and media kits to media professionals who were invited but did not attend. Tell radio stations that your spokesperson is available for telephone interviews.
30 Nov, 2023
Overpopulation is not what's bringing about ecological catastrophe; overconsumption is. Overconsumption is the state where consumption surpasses the planet’s natural replenishing capabilities.
Living and consuming are interconnected activities. You can’t live without consuming. Water, food and air are consumed to support life. But we also consume much more than essentials, including goods and services such as electronics, furniture, appliances, cars, books, entertainment, and travel. There seems to be no end to the list of items and services we can’t live without.
Nowadays, we buy mainly to draw emotional satisfaction rather than meeting our actual needs. Advertising creates virtual problems and triggers negative feelings about them; then, it conveniently presents you with a solution. This cycle results in a deterioration of the quality of life, overworking, and overconsuming, which also damages the environment significantly.
Corporations manipulate consumers. They promise us privileges, connection, and happiness, which makes us keep buying more and more. The message’s effectiveness is so high that, despite being left in debt, overstressed, and buried under tons of possessions, we continue wanting more. But, worse of all, our overconsumption is based on our society’s reliance on it. The modern Western economy relies on us consuming more, so it focuses on fueling our wants and desires, and encourages us to upgrade more, buy more, waste more and pollute more.
Consuming Consequences To The Environment
This unrelenting consumption does not come free of charge. The natural world provides everything we consume, through mining, extraction, farming, and forestry – and there is a limit on the planet’s resources. As we keep consuming more and more, pursuing an elusive “comfortable” life, the planet is overstressed by this over-exploitation of soil, water, minerals, forests, fish, etc. As a result, species, habitats, and even entire ecosystems are collapsing. What’s more, with increased consumption comes more waste and pollution, compromising the quality of life’s very basic elements: air, water and land.
Consumption Consequences For Societies
Wealthier nations consume the biggest share of the Earth’s resources, depriving others of their fair share. 80 percent of the planet’s resources are consumed by a mere 17 percent of the total population. Valuable resources flow from the Earth’s South to the North. We exploit and use these resources to create services and goods for a small percentage of the population, instead of utilizing them to ensure that the rest of the world also has access to the essentials for life, such as water, food, health and sanitation. To satisfy the virtual needs of the rich, valuable resources are used up to produce meaningless items of luxury, further increasing the gap with the poor.
An Ecological Footprint measures the impact of a person or community on the environment, expressed as the amount of land required to sustain their use of natural resources. Natural resources provide the materials for everything we use for our day to day activities and needs. The Eco-Footprint, calculated in acres or hectares, expresses how much bio-productive space a defined population needs to sustain its current levels of life and consumption.
The following resources are factored into the measurement:
- Arable Land Required: how much land is needed for growing crops for fiber, food, animal feed, etc.
- Forest Resources: the resources required for furniture, fuel, houses, etc., and for ensuring the ecosystems are secured from climate change and erosion.
- Ocean Resources: water required for fish and related products.
- Pasture Land Required: how much land is needed to raise animals for meat, dairy production, hides, etc.
- Energy Costs: the amount of land needed to absorb carbon dioxide emissions and other waste products.
- Infrastructure Needed: how much land is required for transportation and creating factories, houses, etc.
- Land, water and air pollution, and species extinction, are not yet factored in for the calculation of this Eco-footprint.
The planet has a biocapacity of about 4.7 acres (1.9 hectares) per individual. On a global scale, we currently use 5.4 acres (2.2 hectares) per individual. This means that we have surpassed the Earth’s sustainable biocapacity by 15 percent, a deficit of 1 acre (0.3 hectares) per individual. This deficit is self-evident by the cascading failure of the natural ecosystems –oceans, forests, fisheries, rivers, coral reefs, water, soil, global warming, etc.
It is possible to estimate the Eco-Footprint for a single person, a city, a region, a country, and the whole world. Several countries are in the “red zone”, meaning they have a larger Ecological Footprint than their ecosystems’ biocapacity, putting them into an “ecological deficit.” Conversely, countries that feature a smaller Eco-Footprint than their ecosystems’ biocapacity are in “ecological reserve.”
Cities, states, and nations are put in ecological deficits by abolishing their natural resources, for example, by overfishing, with resource imports from elsewhere and by surpassing their ecosystem’s natural capacity of carbon dioxide absorption.
Overshoot is the phenomenon of the entire planet being put in an ecological deficit. Overshoot and ecological deficit are the same from a global point of view because it is impossible to import new resources to the planet.
Currently, our planet needs 1.5 years to replenish the resources we use in one year. We keep this overshoot by abolishing the planet’s resources. We have not taken seriously how big of a threat overshoot is to humanity’s future, and have not begun to address it properly.
Earth’s Ecological Limits
In contrast to the growing populations, economies and resource demands, Earth’s size doesn’t change. It is only possible to sustain an overshoot for a small window of time, after which ecosystems start degrading and collapse. Ecological overconsumption is becoming increasingly apparent in the form of desertification, deforestation, water shortages, soil erosion, reduced crop production, overgrazing, rapid extinction of species, fish declines, coral reefs collapse, and increased carbon levels in the atmosphere.
Data from the Global Footprint Network reveal that if our current level of demand remains the same, we would need a second Earth by the year 2030. Consuming at this same rate will endanger the future of large portions of the planet’s inhabitants.
It's Time To Move Beyond Recycling
Everyone must work together to reduce consumption — public and private sectors, poor and rich, men, women, and children. The one thing we all have in common is the planet we live on. However, the larger burden of responsibility to shift behaviors lies with the wealthier nations, which have to move beyond just separating metal, glass and plastic to not consuming so much of them in the first place.
More than 30 percent of the total waste in the world is produced in America, by less than 5 percent of the total population of the planet. Since we create most of the problem, we are burdened with a higher responsibility to change our behavioral pattern. If every person on the planet adopted the lifestyle of the average American, we would need five Earths.
We must rethink what consumption is, and do our best to reduce it. The planet is being destroyed by the way societies function right now. It’s not just about recycling anymore; it’s about how to stop feeding the cycle altogether.
30 Nov, 2023
Switching to a vegan lifestyle is accompanied with so many benefits (environmental, animal compassion, healthier living) that the real question you should ask is, “Why not?” By switching to a vegan lifestyle, you will see your health drastically improve, your negative environmental impact will diminish, and you will help save millions of animals worldwide.
Veganism And Health
There is clear and overwhelming medical evidence that the incidence of heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis and diabetes is much less among vegans; obesity as well. Vegans are usually in better physical condition; their food has far lower levels of pesticides; and their immune systems work much better.
The largest epidemiological study to date, commonly referred to as “The China study”, showed that people who consume meat and animal products in quantities similar to those in a typical American diet are 17 times more likely to die from heart disease, and 5 times more likely to suffer from breast cancer, than those whose animal-derived protein comprises less than 5 percent of their total diet.
The concentration of pesticides in meat is 14 times higher than plant foods, because these chemicals accumulate as they progress through the food chain, and they are fat-soluble. Six years after the banning of dieldrin, a pesticide, the USDA confiscated and destroyed 2,000,000 packages of frozen turkey products with high dieldrin concentrations. In 1974, in tests run by the FDA, dieldrin was discovered in 85 percent of all dairy products and in 99.5 percent of the country’s human population.
According to the EPA, vegetarian mothers produce breast milk that has much lower pesticide concentrations than the average American.
In a study published in the NEJM, it was reported that the highest contamination level of vegetarians was lower than the lowest contamination level of non-vegetarians. Mean contamination in vegetarians was only 1 to 2 percent as much as the national average.
Veganism And The Environment
Veganism is a choice that has more positive impact on energy, land, water, ecosystems and wildlife than any other. This is due to livestock consuming several times more grain than their meat output. What’s more, harvesting and transportation of animal-derived products requires huge amounts of energy, and massive quantities of water for the animals and the crops they are fed – not to mention the disturbing amount of pesticides used.
If all countries around the world adopted American diet habits, fossil fuel reserves would be depleted in just eleven years. Plant foods with the worst energy efficiency are ten times more efficient than the most efficient meat food. If we went vegetarian as a nation, our oil imports would be reduced by 60 percent.
More than 50 percent of the nation’s water consumption goes to water the crops that feed livestock. You need 100 times more water for meat production. One day’s food in the typical American diet requires 4,000 gallons of water. Conversely, vegetarian food needs 1,200 gallons, and vegan food just 300 gallons. When you eat the typical American diet, just to grow enough food for three days you need to use as much water as you need to shower every day for the whole year.
Livestock in America produces 20 times more waste than humans, a jaw-dropping 250 thousand pounds per second. The waste produced by a large feedlot rivals that of a large city – and feedlots don't have sewage systems. This results in animal waste ending up in lakes and rivers, increasing their pollution of phosphates, nitrates, ammonia, and microorganisms, thereby depleting oxygen and killing animal and plant life. The meat industry produces 300 percent more harmful organic waste than all the other industries in the country combined.
To produce food for the average American diet, 10 times more land is needed compared to a vegetarian one. 20 thousand pounds of potatoes vs. only 165 pounds of beef can come out of an acre of land. In the United States alone, in order to support our meat-based diet, 260 million acres of forest have been turned over to agriculture, accounting for more than one acre per person. Forests are destroyed at a rate of 1 acre every 5 seconds. Seven acres of forest are turned into grazing or crop fields for animal feeding for every acre cleared for urban development.
Almost 85 percent of all lost topsoil is directly related to livestock farming. According to the USDA, topsoil loss has caused crop productivity to drop by as much as 70 percent. Almost 500 years are required for the formation of one inch of topsoil under natural conditions. Conversely, vegan diets demand less than 5 percent of the topsoil needed for meat-based diets.
Moral Benefits Of Veganism
Animal suffering is nobody’s objective, but we often forget that it’s inevitable when we eat them. The one most effective action an individual can perform to ease the suffering of animals is to simply remove them from your diet.
We kill approximately 8 billion animals every year to produce food in the U.S. alone, which accounts for more than the planet’s entire human population. It is estimated that around 24 animals die every year for one American to feed on them. To make things worse, modern agriculture has been raising animals in small confinement facilities, far removed from the traditional image of the beautiful-looking pasture – a method called factory farming.
Most factory farmed animals are raised in tiny cages with no room to move. They are deprived of exercise so that all of their bodies' energy goes toward producing flesh, eggs, or milk for human consumption. Massive amounts of potent drugs are fed to the animals to stop them from becoming sick due to their filthy living conditions, and to boost their production faster than their natural development would dictate. When chickens and cows become less productive in eggs and milk, they are killed and turned into low-quality meat (pet food and fast food).
Cattle raised for beef are usually born in one state, fattened in another, and slaughtered in yet another. They are fed an unnatural diet of high-bulk grains and other "fillers" (including sawdust). They are castrated, de-horned, and branded without anesthetics. During transportation, cattle are crowded into metal trucks where they suffer from fear, injury, temperature extremes, and lack of food, water, and veterinary care. Calves raised for veal are taken from their mothers only a few days after birth, chained in stalls only 22 inches wide with slatted floors that cause severe leg and joint pain. They are fed a milk substitute laced with hormones but deprived of iron: anemia keeps their flesh pale and tender but makes the calves very weak. When they are slaughtered at the age of about 16 weeks, they are often too sick or crippled to walk. One out of every 10 calves dies in confinement.
Ninety percent of all pigs are closely confined at some point in their lives, and 70 percent are kept constantly confined. Sows are kept pregnant or nursing constantly and are squeezed into narrow metal "iron maiden" stalls, unable to turn around. Although pigs are naturally peaceful and social animals, they resort to cannibalism and tailbiting when packed into crowded pens and develop neurotic behaviors when kept isolated and confined. They often contract dysentery, cholera, trichinosis, and other diseases fostered by factory farming.
Chickens are divided into two groups: layers and broilers. Five to six laying hens are kept in a 14-inch-square mesh cage, and cages are often stacked in many tiers. Conveyor belts bring in food and water and carry away eggs and excrement. Because the hens are severely crowded, they are kept in semi-darkness and their beaks are cut off with hot irons (without anesthetics) to keep them from pecking each other to death from stress. The wire mesh of the cages rubs their feathers off, chafes their skin, and cripples their feet. Approximately 20 percent of the hens raised under these conditions die of stress or disease. At the age of one to two years, their overworked bodies decline in egg production and they are slaughtered (chickens would normally live 15-20 years).
More than six billion "broiler" chickens are raised in sheds each year. Lighting is manipulated to keep the birds eating as often as possible, and they are killed after only nine weeks. Despite the heavy use of pesticides and antibiotics, up to 60 percent of chickens sold at the supermarket are infected with live salmonella bacteria.
Farm animals are sentient beings that experience all the same emotions we do. They deserve our respect and compassion. The easiest and most effective way to reduce the cruelty inflicted on farm animals is to become vegan.
28 Nov, 2023
Despite their professed concern for animals, zoos remain more "collections" of interesting "items" than actual havens or simulated habitats. Zoos teach people that it is acceptable to keep animals in captivity, bored, cramped, lonely and far from their natural homes. They are a form of animal entertainment, not education.
Zoos range in size and quality from cageless parks to small roadside menageries with concrete slabs and iron bars. The larger the zoo and the greater the number and variety of the animals it contains, the more it costs to provide quality care for the animals. Although more than 112 million people visit zoos in the United States and Canada every year, most zoos operate at a loss and must find ways to cut costs (which sometimes means selling animals) or add gimmicks that will attract visitors. Zoo officials often consider profits ahead of the animals' well-being.
Animals suffer from more than neglect in some zoos. When Dunda, an African elephant, was transferred from the San Diego Zoo to the San Diego Wild Animal Park, she was chained, pulled to the ground, and beaten with ax handles for two days. One witness described the blows as "home run swings." Such abuse may be the norm. "You have to motivate them," says San Francisco zookeeper Paul Hunter of elephants, "and the way you do that is by beating the hell out of them."
Zoos claim to educate people and preserve species, but they frequently fall short on both counts. Most zoo enclosures are quite small, and labels provide little more information than the species' name, diet and natural range. The animals' normal behavior is seldom discussed, much less observed, because their natural needs are seldom met. Birds' wings may be clipped so they cannot fly, aquatic animals often have little water, and the many animals who naturally live in large herds or family groups are often kept alone or, at most, in pairs. Natural hunting and mating behaviors are virtually eliminated by regulated feeding and breeding regimens. The animals are closely confined, lack privacy and have little opportunity for mental stimulation or physical exercise, resulting in abnormal and self-destructive behavior called zoochosis.
A worldwide study of zoos conducted by the Born Free Foundation revealed that zoochosis is rampant in confined animals around the globe. Another study found that elephants spend 22 percent of their time engaging in abnormal behaviors, such as repeated head bobbing or biting cage bars, and bears spend about 30 percent of their time pacing, a sign of distress.
One sanctuary that is home to rescued zoo animals reports seeing frequent signs of zoochosis in animals brought to the sanctuary from zoos. Of chimpanzees, who bite their own limbs from captivity-induced stress, the manager says: "Their hands were unrecognizable from all the scar tissue."
More than half the world's zoos "are still in bad conditions" and treating chimpanzees poorly, according to renowned chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall.
As for education, zoo visitors usually spend only a few minutes at each display, seeking entertainment rather than enlightenment. A study of the zoo in Buffalo, N.Y., found that most people passed cages quickly, and described animals in such terms as "funny-looking," "dirty," or "lazy."
The purpose of most zoos' research is to find ways to breed and maintain more animals in captivity. If zoos ceased to exist, so would the need for most of their research. Protecting species from extinction sounds like a noble goal, but zoo officials usually favor exotic or popular animals who draw crowds and publicity, and neglect less popular species. Most animals housed in zoos are not endangered, nor are they being prepared for release into natural habitats. It is nearly impossible to release captive-bred animals into the wild. A 1994 report by the World Society for the Protection of Animals showed that only 1,200 zoos out of 10,000 worldwide are registered for captive breeding and wildlife conservation. Only two percent of the world's threatened or endangered species are registered in breeding programs. Those that are endangered may have their plight made worse by zoos' focus on crowd appeal. In his book The Last Panda, George Schaller, the scientific director of the Bronx Zoo, says zoos are actually contributing to the near-extinction of giant pandas by constantly shuttling the animals from one zoo to another for display. In-breeding is also a problem among captive populations.
Zoo babies are great crowd-pleasers, but what happens when babies grow up? Zoos often sell or kill animals who no longer attract visitors. Deer, tigers, lions and other animals who breed often are sometimes sold to "game" farms where hunters pay for the "privilege" of killing them; some are killed for their meat and/or hides. Other "surplus" animals may be sold to smaller, more poorly run zoos or to laboratories for experiments.
Ultimately, we will only save endangered species if we save their habitats and combat the reasons people kill them. Instead of supporting zoos, we should support groups like the International Primate Protection League, The Born Free Foundation, the African Wildlife Foundation and other groups that work to preserve habitats, not habits. We should help non-profit sanctuaries, like Primarily Primates and the Performing Animal Welfare Society, that rescue and care for exotic animals, but don't sell or breed them.
Zoos truly interested in raising awareness of wildlife and conservation should create high-tech zoos with no animals. Visitors could observe animals in the wild via live satellite links with far off places like the Amazon rain forest, the Great Barrier reef and Africa.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
It is best not to patronize a zoo unless you are actively working to change its conditions. Avoid smaller, roadside zoos at all costs. If no one visits these substandard operations, they will be forced to close down. Zoos are covered under the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), which sets minimal housing and maintenance standards for captive animals. The AWA requires that all animal displays be licensed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which must inspect zoos once a year. However, some zoos that have passed USDA inspections with flying colors have later been found by humane groups to have numerous violations. Start a "Zoocheck" program to build a strong case for implementing changes.
27 Nov, 2023
Each year thousands of seals are killed in Canada. The seals suffer painful and lingering deaths. The weapon used is a club, the brutal hakapik. Sometimes the seals are skinned alive. Sealers often use sharpened steel hooks to drag the creatures on board their vessels. Seal-clubbing is justified by the Canadian government because its victims are adversely affecting the profits of the Newfoundland fishing industry.
A harp seal can be legally killed as soon as it has begun to moult its white hair, around 2 weeks after birth. Adult seals are also killed. The seal hunt is one of the very few hunts that occurs in the spring when young are being born. As a result, roughly 80% of the seals killed in the commercial hunt are 'young of the year' - between approximately 12 days and 1 year old.
Younger seals (ragged jackets and beaters) are usually killed on the ice with clubs or hakapiks (a device resembling a heavy ice-pick). Later in the season, beaters and older seals are usually shot with a rifle, both on the ice and in the water. It is also legal to use a shotgun firing slugs. It is illegal to deliberately capture seals using nets, although seals are often caught incidentally in nets set for other fisheries.
Six species of seals -- including the harp, hooded, grey, ringed, bearded and harbour -- are found off the Atlantic coast of Canada. Harp and hooded seals are the two most common species hunted commercially.
Although harp seals make up 95% of the commercial hunt, they are not the only seals hunted in Atlantic Canada: there is also a quota for 10,000 hooded seals, and in recent years small numbers of grey seals have been hunted for commercial use. In addition to the commercial hunts, seals of all species are taken for subsistence purposes in Labrador and the Canadian Arctic, and harp and hooded seals may be killed for personal use by residents of sealing regions. The seal hunt quota was introduced in 1971.
The majority of seal pelts are still exported to Norway for processing. The seal pelts are either used for furs or leather. A small amount of seal meat, particularly the flippers, is consumed locally by Newfoundlanders, and some claim it to have an aphrodisiac effect. Seal penises are shipped to Asian markets and can sell for upwards of $500 US each. Penises are often dried and consumed in capsule form or in a tonic.
Seal hunting is inhumane. Groups have campaigned on the issue for years and their evidence shows all the horror of the hunt -- dragging conscious seal pups across the ice with sharpened boat hooks, stockpiling of dead and dying animals, beating and stomping seals, and skinning seals alive. In 2002, an international team of veterinary experts attended the hunt. They observed sealers at work from the air and from the ground, and performed post-mortems on 73 seal carcasses.
Their study concluded that:
79% of the sealers did not check to see if an animal was dead before skinning it.
In 40% of the kills, a sealer had to strike the seal a second time, presumably because it was still conscious after the first blow or shot.
Up to 42% of the seals they examined were likely skinned alive.
Many people remember the worldwide protest that arose in the 1970s over Canada’s killing of whitecoat seal pups (under two weeks old). The massive protest, with international campaigning against the Canadian seal hunt during the 70s & 80s, led to the European Union ban on the importation of whitecoat pelts in 1983, and eventually to the Canadian government banning large-vessel commercial whitecoat hunting in 1987.
Canada's cod fishery collapsed in the early 90s, and some in Canada blamed the seals, despite the fact that the greatest cause was clearly decades of over-fishing by humans. The collapse of fisheries around Newfoundland, due to mismanagement, is a major driver in the expansion of the seal hunt.
Although the Canadian seal hunt is the largest in the world and has the highest profile internationally, sealing is also carried out in a number of other countries across the world including Greenland, Namibia, Russia, Norway and Sweden.
26 Nov, 2023
“Lightning bugs” or “fireflies” are actually beetles, nocturnal members of the aptly named Lampyridae family. Fireflies have special cells that, when the insects takes in oxygen, combine it with a substance called luciferin. This chemical process takes place in dedicated organs located under the fireflies’ abdomens and produces the light. Fireflies flash their light in patterns that are unique to each of the 2,000 species of firefly. They are communicating with their light, each blinking pattern an optical signal to a potential mate.
Sadly, as with so many of the Earth’s creatures, fireflies are disappearing all over the world. The clearing of forests, the destruction of wetlands, the use of toxic chemicals in agriculture and on residential lawns and gardens are all to blame. But the lovely firefly may suffer from something we might not think about - light pollution. It is likely that light from development and traffic may contribute to the firefly’s decline. Ambient light may be responsible for reducing firefly numbers by disrupting their mating signals, making it harder for them to find mates and breed.
You can support firefly populations by following these simple steps. If you make your property or garden a firefly haven, the beauty of their light will more than repay you for your time and effort.
DO NOT CATCH THE FIREFLIES
Adult fireflies live only long enough to mate and lay eggs. Catching fireflies in glass jars is a nostalgic pastime for children on a summer’s evening, but how sad it is to waste one precious moment of a firefly’s brief existence trapped in a glass prison. Let them find their mates and complete their life cycle without disturbance.
KEEP YOUR BACKYARD IN THE DARK
Turn off exterior lights and remove even solar garden lights. If you have bright interior lighting, draw your drapes and lower your blinds at night.
LEAVE ROTTING LOGS AND LEAVES ON THE GROUND
Provide firefly larvae the conditions they need to grow to the adult, breeding stage. Allow some of the branches and leaf litter that fall naturally from the trees on your property to remain under the trees. Or cut them up and tuck the logs into your garden. Use bark mulch, preferably large nuggets, around your plantings to create a thick layer of organic, moisture retaining material.
CHOOSE PLANTS THAT CONSERVE MOISTURE
Solomon’s Seal, iris and hydrangea are a few plants that shade the ground beneath them. To create even more shade for the fireflies, plant low growing plants like wild ginger under the taller plants. Beds thickly planted in this way are like mini jungles, perfect for not only fireflies, but also toads and other moisture loving animals.
CREATE A WATER GARDEN
Any source of water will bring fireflies to congregate. A water garden will attract them and if you plant the edges of your pond with bog plants and keep it moist, the fireflies will stay and hopefully breed there. Chemically treated ponds and pools are not a natural environment for anything. A balanced water garden does not need chemicals.
DO NOT USE PESTICIDES
Pesticides and weed killers have had their effect on firefly populations. (It is widely believed that their use has also negatively impacted the honey bee.) Firefly larvae may eat insects that have been poisoned after eating plants that have been sprayed. The larvae are then poisoned as well.
USE NATURAL FERTILIZERS
Artificial chemicals rarely mix with nature, and many of the harmful chemicals found in pesticides are also found in fertilizers. It is very possible that chemical fertilizers harm firefly populations and the populations of other beneficial insects. Your garden can flourish beautifully with natural fertilizers such as compost. And fertilizing your lawn just makes more work for you and costs you and the Earth more in gasoline.
DON’T OVER-MOW YOUR LAWN
Fireflies stay mostly on the ground during the day and fly at night. Frequent mowing disturbs them. Fireflies prefer to live in long grasses. So mowing less often and leaving some areas of long grass may increase their numbers in your yard.
A firefly habitat needs trees to create shade. Shade and low light areas give the fireflies more time to find a mate. Fast-growing shade trees include Red Maple, River Birch, Tulip and most pine trees. Also, if left to accumulate, leaf litter and the fallen needles of pines will provide a habitat for the worms and slugs that firefly larvae eat.
SPREAD THE WORD
As with all animal issues, be an advocate. Let your friends and neighbors know that if we don’t take action now, fireflies may become just a memory of summers gone. You can set an example for your neighbors when you create a backyard sanctuary for wildlife. If only one of them follows your lead, you will have helped not just the fireflies, but also the other creatures that live around us.
25 Nov, 2023
Deciding to recycle items is just the first step, you also want to make sure the items are recycled correctly. Below you will find common recyclables and the best options to recycle them.
Paper makes up nearly 30 percent of all wastes Americans throw away each year, more than any other material. Americans recycle over 60 percent of the paper they use. This recovered paper is used to make new paper products, saving trees and other natural resources. Most community or office recycling programs accept paper and paper products. Check what your community or office program accepts before you put it in the bin. When you go shopping, look for products that are made from recycled paper.
Some batteries contain heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, and nickel; therefore, many communities do not allow them to be thrown away with your regular trash. Recycling is always the best option for disposing of used batteries.
Lead-Acid Car Batteries can be returned to almost any store that sells car batteries. The lead and plastics from the batteries can then be recycled and used to manufacture new products. About 99 percent of lead-acid car batteries are recycled.
Dry-Cell Batteries are used in a variety of electronics and include alkaline and carbon zinc (9-volt, D, C, AA, AAA), mercuric-oxide (button, some cylindrical and rectangular), silver-oxide and zinc-air (button), and lithium (9-volt, C, AA, coin, button, rechargeable) batteries. Look for in-store recycling bins or community collection events to dispose of these batteries.
Americans generate over 30 million tons of plastics each year, about 13 percent of the waste stream. Only about nine percent of plastics are recycled. Some types of plastics are recycled much more than others. Most community recycling programs accept some, but not all, types of plastics. Look for products made from recycled plastic materials.
What do the symbols mean on the bottom of plastic bottles and containers? These symbols were created by plastic manufacturers to help people identify the kind of plastic resin used to make the container. This can help you determine if the container can be accepted by your local recycling program. The resin number is contained in a triangle, which looks very similar to the recycling symbol, but this does not necessarily mean it can be collected for recycling in your community.
1 - PET - Polyethylene Terephthalate
2 - HDPE - High-density Polyethylene
3 - Vinyl
4 - LDPE - Low-density Polyethylene
5 - PP - Polypropylene
6 - PS - Polystyrene
7 - Other - Mixed Plastics
Glass, especially glass food and beverage containers, can be recycled over and over again. Americans generate over 11 million tons of glass each year, about 27 percent of which is recovered for recycling. Making new glass from recycled glass is typically cheaper than using raw materials. Most curbside community recycling programs accept different glass colors and types mixed together, and then glass is sorted at the recovery facility. Check with your local program to see if you need to separate your glass or if it can be mixed together.
Never dump your used motor oil down the drain — the used oil from one oil change can contaminate one million gallons of fresh water. By recycling your used oil you not only help keep our water supply clean, but help reduce dependence on foreign oil. It takes 42 gallons of crude oil, but only one gallon of used oil, to produce 2.5 quarts of new motor oil. Many garages and auto-supply stores that sell motor oil also accept oil for recycling.
Household Hazardous Waste Recycling
Leftover household products that contain corrosive, toxic, ignitable, or reactive ingredients are considered to be household hazardous waste (HHW). Products such as paints, cleaners, oils, batteries, and pesticides that contain potentially hazardous ingredients require special care when you dispose of them. HHW may be dangerous to people or bad for the environment if poured down the drain, dumped on the ground, or thrown out with regular trash.
What you can do:
- Try to reduce your purchases of these products and look for alternative, non-hazardous products.
- When you do need to dispose of these products, look for special collection events in your community or permanent collection centers. Sometimes businesses that sell these products will also accept them for recycling.
- If you have to dispose of HHW, first check with your local waste management agency to see what rules apply in your community.
Disease-carrying pests such as rodents may live in tire piles. Tire piles can also catch on fire. Most garages are required to accept and recycle your used tires when you have new ones installed. You may be able to return used tires to either a tire retailer or a local recycling facility that accepts tires. Some communities will hold collection events for used tires.
25 Nov, 2023
There are eight types of bear in the world: polar bears, brown (or grizzly) bears, American black bears, Asiatic black bears, sun bears, sloth bears, spectacled bears and giant panda bears. Some are on the verge of extinction, but all face threats.
LOSS OF HABITAT
Probably the biggest threat to bears worldwide is the loss of their habitat and, with it, the loss of their food source. Giant Pandas rely on bamboo forests for their food, but many of these have been cut down by Chinese farmers. It is believed that there are now only about 1,600 pandas left in the wild. Asian black bears are also listed as endangered due to the loss of their habitat.
Other threats include:
In China, bears are imprisoned in farms and 'milked' for their bile daily. The bile is used in Eastern medicine. Bears are taken from the wild for this trade, jeopardizing the survival of bears in the wild. There are hundreds of bear farms housing thousands of bears, mostly Asiatic black bears. These are listed in Appendix 1 of CITES.
BEAR PARKS & ZOOS
Japan is home to eight bear parks, in which bears are confined to concrete pits. Here, they are denied their most basic requirements and are often confined to small spaces without access to shade or shelter. The public tease and torment the bears by throwing in 'bear biscuits' and watching the fights that ensue. Injuries sustained are often not treated. Repetitive behavior is not unusual among bears kept in zoos, and is indicative of stress and psychological trauma. Some of the animals may be obtained illegally. Sun bears were found in a zoo in Indonesia with forged documentation claiming that they had died. Sun bears are endangered.
Over 1,000 bears in India 'dance' on their hind legs for up to 12 hours a day to entertain tourists. The cubs are captured in the wild and traded, even though this has been illegal since 1972. Once sold, the young cub will have his or her muzzle pierced so the handler can control the bear. This is an invasive procedure and infection is common. Due to the stress of capture, the terrible transportation conditions, starvation, dehydration and rough handling, 60-70 percent of bear cubs captured die even before the training begins. Training involves starvation and beatings in order to make the bears rise up onto their back legs. The bears' teeth may be wrenched out and sold as charms to tourists. During their brief lifetime - rarely beyond eight years, in contrast to their natural 30-year life span in the wild - respiratory infection is common, caused by the constant walking along dusty streets.
Although illegal in every country, bear baiting remains a popular past-time in Pakistan, where politicians and senior police officers can still be found watching the show. A series of dogs are set upon a chained bear who must fight for his or her life. The dogs and the bear sustain horrendous injuries.
Black and brown bears are routinely hunted in North America. In all but the most isolated habitat areas, brown bears have been eliminated from much of their former range. In North America, numbers have declined rapidly.
FOOD & MEDICINE
Sun bears are eaten in some countries and their claws are collected as 'good luck' charms. Asiatic black bears are also hunted for their meat and their paws are eaten as a delicacy. Their bile and bones are also used, as they are believed to possess medicinal properties. Hunting spectacled bears is illegal, but they are still routinely poached and their bones, gallbladders and fat used for medicines. The gall bladders of sloth bears are also prized for medical treatments. Because of the cruelty involved and the scarcity of sloth bears, India has banned the hunting of the sloth bear and the sale of products made from their gallbladders.
THE PET TRADE
Like many wild animals, some bears are traded and collected as exotic pets, although they are unsuitable companion animals.
Bears are still used in circuses around the world. Polar bears and brown bears are made to perform tricks like 'dancing', roller-skating or riding bikes. While bears aren't seen in circus performances in Britain, campaigners say that British circuses still own bears and hire them out to do television commercials and other TV appearances.
25 Nov, 2023
Environmentalism is an integration of the ideology and philosophy of protecting the health of the environment and the social movement resulting from it. Issues such as conservation, preservation, ecosystem restoration, and improvement of the natural environment are foremost on the agenda of environmentalists. Concerns and threats involving the Earth's biodiversity and ecology feature at the top of the list.
To be an environmentalist, follow the simple steps given below.
1. Choose Your Cause
Discover what you are passionate about and do some research. There are a variety of environmental issues that will pique your interest. Protection of endangered species, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, avoiding wastage of natural resources, restoration of age-old landscapes, protecting forests, and encouraging recycling are some of the causes environmentalists support. Learning about environmental issues in your own locality, and taking a part in solving them, is a good way to get involved.
2. Use Your Talents
Take measure of your talents. Are you an extrovert and like to communicate verbally with people? Are you introverted and more inclined towards writing than to speaking? Do you like to communicate and spread your thoughts in words through correspondences? Are you someone who likes being out in nature? Can you play an instrument, sing, bake, paint or juggle? Your unique talents can contribute to bringing attention to, and raising funds for, environmental efforts. Consider getting involved in events, fundraisers and campaigns for conservation issues.
3. Educate Yourself, Then Educate Others
Get yourself acquainted with how the Earth works and how human activities are affecting it. To make sense out of the multitude of environmental issues and the science behind it, read magazines, books and articles, watch documentaries, and browse websites relating to nature. Share what you learn with family, friends, coworkers and associates. Use social media to spread the word on environmental issues.
4. Get Connected
Get in touch with other like-minded people or experts in the field. Getting connected with people, especially experts on the environment, is an important step on the way to becoming an environmentalist. Conduct searches on the web for people and organizations who share your thoughts and concerns. Join organizations, groups, websites and social media channels that promote your cause – or create your own. Learn from the experts and help make a bigger impact by joining forces with other people, groups and nonprofits who share your passion for environmentalism.
5. Clean Up Litter
Pick up litter wherever you go and whenever you can. Litter not only dirties roads, parks and public spaces, it also pollutes the environment. It harms wildlife that comes into contact with it. You can pickup litter on your own in your spare time, or join or organize groups to clean up large areas.
6. Go Outside
Visit places like wildlife sanctuaries, nature preserves, and parks. Support their efforts. Volunteer. Enjoy the natural beauty of these places, observe animals and their behavior, and encourage others to do the same. Communicate to people in your social circles why these protected places are important.
7. Go Native
Grow native plants in your backyard. Invasive species wreak havoc on ecosystems. Native plants are better adapted to the area where you live and need minimum caring. They are less vulnerable to pests and will benefit birds, insects and other wildlife endemic to your locality.
8. Plant Trees
The more trees you plant the more you help the environment. Trees absorb harmful CO2, prevent their emission and alleviate global warming. They provide food and shelter for wild animals. Plant trees on your property, and help plant trees in your community.
9. Go Organic
Consuming organic food and using organic gardening methods contributes towards a safer, healthier environment. Minimizing the use of pesticides and fertilizers stimulates beneficial soil organisms and results in less polluted waste-water flowing out of your garden. Moreover, it creates a much healthier environment for wildlife, your children and your companion animals.
10. Go Green
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rethink. Reduce the amount of materials you use, which reduces the amount of waste you create. Reuse materials when possible. Recycle whenever possible. Rethink the materials you use and those you throw away. By thinking about what we're using and how to reduce the wast we produce, we can help create a cleaner, healthier environment.
11. Go Without
Cut back your consumption. Water, food and air are consumed to support life. But we also consume much more than essentials, and far more than we should. There seems to be no end to the list of items and services we can’t live without. We must rethink what consumption is, and do our best to reduce it. The planet is being destroyed by the way societies function right now. It’s not just about recycling anymore; it’s about how to stop feeding the cycle altogether.
12. Eat More Veggies
Animal agriculture emits more greenhouse gases than aircrafts, automobiles and trains combined. Forests are being cleared at alarming rates to feed grains to livestock that could feed the entire human race. Less trees means less impediments to CO2 being released into the air and thus more pollution. Animal waste is producing massive amounts of toxic levels of methane and ammonia, which leads to climate change as well as acid rain. Animal agriculture is also destroying our waterways and using up our valuable water supplies. Hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals run off into rivers, lakes, streams and our drinkable water. These practices cause dead zones in the oceans, rivers and lakes. Animal farming is the leading cause of the catastrophic reduction of critical wildlife habitat, and the problem is escalating at a disturbing pace. Meat production is slated to double in another four decades. Remove or reduce meat, dairy and eggs from your diet.
15 Nov, 2023
Help save the planet by modifying your driving habits and by maintaining your vehicle in an environmentally responsible manner.
- Recycle motor oil and batteries
- Call your local transit system for bus schedules
- Call your local carpool program or start one in your town
- Carpool the kids to their school events
- Carpool to the ski slopes
- Carpool to go shopping
- Eat lunch at the office instead of going out
- Call stores first to see if they have what you want
- Combine several small trips into one
- Shop by mail and catalogs
- Plan an evening at home with your kids
- Do errands on the way home from work
- Encourage your teens to walk or ride their bikes rather than taking the car, and do the same yourself
- Shop for a neighbor when going to the grocery store or form a neighborhood co-op
- Have your car's emissions tested regularly
- Tune-up your car, especially before winter
- Check for proper tire inflation when gassing up
- Don't repair your car's air conditioning yourself, have it serviced at a station that recycles CFC's
- Don't buy a car with air conditioning
- When buying a new car, let dealers know that fuel efficiency is important
- Park and go inside instead of idling at a drive-up window
- Remove unnecessary articles from your car; each 100 lbs. of weight decreases fuel efficiency by 1%
- Enjoy sports and activities that don't require gas or electricity
- Avoid accelerated starts to save gas
15 Nov, 2023
There's little doubt anymore that vegetarianism is going mainstream. Millions of people are vegetarians, and thousands more make the switch to a meat-free diet every week. Many others have greatly reduced the amount of animal products they eat.
Many people eliminate animal foods from their diet because of health concerns. In study after study, the consumption of animal foods has been linked with heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, arthritis and other illnesses. One reason may be because animals are routinely given growth hormones, antibiotics, and even pesticides, which remain in their flesh and are passed on to meat-eaters.
Other people become vegetarians out of concern for animal welfare. On today's factory farms, animals often spend their entire lives confined to cages or stalls barely larger than their own bodies. Death for these animals doesn't always come quickly or painlessly. Billions of animals are killed for food in the United States alone.
Reducing health risks and eliminating animal suffering are just two reasons to go vegetarian; adopting a plant-based diet can also help protect the environment and feed the hungry. Factory farms produce billions of tons of animal waste. The waste produced in a single year would fill 6.7 million train box cars, enough to circle the Earth 12 1/2 times. Unfortunately much of this waste ends up in our rivers and streams, polluting waterways more than all industrial sources combined.
Raising animals for food is also taking its toll on the world's forests. Since 1960, more than one-quarter of the rain forests in Central America have been destroyed to create cattle pastures. Of the Amazonian rain forest cleared in South America, more than 38 percent has been used for ranching. Rain forests are vital to the survival of the planet because they are the Earth's primary source of oxygen. And scientists are increasingly exploring the use of rain-forest plants in medications to treat and cure human diseases.
Veganism takes vegetarianism beyond the diet. A vegan (pronounced Vee-g'n) is someone who tries to live without exploiting animals, for the benefit of animals, people and the planet. A vegan does not eat any animal food products, avoids wearing animal-derived products and does not purchase toiletries, cosmetics and cleaning products that have been tested on animals or contain animal based ingredients. They also refrain form supporting animal entertainment and other industries that exploit animals. Instead, vegans choose from thousands of animal-free foods, products and entertainment.
Veganism is a philosophy, not a diet. This philosophy is the belief in the right of all sentient beings to be treated with respect, not as property, and to be allowed to live their lives.
A balanced vegan diet (also referred to as a ‘plant-based diet’) meets many current healthy eating recommendations such as eating more fruit, vegetables and whole grains and consuming less cholesterol and saturated fat. Balanced vegan diets are often rich in vitamins, antioxidants and fiber and can decrease the chances of suffering from diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers. Well-planned plant-based diets are suitable for all age groups and stages of life.
Many people become vegan through concern of the way farmed animals are treated. Some object to the unnecessary ‘use’ and killing of animals – unnecessary as we do not need animal products in order to feed or clothe ourselves. Public awareness of the conditions of factory-farmed animals is gradually increasing and it is becoming more and more difficult to claim not to have at least some knowledge of the treatment they endure. Sentient, intelligent animals are often kept in cramped and filthy conditions where they cannot move around or perform their natural behaviors. At the same time, many suffer serious health problems and even death because they are selectively bred to grow or produce milk or eggs at a far greater rate than their bodies are capable of coping with.
Regardless of how they were raised, all animals farmed for food meet the same fate at the slaughterhouse. This includes the millions of calves and male chicks who are killed every year as ‘waste products’ of milk and egg production and the animals farmed for their milk and eggs who are killed at a fraction of their natural lifespan. Choosing a vegan diet is a daily demonstration of compassion for all these creatures.
Vegans also help the planet. Plant-based diets only require around one third of the land and water needed to produce a typical Western diet. Farmed animals consume much more protein, water and calories than they produce, so far greater quantities of crops and water are needed to produce animal ‘products’ to feed humans than are needed to feed people direct on a plant-based diet. With water and land becoming scarcer globally, world hunger increasing and the planet’s population rising, it is much more sustainable to eat plant foods direct than use up precious resources feeding farmed animals. Farming animals and growing their feed also contributes to other environmental problems such as deforestation, water pollution and land degradation.
Choosing to live a life free from animal products means choosing a path that is kinder to people, animals and the environment.
VEGANS & PROTEIN
Can the vegan (strict vegetarian) diet provide protein adequate for sound human health? This question continues to be asked despite the fact that a "yes" answer was given some three decades ago in a study reported by Hardinge and Stare. The question stays with us largely because animal products (meat, milk, cheese, and eggs) have been promoted (usually by the industries that produce and sell them) as the best source of protein. This dietary assumption is wrong and can even be harmful, as a quick study of the facts about vegetable protein and nutrition shows.
Protein is essential to human health. In fact, our bodies -- hair, muscles, fingernails, and so on -- are made up mostly of protein. As suggested by the differences between our muscles and our fingernails, not all proteins are alike. This is because differing combinations of any number of 22 known amino acids may constitute a protein. (In much the same way that the 26 letters of our alphabet serve to form different words, the 22 amino acids serve to form different proteins.)
Amino acids are a fundamental part of our diet. While most of the 22 can be manufactured in one way or another by the human body, eight (or, for some people, 10) cannot. These "essential amino acids" can easily be provided by a balanced vegan diet.
Non-animal foods can easily provide us with the necessary protein. Despite the claims of the meat and dairy industries, only 2.5-10 percent of the total calories consumed by the average human being needs to be in the form of protein. The rule of thumb used by the National Academy of Sciences Food and Nutrition Board is .57 grams of protein for every kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight. People under special circumstances (such as pregnant women) are advised to get a little more. Vegans should not worry about getting enough protein; if you eat a reasonably varied diet and ingest sufficient calories, you will undoubtedly get enough protein.
Eating too much protein can result in osteoporosis and kidney stones. Meat and dairy products raise the acid level in human blood, causing calcium to be excreted from the bones to restore the body's natural pH balance. This calcium depletion results in osteoporosis, or weakening of the bones. The excreted calcium ends up in the kidneys, where it often forms painful stones. Kidney disease is far more common in meat-eaters than in vegans, and excessive protein consumption has also been linked to cancer of the colon, breast, prostate, and pancreas. By replacing animal protein with vegetable protein, you can improve your health while enjoying a wide variety of delicious foods.
While just about every vegetarian food contains some protein, the soybean deserves special mention, for it contains all eight essential amino acids and surpasses all other food plants in the amount of protein it can deliver to the human system. In this regard it is nearly equal to meat. The human body uses about 70 percent of the protein found in meat and 60 to 65 percent of that found in soybeans. The many different and delicious soy products (tempeh, soy "hot dogs," "burgers," Tofutti brand "ice cream," and tofu) available in health and grocery stores suggest that the soybean, in its many forms, can accommodate a wide range of tastes.
Other rich sources of non-animal protein include legumes, nuts, seeds, food yeasts and freshwater algae. Although food yeasts ("nutritional yeast" and "brewer's yeast") do not lend themselves to forming the center of one's diet, they are extremely nutritious additions to most menus (in soups, gravies, breads, casseroles, and dips). Most yeasts are 50 percent protein (while most meats are only 25 percent). Freshwater algae contains a phenomenal percentage of protein. One type is the deep green spirulina, a food that is 70 percent protein. It is available in tablets, powders, and even candy bars.
Protein deficiency need not be a concern for vegans. If we ate nothing but wheat, oatmeal, or potatoes, we would easily have more than enough protein. Eating nothing but cabbage would provide more than twice as much protein as anyone would need! Of course, an actual vegan would never want to be limited to just one food. The vegan diet can (and should) be full of a wide variety of delicious foods.
Most people have been taught that children must eat animal flesh and dairy products to grow up strong and healthy. The truth is that children raised as vegans, who consume no animal products, including meat, eggs, and dairy, can derive all the nutrients essential for optimum growth from plant-based sources.
Consider this: Many children raised on the "traditional" American diet of cholesterol and saturated fat-laden hamburgers, hot dogs, and pizza are already showing symptoms of heart disease -- the number one killer of adults -- by the time they reach first grade. One epidemiological study found significant levels of cholesterol and fat in the arteries of most children under the age of five. Children raised as vegans can be protected from this condition. They are less likely to suffer from childhood illnesses such as asthma, iron-deficiency anemia and diabetes, and will be less prone to ear infections and colic.
A vegan diet has other benefits, too. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are more than 20,000 E. coli infections from meat every year in the United States. A vegan diet protects children from the pesticides, hormones and antibiotics that are fed to animals in huge amounts and concentrate in animals' fatty tissue and milk.
Nutritionists and physicians have learned that plant products are good sources of protein, iron, calcium, and vitamin D because they can be easily absorbed by the body and don't contain artery-clogging fat.
Protein--Contrary to popular opinion, the real concern about protein is that we will feed our children too much, not too little. Excess animal protein actually promotes the growth of tumors--and most people on a meat-based diet consume three to 10 times more protein than their bodies need! Children can get all the protein their bodies need from whole grains in the form of oats, brown rice, and pasta; from nuts and seeds, including spreads such as tahini and peanut butter; and legumes, including tofu, lentils, and beans.
Iron--Few parents know that some babies' intestines bleed after drinking cow's milk. This increases their risk of developing iron-deficiency anemia since the blood they're losing contains iron. Breast-fed infants under the age of one year get sufficient iron from mother's milk (and are less prone to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Formula-fed babies should be fed a soy-based formula with added iron to minimize the risk of intestinal bleeding. Iron-rich foods such as raisins, almonds, dried apricots, blackstrap molasses and fortified grain cereals will meet the needs of toddlers and children 12 months and older. Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron, so foods rich in both, such as green, leafy vegetables are particularly valuable.
Calcium--Drinking cow's milk is one of the least effective ways to strengthen bones. Too much protein, such as the animal protein fed to children in dairy products, actually causes the body to lose calcium. In countries where calcium intake is low but where protein intake is also very low, osteoporosis is almost non-existent. Cornbread, broccoli, kale, tofu, dried figs, tahini, great northern beans and fortified orange juice and soy milk are all excellent sources of calcium. As with iron, vitamin C will help your child's system absorb calcium efficiently.
Vitamin D--This is not really a "vitamin" but a hormone our bodies manufacture when our skin is exposed to sunlight. Cow's milk does not naturally contain vitamin D; it's added later. Vitamin D-enriched soy milk provides this nutrient without the added animal fat. A child who spends as little as 15 minutes a day playing in the sunshine, with arms and face exposed, will get sufficient vitamin D.
Vitamin B-12--This essential vitamin once occurred naturally on the surfaces of potatoes, beets, and other root vegetables, but the move away from natural fertilizers has caused it to disappear from our soil. Any commercially available multivitamin will assure adequate B-12 for your child. B-12 is also found in nutritional yeast (not to be confused with brewer's or active dry yeast) and many fortified cereals.
Dangers of Dairy Products
Children do not need dairy products to grow up strong and healthy. The director of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Frank Oski, says, "There's no reason to drink cow's milk at any time. It was designed for calves, it was not designed for humans, and we should all stop drinking it today, this afternoon." Dr. Benjamin Spock agrees that although milk is the ideal food for baby cows, it can be dangerous for human infants: "I want to pass the word to parents that cow's milk . . . has definite faults for some babies. It causes allergies, indigestion, and contributes to some cases of childhood diabetes."
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants under one year of age not be fed whole cow's milk. Dairy products are the leading cause of food allergies. In addition, more than two-thirds of Native Americans and people from Asian and Mexican ancestry and as many as 15 percent of Caucasians are lactose intolerant and suffer symptoms such as bloating, gas, cramps, vomiting, headaches, rashes or asthma. Many people become lactose intolerant after age four. For these people, animal proteins seep into the immune system and can result in chronic runny noses, sore throats, hoarseness, bronchitis and recurring ear infections.
Milk is suspected of triggering juvenile diabetes, a disease that causes blindness and other serious effects. Some children's bodies see cow's milk protein as a foreign substance and produce high levels of antibodies to fend off this "invader." These antibodies also destroy the cells which produce insulin in the pancreas, leading to diabetes.
An estimated 20 percent of U.S. dairy cows are infected with leukemia viruses that are resistant to killing by pasteurization. These viruses have been found in supermarket supplies of milk and dairy products. It may not be merely coincidence that the highest rates of leukemia are found in children ages 3-13, who consume the most dairy products.
15 Nov, 2023
When news reports tally the casualties of war, or when monuments are erected to honor soldiers, the other-than-human victims of war--the animals whose bodies are shot, burned, poisoned, and otherwise tortured in tests to create even more ways to kill people--are never recognized, nor is their suffering well known.
The U.S. military inflicts the pains of war on hundreds of thousands of animals each year in experiments. The Department of Defense (DOD) and the Veterans Administration (VA) together are the federal government's second largest user of animals (after the National Institutes of Health). They account for nearly half of over one-and-a-half million dogs, cats, guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, primates, rats, mice and "wild animals" used, as reported to Congress each year. Because these figures don't include experiments that were contracted out to non-governmental laboratories, or the many sheep, goats, and pigs often shot in wound experiments, the actual total of animal victims is probably much higher.
Military testing is classified "Top Secret," and it is very hard to get current information. From published research, we know that armed forces facilities all over the United States test all manner of weaponry on animals, from Soviet AK-47 rifles to biological and chemical warfare agents to nuclear blasts. Military experiments can be acutely painful, repetitive, costly and unreliable, and they are particularly wasteful because most of the effects they study can be, or have already been, observed in humans, or the results cannot be extrapolated to human experience.
In 1946, near the Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific, 4,000 sheep, goats, and other animals loaded onto a boat and set adrift were killed or severely burned by an atomic blast detonated above them in the experiment "The Atomic Ark." At the Army's Fort Sam Houston, live rats were immersed in boiling water for 10 seconds, and a group of them were then infected on parts of their burned bodies. In 1987, at the Naval Medical Institute in Maryland, rats' backs were shaved, covered with ethanol, and then "flamed" for 10 seconds. In 1988, at Kirkland Air Force Base in New Mexico, sheep were placed in a loose net sling against a reflecting plate, and an explosive device was detonated 19 meters away. In two of the experiments, 48 sheep were blasted: the first group to test the value of a vest worn during the blast, and the second to see if chemical markers aided in the diagnosis of blast injury (they did not).
At the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute in Maryland, nine rhesus monkeys were strapped in chairs and exposed to total-body irradiation. Within two hours, six of the nine were vomiting, hypersalivating, and chewing. In another experiment, 17 beagles were exposed to total-body irradiation, studied for one to seven days, and then killed. The experimenter concluded that radiation affects the gallbladder.
At Brooks Air Force Base in Texas, rhesus monkeys were strapped to a B52 flight simulator (the "Primate Equilibrium Platform"). After being prodded with painful electric shocks to learn to "fly" the device, the monkeys were irradiated with gamma rays to see if they could hold out "for the 10 hours it would take to bomb an imaginary Moscow." Those hit with the heaviest doses vomited violently and became extremely lethargic before being killed.
To evaluate the effect of temperature on the transmission of the Dengue 2 virus, a mosquito-transmitted disease that causes fever, muscle pain, and rash, experiments conducted by the U.S. Army at Fort Detrick, Md., involved shaving the stomachs of adult rhesus monkeys and then attaching cartons of mosquitoes to their bodies to allow the mosquitoes to feed. Experimenters at Fort Detrick have also invented a rabbit restraining device that consists of a small cage that pins the rabbits down with steel rods while mosquitoes feast on their bodies.
The Department of Defense has operated "wound labs" since 1957. At these sites, conscious or semiconscious animals are suspended from slings and shot with high-powered weapons to inflict battlelike injuries for military surgical practice. In 1983, in response to public pressure, Congress limited the use of dogs in these labs, but countless goats, pigs, and sheep are still being shot, and at least one laboratory continues to shoot cats. At the Army's Fort Sam Houston "Goat Lab," goats are hung upside down and shot in their hind legs. After physicians practice excising the wounds, any goat who survives is killed.
Other forms of military experiments include subjecting animals to decompression sickness, weightlessness, drugs and alcohol, smoke inhalation and pure oxygen inhalation. The Armed Forces conscript various animals into intelligence and combat service, sending them on "missions" that endanger their lives and well-being. The Marine Corps teaches dogs "mauling, snarling, sniffing, and other suitable skills" needed to search for bombs and drugs.
Thousands of animals also fall victim to military operations and even military fashion. A series of Navy tests of underwater explosives in the Chesapeake Bay in 1987 killed more than 3,000 fish, and habitats for hundreds of species have been destroyed by nuclear tests in the South Pacific and the American Southwest.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Urge government officials to stop animal testing in the military. Educate others on the issue so they can advocate for animals in the military also.
30 Oct, 2023
Ethics addresses questions of morality, such as what makes our actions right or wrong. Animal ethics focuses upon the constantly evolving way in which society thinks of nonhuman animals. Through our use of animals as goods for food, clothing, entertainment and companionship, animal ethics is something that we all interact with on a daily basis.
Environmental ethics is the philosophy that considers extending the traditional boundaries of ethics from solely including humans to including the non-human world. There are many ethical decisions made by humans with respect to the environment.
When we begin to explore our behavior towards animals and the environment, we find that what is presented as acceptable conduct is often inconsistent. While we love and value the nonhuman members of our family, such as the cats and dogs who share our homes, we distance ourselves from the lives of billions of wild animals, farmed animals, animals used in experimentation, animals used for clothing and animals used in the entertainment industry.
Our consumer choices shape our daily lives and it is through them that we have come to regard some animals not as individuals, but in terms of the financial value placed upon them. The distance we maintain between their lives and our own allows our use of their bodies to continue unchallenged. Can this inequality in how we regard other animals ever be truly justified?
Environmental ethics address questions of right and wrong regarding the natural world and our relationship with plants and animals. We must find meaningful ways to deal with pollution, resource degradation and plant and animal extinction - not only because it is vital to saving our human race - but because it is simply the right thing to do.
All plants and animals are an important part of the planet and are a functional part of human life. Maintaining environmental ethics ensures we are doing our part to keep the environment safe and protected. It is essential that we respect and honor the environment and use morals and ethics in our daily decisions.
Environmental ethics builds on scientific understanding by bringing human values, morals and improved decision making into the conversation with science. While moral reasoning is not a substitute for science, science does not teach us to care. Scientific knowledge alone does not provide reasons for planet protection. It only provides data, knowledge and information. Environmental ethics uses this information to ask how can we live in harmony with the environment and why should we care.
Environmental ethics considers three key propositions:
- The planet and its plants and animals are worthy of our ethical concern.
- Plants, animals and the environment have intrinsic value; moral value because they exist, not only because they meet human needs.
- We should consider whole ecosystems, including other forms of life, in our daily decisions.
- Industrialization has created pollution and ecological imbalance. It is not only the duty of that industry to make changes to protect the environment, but all of us must make daily decisions that help to restore the environment and make it sustainable.
Ethical consumerism is buying things, only when needed, that are made ethically. Generally, this means they are made without harm to or exploitation of humans, animals and the environment. Ethical consumerism involves positive buying and moral boycotting.
Positive buying means favoring ethical products, be they fair trade, cruelty free, organic, locally produced, recycled or re-used.
Moral boycott means refusing to buy products that exploit humans, animals and the environment.
Shopping is a form of voting; a way to express our moral choices. If we care about the planet and animals, but continue to buy from companies that harm animals and the environment, than we are participating in that unethical behavior.
Ethical consumers research products before purchasing to ensure they are environmentally friendly, animal friendly, sustainable and do not exploit humans.
We must also not limit our places in society to that of consumers only. We are, after all, people not consumers, with the free will to take more direct action. Our responsibility does not end after we stop ourselves from buying unethical products. We must also work to stop unethical corporations from abusing the planet and animals.
Different approaches to animal ethics, such as welfarism and abolitionism, vary greatly both in their philosophical viewpoints and their practices. Their shared focus is achieving the inclusion of nonhuman animals within our moral community.
The call for ‘higher-welfare’ products, through consumer demand for 'humane treatment' and products such as free-range meat, eggs and dairy, is termed welfarism. Welfarism modifies systems of abuse through changes to legislation and working practices, while allowing exploitation of nonhuman animals to continue.
By rejecting their commodification as ‘products’ and property, abolitionism affords nonhuman animals a right to life and freedom from exploitation. Abolitionism challenges the legitimacy of abusive industries and what we demand from them, working to end suffering by ending exploitation as a whole.
Animal Ethics In Practice
We can prevent nonhuman animals from being degraded into the class of things by promoting a compassionate attitude towards them. An attitude that demonstrates a lack of respect for other animals and unfair behavior towards them is known as speciesism. Like both racism and sexism, speciesism is a prejudice which builds a general disregard for the lives of others based upon an unreasonable differentiation. Only by allowing all animals equal consideration can we be unprejudiced in our actions.
When we start to value nonhuman animals as individuals, we recognize that they are not mechanical units of production and profit. Gradual changes to how animals are treated, confined and slaughtered may alter aspects of how we use other animals but they do not challenge the wrongs of their enslavement. On the surface, welfare changes may appear compassionate, however, by looking at the wider picture we can see that they leave animals within abusive environments and allow their exploitation to continue. By regulating cruelty, welfarism actively accepts the trade in nonhuman animal lives.
Killing and unacceptable harm remain an inherent part of farming animals for food and clothing, using animals in experiments, and using animals for entertainment, regardless of the practices used. The use of buzzwords such as 'humanely raised', and commercial branding of free range products, wrongly reassures us as consumers. The cheery media persona designed for these 'products' enables us to put a falsely positive image to a process which commodifies animals and causes them to suffer.
By creating a change within our own consumer demand, we can create a wider reaching change for the better. When we choose not to support exploitative industries and avoid products taken from animals, we reject the commodity status placed upon them and recognize their value as individuals. Veganism (refraining from consuming all animal products) is the simple action of removing our personal demand for animal exploitation. It is the practical application of the idea that animals are not property, nor ours to use and manipulate.
Animal Ethics & You
If you believe that we should be kind to animals and treat them with respect, only one further step is needed to reach the conclusion that all animals deserve our kindness and respect. If we extend to other animals the same compassion and morality we would hope for ourselves, we can begin to alleviate the harm that we cause them. Compassionate choices made by us as individuals offer protection to those who need it most. Changing the way in which harm takes place is not enough: we need to make choices that respect life and freedom. By leading a vegan lifestyle, we end our demand for animal suffering and exploitation. All that this requires from us is the decision to make a change.
Sales of ‘higher-welfare’ animal ‘products’ are rising each year, demonstrating consumers’ ever-increasing desire for animals to be treated compassionately. The next question to ask is surely: is killing a sentient animal consistent with wanting that animal to be treated compassionately? Is killing acceptable?
Ask someone if they believe that killing is acceptable, and they will probably answer no, or perhaps only under a few specific circumstances (e.g. to alleviate suffering, or in self-defense or defense of another when life is at risk). Ask if, more specifically, they believe that killing for pleasure is acceptable, and few people would answer yes.
Despite this, many consumers continue to choose to cause the death of other sentient creatures for reasons of personal pleasure on a daily basis, each time they buy or eat animal 'products'. However; this choice is not usually the result of a conscious, rational decision in favor of killing. Most people are brought up to believe that eating or using things taken from animals is a normal choice. This conditioning is often well established before they are old enough to understand the concept of killing and death.
Many people then continue these actions largely due to habit or convenience, rather than ever having made a conscious decision to do so. We can also find it difficult to choose behavior which is outside the expected norms in our families or social groups, or which differ from the values and traditions we were brought up with. The expectation or desire to conform can be enough to deter us from considering changing our actions - even when we know that, in truth, the change will be a positive choice.
In countries where a variety of foods, clothing and other products are available and there is therefore no need to consume or use animals, it is hard to argue that choosing to cause death in this way is a necessity, rather than a choice or simply a convenient habit. Choosing to buy vegan, 100% plant-based food and products, is an easy way for consumers to be sure that the things they buy have not caused the death or suffering of an animal.
It's Not Just About Welfare
The suffering and cruelty inflicted upon animals is a major cause for concern and a strong motivation for many vegans. Many people are becoming increasingly aware of the animal welfare concerns surrounding food production, particularly in intensive farming systems. However, the welfare of farmed animals during their lifetimes is not the only reason why vegans choose not to consume or use animal products.
There is strong evidence from behavioral studies that animals, including wild animals and farmed animals, are sentient beings with individual needs and preferences. The mass production and killing of these animals does not recognize this. Anyone who has spent time with a companion animal knows that they have complex emotions, and yet wild animals and farmed animals are no different in this respect from dogs and cats.
Killing is an inherent and unavoidable part of farming animals for food. Of course animals are killed for meat, but many people are unaware that this is equally true of egg and milk production. Millions of male chicks and calves are killed each year as 'by-products' of the egg and milk industries, considered worthless since they cannot produce milk or eggs. The dairy cows and egg-laying hens themselves are killed at a fraction of their natural lifespan, when they become too worn out to produce enough milk or eggs to be profitable.
Simply buying ‘higher-welfare’ animal products cannot change these facts. If consumers want to ensure that the food they buy is ‘cruelty-free’, by far the best way to achieve this is to buy vegan food.
It is entirely possible and increasingly easy to have nutritious and tasty food and practical and stylish clothing without exploiting other animals.
Therefore the question is not, “Why shouldn’t we use and kill animals?”, but, “Why would we?”
It's Not All Or Nothing
Living a vegan lifestyle is not an all or nothing philosophy. Vegans attempt to minimize the suffering of animals as much as possible in their daily lives. If a vegan accidentally, or intentionally, purchases or consumes an animal product, it does not suddenly exclude them from being vegan. They simply try harder in the future. If you are not ready, or willing, to be a full fledged vegan, you can still help countless animals by making as many compassionate choices as you can. For example, if you aren't ready to completely eliminate animal products from your diet, you can still reduce consumption of those products while also eliminating non-food animal products from your daily purchases and boycotting animal entertainment.
How to Save 11,000 Animals
Do you care about animals? Do you want to help stop their suffering? Then go vegan! Cutting out animal products and being vegan means voting every single day of your life with your knife and fork and by your choice of clothing, cosmetics, household products and entertainment. Your vote says no to animal cruelty.
There is now a fantastic range of vegan products on the market to make it easy for you to make the transition. Some people go vegan in a day, others take a few months to adjust. The most important thing is to make a start and use each day to work towards the goal of a compassionate vegan lifestyle.
In a lifetime a meat-eater will consume a huge number of animals. By switching to a plant based diet, not only will you stop contributing to this mass slaughter of creatures, but you will also save those animals from a lifetime of suffering. A recent study by Viva! suggests this figure could be as high as 11,000!