Bird Flu Pandemic Hasn’t Changed Atrocious Conditions at Poultry Farms

http://koreabizwire.com/bird-flu-pandemic-hasnt-changed-atrocious-conditions-at-poultry-farms/80831

The government’s recent move to encourage bigger cages in order to prevent another avian influenza from spreading on a massive scale like the one which transpired last November is being met with a lukewarm reception and skepticism among critics over the lax nature of the newly introduced rules. (Image: Kobiz Media)

The government’s recent move to encourage bigger cages in order to prevent another avian influenza from spreading on a massive scale like the one which transpired last November is being met with a lukewarm reception and skepticism among critics over the lax nature of the newly introduced rules. (Image: Kobiz Media)

SEOUL, April 17 (Korea Bizwire) – Despite new government measures that require farmers to make use of larger cages, the horrific conditions that poultry live under at typical factory farms in South Korea are unlikely to change soon, which have been identified as one of the major factors behind the recent influenza Type A pandemic that causes illness to people.

The government’s recent move to encourage bigger cages in order to prevent another avian influenza from spreading on a massive scale like the one which transpired last November is being met with a lukewarm reception and skepticism among critics over the lax nature of the newly introduced rules.

Existing poultry farms will have 10 years to update their old cages in accordance with the new standards, but critics say the grace period is too long, and that simply making cages slightly bigger won’t get to the root of the problem.

According to current laws regarding poultry farming, chickens are being raised in a space smaller the size of an A4 sheet of paper (0.05 square meters or 0.5 square feet), which means 1 square meter per 20 chickens. When the new rules take place, poultry farms will be required to have their cages built at least 0.075 square meters in size.

The EU already banned (in 2003) the construction of any more of the so-called battery cages, a term that refers to small wire cages in which hens spend their entire lives with little to no space to move around. Since a total ban on battery cages took place in 2012, an increasing number of farmers have adopted free-range farming.

South Korean poultry farms however, have been bucking the trend and engaging in activities that border on animal cruelty, such as keeping the lights on during the night to maximize egg production, exploiting a physiological phenomenon in which a drastic environmental change suddenly increases the egg production of hens.

Despite opposition from animal rights groups, little has been done to secure the wellbeing of farm animals in South Korea.

A representative from the Korea Association for Animal Protection (KAAP), Lee Won-bok, was critical of the government’s move to tackle avian influenza, calling it a ‘makeshift plan’ that will bring little to no change.

“AI pandemics occur almost every year due to the poor living conditions of farm animals, not because of the size of cages,” Lee said.

Hyunsu Yim (hyunsu@koreabizwire.com)

Vicious cycle ties warmer cow food to higher methane emissions

March 30, 2017

As major exponents of greenhouse gases that warm the Earth, what cows consume is increasingly gaining attention from scientists trying to apply the brakes to global methane emissions. The latest promising discovery in this area comes from an international team of researchers, who have found that livestock plant food grown in warmer climates leads to higher methane releases, and could potentially be inhibiting milk and meat production at the same time.

Methane emitted by cows, or from any source for that matter, is a problem because it is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, due to its superior heat-trapping abilities. Meanwhile, global meat production is on the rise, from 71 million tons in 1961 to 318 million tons in 2014.

So scientists have been looking at the effects of livestock diets, and how they might be tweaked to reduce the amount of methane produced by the world’s growing bovine population. Last year, Australian scientists identified a strain of seaweed that can reduce methane emissions by 99 percent, while earlier this year another research team discovered that feeding cows tropical leaves in addition to regular food could cause also cause sharp decline.

The latest research doesn’t unearth new dietary supplements, rather it reveals an already existing culprit. Scientists from Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Scotland’s Rural College, and the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre in Frankfurt studied published data on forage quality, and found that nutritional value of grass was reduced at higher temperatures.

This is turn makes it harder for grazing livestock to digest the plants, and the scientists say there are a few reasons that might be. The extra heat causes plants to adapt and they may flower earlier, produce thicker leaves or possibly allow tougher invasive plants to spread into new areas and replace more nutritious species. With the plants tougher to digest, they spend longer inside the animal and produce more gas, and the scientists say this is setting in motion a vicious cycle.

“The vicious cycle we are seeing now is that ruminant livestock such as cattle produce methane which warms our planet,” says Dr. Mark Lee, a research fellow at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. “This warmer environment alters plants so they are tougher to digest, and so each mouthful spends more time in the animals’ stomach, producing more methane, further warming the planet, and the cycle continues. We need to make changes to livestock diets to make them more environmentally sustainable.”

With an eye to the future, the scientists used published empirical models to estimate how changes to the climate will impact global methane production. They found that methane production increased by 0.9 percent with a 1 °C temperature rise (1.8 °F), and by 4.5 percent with a 5 °C rise (9 °F). They expect this to be a worldwide trend, but did identify hotspots in North America, Central/Eastern Europe and Asia, places where livestock farming is increasing and climate change is expected to hit hardest.

“Now is the time to act, because the demand for meat-rich diets is increasing around the world,” says Lee. “Our research has shown that cultivating more nutritious plants may help us to combat the challenges of warmer temperatures.”

The research paper was published in the journal Biogeosciences.

A vicious cycle of climate change, cattle diet and rising methane has been revealed in a new scientific study: as temperatures rise, forage plants get tougher and harder to digest, and cause more methane to be produced in bovine stomachs. And with cattle numbers rising and methane 85 times more powerful a greenhouse gas over 20 years, that spells trouble.

This warmer environment alters plants so they are tougher to digest, and so each mouthful spends more time in the animals’ stomach, producing more methane, further warming the planet, and the cycle continues.

Plants growing in warmer conditions are tougher and have lower nutritional value to grazing livestock, inhibiting milk and meat yields and raising the amount of methane released by the animals.

That’s because more methane is produced when plants are tougher to digest – an effect of a warmer environment.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, around 25 times better at trapping heat than carbon dioxide over a century, and 85 times stronger over 20 years.

More than 95% of the methane produced by cows comes from their breath through eructation (belching) as they chew the cud.

The findings come in a published a paper today in the journal Biogeosciences by scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, Frankfurt.

The key finding is a near doubling of ruminant emissions of methane: “Upscaling the GHG footprint of the current livestock inventory to the 2050 projected inventory increases annual GHG emissions from enteric sources from 2.8 to 4.7 GT CO2eq.”

Dr Mark Lee, a research fellow at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew who led the research says; “The vicious cycle we are seeing now is that ruminant livestock such as cattle produce methane which warms our planet.

“This warmer environment alters plants so they are tougher to digest, and so each mouthful spends more time in the animals’ stomach, producing more methane, further warming the planet, and the cycle continues. We need to make changes to livestock diets to make them more environmentally sustainable.”

Harsher climate makes tougher plants

There are several reasons why rising temperatures may make plants tougher for grazing livestock to digest. Plants have adaptations to prevent heat damage, they can flower earlier, have thicker leaves or in some cases, tougher plants can invade into new areas replacing more nutritious species – all of which makes grazing more difficult.

This is a pressing concern, because climate change is likely to make plants tougher for grazing cattle, increasing the amount of methane that the animals breathe out into the atmosphere.

The researchers mapped the regions where methane produced by cattle will increase to the greatest extent as the result of reductions in plant nutritional quality. Methane production is generally expected to increase all around the world, with hotspots identified in North America, Central and Eastern Europe, and Asia, where the effects of climate change may be the most severe.

Many of these regions are where livestock farming is growing most rapidly. For example, meat production has increased annually by around 3.4% across Asia, compared with a more modest 1% increase across Europe.

The calculations, write the scientists, “suggested a previously undescribed positive climate change feedback, where elevated temperatures reduce grass nutritive value and correspondingly may increase methane production by 0.9% with a 1C temperature rise and 4.5% with a 5C rise (model average), thus creating an additional climate forcing effect.

“Future methane production increases are expected to be largest in parts of North America, central and eastern Europe and Asia, with the geographical extent of hotspots increasing under a high emissions scenario.”

Act now to limit the damage!

Global meat production has increased rapidly in recent years to meet demand, from 71 million tonnes in 1961 to 318 million tonnes in 2014, a 78% increase in 53 years (FAOSTAT, 2016). Grazing lands have expanded to support this production, particularly across Asia and South America, and now cover 35 million km2; 30% of the Earth’s ice-free surface.

However, livestock are valuable. They are worth in excess of $1.4 trillion to the global economy and livestock farming sustains or employs 1.3 billion people around the world (Thornton, 2010). The upward trend in livestock production and associated GHG emissions are projected to continue in the future and global stocks of cattle, goats and sheep are expected to reach 6.3 billion by 2050 (Steinfeld et al. 2006).

If these rises are to continue then the researchers say it will be necessary to limit the growth of livestock farming in the most rapidly warming regions, and, to avoid significant losses in livestock production efficiency and increases in methane emissions. Other measures, including eating less meat and farming more sustainably, are also essential:

“A global switch in human diets and a transition to more sustainable agricultural practices, as well as a greater prevalence of organic and silvopastoral farming, may reduce our reliance on intensively farmed cattle and other ruminants.

“In countries with high or increasing meat consumption, these measures could reduce the environmental impacts of agriculture and contribute to GHG emissions cuts with an associated improvement in human health.”

And the authors emphasise that we need to start implementing policy measures as soon as possible. “Now is the time to act,” said Dr Lee, “because the demand for meat-rich diets is increasing around the world. Our research has shown that cultivating more nutritious plants may help us to combat the challenges of warmer temperatures.

We are undertaking work at Kew to identify the native forage plants that are associated with high meat and milk production and less methane, attempting to increase their presence on the grazing landscape. We are also developing our models to identify regions where livestock are going to be exposed to reductions in forage quality with greater precision.

It is going to be important to put plans in place to help those countries exposed to the most severe challenges from climate change to adapt to a changing world.”

 

Oliver Tickell is contributing editor at The Ecologist.

 

French parliament votes to install cameras in slaughterhouses

January 18, 2017

FoxNews.com
http://www.foxnews.com/food-drink/2017/01/18/french-parliament-votes-to-install-cameras-in-slaughterhouses.html

Amid rising reports of animal abuses at meat processing facilities, France’s parliament has voted that slaughterhouses be required to install surveillance cameras to monitor workers’ interactions with live animals.

The proposed legislation, which was approved by 28 members on Jan. 12, would give the country’s nearly 1,000 slaughterhouses until Jan. 1, 2018 to install CCTV cameras everywhere live animals are handled, including monitoring the transport process and while they’re being held in stables, reports Politico.

FRENCH PEOPLE CAN’T ENOUGH HAMBURGERS

According to the bill, the footage from each slaughterhouse would only be viewable to veterinarians, approved government officials or animal-welfare inspectors and would be kept on government file for a month. The bill also proposes the creations of a national Committee on the Ethics of Slaughterhouses, which would oversee and mete out harsher penalties to facilities caught violating the law.

The move comes amid heightened scrutiny of the country’s meat industry. In 2016, animal rights activist group L214 released troubling footage showing numerous animal abuses at several French meat-processing facilities inclduing workers killing animals without stunning them first, throwing lambs into walls, and hitting live animals.

Though the bill passed in parliament—where just four MPs opposed the legislation—it must still be approved by France’s senate. According to Reuters, the vote could happen as early as February.

More:
Cameras to be installed in all slaughterhouses in Israel (Jerusalem Online)
http://www.jerusalemonline.com/news/in-israel/local/cameras-to-be-installed-in-all-slaughterhouses-in-israel-14480

Israel Moves to Install Cameras in Slaughterhouses to Prevent Cruelty (Haaretz)
http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.694463

Beef production to drop [but only 16%] under climate change targets – EU Commission

http://www.farmersjournal.ie/beef-production-to-drop-under-climate-change-targets-eu-commission-255277

By Thomas Hubert on 13 February 2017
2

  • Beef production drop expected under 2030 climate targets according to the European Commission.
    Beef production drop expected under 2030 climate targets according to the European Commission.

The European beef herd could shrink by up to 16% under the cost 2030 greenhouse gas emission targets, but subsidies could help alleviate the burden, according to the European Commission.

Dan Burgar Kuzelicki, policy officer at the Environment, climate change, forestry and bio-economy department of the European Commission, presented the figures at the Agricultural Science Association’s climate change conference in Portlaoise last week.

According to him, the EU’s beef herd size is expected to fall by between 6.6% and 16% across the EU by the time 2030 climate targets are implemented. This is the result of a European Commission model illustrated by the map above.

In Ireland, the cost of implementing greenhouse gas emission cuts on beef farms would result in a drop in cattle numbers by up to 5% in the southern half of the country and up to 8% in the northern half.

However, targeting CAP subsidies to cover 80% of the costs associated with better climate efficiency in beef farming would mitigate the impact, with herd size expected to drop by up to 2% in the south and up to 5% in the north under this scenario.

In all cases, beef production is expected to drop.

Additives and grass quality to cut emissions from livestock

Tommy Boland, associate professor of ruminant nutrition at UCD, presented some of the latest research into techniques exploerd to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cattle and sheep.

A number of inhibitors are being tested as additives to feed to reduce methane production. While some have shown detrimental side effects, a chemical called 3-nitrooxypropanol (3-NOP) is showing promising results. Feeding 2G/day of 3NOP to beef cattle has shown to reduce methane emissions from over 20g/kg to under 10g/kg of weight gain. Meanwhile, methane emissions from dairy cattle receiving 3-NOP have dropped from 18g/kg to 12g/kg of milk solids.

Feeding soya oil and, to a greater extent, linseed oil was also found to reduce the rate of methane emissions from dairy cows, Boland said.

However, he questioned the sustainability of those oil sources and pointed out that grass was an alternative source of fatty acids, with further research required in this area. Boland’s own research shows that improving grass quality has a direct impact on the methane emissions of dairy cow.

Read more

Full coverage: agriculture and climate change

Animal Welfare On The Ballot In November

DANIEL ACKER / REUTERS

When voters go to the polls this November, they won’t only be making critical decisions about who represents them in the White House, Congress and state and local offices. In a number of states, the people will vote on the humane treatment of animals—deciding whether to adopt policies on factory farming, wildlife trafficking and other animal protection issues.

Since the early 1990s, The Humane Society of the United States and allied organizations have been involved in about 50 statewide ballot contests, and voters have sided with animals about 70 percent of the time. They’ve banned cockfighting in three of the last states where it remained legal (Arizona, Missouri and Oklahoma), set humane treatment standards for dogs in the largest puppy mill state (Missouri), stopped extreme confinement of animals on factory farms (Arizona, California and Florida), and adopted new policies to restrict greyhound racing; horse slaughter; body-gripping traps and poisons; trophy hunting of bears, cougars and wolves and more. When politicians in the state legislatures have been held captive by special interests—such as big agribusiness, the trophy hunting lobby or even organized cockfighting groups—animal advocates have petitioned to put these questions directly to the people.

This year in Massachusetts, voters will decide on Question 3, which would phase out the extreme confinement of veal calves, breeding pigs and egg-laying hens in small crates and cages where they are virtually immobilized for their entire lives, and will remove inhumane and unsafe products from the Massachusetts marketplace. Backed by the MSPCA, Animal Rescue League of Boston, Zoo New England and hundreds of Massachusetts veterinarians and family farmers, more than 170,000 Massachusetts voters signed petitions to place Question 3 on the ballot. Question 3 adds momentum to what’s already occurring in the marketplace, with McDonald’s, Walmart and 200 other major food retail brands pledging to change their procurement practices and source only cage-free eggs and meats.

In Oregon, voters will weigh in on Measure 100, which will help save endangered sea turtles, elephants, rhinos and other wild animals threatened with cruel poaching and extinction. Every day close to 100 elephants are brutally killed in Africa, their tusks hacked off to supply the black market for ivory trinkets. Poachers poison watering holes with cyanide, killing hundreds of elephants at once. Organized criminal gangs and armed rebels use military weapons to kill wildlife for the multi-billion dollar illegal wildlife trade. Measure 100 will ensure that Oregon does not provide a market for endangered species products resulting from wildlife poaching and trafficking. If passed, Oregon will join California, Washington, Hawaii and other states in shutting down local markets for those who seek to profit from this destructive wildlife trade.

In Oklahoma, family farmers and animal advocates are opposing State Question 777, a measure referred to the ballot by politicians to amend the state constitution with a so-called “right to farm.” It would protect corporate interests and foreign-owned big agribusiness at the expense of Oklahoma’s family farmers, land and animals. The measure is so broadly worded that it could prevent future restrictions on any “agricultural” practice, including puppy mills, horse slaughter and raising gamefowl for cockfighting. Even the president of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau said the language is flawed, and “I wish that language weren’t in there.”

Those aren’t the only states where voters will see ballot issues related to animals. Californians will vote on Proposition 67, to protect the state’s ban on plastic grocery bags, which wash into our rivers, lakes, streams and ocean, where they are ingested by or entangle sea turtles, otters, seals, fish and birds. Some ocean animals mistake bags for food, fill their stomachs with plastics, and die of starvation. Montanans will vote on I-777, which would restrict the use of cruel traps and snares on public lands. In Colorado, Amendment 71 would make it more difficult for citizens to have a say on future constitutional ballot measures, including those dealing with animal protection. The HSUS favors the California and Montana measures, but strongly opposes the Colorado measure as an attack on citizen voting.

When you enter the voting booth or send in your mail ballot this November, make sure you don’t stop after the candidate races. Continue down the ballot and review the issues at stake, and you could have a role in promoting the humane treatment of animals and protecting these creatures from cruelty and suffering, and preserving your rights to participate in democratic decision-making in future elections.

Michael Markarian is chief operating officer of The Humane Society of the United States, and president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Animal Rights Would Suffer Under Trump

http://www.newsmax.com/CMSPages/GetFile.aspx?guid=f0159776-6f7f-4fe2-ad6b-3932843951c6&SiteName=Newsmax&maxsidesize=600

Image: Animal Rights Would Suffer Under Trump

Eric Trump, center, speaks during a campaign rally for his father and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, with his brother, Donald Trump Jr. (Isaac Brekken/AP)

By Kathleen Parker
Wednesday, 07 Sep 2016

The animal kingdom will have lost one of its staunchest defenders when the Oval Office is abandoned by Barack Obama, who through a series of critical, administrative rule-makings has done more to protect animals than any other president in recent memory.

This will be especially devastating if Donald Trump replaces him — not only because of his sons’ lust for hunting exotic game but also because his recently announced agriculture advisory committee includes several active opponents of animal protection policies.

By now, many will have seen the photographs circulating on social media of Eric Trump and Donald Jr. displaying their trophy kills. One shows the two young men posed with a leopard they killed in Africa. Another shows Junior holding the tail of an elephant, which he appears to have just sliced off with the knife in his other hand, and another of him lounging against the lifeless hulk of a Cape buffalo bull.

A fourth photo shows the brothers’ smiling faces framed between the horns of a magnificent waterbuck.

If these snapshots were intended to capture the rapture of proud manhood, they missed their mark. Trump’s spawn aren’t Maasai warriors, suffice it to say. But even the Maasai have stopped killing lions to prove themselves, thanks to conservationists, and now determine leadership according to who jumps highest — evidence that one can easily jump a rival’s fence when raiding cows.

When asked about his sons’ bloody hobby, Trump demurred except to say that his sons are excellent marksmen. Trump prefers golf, he said, and he obviously limits trophy collecting to women.

Junior, meanwhile, says he’d like to head the Department of the Interior, which, among other things, oversees trophy hunting imports. Under Obama, elephant trophies from Tanzania and Zimbabwe were halted and African lions were listed as threatened. What would a trophy-hunting Trump do with such protections?

Meanwhile, the Republican nominee’s anti-animal animus may be gleaned from his choice of agriculture advisers, which the Humane Society Legislative Fund has called a “rogues gallery” of anti-animal welfare activists. (Disclaimer: My son works for the Humane Society.)

Foremost is Forrest Lucas, billionaire founder of Protect the Harvest, an organization focused on fighting the Humane Society and opposing any legislation aimed at restricting cruel animal practices in the production of meat, dairy, and eggs.

But such humane propositions are viewed by Lucas’ group as unnecessarily restrictive to business, limiting our freedoms and attacking our all-too-American culture. Among the “traditions” the harvest group has sought to protect are circuses, illustrated on the organization’s website with a photo of elephants absurdly parading in a conga line on their hind legs. Thanks to animal activists and enlightened spectators, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey recently retired its elephants from the ring to the lasting deprivation of no one.

Lucas and Co. have also opposed efforts to establish felony-level penalties for malicious cruelty against dogs, cats and horses, even fighting standards for dogs in commercial puppy mills.

Also on the committee is Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, who has the distinction of being the first governor to sign into law an “ag-gag” measure that punishes whistleblowers, giving factory farmers free rein over animal welfare and worker safety. The bill’s sponsor, former Iowa state Rep. Annette Sweeney, is also a Trump adviser.

Another adviser, former Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, vetoed a bill to end the sport hunting of mountain lions and has defended factory farming practices that many happy omnivores find reprehensible, including the use of battery cages and gestation crates.

Adviser and Iowa factory farmer Bruce Rastetter is reported to be a leading candidate to become Trump’s agriculture secretary. His brother is CEO of a company that builds large-scale hog facilities as well as gestation crates for breeding sows. Which way Trump leans — animal welfare or business profits — doesn’t seem to be in question.

Let’s just say that his selection of advisers, coupled with a cavalier attitude toward his sons’ big-game hunting, bodes ill for animals and the protections so many Americans find both reasonable and desirable.

I guess it’s all in how you define freedom. Personally, I’d like to see how high these merciless profit-warriors and trophy hunters can jump — not as a prelude to leadership but rather to the ever-popular flying leap.

Breaking News at Newsmax.com http://www.newsmax.com/Parker/animal-rights-protection-eric-trump/2016/09/07/id/747115/#ixzz4JgjYWuGO
Urgent: Do You Back Trump or Hillary? Vote Here Now!

 

Humans are Highly Illogical

Image

The Real Climate Change Hoax‏

Extreme Arctic Warmth on January 5 2016

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-sanbonmatsu/the-real-climate-change-hoax_b_8920048.html

As a performing magician, I naturally take a keen interest in deception. So it was also with a professional, not merely personal, interest that I watched the spectacular fraud perpetrated on the world’s public in Paris last month, as political leaders from nearly 200 nations signed the first universal treaty to limit the carbon gases causing global warming.

Politicians described the agreement in triumphal terms, as a “turning point” in history. Humanity had dodged a bullet, they said. Now, we could all breathe easier. “Climate justice has won & we are all working towards a greener future,” as President Modi of India put it in a Tweet.

In reality, the happy talk by elites in Paris resembled a skilled magician’s use of patter to misdirect his audience, only on a global scale. A top stage illusionist like David Copperfield can make a Lamborghini vanish right under the noses of his audience. But that is nothing compared to what played in Paris, where the world’s political elites made the global warming crisis itself disappear — by creating the illusion of decisive action, where in fact there was nothing.

Ostensibly, the Paris agreement commits its signatories to hold warming of the earth’s atmosphere to 1.5% degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. But as Bill McKibben recently pointed out, even if the signatories stay true to their promises — and the agreement has no enforcement mechanism to ensure that they do — the earth’s atmosphere is still expected to warm to at least 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels.

How bad would that be? Consider that today we are at just one degree Celsius, or about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit, above preindustrial levels. That one degree has already melted many of the world’s glaciers, turned the North Pole into a temperate zone, and produced droughts, floods, and wildfires of Biblical proportions across the globe. One degree has radically increased the acidity of the world’s oceans — by 30% — and imperiled the planet’s fresh water resources.

Here in Boston, I spent a surreal Christmas Eve bicycling around my neighborhood clad in jeans and a T-shirt. It was the same story throughout much of the US, where nearly 6,000 temperature records were shattered over the holidays. Tornadoes ravaged parts of Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee, rivers flooded their banks throughout the Midwest. Meanwhile, portions of England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay lay submerged under floodwaters.

The most frightening news, though, came out of the Arctic, where temperatures on New Year’s Day were projected to be more than 60 F. degrees above normal. That made the North Pole, as one reporter observed, “hotter than Chicago, Vienna or Istanbul.”

Such radical gyrations in the climate are already causing unseen suffering and hardship for countless of the earth’s inhabitants. Millions of people have been displaced from their homes or lost their livelihoods as a result of one degree of warming. Farmers in Bangladesh have watched helplessly as ocean water inundates their rice fields. Whole Inuit communities had to be relocated after melting permafrost caused their homes to sink into the ground. In Iraq this summer, the temperature soared to 120 degrees Fahrenheit — 159 degrees with humidity factored in — and remained there for days. Scientists believe that large portions of the Middle East, currently home to 200 million people, will be inhospitable to human life by the end of the century.

But it is the other beings we share the earth with who are losing the most. Everywhere, animals are struggling in vain to adapt to the rapidly changing climate. In Europe and Asia, bears have stopped hibernating. In Alaska, walruses are crowding on shore, and trampling each other, because the sea ice they depend upon to survive has vanished. Whales and dolphins are dying in droves. Sea lions in California are starving. Penguins, lost and disoriented, have washed up on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro. Tens of millions of bats have perished from white nose fungus. Hundreds of monkeys in Costa Rica starved to death, or succumbed to illness, when ceaseless winter rains kept them from coming down from their trees to forage.

And on and on, across the phylogenetic spectrum. Homo sapiens is causing the greatest mass species extinction event in over 60 million years. And global warming is radically accelerating the process.

All of this, and much more, from atmospheric warming of less than 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Now, imagine ratcheting that up by an additional five, or six, degrees. Or, in all likelihood, more than that. Because there is no reason to believe that the countries that signed the Paris agreement will fulfill even their existing inadequate promises.

What will so hot a world look like? Which of the many thousands of species clinging today to the knife’s edge of survival will survive?

In the absence of decisive international action, clearly, we are going to turn the planet into a living Hell. Meanwhile, the closer one looks at the details of the Paris accord, the more the latter resembles a stage illusion — a hollow shell carefully constructed to resemble something solid.

Much has been made of the pledge of the wealthy nations to help poorer ones offset the cost of shifting to renewable energy sources. But the same promises have been made by the wealthy countries before, and they have not been kept. Though vague about how they are going to help the peoples of the global South, wealthy nations were nonetheless careful to include language in the treaty allowing them to offset future C02 emissions through so-called “carbon sinks” — planting trees to recapture CO2. However, since it takes decades for forests to mature, such “sinks” are viewed by most experts as the equivalent of the magician’s legerdemain, a clever manipulation to create the appearance of something out of nothing.

The agreement also says nothing about animal agriculture — the second leading cause of global warming, responsible for more emissions than all cars and trucks combined. The absence of any recommendation to reduce or eliminate animal agriculture is a clear concession to the factory farming and cattle ranching lobbies, which doubtlessly worked hard to keep animal agriculture off the table in climate negotiations.

And so on. Such omissions led James Hansen, the former NASA scientist and a leading authority on climate change, rightly to denounce the Paris agreement as a “fraud” and a “fake.” As Hansen and others suggest, the illusion of action in Paris may in fact prove worse than no action at all. For it has left the public with the mistaken impression that the climate crisis is now going to be dealt with, perhaps even solved, on the cheap, in half-measures, and without disturbing the powerful economic and social forces that profit from ecological destruction. And that is the greatest deception of all.

CORRECTION: This post has been updated to clarify the language used to describe the role of animal agriculture in reference to climate change.

Thousands of cows died in southern storms

http://www.ajc.com/news/news/national/texas-milk-shortage-thousands-cows-died-southern-s/npwks/

This past summer we saw egg rationing, now milk might be coming up short on demands. If this sounds like the apocalypse — well, it’s actually just Texas. (Video via U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance)

The recent Southern storms that caused major damage in states in and around Texas are now resulting in another problem: lack of milk.

Upwards of 30,000 cows died in Texas and New Mexico. As for the ones that are still alive? They’re likely dried up, as cows need to be milked regularly to keep producing.

Last summer, several states, including Texas, started coming up short on eggs after the bird flu struck. Stores started rationing the number of cartons consumers bought, and the event was predicted to affect supply over the next year.

It’s unclear if the price of milk will spike, jugs will be rationed or if this will affect other states. One U.S. Department of Agriculture report says Texas isn’t one of the top five dairy contributors for the U.S., but the 27 million residents of Texas will certainly be affected. (Video via Texas Farm Bureau)

Iowa Egg Farm Investigation