A pangolin is released into the wild by Natural Resources Conservation Agency officials at a forest in Sibolangit, North Sumatra, Indonesia
Photograph: Jefri Tarigan
People are killing these little weirdos to make luggage out of their scaly skins. People are gross.
World to cool it on shark-finning, at least for five species »
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) voted this week to restrict permits on exporting the fins of five species of sharks, to end trade in all freshwater sawfish, and restrict exports of manta rays’ gill plates.
Previous Cites meetings had seen similar protection proposals for sharks rejected, but new support from Latin American and west African countries, and the promise of cash from the European Union to help change fishing practices, won the day. The decisions could be reopened for debate at the final plenary session of the summit and potentially overturned. If, not all the measures will be implemented after an 18-month period in which enforcement measures can be set up.
A little less needless human destruction of the oceans! Keep up the totally necessary and hopefully not-too-late work, Cites.
[Photo by Clifton Beard via Flickr]
Twit Twoo… How many owls can you spot? A tiny owlet is almost invisible at first glance as it blends into the feathers of its mother. Even wildlife photographer Marina Scarr only realised she had taken pictures of two owls after she looked at the image on her camera while taking pictures in Desoto Park, Florida. Photograph: Marina Scarr/Caters News Agency
Taken from picture desk live: follow the best news pictures of the day from conflict-stricken regions to the lighter side of life chosen by the Guardian’s award-winning picture team
Amazing! I can’t even tell where that little owlet starts!
Hello Tumblr! Check out these cute young Kangaroos in an incubator. A gentle giant has been nicknamed Kangaroo Dundee after rescuing and raising more than 200 orphan marsupials. Brolga, a 6ft 7inch Australian, gave up a life in the city to open his own sanctuary in the outback. Photograph: AGB Films/SWNS.com
Hello babies! Get more marsupial action with clips from the two-part BBC Two documentary, Kangaroo Dundee, about Brolga and the kangaroos he cares for.
The Guardian obnoxiously asks, “Can vegans stomach the unpalatable truth about quinoa?” »
“Protein-packed” Apple Cinnamon Quinoa Muffins from Chocolate and Chou Fleur.
The title of Joanna Blythman’s Guardian post—“Can vegans stomach the unpalatable truth about quinoa?”—just struck me as bizarre antagonism hailing from left field. The post is in response to the complicated issues that the rising popularity of quinoa has spawned. As the subhead reads, “poor Bolivians can no longer afford their staple grain, due to western demand raising prices.”
The first thing I thought about this post was, “Isn’t this old news?” I read about this last year in Time and NPR has a story about it from early 2011. The price of quinoa seems to have grown rapidly since 2011 but it’s the same issue. I’m not saying that makes this unimportant; it just makes me wonder what the Guardian has been doing with its time. Did it take two years to come up with that stomach pun?
The second thing I thought was, “Why is this just our problem?” I agree that vegans should be concerned with how our food choices affect people in addition to animals, but vegans make up, what, 1.5 percent of the population now? I’m guessing that we aren’t the sole drivers of the quinoa fad. So why isn’t this considered an omni dilema as well? Are vegans the only people expected to have consciences? Supposedly many omnis attempt to eat in line with their ethics, but Blythman only addresses us. I want “food journalists” like Blythman to educate, but this is just like, um, thanks for policing my ethics for me? And like, can YOU stomach it?
What really doesn’t help that last point is that she doesn’t seem to have her facts straight. On soy for example:
Soya, a foodstuff beloved of the vegan lobby as an alternative to dairy products, is another problematic import, one that drives environmental destruction. Embarrassingly, for those who portray it as a progressive alternative to planet-destroying meat, soya production is now one of the two main causes of deforestation in South America, along with cattle ranching, where vast expanses of forest and grassland have been felled to make way for huge plantations.
If you’re going to play morality police for other people, you should know what you’re talking about. First of all, plenty of non-vegans do eat soy, and there are vegans that don’t. But more importantly, any “food journalist” should be well aware that the soy that’s destroying the Amazon is grown almost exclusively for livestock consumption (Google it). If anyone should be embarrassed, it’s meat-eaters. She also makes some vague reference to vegans and food miles. Whatever.
As for quinoa, personally I don’t eat it too much. I’ve had it about four or five times in my whole life. I’m just not that fond of it. But regardless, I wonder what to do in these types of situations. Like, if we stopped buying quinoa, would that help people in Bolivia? I don’t see how it would. So what’s the right answer? I would think it had to do with politics and if the Bolivian government can control prices and exports. But really I don’t know—do you? If you don’t, Blythman is not here to help. She offers no solutions, insights, or suggestions; she just uses this very complicated situation as an excuse to question our values as vegans. If she has some solutions or a plan to solve the quinoa issue, I’m all ears. But I don’t need some omni telling me how to be a better vegan.
The 100 most endangered species, in pictures »
The Guardian, a top newspaper for people with brains, has a gallery of the 100 most endangered species, as listed by the IUCN and Zoological Society of London. It’s depressing! Even more depressing, it’s part of a series called The Sixth Extinction: How humans are driving animals and plants to extinction, which includes articles on how endangered wildlife is being (illegally) traded on the internet, and on Ecuador’s Yasuni Park, “the most biodiverse region on Earth,” where people want to drill for oil because what else do you do with all that wildlife?
I had this conversation the other day about how, as a disgruntled, in-it-for-the-ethics vegan, it’s hard not to wonder if the world would be better off if whatever apocalyptic event happens and wipes out humanity; you know, end humanity, end humanity’s nonstop abuse of animals (among a million other things). Counterpoint: Hoping for the apocalypse is just another way of expressing depression; it’s our responsibility to not be jerks—not contributing to the exploitation of people/animals/the environment, being kind to other people, living well and appreciating how good we have it, and trying to help everyone have it better. Read all the books about the post-societal gangs of rapist cannibal murderers, while striving for utopia.
These 100 species are considered the most endangered not only because there are so terribly few of them left, but because “they have no obvious benefits for humans.” So cool! What do we even do about this? What does it matter if we cause the death of the greater bamboo lemur, or the Amsterdam albatross? They’re not curing our cancer or assembling our shoes or inventing personal electronic devices; fuck ‘em. We won the evolutionary race, we get to decide who lives and dies from now on. Right?
[photos, from top: ZSL/IUCN; Baz Scampion/ZSL/IUCN; ZSL/IUCN all via the Guardian]
[link via The Editors’ Desk]
Chocolate-tahini timbales from John Shuldiner’s Pure Vegan! The recipe is featured in the Guardian, presumably as part of England’s National Vegetarian Week, or maybe just because it looks awesome! I love unexpected ingredients. Celine has a bunch of tahini desserts that are way tasty as well. These little timbales, though, they’re so pretty and fancy! Let’s have a party and pass these around on trays!
[photo by Emily Brooke Sandor for Pure Vegan]
It’s not all bad: Otters return to English rivers! »
English river otters are back! The Guardian reports that the animals are now living in every county in the country, which is amazing, considering that they nearly went extinct in the 1970s.
The resurgence in England’s otter population is due to the otter-hunting ban of 1978, and the significantly improved health of English rivers. Wonderful, all around. Although let’s not forget that otters are also “wanton killer[s],” selfishly eating up all the fish that people would like to be catching themselves. The NERVE.
Industrial farming is killing the oceans »
Remember how the ocean’s fucked? It’s still fucked, especially in France, where the beaches are unfit for human presence because of “Up-stream releases of manure from intensive farming that overload the near-shore waters with nitrates.” It causes growth of a seaweed that releases a toxic gas!
Farm effluent is so amazing. It creates dead zones in places like the Gulf of Mexico and the Chesapeake Bay, which now covers 83 miles of that body of water. Back in December of 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a plan “to dramatically reduce the levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment that states can allow in the bay from municipalities and farms,” but guess whose opposition is blocking the EPA from implementing it: the American Farm Bureau Federation’s! Of course! Because dead zones are caused by runoff from those giant places food comes from, farms and feedlots.
In Brittany, 31 wild boars were found dead last week; the animals “‘were not [otherwise] sick and they did not drown.’” People can’t visit the beaches there because they could release pockets of the toxic gas the algae produces and die. How would this happen? By, you know, slipping and falling in the algae, or running, or walking. Not that anyone wants to play on a beach covered in horrible slime.
Industrial farming! It feeds most of the world while it kills the oceans! The best part of history is always when you realize no one’s planned more than like 10 minutes into the future.
Nice one, Italy: police raid a bear-meat banquet »
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is gross for about a billion reasons; this week, it’s his political partner in Imer, Italy, who held a bear-meat banquet as a political fundraiser/fuck-you to Italian bear conservationists.
The party, the Northern League, is made up entirely of jerks who also do things like walk a pig around a future site of a mosque in order to defile it. They claimed they had imported the 53 kg. (116.6 lbs.) of dead bear from Slovenia, but they couldn’t prove it, so the carabinieri seized the meat before it was all cooked. Neat? These people are so gross. Only 35 bears live in the Dolomites! According to the Northern League, they’re all “marauding” devils, roaming the countryside eating livestock and threatening residents, and the proper way to address this issue is to eat them. Obviously.
Some party members told the Guardian that they think members of Berlusconi’s party arranged the raid, which is possible—cabinet ministers all over the place have been condemning the banquet. Yeah, I wouldn’t want to be associated with a bunch of reactionary cretins either, especially if my party and I were totally losing elections across the country. No one’s all bad, and if Berlusconi is good to bears, then maybe we can forgive him for like one bunga-bunga party.