39. If You Love Something… (01/2011)
Human beings are currently causing the greatest mass extinction of species since the disappearance of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. If present trends continue one half of all the species of life on earth will be extinct in less than 100 years as a result of habitat destruction, pollution, and climate change.
The human population is escalating exponentially. The domestic animal species we raise for our pleasure as food, clothing, pets, and for use in leisure activities and vivisection, are also proliferating chaotically with a corresponding range of destructive effects to the environment, and ourselves, and not least to the animals themselves.
The greatest single contributor to climate change is the methane gas produced by livestock, particularly in bovine feedlots. Also causing environmental devastation are the huge tracts of rainforest that are being cleared to grow soya or maize fodder, the pollution from the transport of this food and of the cattle, excessive water consumption, and overgrazing where this is still applicable. These are serious consequences from the mass production of unnecessary luxury items on our menu.
The hormone and toxin saturated excrement from vast pig and chicken houses has a toxic effect on the land and water table directly threatening wildlife and human health besides the detrimental effects of consuming the flesh of such creatures.
Natural, and synthetic fibers that are not of animal origin are widely available. They are cheaper, warmer, less allergenic, and easier to work with and to wear. By choosing clothing or bedding that does not involve cruelty to animals, consumers are able to consciously withdraw support for animal exploitation, thereby reducing demand for leather, wool, fur coats, feather boas and duvets. Even for something as innocuous as wool, sheep are shorn in the middle of winter leaving them exposed and vulnerable to the elements that often kill them.
A choice is made to condone laboratory animal testing when buying products where the label does not state ‘Not tested on animals’. By omitting this clause the company is actually saying ‘We test our products on innocent animals causing pain and suffering because we can.’ Alternatives now exist that make the practice of testing on animals obsolete.
The image, the concept, the sound, the thrill of wild horses running free is something we capture by breaking them in, keeping them locked up to release and perform menial feats under control of our ego and power.
These days it seems strange and barbaric that our ancestors actually killed wild animals for fun. People used to get pleasure from shooting and destroying beautiful, defenseless creatures. In a civilized, peace loving society the notion of gratuitous violence of this nature is abhorrent.
The IFAW sterilzation campaign in Prince Albert highlighted the value of curtailing rampant population growth. The closeness of the community and freedom of movement means that pets normally proliferate at an exponential rate. For the majority of pet owners the concept of sterilization is appealing but way out of reach financially. So charitable assistance has made a welcome and far reaching impact.
It makes ecological sense to encourage biodiversity in the natural world that makes up a great portion of our well-being. Breeding millions of animals that we don’t need, to endure lives of pain and suffering that are contributing towards looming environmental disaster seems crazy.