South China Tigers in Danger of Extinction

10 02 2010

This is pretty wide spread news already I know, but might as well publish it here too. The Wildlife Conservation Society has recently estimated that there may be only 50 South China Tigers left in the wild. The tiger population in general is diminishing worldwide with an estimated 3500 of the large cats left (This from Treehugger). National Geographic puts that number as low as 2500. Habitat destruction and fragmentation is the main cause of this disappearance. That is, development either entirely replaces, or cuts large swaths through the habitat of the tigers thereby displacing them or disrupting their hunting environment making it difficult or impossible for them to effectively cath and eat prey. Poaching is also a major problem with much of the demand coming from the makers of traditional chinese medicines that use tiger parts as main ingredients.

I’m not often one to write about endangered species because generally, I think people know what is giong on, they just pretend to be too far removed and careless to do anything about it. But on the issue of tigers specifically, it would truly be a shame, not just ecologically, to lose one of the most beautiful creatures on earth.


We Could All Use a Second Look

25 08 2009
From: CTV, 2009

From: CTV, 2009

“I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way. “

– From the film Dead Poets Society

Too Much Meat

13 08 2009
From: North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, 2009

From: North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, 2009

These days it is increasingly difficult to go through life without being exposed to vegetarianism in some way. Sure it all sounds great, but there are many of us who hold our steaks or strips of bacon too dear to give up. What few people know though, is how enormous the environmental impact of our meat consumption is. Consider these things:

  1. A meat-based diet requires 7 times as much land as a plant-based diet.
  2. Think about how much cropland we use to feed animals instead of people?
  3. Forests worldwide are continuously being converted to pastures for farm animals – which obviously contributes to deforestation.
  4. Animal food requires 10 to 20 times more energy per edible tone than grain.
  5. Fish farms often spawn disease which spreads to the natural ocean through escaped fish
  6. Over-fishing of wild species has resulted in serious decline of many populations as well as full exploitations of species like Atlantic Cod in the Maritimes.
  7. The quantity of waste produced by farm animal in the U.S. is 130 times greater than that produced by humans. Most of this runs off the land into water systems killing fish and other wildlife.

 By no means am I encouraging everyone to go vegetarian (I certainly don’t intend to do so), but we need to consider how much meat we actually consume and look at how much is actually necessary. As it stands, Canadians annually consume about 98 Kilograms of Pork, Poultry, and Beef per person. The Canadian Food Guide suggests we need about 82 Kg annually, and that’s if we never eat any fish, peanut butter, or beans, all of which can be substituted for meat. If we simply cut back on consumption we can do a great deal of good. And even better, look for organic meats, or buy some venison off of a friend during hunting season.  

Meat consumption in 1999:

Environmental impacts of meat production:

The Canadian Food Guide:

Some more environmental impacts of meat consumption:

A pretty disturbing slide show on factory farming:

Animal Rights Activists Cross the Line

6 08 2009
From: Indymedia UK, 2009
From: Indymedia UK, 2009

While I support some animal rights activists, at least one militant group has reemerged and crossed the line of  activism and moved into shameful desecration. Last week, the grave of the family of Novartis Chief Executive Daniel Vasella was vandalized. Spray paint was used to write ‘Drop HLS Now” on the grave of Vasella’s parents. Additionally, two wooden crosses were planted in the ground next to the tombstone – media sources say the the crosses bear the names of Vasella and his wife, however, this has not been confirmed. Additionally, the acronym SHAC – Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty – was painted and the urn containing Vasella’s mother’s ashes was stolen.

Some of the back story now: Novartis is a large pharmaceutical company that uses the Huntingdon Life Sciences company for animal testing of products before they are made available to the public. The SHAC group has a history of protesting Novartis and Huntingdon Life Sciences for their involvement with animal testing. SHAC has currently denied any responsibility for the blatant attack on Vasella and his family.

Whether or not animals are mistreated at Huntingdon is entirely beside the point here. Animal rights activists seem to make complete fools out of themselves from time to time. This is one of those times. In fact, this is quite beyond foolish. This is disgusting. You don’t deface someone’s grave for God’s sake, and you definitely don’t deface the grave of someone’s parents just because you don’t like what they are doing. And stealing the ashes of Vasella’s mother? I can’t even comment on that. It’s sick. It’s twisted. It’s disgusting. This action is totally counter-productive. These types of actions just make people angry. How do you ever intend to have people agree with your beliefs when they hate you out of principle because of all the stupid, foolish, or annoying things you’ve done.

I’m aware that I am ranting and possibly missing numerous parts of this story, but the point remains that vandalising the resting place of the dead is sub-human. Using Vasella’s dead parents as leverage for changing corporate policies is wrong. Absolutely, 100 percent wrong. I’m not blaming the SHAC, because for all we know it could have been anyone just trying to gain broader media exposure. We’ll have to wait for the arrest and the police report before placing any blame.

From: Cartoonstock, 2009

From: Cartoonstock, 2009

I am increasingly fed up with animal rights activists though. PETA trades sexism for animal rights with their ‘I’d rather go naked’ and ‘State of the Union: Undress’ campaigns; SHAC has smashed the windows of homeowners and spread rumours that a company manager was an alleged rapist; and the ALF (Animal Liberation Front) has planted homemade bombs on doorsteps and got itself listed as domestic terrorists in the United States. There have simply got to be better ways of dealing with these issues. Violence only leads to fear, not compassionate change.