Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 17: F-O-O-D.*

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

“assortment of vegan chocolates”: A dozen+ gorgeous vegan chocolates sit atop a white porcelain cake stand. Nom! CC image via quintanaroo (the chocolate-maker herself) on Flickr.
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Regretfully, I spent most of the long weekend either tossing and turning in bed, or retching and heaving over the toilet (read: vomiting; either way, what a mental image, yeah?), and thus was unable to get much of anything done. The perfect time for a link roundup! The commentary is rather sparse, but seeing as I feel like I’ve been through the ringer and back, I hope you’ll forgive me.

johanna @ Vegans of Color: Vegan cookbooks: helping folks eat the Other

The Vegan Ideal: A Western Vegetarian ‘Foray’ into Non-Western Culture

johanna and Ida provide several examples of the “exotification” of non-Western foods (“African,” “Asian,” Hawaiian and Cambodian, respectively), with an eye on vegetarian/vegan contexts (cookbooks and a veg gathering at veg-friendly restaurant).

Stephanie @ Animal Rights & AntiOppression: Domination and Rape in Avatar: This Is “Respect” for Animals?

While I’ve seen many a discussion of Avatar‘s problematic racial politics, anti-speciesist reviews appear to be few and far between. This piece from Stephanie is a must-read; the title says it all, really. (Mary also discussed the film back in December.)

Marji @ Animal Rights & AntiOppression: Sarah’s Diary: Remembering

Marji imagines what rescue hen Sarah’s diary might look like. It is predictably heart-breaking. I’ll be honest; I have not yet been able to read the entire piece.

Of course, I feel rather silly when considering Marji’s description of the “mock-diary”:

This is Sarah. She turns seven this February 14th. She is one of 2,000 hens we were legally permitted to pull from a small, 160,000 egg-laying hen operation. I know this diary is horribly anthropomorphic. I pulled Sarah out of that cage. For hours, I breathed what they breathed, saw and smelled their world. It was horrifying. I have tried, for years, to fathom what it must have been like for them from birth to grisly death. I can’t.

If there were a goddess, surely you’d find her volunteering at an animal sanctuary.

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lol ur empty gestures.

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

When I opened this email from 350.org, I couldn’t help but snicker – after which, I inevitably felt a little guilty. (Hey, I’ve got lady bits; I’ve been indoctrinated into a sea of guilt, whether deserved or not.) Then, still feeling a pang of guilt, I snickered some more. You see, their hearts are (kinda sorta) in the right place; their tummies, not so much.

Apologies again for bombarding you with email, but we’re in the final stretch here at Copenhagen and I hope you can join us in doing two unusual things.

“Unsual”? Well, I’m up for most anything. Do tell!

They’re unusual things for us to ask, but this is an unusual moment. In a certain sense the Copenhagen conference is going better than we dared hope. The small nations of the world have really been quite remarkable this week–their calls for strong climate action have completely changed the tone of these negotiations. They have stood up to immense pressure from the big powers, and they continue to rally behind the banner that all of you have raised for them. These nations are still trying to insert “350 language” into the treaty text, at least as a symbolic aspiration for the future. This would be a remarkable acknowledgment of physical reality, and give us a good base to keep moving on.

But not all is well in Copenhagen. We’re not going to get the agreement that we need (current negotiations put us on track to hit a devastating 770ppm by century’s end) and this movement will need to fight on in the years ahead.

But right now, while the Copenhagen climate talks are still unfolding, we need one final push.

Yes, yes!? Quit with the teasing and spill the organic, fair trade, sustainably harvested beans already!

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Scientists, Poets, Changemakers and Heroes (Volunteer Opportunities & Action Alerts)

Monday, October 26th, 2009

There are several “actionable items” – not quite action alerts, but rather opportunities for participation, if that makes sense – I’ve been meaning to share, but just haven’t had the time to blog about in depth. Rather than neglect these projects altogether, here’s a handy-dandy roundup. Please scan through each item and help out where you can; these virtual volunteer opportunities are perfect for activists who have more extra time than they do money!

1. Science

It really chaps my rotund hide when speciesists claim that animal advocates are “anti-science.” Being all diverse and stuff, I’m sure the animal rights and welfare movements are home to a fair share of science-averse humans, but for the most part, we’re hardly anti-science. On the contrary: many of us harness the power of scientific research to demonstrate that veganism is a healthier alternative to “meat” and dairy consumption; that nonhuman animals can experience complex thoughts and emotions; that our exploitation of nonhumans animals is both unnecessary and harmful; etc., etc., etc. (you get the idea). On the whole, I don’t think we’re any more anti-science than our omni counterparts.

Personally, I love science; once upon a time, I wanted to be a clinical psychologist, specializing in anthrozoology and world vegan (then vegetarian, but wev) domination. I still peruse research articles and scientific journals (of a social nature) on occasion, just for the fun of it. No, it’s not science per se that I take issue with. Rather, I object to the imprisonment, torture, killing and exploitation of sentient, non-consenting animals, usually for redundant and frivolous research.

So I’ve become increasingly interested in “vegan” science, particularly in supporting such endeavors whenever possible. For example, I would love to donate my body to science when I die. The thought of spending my “afterlife” rotting away on a body farm somewhere brings a smile to my face; doubly so if my remains can save a nonhuman animal from being birthed, tortured and killed in the name of science. Oooh, Dr. Brennan, pick me, pick me!

Anyhow, when I saw an ad for research volunteers in the latest issue of Best Friends magazine, I immediately fired off an email to Dr. Frank McMillan to see how I might help. He pointed me to five open surveys, all of which are related to studies he’s conducting at Best Friends (as described here):

Dr. Franklin McMillan has been the director of well-being studies at Best Friends since October 2007. As director of well-being studies, Dr. Frank assesses and studies the mental health and emotional well-being of animals who have endured hardship, adversity and psychological trauma. Through these studies, he hopes to learn what the effects of trauma are – the psychological injuries and scars – and how best to treat them in order to restore to these animals a life of enjoyment rather than one of fear and emotional distress.

He is currently conducting such studies on cats from the Great Kitty Rescue in Pahrump, Nevada – an institutionalized hoarding situation – and the fighting dogs taken from the estate of former NFL quarterback Michael Vick.

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VeganMoFo, 10.24: 350 365 + Vegan = REAL Action

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

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Close on the heels of last week’s Blog Action Day for Climate Change comes today’s International Day of Climate Action. With a focus on the number 350 – “as in parts per million, the level scientists have identified as the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere” – the campaign’s goal is laudable:

350.org is an international campaign dedicated to building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis–the solutions that science and justice demand.

Our mission is to inspire the world to rise to the challenge of the climate crisis—to create a new sense of urgency and of possibility for our planet.

Our focus is on the number 350–as in parts per million, the level scientists have identified as the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere. But 350 is more than a number–it’s a symbol of where we need to head as a planet.

To tackle climate change we need to move quickly, and we need to act in unison—and 2009 will be an absolutely crucial year. This December, world leaders will meet in Copenhagen, Denmark to craft a new global treaty on cutting emissions. The problem is, the treaty currently on the table doesn’t meet the severity of the climate crisis—it doesn’t pass the 350 test.

In order to unite the public, media, and our political leaders behind the 350 goal, we’re harnessing the power of the internet to coordinate a planetary day of action on October 24, 2009. We hope to have actions at hundreds of iconic places around the world – from the Taj Mahal to the Great Barrier Reef to your community – and clear message to world leaders: the solutions to climate change must be equitable, they must be grounded in science, and they must meet the scale of the crisis.

If an international grassroots movement holds our leaders accountable to the latest climate science, we can start the global transformation we so desperately need.

Certainly, we need bold, cooperative, global action to combat climate change – and we need it now. Yet, 350’s campaign materials do not so much as mention vegetarianism, let alone veganism – this despite the fact that animal agriculture is a major contributor to greenhouse gases, including methane and nitrous oxide (which have a global warming potential 23 and 296 times greater than C02, respectively). Given the world’s burgeoning human population and rise in “meat” and dairy consumption, we cannot stop and reverse climate change – not to mention, air and water pollution, deforestation, habitat loss, species extinction, world hunger and poverty – without transitioning to a vegan diet. Our exploitation of nonhuman animals echoes in our exploration of the earth, and of one another.

While I’m happy to see that many of the planned actions include vegan meals, this isn’t enough: the International Day of Climate Action must include veganism as its centerpiece. Talk about C02 and Copenhagen, yes, but don’t stop there: speak also of veganism and the politics of what’s on your plate. Anything less is dishonest, regressive, hypocritical. Suicide and murder, both.

I get that “350” is a cute, catchy, universally-understood campaign gimmick – so why not make next year’s theme 365? As in, GO VEGAN!: not just meatless on Mondays, or meat- and dairy-free on on November 1st, but vegan 365 days of the year. That’s real, meaningful change, and with minimal effort, too. Omnivores, vegetarians and vegans: we all already shop, cook and eat. To do so in a compassionate, (truly) green manner requires little to no extra action, especially in the long run – and living vegan will only become easier as demand and support for veganism increase.

(More below the fold…)

Veganism is the solution. (VeganMoFo, meet Blog Action Day!)

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

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As you may have already heard, today is the third annual Blog Action Day. Started in 2007, the goal is to create awareness of a single issue through mass participation. Activists online – and in the real world – focus their attention on a social problem: by writing or blogging about the issue; by posting links to Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites; by donating time and money; by discussing the topic amongst friends and family members; and so forth. This year’s topic is climate change; previous areas of concern were the environment and poverty.

While easyVegan is an animal rights blog, this is the third year I’ll be participating. The environment, climate change and yes, even poverty – all can be discussed vis-à-vis our relationship to animals. In fact – and this occurred to me while voting on next year’s topic – pretty much any subject you dream up can be tied back to animal rights, environmental justice and/or veganism. Issues of race, gender, sexuality, class, size, health, nutrition, labor, poverty, xenophobia, species, nature, the environment – you name it – all are interconnected. (So much so that it’s starting to feel arbitrary and capricious to file some posts under “intersections” at the expense of others; ditto: veganism. This entire blog is centered around veganism, yo!)

Some of these connections are more obvious than others; for example, like many of the animal advocates taking part in Blog Action Day, my focus will be on the significant contribution of animal agriculture to climate change. Other intersections are much more subtle; take, for example, PETA’s “Save the Whales” billboard. While clearly sizeist, PETA’s fat-shaming is classist and racist, too. Because PETA fails to address factors linked to class and race (which themselves are inextricably connected) that make it more difficult for disadvantaged populations to consume a healthy, cruelty-free diet, the campaign reinforces class and race privilege and shifts responsibility to the individual, in contrast to systemic factors that set certain people up for failure.

So it feels somewhat serendipitous that the third annual Blog Action Day – for climate change, to boot – falls smack dab in the middle of the third annual Vegan Month of Foods. I guess you could write this off as laziness, but the two blog carnivals (swarms? whatever!) seem a perfect match – so much so that they can share one post between the two of ’em! Action to combat climate change must include veganism – not as an afterthought, not as a quirky personal choice, not one day a week – but as a lifelong commitment by humans (at first living in privileged/developed nations, and perhaps some day globally) to stop viewing other animals as commodities, products to be bought, sold, used and discarded at our convenience.

For we all share the same fate: the water we poison with animal waste; the antibiotics we inject into sick and tortured factory farmed animals; the methane we unleash into the atmosphere; the forests we de-virginize; the so-called “pest” species we eradicate; the ecosystems we decimate – we are all one. We all share one planet, one environment. We all breathe the same air, drink the same water, bask under the rays of the same sun. That which we do to one being, we do to all beings. Once we rationalize and accept our subjugation and exploitation of one class of “lesser” animals, it becomes that much easier to extend the oppression to other classes of animals – humans and nonhumans alike.

Veganism is a diet, yes, but it’s also so much more: a lifestyle, an ethical system, a new way of viewing the world and one’s place within it. A light bulb, if you will.

Before I get full-on radfem, let’s return to the topic at hand: climate change and veganism (or, because I’m all about the macro, the environment and veganism).

Here are five reasons (out of a multitude) why environmentalists should – must – eliminate animals and their secretions from their diets.

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Current on "An Organic Death"

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

Eco-friendly in life, eco-friendly in death. Current reports on “organic” burials in this short, quirky little segment.
 


 

The film is way too long for me to transcribe, but here’s the gist:

Death as part of the natural life cycle has been forgotten in the UK. The biological process of what happens to the body and the environment during burial and cremation is largely unknown. In an ultimate bid to recycle, should we take more responsibility for what we leave behind?

If you’re interested in learning more, I highly recommend The American Way of Death Revisited by Jessica Mitford (2000), a muckraking exposé of the American funeral industry, as well as Lisa Carlson’s Caring for the Dead: Your Final Act of Love, a sort of DIY guide to nontraditional funerals. For more on “green” burial practices, start with the Wiki entry on “Natural Burial,” where you can find external links to a number of associations and websites.

Finally, you may want to consider bypassing the whole funeral spiel altogether, and do something useful with your corpse – like donating it to science.

Of course, there’s also the “Jim shoes” option.

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The Dangerous World of Butterflies: More dangerous for butterflies than for humans.

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

On Wednesday, journalist Peter Laufer appeared on The Daily Show in order to discuss his newest book, The Dangerous World of Butterflies: The Startling Subculture of Criminals, Collectors, and Conservationists. While the material might seem rather lighthearted – especially in comparison to his previous subjects, which include neo-Nazism, illegal immigration and the Iraq war – the illegal butterfly trade is nothing to scoff at, as he explains:
 

 
Naturally, even the so-called “butterfly huggers” (e.g., the North American Butterfly Association, the International Butterfly Breeders Association) view butterflies as a collection or a part of nature or ecology as opposed to the many individual beings that they are. Or, put another way, butterfly conservation is more about environmental protection than animal rights – or even welfare. Even so, The Dangerous World of Butterflies sounds like an interesting read, since butterfly collecting isn’t normally a “hobby” that’s equated with danger (nor are butterflies the first group of animals to come to mind when one thinks of wildlife “poaching”).

During the interview, Jon wonders why one might want to collect butterflies, due to their short life spans of a week or two. According to Wiki, this is a bit of a misconception:

It is a popular belief that butterflies have very short life spans. However, butterflies in their adult stage can live from a week to nearly a year depending on the species. Many species have long larval life stages while others can remain dormant in their pupal or egg stages and thereby survive winters.

Butterflies may have one or more broods per year. The number of generations per year varies from temperate to tropical regions with tropical regions showing a trend towards multivoltinism.

Not that the butterfly’s life span really matters – for, as Laufer explains, it’s not the aim of collectors to house a population of living butterflies. Rather, collectors view butterflies as objects to be exhibited, much like artwork. In this way, the appeal of “owning” the corpse of a butterfly belonging to a protected or endangered species is much like that of owning a stolen piece of art.

As morbid as this attitude is, I’m not sure it’s all that different from that of butterfly conservations, who view their objects of admiration as pieces of a whole, cogs to be manipulated and controlled in order to achieve a desired result. A thousand Schaus Swallowtails, for example, aren’t significant as a thousand living beings, but as representatives of an endangered butterfly species. To conservationists, the beings are all interchangeable members of a species, much as their corpses are interchangeable pieces of valuables and artwork to poachers and collectors.

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Kinship Circle: Friends of Kinship Circle Updates, June 2009

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Kinship Circle – KinshipCircleInfo [at] accessus.net
Date: Sun, Jun 7, 2009 at 9:31 AM
Subject: Pig Massacre, Cat Labs, Black Market Asia Film…[Friends Of Kinship Circle]
To: “3) KINSHIP CIRCLE PRIMARY”

FRIENDS OF KINSHIP CIRCLE, 6/7/09
http://friendsofkinshipcircle.wordpress.com

* KINSHIP CIRCLE DOES NOT WRITE OR RESEARCH THESE ALERTS.
* QUESTIONS? CONTACT ALERT WRITERS. PLEASE DO NOT HIT REPLY.

IN THIS ALERT:

1. Egypt: Mass Pig Slaughter During Swine Flu Panic
2. Stop Texas Tech’s Senseless Torture Of Cats
3. Support New Film On Illegal Trade In Wild Animals
4. Shield Polar Bears From Deadly Global Warming
5. End “Jumps Racing” Carnage For Good
6. Shocking Elephant Abuse Video From Greek Circus
7. Brookfield Zoo Elephant Deserves Safe Haven
8. Check Out Karen Dawn’s Blog
9. 50+ Years In A Lab – Save Elder Chimps From Hell

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Happiness is a ‘pumped and dumped’ gun.

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

First, the bad news: That rider to the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights, introduced by asshat extraordinaire Tom Coburn, which would allow visitors to carry loaded guns in national parks? Passed both the House and Senate – with the help of plenty of Blue Dog Dems, natch.

But on the bright side, Stephen and his fiancé, Sweetness, can take that honeymoon in Yellowstone that they’ve always dreamed of:
 

 
Also, this provides our park rangers an excellent opportunity to earn some extra funds, to prop up the crumbling national park system.
 

 
$20k on AK-47’s, anyone?

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Bob Woodruff on boiling humans.

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

Journalist Bob Woodruff made an appearance on The Daily Show last night in order to promote his latest project, Earth 2100:
 

 

I find it interesting that Stewart and Woodruff open the discussion with a clip of Earth 2100 that invokes the anecdote of the frog submerged in a pot of boiling water: namely, if you put a frog in a pot of water that’s already boiling, she’ll jump right out, having sensed the heat and danger. But if you place her in a pot of cold or lukewarm water and gradually raise the temperature, she’s none the wiser, and will remain in the deathtrap until she becomes frog soup. In this metaphor, humans are the frogs, and the pot is earth.

Which is all fine and good, except according to Snopes, this is a folk tale:

Like a fable, the “boiled frog” anecdote serves its purpose whether or not it’s based upon something that is literally true. But it is literally true? Not according to Dr. Victor Hutchison, a Research Professor Emeritus from the University of Oklahoma’s Department of Zoology, whose research interests include “the physiological ecology of thermal relations of amphibians and reptiles to include determinations of the factors which influence lethal temperatures, critical thermal maxima and minima, thermal selection, and thermoregulatory behavior”:

“The legend is entirely incorrect! The ‘critical thermal maxima’ of many species of frogs have been determined by several investigators. In this procedure, the water in which a frog is submerged is heated gradually at about 2 degrees Fahrenheit per minute. As the temperature of the water is gradually increased, the frog will eventually become more and more active in attempts to escape the heated water. If the container size and opening allow the frog to jump out, it will do so.”

The “boiled frog” legend is a ubiquitous one – one that, given its falsehood, is both speciesist and completely inappropriate for what I assume is supposed to be a scientific documentary. The latter point is a given, but allow me to explain the former: central to the anecdote’s premise is the idea that a frog is so utterly stupid that, given subtle but entirely discernible cues, “it” would remain oblivious to the increasing danger and allow “itself” to be boiled alive. “Let’s not be like those lesser animals!” the tale cautions. Except. In denying climate change and poo-pooing slight increases in average global temperatures as “insignificant,” the human species is actually exhibiting less sense than Dog gave a frog. The frog isn’t earth’s complacent village idiot – we are.

Also of note: Jon alludes to the presumed vivisection which led to the “discovery” that frogs might allow themselves to be boiled alive, given the right circumstances. Both Stewart and Woodruff appear to think that such gruesome experiments probably took place years ago, in the distant past. Except.

“The legend is entirely incorrect! The ‘critical thermal maxima’ of many species of frogs have been determined by several investigators. In this procedure, the water in which a frog is submerged is heated gradually at about 2 degrees Fahrenheit per minute. As the temperature of the water is gradually increased, the frog will eventually become more and more active in attempts to escape the heated water. If the container size and opening allow the frog to jump out, it will do so.”

While I can’t locate citations for these experiments, Wiki suggests that they’re more recent debunkings of “research” performed in the late 1800s (“research” on which the legend is apparently based).

So, yeah, we boil frogs alive – or attempt to, anyway. And that’s not even the worst of it.

Anyhow, back to Earth 2100.

(More below the fold…)

Meow.

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

American Bird Conservancy kicks its May BirdWire off with the following ominous blurb:

ABC Video Highlights Damage to Birds from Trap, Neuter, Release Programs

American Bird Conservancy has produced a new, short video “Trap, Neuter, and Release: Bad for Cats, Disaster for Birds.” Each year, feral and free-roaming cats kill hundreds of millions of our nation’s birds, putting additional pressure on the populations of many species that are in decline.

Trap, Neuter, and Release (TNR) programs catch feral cats, neuter them, and then release them back to their colonies, which are subsequently maintained by volunteers. In theory, cat colonies managed under TNR will diminish over time through attrition, and eventually disappear. In practice this is not the case.

View the video here.

(If you have difficulty viewing the high-definition version, please click here.)

Here’s the video, along with its description on You Tube:

Each year free-roaming and feral cats kill hundreds of million of birds in the United States. One controversial solution to deal with the feral cat problem is trap, neuter and release. However, evidence is growing that this method is not eliminating the cat colonies or the predation of birds and other wildlife. There are other problems created by feral cats as well including threats to human health, and public nuisance issues. For more information see American Bird Conservancy’s website at http://www.abcbirds.org

(If you can’t view the video, you can read more about ABC’s speciesist views vis-à-vis free-roaming cats here.)

Though I’m not sufficiently educated on the issue to offer a counter to ABC’s assertions* (except to say that the birds with which ABC is so concerned have no greater right to life than their predators, the domestic and feral cats; but the guardians of domestic cats should most definitely keep them indoors, both for their own safety, and that of wildlife), I have to wonder whether ABC also advocates a vegetarian or vegan diet for Westerners. After all, meat consumption is a major contributor to climate change – which in turn is “the greatest threat to birds and other wildlife in human history.” (So says the Audubon Society, another organization that, inexplicably, engages in omni indulgence, if not outright apologism.) Most likely, ABC stands to save more birds by persuading their fellow Americans to adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet – or even just eating less of the stuff.

And yet.

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

And also, I’d love to hear Laura “Trap, Neuter and Find a Home” Reynold’s** ideas for rehoming all these feral cats when 1) most are not properly socialized to live indoors, with humans (they’re essentially wild animals, hello!); and 2) while between six and eight million cats and dogs enter U.S. shelters every year, only half leave alive. Seriously, what a stupid, uninformed thing to say.

One final thought: humans constitute a massive threat to wildlife. Unrivaled, perhaps. Remember, we’re the cause of climate change, “the greatest threat to birds and other wildlife in human history.”

….

* Luckily, the HSUS and Alley Cat Allies are. For a rebuttal of ABC’s video, start with their websites.

** Of the Tropical Audubon Society; quoted from an interview in ABC’s video.

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The History Channel makes the case for VHEMT.

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

The History Channel - Life After People

Last January, The History Channel aired Life After People, a one-part documentary that imagined what a world suddenly absent humans might look like:

In the program, scientists and other experts speculate about how the Earth, animal life, and plant life might be like if, suddenly, humanity no longer existed, as well as the effect humanity’s disappearance might have on the artificial aspects of civilization. Speculation is based upon documented results of the sudden removal of humans from a geographical area and the possible results that would occur if humanity discontinues its maintenance of buildings and urban infrastructure.

The documentary features the gradual and post-apocalyptic disintegration of urban civilization in a time span of 10,000 years after humanity suddenly vanished. The hypotheses are depicted using CGI dramatizations of the possible fate of iconic structures and landmarks (i.e. the Empire State Building, the Sears Tower, the Space Needle, the Eiffel Tower, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Hoover Dam).

Having just received Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us for FSMas, I was super-psyched about the documentary (which aired as part of a block of similar programming, such as Last Days on Earth) – and Life After People did not disappoint. The graphics were amazing, and the time projections – from 1 to 10 days after our disappearance, to 1 to 10,000 years post-h. sapiens – were quite impressive. Perhaps most importantly, and much like The World Without Us, Life After People gave me great hope for the future – or rather, for a future without us. Many of humanity’s so-called “greatest achievements” will prove a small match for the forces of nature, particularly once we’re no longer around to beat nature back. Those species which we haven’t yet driven to extinction will be given a second chance, and the earth will regenerate, reclaiming the land and resources we’ve stolen from it.

As I wrote in a review of The World Without Us,

Environmentalists – indeed, any person [with a] modicum of decency – will be happy to know that much of what we’ve done to the Earth, can be quickly undone. With the exception of those species we’ve already managed to eradicate, many endangered and threatened animal species do stand a fighting chance in a world without us. Many of our “greatest accomplishments,” from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Hoover Dam, will eventually crumble without humans around to maintain them. Forests, grasslands, and jungles will recover lost ground, though native species will be forced into competition with exotic ones introduced by humans. Global warming will slow and the ozone layer will regain molecular equilibrium. Our most enduring legacies will be our most unnatural creations: nuclear waste, plastics, and petrochemicals. Hopefully a world without us will evolve microbes to digest the more than one billion pounds of plastic we’ve dumped into the environment since the late ‘50s. […]

Whether it happens tomorrow or in 900 million years – when our Sun enters a red giant phase and begins to expand and contract, thus heating the Earth and evaporating our surface water – we will disappear. In this regard, we’re no better than the great megafauna of the Holocene epoch – or the lowly cockroaches and rodents that congregate in our fragile urban areas. It’s not a question of if we will vanish, but when; perhaps we should make our exit a graceful one, taking no more of our fellow earthlings to the grave than we already have.

Call me a hopeless cynic if you’d like, but it’s worth noting that Life After People was the History Channel’s most-watched program ever, with an estimated 5.4 million viewers. Something resonated.

Anyhow, while flipping around the teevee this morning, I was happily surprised to stumble upon Episode 2 of Life After People: The Series. Apparently last year’s documentary proved so popular that the History Channel commissioned a 10-part mini-series:

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The "right" to guzzle gas.

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

Tom Coburn is fast becoming my pick for Douchebag of the Week.

See, for example, minute 2:30 of this Daily Show clip:
 

 
Coburn’s complaints re: CAFE standards: “What if you want to drive a gas hog? You don’t have the right any longer in this country to spend your money to drive a gas hog?”

Yes! And should I be struck with the desire to toss a barrel of arsenic in my pond, who is the government to tell me I can’t? It’s MY arsenic and MY pond, goddammit, and my grandfather fought and died in WWII so that AMERICA THE FREE would remain FREE from this sort of BIG GOVERNMENT FASCISM.

What’s better/worse, Coburn defends the “right” of individuals to pollute and consume to excess while also working to strip women of the right to bodily autonomy and privacy. He opposes abortion even in cases of rape and supports the death penalty for medical doctors who perform abortions. (Nor does he care to reduce the need for abortion by increasing the availability of and access to contraception.)

In Tom Coburn’s mind, a person has a greater “right” to decide what car to drive, than a person woman* has to decide whether or not she will lend her body and organs to another being – a potential being, which in its early stages exists as a tiny clump of cells – for nine months.

Car purchase > Bodily integrity

Seriously, what a douche.

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Urgent: Tom Coburn & Blue Dog Dems clear the way for loaded guns in national parks!

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Updated, 5/28/09:

Sigh. As feared, the measure made it through the House. The new law won’t be implemented until February 2010, however.

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While the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act of 2009 is a piece of legislation I most definitely support, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) introduced an rider to the bill which would allow visitors to openly carry loaded firearms in our national parks (as well as battlefields, national monuments and historic sites).

The bill passed the Senate yesterday, with an overwhelming majority: 90 yes votes to just 5 no votes. The rider was left intact, with a vote of 67-29.

CNN’s Brianna Keilar explains:
 


 

A number of environmental groups oppose the rider, fearing that it will make national parks less safe for human visitors and non-human inhabitants alike.

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Yes, thank you!

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

(On multiple levels, seeing as this is a PETA ad and yet everyone managed to keep their knickers on.)
 


 
And also: *swoon!*

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Happy Earth Day…I guess.

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

(Just as I began to write this post, my middle furkid Peedee vomited up his breakfast – vegetarian kibble, natch. As is usually the case, he did so in the office, the floor of which is made of this weird textured faux pebble material that’s impossible to clean. In contrast, the rest of my home’s flooring is either concrete or tile, and couldn’t be easier to clean off. He’s got a gift, that one.

2007-06-25 - Morning Playtime - 0023 [original]

Anyhow, Peedee’s timing is fortuitous, as he so aptly manifested my feelings on Earth Day – or rather, on the half-assed lip service engaged in on Earth Day by the bulk of its Western human residents – through such a simple, biological, involuntary act. And yes, I am feeling a tad grumpy today, thanks for asking.)
 


 
As a vegan and environmentalist, it’s really hard to get excited over Earth Day when most of the mainstream environmental groups and media outlets – Earth Day Network, The Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund, Environmental Protection Agency, Tree Hugger, et al – don’t so much as mention vegetarianism and/or veganism as a means to combating climate change, deforestation, the loss of biological diversity, pollution, water scarcity, disease, hunger, poverty, etc.

While these groups encourage “activists” to drive fuel efficient vehicles, switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs, and use cloth bags when shopping, a meat- and/or dairy-free diet hardly ever make the list – and, when they do, it’s usually in a highly diluted form, such as “eat less meat” or “go meatless one day of the week.” Bleh.

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"Faultlines"

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

Photo via kendiala

Lately, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about intersections: been speciesism, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, colonialism, classism and (especially) sexism, and between animal liberation and other social justice movements.

While it’s become clear to me that all forms of prejudice and oppression are interrelated – and indeed, spring from the same well – what I find most vexing is how all these injustices first came about. Were nature and non-human animals subjugated first, followed by women and marginalized men, or were many of these rungs built into the social hierarchy at once? Which came first – organized religion, what with its oh-so-convenient justifications for mistreating the aforementioned “lesser” beings, or were these dogmas created after the fact, as a way of rationalizing and continuing these inequities? Did women as group resist when their brothers began to betray them en masse? Perhaps nature betrayed us as well, by “blessing” us with bodies that, on the one hand, are capable of bringing new life into this world – yet by the same token are vulnerable and ripe for exploitation? Why do men (and not a few women) seek to bully and oppress others? Why can’t we all just get along?

pattrice jones has touched upon this subject in her writings time and again. At the most basic level, she links the rise of pastoralism to that of the patriarchy. Take, for example, this exchange from an interview published in Vegan Voice:

Q. In Australia we have an appalling track record with regards to indigenous rights. How is racism shaped to some degree by animal exploitation.

A. I’m glad you asked about that, because it was my scholarly investigations into the origins of racism that led me to understand how speciesism is related various forms of oppression among humans. Basically, pastoralism (human dominion over animals) and patriarchy (male dominion over women) — which arrived on the historical scene together and cannot be separated — formed the template according to which all subsequent forms of exploitation would be patterned. It’s not an accident that people who are going to be exploited because of their religion, ethnicity, disability, or race are first “dehumanised” — the very act of subjugation is the act of forcing the target group into the category of “animal,” which means both “being without rights” and “object to be used.” You mentioned the Australian record with regard to indigenous peoples. The European conquests Australia offers a case in point concerning the use of the category “animal” to oppress a group of people. Indigenous people were, essentially, treated as just one more species of indigenous animal, to be exploited when possible and exterminated otherwise. The atrocities that were committed against indigenous peoples would be unimaginable were it not for a long history of treating living beings in exactly the same way. That history made it easy to just add indigenous people to the list of beings who may permissibly be enslaved, killed, or used without regard for their own aim and interests. As long as the category “animal” exists, it will be possible for some human animals to push other human animals over the line into it. If we are serious about ending the exploitation of people, then we have to get rid of the idea of a living being without rights, who can be exploited or killed at will. There’s more — much more — but that’s the gist of it.

In her contributions to Terrorists or Freedom Fighters?: Reflections on the Liberation of Animals (2004) and Igniting a Revolution: Voices in Defense of the Earth (2006), jones examines animal liberation in general (and direct action specifically) through a (anarcha~)feminist lens. In both pieces (“Mothers with Monkeywrenches: Feminist Imperatives and the Animal Liberation Front” and “Stomping with the Elephants: Feminist Principles for Feminist Solidarity”), she returns to the theme of intersecting oppressions, and in so doing she conjures up many of the same questions that have been dancing around in my head.*

In particular, this passage from “Stomping with the Elephants” scratches the surface of the problem – ever so slightly, as the issue is enormous – which might be the concept of “property” – ownership, of both the land, and the beings residing upon it:

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338/400

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

Progressive quiz

As always, the quiz includes questions about marginalized human groups – most notably people of color and gays and lesbians, with one roundabout feminist question (“when does life begin?”) – but not a peep about non-human animals. Just a few items re: climate change, pollution and the like.

I wonder how I might have scored on a similar quiz, with one or two animal advocacy questions? Domestic terra-ist, perhaps?

By the by, you can take the quiz here; h/t, Elaine.

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Irreplaceable Alert: YOU can be part of the exhibit!

Monday, March 9th, 2009

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Irreplaceable Wild – info [at] irreplaceablewild.org
Date: Mon, Mar 9, 2009 at 4:43 PM
Subject: Send us your photo

Irreplaceable Alert: YOU can be part of the exhibit!

Take Part in a Photo Petition to Congress

Looking for a new way to get involved and help support wildlife at risk from global warming? Join the Irreplaceable Photo Petition!

We will be turning photos of YOU (caring members of the public) into a collective mosaic of a polar bear, the iconic image of wildlife struggling in a warming world, and presenting it to Congress to bring attention to this important cause.

Your photo can help support at-risk wildlife and be part of the Irreplaceable exhibit!

* Want to participate? Send (email) us your photo here: photomosaic [at] irreplaceablewild.org! (Make sure to include your name and state in the email).

The Irreplaceable: Wildlife in a Warming World campaign is dedicated to educating policymakers and the public about the impacts of global warming on wildlife through the beauty and power of images, combined with the inspiration and knowledge from science, religion, and conservation law.

Over the last year, the exhibit has traveled all over the country, and thousands of you have been inspired by these stunning photographs to take action and get involved.

Now it’s your turn to become part of the exhibit! We need thousands of people to donate their personal photographs to a unique “photo petition,” which will be delivered to our policymakers asking them to take steps to protect wildlife imperiled by global warming. The finished mosaic will be presented in May to Congress in Washington, DC, and displayed on the Irreplaceable website.

Thanks for your support, and your photos!

-Irreplaceable: Wildlife in a Warming World
www.irreplaceablewild.org

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Veg*n Videos: Blinders, Pit Bull Hysteria & the Chicken Justice League

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

My tubes are clogged with veg*n videos, so rather than post each separately, behold this handy dandy video roundup!

Via Mary at Animal Person, Blinders: The Movie is now available online, in its entirety. I’m fairly certain it’s the full documentary, anyway; with a running time of 50 minutes, I haven’t yet had a chance to watch the whole film. Tonight, maybe, while the Mr. records his podcast.
 


 
Mary urges us to watch and circulate the video; please do!

Next up: those charlatans at the Humane Society of the United States. Even as they profit off the publicity that comes from their admirable dogfighting raids and rescues,
 


 
the HSUS actively campaigns to have these rescued dogs murdered. What a warped idea of “rescue,” eh?

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