What Meat Eaters Get Wrong About Vegetarians

Originally posted on TIME:

I was 20 years old and working on a political campaign when I first visited a slaughterhouse. There I saw dead chickens swinging like pale acrobats on a conveyor belt suspended over a vat, and I met a man who called himself, with only a hint of irony, a “goop scooper.” I walked out with the vague idea that I might become a vegetarian one day.

Years later, I stopped eating meat and chicken. On rare occasions, I still have fish, but that grows increasingly less common as the years go by. I am not a vegetable evangelist; I happily coexist with carnivorous members of my family and have friends who worship at the shrine of cooked cow. But permit me to dispense with three myths about vegetarians on behalf of those who, like me, favor beans over beef.

[time-brightcove videoid=4247324380001]

1.Vegetarians are self-righteous. Friends, self-righteousness is a…

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Man mocks alligators, jumps in water, dies

Originally posted on Q13 FOX News:

(CNN) A man who apparently mocked alligators, then jumped in the water — despite warning signs — is dead after being attacked in Texas.

Orange County Police were called to Burkart’s Marina near the Louisiana state line early Friday morning after reports that Tommie Woodward, 28, and an unidentified woman were swimming in a bayou and had been attacked by a large alligator.

Woodward’s body was found several hours later. The woman was not injured.

Orange County Justice of the Peace Rodney Price told CNN affiliate KFDM that Woodward ignored verbal warnings and a posted “No Swimming Alligators” sign and seemed to mock the deadly creatures before going in the water.

“He removed his shirt, removed his billfold … someone shouted a warning and he said ‘blank the alligators’ and jumped in to the water and almost immediately yelled for help,” Price said.

The “No Swimming Alligators” sign was posted…

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World’s Forests Are Fragmenting Into Tiny Patches, Risking Mass Extinctions


30 June 2015 09:18
Written by 
David Edwards By David Edwards, The Conversation

Much of the Earth was once cloaked in vast forests, from the subarctic snowforests to the Amazon and Congo basins. As humankind colonised the far corners of our planet, we cleared large areas to harvest wood, make way for farmland, and build towns and cities.

The loss of forest has wrought dramatic consequences for biodiversity and is the primary driver of the global extinction crisis. I work in Borneo where huge expanses of tropical forest are cleared to make way for palm oil plantations. The biological cost is the replacement of some 150 forest bird species with a few tens of farmland species. But forest is also frequently retained inside or at the edges of oil palm plantations, and this is a pattern that is replicated globally.

The problem, according to new research published in Science Advances, is that the vast majority of remaining forests are fragmented. In other words, remaining forests are increasingly isolated from other forests by a sea of transformed lands, and they are found in ever-smaller sized patches. The shockwaves of loss thus extend far beyond the footprint of deforestation.

Accessible Forests

The team, led by Nick Haddad from North Carolina State University, used the world’s first high-resolution satellite map of tree cover to measure how isolated remaining forests are from a non-forest edge. Edges are created by a plethora of deforesting activities, from roads to cattle pastures and oil wells, as well as by rivers.

They found that more than 70% of remaining forest is within just 1km (about 0.6 miles) of an edge, while a 100 metre stroll from an edge would enable you to reach 20% of global forests.

Comparing across regions, the patterns they find are even starker. In Europe and the US, the vast majority of forest is within 1km of an edge – some of the most “remote” areas in these regions are a stones throw from human activity. “Getting away from it all” has never been more challenging.

If you want remote forests on a large scale you’ll have to head to the Amazon, the Congo, or to a lesser degree, central and far eastern Russia, central Borneo and Papua New Guinea.

Biodiversity Reduced

These findings wouldn’t be cause for alarm if wildlife, forests, and the services that they provide humankind such as carbon storage and water, were unaffected by fragmentation. However, by drawing together scientific evidence from seven long-term fragmentation experiments, Haddad and colleagues show that fragmentation reduces biodiversity by up to 75%. This exacerbates the extinction risk of millions of forest species, many of which we still don’t know much about.

Forest species struggle to survive at edges because these places are brighter, windier, and hotter than forest interiors. Edges become choked by rampant vines and invaded by disturbance-tolerant, parasitic or invasive species that outcompete the denizens of dark forest interiors. In Borneo, for example, small forest patches house bird communities that are far more similar to those found in the surrounding oil palm than to those of larger forest tracts.

The survival of large, carbon-rich trees – the building blocks of any intact forest ecosystem – is reduced in smaller and more isolated forest fragments. These patches thus fail to maintain viable populations, which over time are doomed – an “extinction debt” yet to be paid.

With so much global forest in close proximity to humans, larger forest animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, tapirs or curassow birds are being hunted to extinction in individual areas. This shifts animal communities within the forest fragments to one dominated by small-bodied species. Further, hunters are willing to penetrate forests for several kilometres from edges in search of game, effectively making the truly wild global forest estate yet smaller.

Difficult Management Decisions

The insidious effects of fragmentation mean that the top conservation priority must be preventing further incursions into dwindling wildernesses. By preventing the first cut we can help to prevent global fragmentation and the further loss of biodiversity.

Of course, we should not ignore fragmented regions. Some of these, including the Brazilian Atlantic forest, Tropical Andes and Himalayas, share a toxic mix of hyperdiversity, endemic species with tiny ranges, and severe fragmentation. The critically-endangered Munchique wood-wren, for instance, exists only in a handful of peaks in the Colombian Andes, but these are now isolated from each other by cattle pastures and roads. Here we must seek to restore forest cover and improve connectivity between larger fragments if we are to prevent extinctions.

However, the rapid expansion of human populations, greed, and meat consumption mean that more forest is likely to be lost, even if farm yield and efficiency can be improved to help bridge gaps between current and future demand. The difficult question is where should this expansion happen? Given the severe degradation of small and isolated fragments, perhaps conversion could target some of these patches, coupled with wilderness protection and expansion.

Next time I visit my local National Park – the highly fragmented Peak District – I will spare a thought for the species that are being harmed by their habitats being broken up into ever smaller chunks. There are no easy answers to the problems of fragmentation, but our forests urgently need a global management plan.

As Vegetarian Giants Rapidly Disappear from Earth, ‘Empty Landscape’ Threatens



New study finds large herbivores under severe threat

The world’s plant-eating giants—including hippopotamuses, elephants, rhinoceros, and gorillas—are being rapidly wiped from the Earth, warns a new scientific study, and if habitat loss and human hunting continue unabated, these iconic species will be replaced with an “empty landscape.”

The study—Collapse of the World’s Largest Herbivores—was published Friday in the journal Science Advances by a global team of wildlife ecologists headed by William Ripple, professor at Oregon State University.

According to the research, 60 percent of the largest herbivores on the planet already face the immediate threat of extinction.

Focusing on 74 species of plant-eating giants, the researchers came to the conclusion that “large herbivores (and many smaller ones) will continue to disappear from numerous regions with enormous ecological, social, and economic costs. We have progressed well beyond the empty forest to early views of the ’empty landscape’ in desert, grassland, savanna, and forest ecosystems across much of planet Earth.”

Ripple said in a press statement, “I expected that habitat change would be the main factor causing the endangerment of large herbivores. But surprisingly, the results show that the two main factors in herbivore declines are hunting by humans and habitat change. They are twin threats.”

According to the study, mitigating climate change is essential to protecting plant-eating giants and all species on Earth: “By 2050, climate change has the potential to leave many of Earth’s species destined for extinction.”

The research warns that further loss of large herbivores will have a ripple effect throughout ecosystems, including: “reduction in food for large carnivores such as lions and tigers; diminished seed dispersal for plants; more frequent and intense wildfires; slower cycling of nutrients from vegetation to the soil; changes in habitat for smaller animals including fish, birds and amphibians.”

The study follows previous research which shows that large carnivores are also being wiped out at a rapid rate.

PETA Protesting Use of Real Animals in CBS’ ‘Zoo’

Originally posted on Variety:

“PETA hopes ‘Zoo’ will be one of this summer’s first cancellations,” the animal rights organization said.

The advocacy group is protesting the use of live animals in CBS’ new drama “Zoo.” The show, which premieres Tuesday, is based on James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge’s novel of the same title, and follows a global outbreak of animal attacks on humans.

“By producing a show that exploits wild animals, including lions, CBS has proved that it’s out of sync with public opinion at a time when people are shunning SeaWorld’s captive orca sideshows, states and counties are passing laws banning wild animal acts and private ownership, and Ringling Bros. is taking elephants off the road,” Brittany Peet, PETA’s foundation deputy director of captive animal law enforcement, said in a statement.

Star James Wolk told reporters at a Los Angeles press junket for the show in May that precautions were taken to ensure the actors…

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A sad day for bears in Florida

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson

Update on petition by Valerie Howell
Miami, FL

Some sad news to report. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted to reopen a trophy hunt on the Florida black bear. These bears continue to face serious threats to their survival, and I’m ashamed of my state’s elected officials who care more about appeasing lobbyists for the hunting industry than sticking to basic values of kindness and compassion.

Kate MacFall, Florida state director for The Humane Society of the United States said:
“By sanctioning a trophy hunt on bears in lieu of effective solutions on human-bear conflicts, the FWC has ignored sound science, responsible wildlife management and the majority of Floridians who oppose a hunt on this highly vulnerable and rare sub-species of bear, found nowhere else in the world outside its range. We will continue to oppose this hunt, not only because it is unjustified, but also because it is likely that cruel and inhumane practices like hounding and baiting will be added in the near future.”

I thank the 100,000 of you who signed my petition and all those who spoke out on the ground in Florida — it’s truly more support than I ever expected. Despite this campaign not resulting in a win, I am moved knowing how much momentum we have to continue the movement for animal welfare.

Here is an article with more details of the vote: http://whtc.com/news/articles/2015/jun/24/black-bears-in-the-cross-hairs-of-florida-wildlife-agency/

Cannonball! Bruiser the Grizzly bear seriously knows how to have fun

Originally posted on Metro:

It turns out that 400-pound Grizzly bears love jumping into swimming pools – that is if young Bruiser’s behaviour can be counted as evidence.

Bruiser can be seen repeatedly climbing the step ladder and then jumping into the outdoor pool before playing with a floating surfboard.

[metro-link url=”http://metro.co.uk/2015/06/08/baby-koala-bear-hugs-mum-during-life-saving-surgery-5235681/” title=”Baby koala bear hugs mum during life-saving surgery”]

This friendly four-year-old bear is an animal ambassador for the charity Single Vision which cares for exotic animals while educating the public about conservation issues.

In addition to his love of swimming, Bruiser also apparently has a taste for tearing up cardboard boxes – as we all do.

[metro-link url=”http://metro.co.uk/2015/06/05/bear-catches-a-piece-of-bread-one-handed-like-an-absolute-champ-5231500/” title=”Bear catches a piece of bread one-handed like an absolute champ”]

I believe I can fly (Picture: YouTube) I believe I can fly (Picture: YouTube)

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Twenty-first Century Swastikas

Exposing the Big Game:

Whether confederate flags, swastikas, or anti-wolf and sea lion stickers, hate-speech propaganda has no place in the world today

Originally posted on Exposing the Big Game:

For over half a century the Nazi swastika—that all too familiar symbol of hate—has been relegated to the dark corners of extremism, never to be openly displayed on a flag or uniform again. The Nazi credo was perhaps as confusing as it was complex, but generally, it was the definitive case of one group vilifying and scapegoating another.

Today, a similar type of blind hatred rules in areas where exploitive or extractive animal industries are considered a way of life. One can hardly drive a mile in parts of rural America without seeing emblems of extremism in the form of hateful bumper stickers touting selfish anti-wolf slogans like, “Smoke a Pack a Day” or, in areas where wolves are still extinct, “Did the coyotes get your deer?” Another popular hate-symbol adorning the back of all too many rural pickup trucks is simply a silhouette of a wolfNT wolf bumpr stickr inside a red…

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Top 10 Retorts to Hunter Fallacies

Exposing the Big Game:

10) Hunting is”sustainable.”
In today’s world of 7 billion people? Never mind, that’s a joke if I’ve ever heard one.
Do we really want to encourage 7 billion humans to go out and kill wildlife for food as if wild animal flesh is an unlimited resource?

Originally posted on Exposing the Big Game:

Hunters’ arguments and rationalizations for their sport are so repetitive and predictable that, to save valuable time and precious mental energy, it might help to have your responses printed out ahead of time like flash cards, and kept at the ready in your back pocket. Here, then, are the Top 10 Retorts to Hunter Fallacies you’re most likely to hear the next time you debate a sportsman. (I would apologize to David Letterman, but this isn’t meant to be a joke.)

10)Hunting is”sustainable.”                                              
In today’s world of 7 billion people? Never mind, that’s a joke if I’ve ever heard one.
Do we really want to encourage 7 billion humans to go out and kill wildlife for food as if wild animal flesh is an unlimited resource? The only way hunting could be sustainable for humans these days is if we drastically reduced our population…and killed off all the natural predators. Overhunting has…

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Environment: New fuel standards for heavy trucks would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 1 billion metric tons

Originally posted on Summit County Citizens Voice:

Trucking industry cautiously supportive of new rules

sdfg There are a lot of trucks on the road these days, and they emit a lot of greenhouse gases. Proposed new federal rules could cut those emissions by 1 billion metric tons and amount to huge fuel savings for the trucking industry. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The Obama administration says its proposed new fuel efficiency standards for trucks will cut CO2 emissions by 1 billion metric tons — about equal to the greenhouse gas emissions from all domestic energy use in the U.S.

The new rules would cut fuel costs by  about $170 billion, and reduce oil consumption by up to 1.8 billion barrels, more than a year’s worth of imports from OPEC.

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