Friday, March 28, 2014

The Video Procter & Gamble Doesn't Want You to See



Procter & Gamble claims to be a "proud sponsor of moms." But it's a lie. The company buys palm oil from companies that are destroying Indonesia's rainforest and the habitat of the world's last orangutans. Because of P&G and its palm oil suppliers, many orangutan babies no longer have a mother. Watch the two-minute video above to see the remarkable extent of the habitat destruction that has taken place in Indonesia.

If you have products that contain unsustainably harvested palm oil, such as Tide, Pantene, Oral-B, Ariel, Gillette and Head & Shoulders, then you are supporting an unsustainable industry that not only contributes greatly to carbon dioxide emissions but to the loss of several species, including endangered orangutans and Sumatran tigers.

According to the Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP), at least 1,500 orangutans were clubbed to death by palm oil plantation workers in 2006 alone. The United Nations warns that no wild orangutans will remain outside of protected areas by 2020 at the current rate of deforestation.

About 90 percent (2011) of the world’s palm oil is currently being produced in Malaysia and Indonesia. Indonesia’s oil palm plantations alone already cover nine million hectares, an area the size of the state of Maine. 26 million hectares are projected for 2025. The conversion of a single hectare of Indonesian peatland rainforest releases up to 6,000 tons of CO2.

Thanks to activism by individual consumers and NGOs like Greenpeace, Wilmar, the world’s biggest palm oil trader committed to a "No Deforestation" policy in December 2013. And in the last few weeks alone, Colgate, Mars and the Belgian retail giant Delhaize Group have all committed to going forest friendly. It is not necessary to decimate critical habitat to farm palm oil. But P&G, Unilever and NestlĂ© are the largest individual consumers of unsustainable palm oil.

What can you do? When you're shopping, be sure to check the ingredient labels to avoid buying products that contain palm oil. Unfortunately, in some countries, companies are not legally bound to list palm oil as "palm oil" and can merely list it as "vegetable oil" or another chemical term that masks the fact that it is palm oil. Check out this guide, How to Stop Buying Palm Oil and Help Save the Orangutans, to make better choices at the cash register.

And please take a brief moment and join the nearly 372,000 concerned consumers who have told P&G to stand by their commitment to being a "proud sponsor of moms" and stop using killer palm oil in their products: http://dirtysecret.greenpeace.org.

Get all the dirty facts about palm oil: http://www.rainforest-rescue.org/topics/palm-oil.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Way Too Many People

From the Center for Biological Diversity:

There are more than 7 billion people on the planet, and we're adding 227,000 more every day. The toll on wildlife is impossible to miss. Most biologists agree that we're in the midst of the Earth's sixth mass extinction event. This time, it's because of our unsustainable human population growth and overconsumption. 

We need to address these issues before it's too late. We can reduce our own population and consumption to an ecologically sustainable level in ways that promote human rights; decrease poverty and overcrowding; raise our standard of living; and allow plants, animals and ecosystems to thrive. 

It’s time to talk about our unsustainable population growth, overconsumption and the wildlife extinction crisis.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Alan Watts - The Beauty of Nothingness



h/t: logolopolis

Monday, February 17, 2014

Gary L. Francione: "The supposed line between meat and everything else is just a fantasy"



Sentience is the ability to feel, perceive or to experience subjectivity. Because sentience is necessary for the ability to suffer, it is held to entail certain rights and is central to the philosophy of animal rights.

The following text is from an article by Gary L. Francione, a pioneer of the abolitionist theory of animal rights and Distinguished Professor of Law and Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Scholar of Law and Philosophy at Rutgers University:

"There are some animal advocates who say that to maintain that veganism is the moral baseline is objectionable because it is 'judgmental,' or constitutes a judgment that veganism is morally preferable to vegetarianism and a condemnation that vegetarians (or other consumers of animal products) are 'bad' people. Yes to the first part; no to the second. There is no coherent distinction between flesh and other animal products. They are all the same and we cannot justify consuming any of them. To say that you do not eat flesh but that you eat dairy or eggs or whatever, or that you don’t wear fur but you wear leather or wool, is like saying that you eat the meat from spotted cows but not from brown cows; it makers no sense whatsoever. The supposed 'line' between meat and everything else is just a fantasy–an arbitrary distinction that is made to enable some exploitation to be segmented off and regarded as 'better' or as morally acceptable. This is not a condemnation of vegetarians who are not vegans; it is, however, a plea to those people to recognize their actions do not conform with a moral principle that they claim to accept and that all animal products are the result of imposing suffering and death on sentient beings. It is not a matter of judging individuals; it is, however, a matter of judging practices and institutions. And that is a necessary component of ethical living."






Saturday, December 28, 2013

Empathy Does Not Discriminate



"As Abraham Lincoln said, 'Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.' We have complete power over other animals. Our choices decide whether they live or die; whether they are stolen from their homes and family; whether they are caged; and whether they are denied everything that makes their life worth living. We exploit other sentient individuals for our pleasures of food, entertainment, and fashion. Our choices to consume meat, dairy or eggs, to go to zoos or Sea World, and to buy leather or fur, all require us to shut off our empathy and buy in, literally and figuratively, to the exploitation of other sentient beings." -- Beth Levine, psychotherapist, vegan

Read Beth's entire article, "Empathy Does Not Discriminate," at Free From Harm.

Image: Animal Rescue Crusade


Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Compassionate Celebration



“Here at Farm Sanctuary, we live with turkeys, so we know they are interesting and intelligent and have complex emotional lives like dogs, cats and other animals," said Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, where each Thanksgiving, volunteers serve a grand feast to rescued turkeys.

More than 45 million turkeys are slaughtered every Thanksgiving. The natural lifespan of turkeys is around 10 years. But on factory farms, turkeys are slaughtered when they are just five-month-old babies.

Domesticated turkeys from factory farms weigh twice as much as their wild brethren, because they are fed growth hormones to become unnaturally fattened—and are kept in close confinement so they have no room to exercise, let alone engage in any natural turkey behavior. All factory farmed turkeys live their entire lives inside dark and filthy sheds, they have no fresh air, no sunlight and no grass to walk on. Many of these unfortunate animals cannot even stand up due to their excessive weight. And those that can have broken or deformed legs from their excessive weight.

"If I had to sum up my experience with the wild turkey, the most profound thing that I discovered is that they are much more complex in their intelligence, their behavior and their problem-solving ability than I ever imagined," said Joe Hutto, a naturalist whose experience raising wild turkey chicks in the Florida Flatwoods was the subject of the award-winning PBS documentary My Life as a Turkey.


"They are sentient beings. By every measure and every definition of intelligence, in their environment and in their world they are without questions much more intelligent than I was."[Hutto was quoted in The Inner World of Farm Animals, by Amy Hatkoff.]

Please take a moment to join over 5,000 caring and concerned individuals who have signed a petition supporting the humane treatment of turkeys at Hargin Farms, where video footage has revealed horrific animal cruelty—including instances of putting turkeys through a grinding machine while they are still alive. This is obviously no way to treat a sentient, intelligent and emotional animal.

As the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer wrote in his major work on ethics from 1839, On the Basis of Morality, "The assumption that animals are without rights, and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance, is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion in the only guarantee of morality."


For a truly compassionate season of giving and thanks, instead of eating a turkey, consider adopting one from Farm Sanctuary, which was founded in 1986 to fight the abuses of factory farming and encourage a new awareness and understanding about farm animals.

Ready to host a cruelty-free holiday celebration? Visit Eat Drink Better and Buzzfeed for tips and recipes.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Photographer's Excellent Adventure: Landfill Dogs


Here's a simple and beautiful idea by one photographer trying to save death row shelter dogs—using her camera and car.

Every week, Shannon Johnstone, who teaches photography at Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina, goes to her local animal shelter to take a picture of a dog who needs a home. The dogs she photographs have been homeless for at least two weeks and will be euthanized if they can't find a forever home.

But Johnstone doesn't just take photos while they're stuck in their cages at the shelter. She takes the dogs for a ride in her car and brings them to the local landfill. That's where she takes gorgeous outdoor portraits of them while they romp around, enjoying nature during a few precious moments of freedom.



"My goal is to offer an individual face to the souls that are lost because of animal overpopulation, and give these animals one last chance," her artist statement reads. "This project will continue for one year, so that we can see the landscape change while the constant stream of dogs remains the same.

"However, this landscape offers a metaphor of hope. It is a place of trash that has been transformed into a place of beauty. I hope the viewer also sees the beauty in these homeless, unloved creatures."



See more of Johnstone's photos from her "Landfill Dogs" series and read the full story at Huffington Post.

Want to save a dog's life by making him or her part of your forever family? Visit the ASPCA website for a nationwide database of dogs looking for loving homes.

Can't adopt but want to do something—and have a panache for taking photographs? Take a cue from Johnstone. Grab your camera, spend some time with a few shelter dogs from your local shelter and share your photos with the world. Who knows, you might help one lucky pooch find a forever home.

Friday, November 15, 2013

How Cool Is James Cromwell?


Actor James Cromwell is one of the coolest cats in Hollywood. 

The Academy and Emmy Award nominee became a vegetarian in 1974 after seeing a stockyard in Texas and experiencing the "smell, terror and anxiety." He became an ethical vegan while playing the character of Farmer Hoggett in the movie Babe in 1995. He frequently speaks out on issues regarding animal cruelty for PETA, largely the treatment of pigs. In February 2013, Cromwell was arrested for interrupting a University of Wisconsin Board of Regents meeting while showing a graphic photo of a cat to protest alleged mistreatment of animals on campus. [Wikipedia]


Now the star of the television series American Horror Story is fighting to end a real-life American horror story: The horror of being a pig in the American food system.

If you do one compassionate thing for animals today, this is it. Join more than 250,000 caring individuals who want Walmart to get out of the business torturing pigs. Sign James Cromwell's petition on Change.org. Together, we can make the lives of these intelligent and emotional animals better.





Dear compassionate consumer:

My name is James Cromwell, but you probably recognize me as Farmer Hoggett from the movie Babe. It wasn't until I spent a lot of time on set working with pigs that I realized how similar they are to our cat and dog companion animals -- they're loving, sensitive, and curious creatures. 

When I heard that Walmart sells pork from suppliers that keep pigs in tiny, cramped gestation crates, I was horrified. Undercover investigations in Walmart supplier factories have revealed sickening abuse of these animals -- from slamming baby piglets on the ground to beating pregnant sows.  

Gestation crates are so appalling that companies like McDonalds, Burger King, Safeway and Costco have either stopped using them or have committed to phase them out soon. But Walmart continues to stand by their suppliers' violent practices.


Walmart likes to tout its low prices, but when it comes to the pork sold in its stores, animals are left to pay the highest price of all -- a life of misery, torture, and deprivation. Gestation crates are so small that pigs, often pregnant with litters, can't turn around, lie down, or move, and are driven insane.

Gestation crates are considered so cruel that they are already outlawed in nine U.S. states and the European Union. 

Animal welfare experts worldwide agree that these crates are inherently inhumane and should be phased out.

Nearly every major food provider in the country has stopped or committed to stop using gestation crates, including similar companies and brands like Kroger and Kmart -- even Walmart Canada. Walmart continues to support this blatant animal abuse by selling pork from suppliers who confine pigs in tiny crates, but I believe we can put a stop to that. 

Public outcry has effectively pushed almost every major food company or grocery chain in the U.S. to stop sourcing pork products from suppliers that keep pigs in gestation crates. A Change.org campaign even convinced Au Bon Pain to do so, and with your help, Walmart will soon follow suit. 


Thank you. 

James Cromwell


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Philippines: Thousands Feared Dead in the Wake of Haiyan

A man stands atop debris as residents salvage belongings from the ruins of their houses after Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city in central Philippines. Photo by Erik de Castro / Reuters

[The following is excerpted from an email from Raymond C. Offenheiser, the president of Oxfam America.]

I'm sure you've seen the news—thousands of people may be dead in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the islands on Friday.

Oxfam teams are on the ground assessing the extent of the damage and are ready to deploy water and sanitation materials to those affected.

Typhoon Haiyan, also known as Yolanda, is quite possibly the most powerful storm to ever hit land. Communication lines between some provinces are cut and many areas are experiencing total blackout. Our teams are reporting urgent needs of food, clean water, medicine and shelter.

The coming hours and days will be critical. In an emergency like this, every moment counts.

Oxfam staff are now on the ground in Northern Cebu, Northern and Eastern Samar and Leyte in the Eastern Visayas region of the country. People in some areas still recovering from a massive 7.2-magnitude earthquake just last month. Now, in Cebu local officials are reporting that virtually every home and building has sustained damage. Even the town hall—which had served as the evacuation center—needed to be evacuated.

We just heard from Tata Abella-Bolo, a member of our team, "The scene is one of utter devastation. There is no electricity in the entire area and no water. Local emergency food stocks have been distributed but stocks are dwindling. The immediate need is water."

Children are begging for help, holding up signs that read, "Help. We need water, food and medicine."

Even as we assess the damage in the Philippines, Typhoon Haiyan is headed to Vietnam, where massive evacuation efforts are under way. Flash floods, land slides and storm surges are all major risks.

SUPPORT THE RELIEF EFFORT





Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Open Letter to Macy's Regarding SeaWorld Float in Thanksgiving Day Parade

[Note: Please feel free to use any or all of the following text to write your own email to Macy's. Email addresses at the bottom of this post. You can also sign petitions at https://secure.peta.org/site/Advocacy?id=5112 and http://www.thepetitionsite.com/950/909/246/boycott-sea-worlds-macys-thanksgiving-day-parade-float/]

October 16, 2013

Jim Sluzewski
Senior Vice President
Corporate Communications & External Affairs

cc: Robin Reibel, Macy’s Group Vice President, Media Relations, Cause Marketing & Visitor's Center; Holly Thomas, Vice President, Macy’s National; Julie Strider, Director, Macy's National; Orlando Veras, Media Relations Manager, (Events and Special Campaigns), Macy's National; Alison Kmiotek, Media Relations Manager, Macy's National; Elina Kazan, Vice President, Macy’s New York City Office; Deanna Williams, Director, Macy’s New York City Office; Alyssa Bendetson, Media Relations Manager, Macy’s New York City Office; Marissa Nicolaescu, Media Relations Manager, Macy's New York Office; Oceanic Preservation Society Press Office; PETA Street Team; SaveLolita.org; Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS)

Dear Jim Sluzewski:

As a longtime Macy’s customer, corporate social responsibility journalist and animal welfare activist, I was dismayed to learn that Macy’s is planning to include a SeaWorld float in this year’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

SeaWorld enslaves and confines animals to small tanks at marine parks around the country, where they are forced to perform unnecessary tricks for "entertainment." Animals imprisoned at SeaWorld often die prematurely from stress and other captivity-related causes. More than a dozen beluga whales, for example, have died prematurely at SeaWorld San Antonio since 1993. Beluga whales have a natural life expectancy of 35 to 50 years in the wild, but in captivity, they are subjected to a life of deprivation and isolation in tiny concrete tanks.[1]

Orcas "are highly social animals, that tend to live in cohesive groups, so it's quite an artificial environment to capture them and put them in a small area," said wild orca expert Dr. Andrew Foote of the University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom.[2] Other cetaceans, like dolphins and whales, are also highly intelligent and live in complex social groups. It is a travesty that these incredibly intelligent, sensitive and family-oriented animals have been kidnapped and imprisoned by SeaWorld.

Thanks to the film Blackfish and PETA’s lawsuit against SeaWorld for violating orcas’ right to freedom under the 13th Amendment, people are increasingly aware of the dire consequences of captivity at SeaWorld, and thus, attendance is down.

That's not to mention the recent victory in which the Georgia Aquarium’s application to import wild-caught belugas and send many of them off to SeaWorld was denied, all thanks to the thousands of concerned citizens who signed a petition as well as the actress Kim Basinger, who submitted a strong appeal on PETA's behalf.

Don't let Macy's fall on the wrong side of this growing debate. Don’t let Macy’s tell millions of Americans that the cruelty of marine mammal captivity is an acceptable form of family entertainment. Don’t let Macy’s allow the SeaWorld float to be a part of the Thanksgiving Day Parade. If it will be included in the parade, I will join the growing number of anti-SeaWorld activists in protest.

The main purpose of Thanksgiving is remembering what we are thankful for and appreciating what we have. I appreciate and am thankful for the beauty of the natural world, and all of its creatures living peacefully as nature intended. I am not thankful for SeaWorld, which has been a destroyer of nature and killer of innocent animals. A SeaWorld float in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade would be a serious affront to the spirit of Thanksgiving.

According to Macy's online statement regarding corporate social responsibility:

"We believe that contributing to a more sustainable environment is good business practice and the right thing to do for future generations. As a leading national retailer with a significant workforce, we have the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in improving the environment...we will be as aggressive as possible in changing for the better to preserve...wildlife."[3]

Supporting the unethical message of SeaWorld is clearly not in line with Macy's philosophy. Partnering with SeaWorld is clearly not in the long-term interest of Macy’s.

It is my sincere hope that you will take the appropriate measures to prevent the SeaWorld float from being a part of the Thanksgiving Day Parade. If it does take part, Macy’s will have lost my patronage, and I will urge all of my friends and family to stop shopping at Macy’s as well. I will also write an article about your decision to include the SeaWorld float and how it is at odds with Macy's stated desire to do "the right thing...for future generations." The captivity of marine mammals is not the right thing to do and Macy's should steer very clear from organizations like SeaWorld.

Thank you for your attention. I look forward to hearing your reply regarding this important ethical matter.

Sincerely,

Reynard Loki
New York, NY

________________________________

[1] http://www.seaworldofhurt.com/case-against-seaworld.aspx#beluga
[2] http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_8536000/8536184.stm
[3] http://macysinc.com/social-responsibility/sustainability-five-point-plan

NOTE: Please send your own email to Macy's. The emails of the recipients of the above letter:

To: jim.sluzewski@macys.com
Cc: press@opsociety.org, robin.reibel@macys.com, holly.Thomas@macys.com, julie.strider@macys.com, orlando.veras@macys.com, Alison.kmiotek@macys.com, StreetTeam@peta2.com, contact@wdcs.org, alyssa.bendetson@macys.com, Marissa.Nicolaescu@macys.com, info@orcanetwork.org

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tony Makris Is an Evil Coward


Dear NBC,

In a recent NBC Sports episode of the NRA-sponsored "Under Wild Skies" series, a "brave" hunter and PR strategist named Tony Makris (also an NRA lobbyist) hires a guide in Botswana to kill an elephant for its ivory.

Makris proceeds to shoot the animal in the face numerous times, then chuckle while it issues its dying groans. He expresses pride in bringing the coveted ivory back to camp.

This has nothing to do with "sport" of any kind. Cancel this show and end all association with the coward Tony Makris. Instead, make a contribution to an organization that works for conservation of African wildlife. NBC: You are as complicit as Makris in the capricious death of this elephant. 

Sincerely,
The Undersigned

Take a moment today and join the more than 5,600 people who have signed this petition to reach the goal of 10,000 signatures.

Sign now: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/519/765/555/tell-nbc-sports-to-cancel-under-wild-skies

Monday, July 1, 2013

Please Don't Turn Away: A Poem About the Will to Live


“NEXT,” by Jackson Thilenius (60″x48″ oil on canvas)

[The above image and following poem are reprinted with permission from Robert Grillo, founder, Free From Harm.]

Please Don’t Turn Away: A Poem About the Will to Live

By Beth Levine

I am watching a movie about a man
Who finds out he’s going to die
And after he tells his wife
He cries out

I don’t want to die
I don’t want to die
I don’t want to die

His knees give way
And the man slides to the floor
Back supported by the bed

I don’t want to die
I don’t want to die
I don’t want to die

Tears drip from his chin
And he rocks from
Side to side

I don’t want to die
I don’t want to die
I don’t want to die

The gut-wrenching
Anguish and fear and despair
Of the unchangeable
Inescapable
End
Fill this moment

I don’t want to die
I don’t want to die
I don’t want to die

I know this feeling
I know this feeling when I see the pig scrambling
And hear him squealing
Trying to get away from the mechanical arm
That brings him to his slaughter
I know this feeling when I see the cow about to be bolted
Her eyes frantic
Trying to climb over the slick walls
That tower over all four sides of her
And hear her loud breaths filled with fear
I know this feeling when I see chicken salad, fish sticks, cow’s milk, a turkey sandwich
Hamburgers, cheese, bacon, eggs

I don’t want to die
I don’t want to die
I don’t want to die

Their cries slice through my heart
Filling me with desperation
To make the violence
The pain, the blood, the terror
The needless death
Stop

I can’t do it without you

Please
Don’t turn away from your compassion
Will you let yourself hear their cries?

__

About Beth Levine

Beth Levine is working at using writing and collage to express some of her experiences of being vegan. She welcomes feedback so she can continue to improve her craft and inspiring others to choose the vegan ethic. Ms. Levine is a psychotherapist and works with individuals and couples. She is a Certified Emotionally Focused Couple Therapist and Supervisor. Click here to read Beth's other posts on Free From Harm.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Forgotten Mothers

Remembering all the other mothers

On Mother’s Day, countless people will be gathering to celebrate their mothers. But there are millions of unloved and forgotten mothers out there who are abused, killed, tortured and have their children taken away from them every day.

They are mother sows, kept in tiny, filthy gestation crates while they give birth and feed their piglets. As PETA notes, "These intelligent social animals are deprived of natural sunlight and the feel of grass beneath their feet, until the day when they are shoved and prodded onto a truck bound for the slaughterhouse."

They are mother bears kidnapped and tortured to get extract their bile for traditional Chinese medicine, one of whom reportedly made the heartbreaking decision to mercy-kill their own child and then commit suicide to avoid years of torture on a bear bile farm.

They are mother cows, who cry for their calves when they are taken away, just hours after birth.

"Calves are taken from their mothers within 12-24 hours of birth. If nature was allowed to take its course—calves would suckle from their mother for several months, even up to a year," reports Animals Australia. "Mother cows, like most mammals have a strong maternal bond. One study found that this bond was formed in as little as five minutes. When calves are removed mother cows will frantically bellow for the offspring that they will never see again. Separated calves appear frightened and bewildered. Regardless of how this situation is handled this separation causes enormous stress for both the cow and calf."

There are so many animal moms who care about their children with the same intensity that human moms are capable of, but who never see their children and live lives of misery at the hands of their human captors. For them, Mother's Day is just another day of pain and sadness.

As millions of people gather for brunch or dinner to celebrate Mother's Day, how many will consider just how those eggs, that milk, that bacon, that burger, that chicken got to their plate as they sit and smile and toast their own mother?

Today, take a moment to think about all the forgotten animal mothers. Their sacrifice is much greater than most of us realize.

Want to do really do something for the forgotten mothers? You can save about 100 animals a year simply by switching to a vegetarian diet.

Considering the mounting scientific evidence about the health risks of eating meat, one of the animals you save might just be you. Click here to get your free vegetarian starter kit from PETA.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Paalam, Katala?

Having lost most of its natural habitat to mining, logging, agriculture and poaching for the pet industry, the critically endangered Philippine cockatoo is now facing a threat that could push it to extinction: a coal-fired power plant

Just thirty years ago, the Philippine cockatoo (Cacatua haematuropygia), locally known as "katala," lived on nearly all of the more than 7,000 islands in the Philippines. But today, this beautiful and distinctive bird is near the top of the IUCN Red List of threatened species, with only around a thousand still living in the wild. The largest remaining wild population—just around 250 individuals—lives on Rasa, a small coral island separated from the much larger island of Palawan by a strait only 500 meters wide.

And now this tiny and struggling population is facing a new and massive man-made threat: a coal-fired power plant that would block it's only route to its feeding grounds on Palawan.

“Policymakers are trying to give Palawan a green image and promote the island as the last ecological frontier of the Philippines," said Peter Widmann, vice president of the Katala Foundation, a non-profit active named after the Philippine cockatoo and active in protecting and conserving the nation's threatened endemic wildlife, based in Puerto Princesa City. "Yet approving a coal power plant in such a highly sensitive area and putting the survival of an entire species at risk is a crass contradiction of those efforts."

"The imposing birds have numerous enemies: logging, agriculture and mining are destroying their habitats, and the illegal animal trade poses a grave threat to their survival. Poachers plunder almost every unguarded nest in the wild and sell the young birds as decorative pets," according to Rainforest Rescue, which adds, "The decision by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development ignores the submitted environmental studies and the will of the municipal government, and of the residents of Barangay Panacan."

Tell Governor Abraham Kahlil Mitra, the chairman of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, to halt plans to build a coal-fired power plant that would block the birds' route to their feeding grounds on Palawan.

The Tagalog word for "farewell" is "paalam." Let's hope that we will not yet have to say a final one for the endangered katala.

Click here to add your name to this important campaign.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Missing Link: Pope Francis and Animals


Pope Francis is named after the patron saint of animals, an important fact that hasn't received any media coverage

Michael Mountain, one of the founders of the Best Friends Animal Society, the largest sanctuary for companion animals, explores a glaring omission in the media frenzy surrounding Pope Francis and why he chose to align himself with St. Francis of Assisi. In an article written for Earth in Transition, Mountain notes that the media has barely touched on the importance of the fact that St. Francis is the patron saint of animals. He writes:

"With all the talk in the media about the new pope's adoption of the name Francis, after the patron saint of animals, the only mention I've heard of anything to do with animals (other than the human kind) was in a few humorous reports about how a seagull was seen perching on the "Holy Smokes" chimney that announced the election of the new pope.

Beyond that, nothing.

Nothing from the religious commentators; nothing from the news media. One of the most famous and popular saints in history, known primarily for his concern for the animals. And no mention of the animals at all. Nor any mention of St. Francis in relation to them.

Nothing.

We have a new pope, round-the-clock news coverage, reporters and commentators all over the world talking about St. Francis of Assisi, and not a word about whether this might relate to how we live our lives in relation to our fellow animals.

What does this complete silence say about us?

Very simply that we humans are entirely self-obsessed."

He concludes:

"If there is to be any redemption for humankind, it lies not in thinking about ourselves, our salvation, our place in heaven and our endless reflection on me, myself and I; but rather to consider what we can do to make peace, here on Earth, with our fellow animals and the world of nature; from which we work so hard and so helplessly to separate ourselves."

It remains to be seen if the respect for all animals that St. Francis had will also be a part of Pope Francis's reign.

I often return to Gandhi's oft-quoted line about animals: "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way in which its animals are treated." This connection between the treatment of animals and the morality of men was also made by St. Francis, who said, "If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men."

Wouldn't it be nice if Pope Francis were to bring this message of compassion for all creatures to the 1.1 billion Catholics around the world?

In terms of Christianity, taking care of and showing compassion to all animals predates St. Francis. Indeed, this idea goes all the way back to the very beginning, as eating meat was not a part of Biblical creation, but rather part of the curse: Adam, Eve and all of God's animals were created to eat only vegetation (Genesis 1:29-30). In fact, nothing died prior to the spiritual fall of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:19 and 3:21).

image: This textile panel of St. Francis with animals was created by residents and members of St. Francis Church in Byrness, Northumberland, England, in October 2009. It features native birds and wildlife along with pets from the town. (source: VARC)