Reluctant Yulin Dog Meat Festival Aftermath Post

I wanted to avoid writing about the Yulin dog meat festival, as social media has been buzzing this last few weeks with haunting images of dogs and cats crammed into tiny wire cages, on their way to an inhumane slaughter. I don’t need to argue that the boiling, beating and murder of stolen beloved pets is morally wrong – that’s a given. But this is a good time to point out that the mass production of billions of chickens, pigs and cows, all kept in unnatural and unpleasant conditions, is not too far removed from the perverse Yulin dog eating festival.

Dog eating is dying out in China, despite the popularity of the new Yulin festival. Attitudes to animals are changing in China, and the festival attracted animal rights activists, who went to rescue as many dogs as they could afford to.

Yang Xiaoyun, retired school teacher, paid about 7,000 yuan ($1,100; £710) to save 100 dogs on Saturday.

We’ve all seen farmyard animals packed tightly into trucks on their way to slaughter in the UK – a more humane slaughter, perhaps, than the hideous fate that awaited the stolen Chinese pets this month. Pigs are highly intelligent creatures and they, like domestic pets, do not deserve to suffer a horrific journey to the abattoir. You might not agree that animals shouldn’t be eaten, but it is undeniable that sentient creatures deserve freedom from the kind of daily torture that occurs on a massive scale globally every day.

I’m not going to make the case that current animal husbandry is unnecessary cruel. There have been plenty of investigations – you can Google it yourself. I’d just like to put the grotesque nature of the Yulin dog festival into perspective: 10,000 dogs and cats once a year. 56 billion farmed animals each year.

Ricky, a lucky dog rescued by Dr Peter Li of the Humane Society International.

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The Sixth Mass Extinction Event Is Definitely Underway

According to new international research conducted by the Stanford Woods Institute, human activity has prompted the beginning of the Sixth Mass Extinction event recorded on earth, threatening to wipe out hundreds of thousands of species, including humans.

Professor Paul Ehrlich offers what he claims to be a “conservative estimate” of species loss due to human behaviour, which he puts at 100 times faster than the background rate of extinction (a base rate of extinction if humans were absent.) The team deliberately underestimated their estimates because recording species loss is notoriously difficult, yet their statistics are all the more shocking for it.

A devastating mixture of habitat loss, climate change, pollution and overpopulation has led to an environmental disaster that scientists refer to as the Holocene extinction. It is expected that this extinction event will be as severe as the End-Crustaceous Mass Extinction, which wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. That was, of course, due to an asteroid collision; this mass extinction is entirely due to human behaviour.

International Union for Conservation of Nature chart showing species loss over the last century.

And why should we care that species are dying out while humans industrialize the planet? We need biodiversity: it pollinates and irrigates our crops, purifies our water, and produces our food. We are entirely dependent on biodiversity.

UK Fracking Threat Resurfaces

Lancashire County Council is set to decide whether to permit fracking tests on several sites on the Fylde coast. If Cuadrilla are successful in their bid and are able to carry out their tests in Lancashire, they may be able to begin a new application for commercial fracking in the UK.

Fracking has been in the news frequently in the last couple of years, but what exactly is it and why could it be disastrous for the environment? Otherwise known as hydraulic fracturing, fracking is:

the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well.

Why is it controversial?

– Fracking requires a huge amount of water that must be transported to the drilling companies’ remote sites.

– Fracking can cause earthquakes. Several minor tremors in Blackpool in 2011 have been linked to fracking tests.

– Potentially harmful and carcinogenic chemicals could escape around the fracking sites.

– Shale gas is not a renewable or environmentally safe form of energy provision.

The Centre for Biological Diversity have published a more extensive list of some of the observed effects of fracking on wildlife and the environment, based on studies conducted to observe the impact of fracking in 6 US states, where fracking has revolutionized the energy industry.

Fracking has yet to catch on fully in the UK, as generally people don’t want it; the majority of MEPs voted for a moratorium on fracking in a symbolic vote that could see a future ban. The public outcry against fracking is a largely based on the lack of knowledge regarding the environmental impact of shale gas wells, and this report about a study demonstrated that there has been very little investigation into the effects, so there is very little data to draw on when considering the impact. The implication being that if there is no data to condemn fracking, it can be deemed safe. However, the 24/7 traffic, the partitioning of habitats, the leakage of chemicals into the water system, and many other factors, are quite obviously going to have an effect, and it’s probably a bad one.

Protests against fracking sites.

Random Acts of Wildness Challenge

I’m taking part in the Wildlife Trusts June challenge: 30 Days Wild.

Hoping the weather will improve to make things easier. Some photography in the garden was all I could manage in the first week, but I took a trip to RSPB Minsmere in Suffolk at the weekend, which was fantastic. Here’s a few photos of birds and other sightings.

(I had a fleeting glimpse of my first bittern but no photos to prove it.)

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DSCF4587 Avocet, the symbol of the RSPB and a renowned conservation success.

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A swallow on the sluice.

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The Springwatch studio.

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Cameras on spineless Si and frisky Phil.



‘Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume With Care.’ – Happy World Environment Day!

Today is the United Nations’ ‘World Environment Day‘ 2015 project:

the WED theme this year is “Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care.” The well-being of humanity, the environment, and the functioning of the economy, ultimately depend upon the responsible management of the planet’s natural resources. And yet, evidence is building that people are consuming far more natural resources than what the planet can sustainably provide.

Every June 5 environmental activists and organisations get together to promote their shared goals of better environmental management, with the view to limiting the damaging effects of climate change, reducing the pressure on diminishing natural resources, and encouraging the transition to a more sustainable lifestyle.

Big business could generally do with paying close attention to World Environment Day, but the UN’s programme aims to encourage individuals to think about and make changes to the way we eat, shop, consume and travel.

By 2050, it is expected that the human population of the earth will reach a staggering 9.6 billion and, if we continue to consume and produce in the way we have been, we will need three planets to sustain such a population.

According to the WED website,

less than 3% of the world’s water is fresh (drinkable), of which 2.5% is frozen in the Antarctica, Arctic and glaciers. Humanity must therefore rely on 0.5% for all of man’s ecosystem’s and fresh water needs.

If that statistic isn’t shocking, try this one:

1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted every year while almost 1 billion people go undernourished and another 1 billion hungry.

It is self-evident that the earth has a finite supply of resources, which together we are exploiting at a rate far faster than nature can recycle.

You can find out more about WED’s aims here.

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