This poor snowshoe hare hasn’t gotten the memo about climate change. YOU’RE THE WRONG COLOR, BUNNY! THERE’S NO SNOW!
It’s like showing up to a party wearing white shoes in October, except the fashion faux-pas doesn’t mean you’ve suddenly upped your chances of getting eaten in a LITERAL sense. (<—Can I get some props for an actual correct use of “literal” there?)
So let’s not forget: Climate change is an animal-rights issue too. And somebody get that bunny a scarf or something.
[Via High Country News]
California climate change could put the pika on the endangered species list »
Pikas are related to rabbits. They’re about the size of hamsters, with no tails and round Mickey Mouse ears. They live in rock piles at high elevations, and are adapted to cold temperatures. When it gets too hot, they hide out under the rocks. So [ecologist Joseph] Stewart is trying to figure out if pikas don’t do well in the heat, what will happen to them as the climate continues to warm.
“They’ve been petitioned for listing under the Endangered Species Act because of climate change,” he explains to the students. “But when the Fish and Wildlife Service reviewed that petition, they pretty much said that we don’t know enough about how pikas are doing. We need more data.”
KQED’s Quest had a neat story this week about local middle school students learning practical science while helping ecologists study the Pika, which could be the first species in California “to be listed as threatened primarily because of climate change. If the state starts protecting animals because of climate change, things that affect the climate, like new fossil-fuel power plants or clearcut logging projects, could be slowed.”
It’s interesting. And cool to hear kids learn about science. Read (or listen! Radio!) at KQED.
[Photo by Chris & Lara Pawluk via Flickr]
The Hidden Costs of Hamburgers update: Is it even worse than they said? »
Can’t see the video? Watch it on Vegansaurus.com!
Hello! Remember the above video we posted last week (which is now full of commercials)? Well it may not be telling the whole story. An anonymous source has alerted me to these points:
The following comments were sent to the producers—who’ve apparently seen fit to take no action.
The video says: “Livestock are a major contributor to greenhouse gas pollution. Right up there with cars, trains, and planes.” But the authors of that livestock-transport comparison have retracted it.
The video says: “Livestock use 30 percent of the earth’s entire land area.” But the true figure is 45 percent, according to the International Livestock Research Institute.
The video says: “Methane has 21 times more climate-changing power than CO2.” But the true figure is apparently higher—as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change uses a figure of 25 in a 100-year timeframe and 72 in a 20-year timeframe, while others use figures even higher than 72.
The video says: “Grass-fed beef does less damage to the environment.” But the lead author and a co-author of Livestock’s Long Shadow, a key source for the video, specify that grass-fed beef does more damage than corn-fed beef—as grass-fed cows emit up to 400% more methane, according to Gidon Eshel, another source for the video.
In fact, after the FAO tried for years to correct the misperception that Livestock’s Long Shadow prescribed less factory farming (when it actually prescribed more), it announced last month that it will lead a new partnership with the meat industry, to be chaired by Frank Mitloehner, perhaps best known for his criticism of Livestock’s Long Shadow.
Yet Livestock’s Long Shadow was written by livestock specialists employed by just one of 19 UN specialized agencies.
Conversely, environmental specialists employed by two other UN specialized agencies, the World Bank and IFC, have authored analysis that better supports the video’s general direction. Not even all of the FAO supports Livestock’s Long Shadow, apparently, as the FAO invited those environmental specialists to deliver presentations at their headquarters in Rome and later in Berlin. Those presentations are on the Chomping Climate Change website along with links to numerous citations of those environmental specialists’ analysis.
The New York Times recently published an assessment of the FAO’s new partnership.
Sometimes it seems impossible to get the figures right with the environmental damage of meat. At this point I’m generally just like, “I don’t know which figure is right but they’re all super-terrible enough.” But when you have something like that methane figure, jeez louise! That’s crazy! People are happily chomping down on their “happy beef” all piously while those “happy cows” are farting the planet to hell. Sorry, bros, factory-farmed or free-range, beef spells disaster for the environment.
Paul Shapiro presents: debating ducks, changing climate, and funny felines! »
It’s Paul Shapiro’s Animal News You Can Use! Yay!
Amazingly, even though they’ve had more than seven years to find an alternative to force-feeding, a small gaggle of foie gras enthusiasts in California are trying to repeal the upcoming July ban on the force-feeding of ducks for foie gras (and the sale of products from force-fed animals). I did a 20-minute debate about this on Southern California’s NPR affiliate yesterday, and an hour-long debate on Northern California’s NPR affiliate today.
Speaking of feeding, as far as what we’re feeding ourselves, the title of the Forbes article says it all: “Eating Less Meat Is World’s Best Chance For Timely Climate Change, Say Experts.” Meatless Monday recipes, anyone?
Some good news: HSUS’s Smithfield exposé video yesterday won a 2012 Webby Award! (The Webbys are kind of like an Oscars of online content.) We’re psyched.
Finally, last week’s video was the double-dutching dog. This week it’s the treadmill-loving cats.
This is the conclusion from a recent article by Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang that was published in the Animal Feed Science and Technology journal. (I’m not kidding!)
I recently wrote about Goodland and Anhang’s 2009 report, Livestock and Climate Change, which asserts that livestock may account for 51 percent of all human-caused GHG emissions. In that post, I also linked to an article in Animal Feed Science and Technology that attempted to refute the 2009 report.
Well, now you can read Goodland and Anhang’s response to the criticism [PDF], in which they kind of tear it apart. It’s a fairly short article and definitely worth a read! It adds updated sources to support the original report as well as clarifies some points.
A new study finds that greenhouse gas emissions from the UK’s meat and cheese trades add up to half of all the emission’s from Britain’s cars. Translation: If everyone goes vegan, it’ll have the same effect as if everyone drove half as much. Or half of everyone drove the same amount. Or one quarter of people drove twice as much. See, math is fun!
Some more numbers (quoted from The Independent), because I know you can’t get enough of them:
“[Fresh] meat has a carbon footprint at the checkout of 17kg of carbon dioxide per kilogram. Cheese has 15kg. Cooked meats are also high at 11kg per kilogram, with bacon at 9kg. Exotic vegetables* and mushrooms are high, largely because of freight and hothouse heating costs. Wine** has a carbon footprint of 2kg per kilogram, and potatoes, apples, milk, bread and cereals are under 2kg. Home baking comes in at just over 2kg.”
*What counts as an exotic vegetable in England? Do they find our American stuff like blueberries exotic? Wait, that’s a fruit. Chayote? Yucca? Kabocha squash? Stop exoticizing our vegetables, England!
**I think that means wine is better for the environment that home baking? Also wait, are they saying it’s better to buy your bread than to make it? That’s confusing. DAMN YOU SCIENCE YOU ARE COMPLICATED!
Freakonomics wonders why all environmentalists aren’t vegan and I’m like, “for real!” »
Here’s a nice link for you guys!: Agnostic Carnivores and Global Warming: Why Enviros Go After Coal and Not Cows, by James McWilliams.
I think it’s a must-read. Freakonomics summarizes and discusses a recent report (link to PDF, FYI) by the World Preservation Foundation in which they make the case for a vegan diet in the fight against climate change: “As the WPF report shows, veganism offers the single most effective path to reducing global climate change.”
Graph from WPF report
Now, unlike some people suggest, no one is saying you shouldn’t get your Energy Star appliance once it’s time to replace the washing machine—you still should—what it does mean however is that society needs to pay at least as much attention to diet as it does to fossil fuels when it comes to climate change. And maybe it does mean that, in such a dire situation, we should prioritize.
It also seems substituting one meat for another isn’t going to do much good: “Eating a vegan diet, according to the study, is seven times more effective at reducing emissions than eating a local meat-based diet.” And while substituting chicken for beef may do a little, it pales in comparison to going vegan:
According to a 2010 study cited in the WPF report, such a substitution would achieve a “net reduction in environmental impact” of 5 to 13 percent. When it comes to lowering the costs of mitigating climate change, the study shows that a diet devoid of ruminants would reduce the costs of fighting climate change by 50 percent; a vegan diet would do so by over 80 percent. Overall, the point seems pretty strong: global veganism could do more than any other single action to reduce GHG emissions.
This brings Freakonomics to their real question: in the face of information like this, why aren’t environmentalists taking a strong stance on veganism? One reason suggested is that veganism just doesn’t grab headlines, it’s ”an act poorly suited to sensational publicity.” What do you think? I think it grabs headlines, they are just usually, “OMG vegans are annoying!”
Another suggestion is that free-range meat pastures aren’t as ugly as giant pipelines. This part is great:
[Shifting from feedlot farming to rotational grazing] all sounds well and good. But if the statistics in the WPF report are to be trusted, the environmental impacts of this alternative would be minimal. So why the drum beat of support for rotational grazing? I would suggest that the underlying appeal in the pasture solution is something not so much calculated as irrational: pastured animals mimic, however imperfectly, symbiotic patterns that existed before humans arrived to muck things up. In this sense, rotational grazing supports one of the more appealing (if damaging) myths at the core of contemporary environmentalism: the notion that nature is more natural in the absence of human beings. Put differently, rotational grazing speaks powerfully to the aesthetics of environmentalism while confirming a bias against the built environment; a pipeline, not so much.
The last hurdle, the article suggests, is one of personal agency. Meat equals freedom! USA! USA! USA!
Finally, McWilliams gives environmentalists some advice: “trade up their carnivorous agnosticism for a fire-and brimstone dose of vegan fundamentalism.” Amen! Normally I just read linguistics stuff on Freakonomics but I think I will have to stop by there more often. Besides, agnostic carnivore is a great term!
According to scientist, this is the first-ever hybrid shark, a cross between a common black-tip and an Australian black-tip. It was discovered in Australian waters and is believed to be the result of an adaption “to ensure its survival as sea temperatures change because of global warming.” Amazing!
I mean, sharks are older than dinosaurs, but they’re still around and they’re still evolving, now to cope with shitty human-caused climate change. Over 450 million years old and still kicking ass! If this doesn’t make sense, take it up with the reporters at Yahoo! News, because I am science-ignorant and just wanted to share some amazing animal news with you. Sharks rule, land vertebrates are adorably useless!
Climate Change 2.0: Chomped if we want it!
This new video from the Chomping Climate Change website is a work in progress, aimed at kids. It explains how what we eat can impact the future of the environment.
The video explains very simply that the old model of environmental reform, calling for us to replace all fossil fuels with renewable energy, is tired, expensive, and not happening any time soon. If we shift the focus to what we eat, we can have a major impact in a relatively short amount of time. Basically, your energy-saving lightbulb is really super-duper, but if you want to make real change, put down the patty melt!
This video is based on the 2009 report Livestock and Climate Change by Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang that we discussed Friday. The paper discusses the importance of getting the message of this new model for change out to young people, because they are the future, adoy! And even better, they are not old and grumpy and set in their ways like the rest of us. Don’t get mad, you know you’re grumpy! Or get mad, I know it’s hard to contain at your age.
Over 1,000 new species discovered in New Guinea; all threatened by deforestation »
The World Wildlife Fund has released a new study and holy cannoli!: “Final Frontier: Newly Discovered species of New Guinea (1998-2008) [pdf] shows that 218 new kinds of plants, 43 reptiles and 12 mammals, including a unique snub-fin dolphin, 580 invertebrates, 134 amphibians, 2 birds and 71 fish, among them an extremely rare 2.5m long river shark, have been found on the tropical island over a 10-year period.” I believe the word you are looking for is DANG.
First of all, a river shark? I didn’t know that was a thing! I wish I still didn’t! Man, I’m never going in a river again. I already have alligator nightmares. Now this. And don’t get me started on Hippos. I said don’t get me started! Actually, I’m not sure I’ve ever been in a river. I’ve done lakes but the rivers where I come from are more like science experiments from a Simpsons Halloween episode than somewhere you would swim.
The species I’m really excited about are these new dolphins! They’re totes pink! Well, pale pink. Well, look for yourself:
Look at that smile! That’s a “snub nose” he’s sporting. So adorbs.
But guys, you can’t just go finding a zillion new species every day; New Guinea is pretty special. Scientists found new species at two a week during those 10 years, and apparently that is out of control unheard of and prob not something that will ever happen again. And check this out: “The island covers less than 0.5 percent of the Earth’s landmass but shelters 6 to 8 percent of the world’s species.” I believe that is also DANG-worthy.
It’s not all fun and finding new species up in New Guinea, though: their environment is in major danger. Thus far, New Guinea’s forests have been pretty lucky—don’t get me wrong, they’ve been significantly effed, just not as much as the rest of the world. It’s like only one-quarter of their forests are destroyed, versus one half. But deforestation is picking up as people clear the rainforest to make more palm oil—I told you that shiz was the devil! Logging is also to blame for a lot of the clearing. But they got other problems too; oddly enough, climate change is causing trouble! That wacky climate change, seems like it’s everywhere. And it’s not just the forests that are threatened, freshwater and marine life are getting screwed from the aforementioned issues as well as mining, which has dumped a lot of pollution into the water. Nature can’t catch a break.
There are reasons to be hopeful, however. Many companies are trying to get certified as Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO). So let’s keep an eye out for that! I’ll look into it more. Additionally, they have cool “schemes” (they keep saying schemes, that sounds malicious to me!) like this: “Opportunities exist through schemes that offer payment for environmental services. The crucial role of natural forests in the carbon cycle and the world’s climate is generally recognised, and planning is well advanced for schemes such as Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, which pays developing countries for the carbon they store in their natural forests.” That’s pretty cool, because I don’t think it’s that fair to just be like, “we already destroyed the rest of the world’s environment, so now you can’t destroy yours!” The entire world benefits from a group of people not using their natural resources; maybe the entire world should kick in a little change.
Think of it like this: What if New Guinea had a crazy machine that makes carbon dioxide disappear and what if we could collect all the carbon dioxide we produce and ship it over there to be disposed of for a fee? We would pay them for this service, would we not? We totally would. But since this process happens naturally, New Guinea gets no credit. Let’s pretend the rainforest is a crazy machine! Let’s pay them to keep it running! Sounds good? Sounds good. Pink dolphins for everyone!
[Varanus macraei photo by Lutz Olbegonner; Orcaella heinsohni by Guido J. Parra via WWF]