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AWF applauds the move by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today to list the southern white rhino as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
“When the southern white rhino was unprotected, it was often used as a cover for criminals to traffic endangered rhino species,” says Dr. Philip Muruthi, senior director of conservation science at AWF.
|â€”||― Jacques-Yves Cousteau (via maritimeaquarium)|
The release of the animals into the wild is one of the biggest in Europe since reintroductions began in the 1950s, establishing wild populations in Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Belarus, Russia, Lithuania, and Kryygzstan. More will be reintroduced each year, with an aim of having 500 in the mountains eventually.
Bison bonasus was driven to extinction in the wild across Europe in 1927 after decades of decline from hunting and habitat loss. But it has become that rare endangered species: a conservation success story. There are now thousands in the wild, all descended from the 54 individuals in captivity when the last wild one was killed in Poland’s Bialowieza forest.
For Romania, the second poorest country in the EU after Bulgaria, bringing back bison is not just of cultural importance, it is also an economic imperative: local men have been trained and employed as rangers to monitor poaching, and a visitor centre is planned.
In the Tarcu mountains, the bison will influence both people and the landscape. They are known as a ‘keystone’ or ‘umbrella’ species, capable of altering whole ecosystems through a series of knock-on effects. As grazers eating a huge amount of grass and herbs each day, the bison will create open spaces, meadows and glades, in the forests, which in turn will bring insects and birds. They will spread seed in their dung and their hooves will break up the soil, allowing vegetation to grow. Griffon vultures may one day be reintroduced here as the area changes, conservationists hope.
The bison is just one of several species including wolves, lynx, beavers and eagles that are making a comeback across Europe due to conservation efforts. Rewilding Europe, and other ecologists say the trend of farmers abandoning relatively unproductive land in Europe, and recession, has also made space for many species to return to the wild.
Ladies and gentlemen, we’d like you to meet some of the facts about global warming. What they have to say is pretty darn eye-opening.
But Vegans Kill Animals Too!!??!?!?
Many vegans have heard it before, “You’re no better than me! Animals die during farming!” This seems to be a last-resort, point of contention to soothe the conflicted, carnist mind. Based on no research at all, carnists conclude that millions of animals are killed every year because of vegans.
It seems the source of this is a paper written by Stephen Davis, called The Least Harm Principle, in which the author argues that because animals (snakes, rodents, insects) are killed during crop harvesting and during the clearing of fields for crops, the least harmful diet would be to eat large grazing mammals (cows) and dairy from these mammals. He admits in the paper that no research has been done to provide any sort of estimation as to how many animals are killed through the tilling and harvesting of fields, but that doesn’t stop him from making up some numbers and going from there.
Let me start by mentioning that when they harvest crops or clear a field, they use large, very loud machinery that would probably scare away most animals before it pulverized them. Insects would probably still be killed, but i can’t imagine anymore than when you drive a car. When they clear a field to make room for crops, they would probably displace a lot of animal habitats, but the majority of deforestation is caused by clearing fields for cattle-grazing, soy production (98% of which goes to farm animals in the us), and palm oil (a product many vegans avoid).
All that aside, let’s assume millions of animals are killed in crop production. I’ll first also assume that Davis and his diehard followers are not only eating a diet of grass-fed beef and dairy from grass-fed, free roaming cows. I assume, being natural herbivores, their bodies also require fiber and plant-based nutrients, like everyone else. So right off the bat, they are responsible not only for the deaths of the cows they eat, but also for the deaths of animals in fields that grow their vegetables.
In my experience, people who use this argument don’t stick to just grass fed mammals and vegetables either. They just eat the typical American diet, but cover it up with this excuse. Assuming that’s the case, we also have to factor in:
- deforestation caused by grazing cattle (60% of deforestation is related to animal agriculture)
- all the harvested crops their food has to eat (the U.S. livestock population consumes more than seven times as much grain as is consumed directly by the entire American population)
- all the marine animals unintentionally caught in fishing practices (for every 4 lbs of retail fish caught, 1 lb of other fish dies. Shrimp has the opposite ratio)
- all the other environmental destruction caused by animal agriculture that invariably kills animals and destroys their habitats
- the harvesting of the vegetables they also have to eat
However, I don’t want to rule out the possibility that there are people who somehow subsist only on large, grazing mammals and mammalian secretions. While Davis concludes that these people are only responsible for the death of the cows, we still have to factor in fish killed from manure runoff, fields cleared for grazing, methane produced by cows, which contributes to global warming, which kills and displaces animals, flies swatted away by cows’ tails, and perhaps small animals trampled on by cows. I could fudge some numbers and formulate an equation to prove my point, but I see no reason to.
The next issue to address is that when we’re dealing with an ethical concept such as ‘harm’, we have to look not only at number of deaths, but also suffering and exploitation. As any vegan can tell you, the dairy industry is far from idyllic scenes of compassion and pleasure. It is an industry rife with suffering and cruelty (yes, even when it’s labeled “ humane”). Not to mention that raising animals for food is inherently exploitive. Animals are not commodities for us to force into existence, raise, steal from, and then kill. They are sentient beings that deserve the right to their own self-agency and an existence unhindered by man. Maybe an animal is killed in a field by farming equipment, but at least they were allowed to live their life as they pleased before that tragic occurrence.
The ideal solution in an ideal world isn’t killing cows to avoid crop production deaths; it’s growing organic food in greenhouses and avoiding all deaths. Nobody can live a life totally free from harm, but I think it’s safe to conclude that in our current day situation, an organic vegan diet does the least amount of harm to animals and the environment, followed by a non-organic one, and should therefore be pursued at all costs.
A team of Dutch scientists wants to use the crowd instead, by turning umbrellas into mini weather-monitoring stations. Every time it rains, smart umbrellas would use sensors to detect falling drops, and then use Bluetooth to send a report to a smartphone app. As people walk around with umbrellas throughout a city during a storm, each app would send in data to a central system where meteorologists could use it to come up with better predictions.
The Cousteau Society needs your help to plant trees on Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and save the coral reefs!
The island’s ecosystem is dying, and desperately needs trees planted in order to soak up silt that would otherwise run off into the waters and choke out coral reefs. And with over a thousand different species depending on reef, the effects of its destruction will make a disastrous and major impact around the world.
Please, help us save Rapa Nui! Help us save the world.
The worldwide demand for solar and wind power continues to skyrocket. Since 2009, global solar photovoltaic installations have increased about 40 percent a year on average, and the installed capacity of wind turbines has doubled.
The dramatic growth of the wind and solar industries has led utilities to begin testing large-scale technologies capable of storing surplus clean electricity and…