Scientists finally get off their butts to study the effects of farm runoff on our goddamn water »
It’s not that they don’t care! It’s that the extreme weather has increased runoff to a degree so alarming that scientists thought, Gosh, maybe now is the time to see what the effects of like seven decades of industrial agriculture has had on our waterways. NPR has some pretty delightful (horrifying) quotes:
Agriculture is the nation’s leading cause of impaired water quality, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
"It’s been happening for years," says [Bob Broz, a water quality specialist with the University of Missouri Extension]. "The problem is now we seem to be seeing more of these more intense rainfalls. And that, in turn, creates a huge amount of nutrient loss."
"There’s the direct impact on the aquatic ecosystem," says [Bob Lerch, a USDA soil scientist]. "And then there’s the downstream impacts on say, drinking water, or a reservoir, or a recreational [body of water]."
Want to freak the fuck out about whether the next generation will even understand the concept of “tap water”? (Potable water from … the government? Available to all of us citizens for a nominal fee? Go on, old person, tell me another ridiculous story about life before you ruined the planet for us.) Read the article at The Salt blog.
[photo by Penn State News via Flickr]
Just a friendly FYI from “Are We Pushing Animals Over the Edge?,” a study published this month in the Journal of Human Ecology. Can’t wait till the only non-domesticated animals only live in zoos!
Say goodbye to the polar bear »
Too bad, polar bears, but a bunch of us humans don’t want to stop selling your pelts on the open market, so you can expect to be hunted to extinction.
This issue is tied up with politics surrounding Canada’s First Nations, specifically the Inuit:
There are about 25,000 polar bears left in the world with an estimated 16,000 living in the Canadian Arctic. Canada is the only country that permits the export of polar bear parts.
Each year around 600 polar bears are killed there, mainly by native hunters. According to Inuit representatives, the pelts from around 300 bears are sold for rugs. Other parts including fangs and paws are also exported.
The Inuit say they get an average of $4,850 per pelt. They argue that this is a critical economic resource for a people that do not have much else.
The trouble with that argument is that in conjunction with global warming destroying their ecosystem, the bears won’t be around to hunt much longer. Say goodbye to polar bears, everyone; the next generations won’t even know what they are.
Polluted English waterways are shrinking otters’ penis bones »
All the harmless-to-us chemicals we humans are flushing down our sinks and toilets have effects on the creatures living in our waterways. In England, otters, which made a valiant comeback after being nearly wiped out by chemical pollution, are now turning up with smaller penis bones, which scientists believe is linked to modern contaminants.
Dr Chadwick said: “With many of these contaminants, there can be all sorts of different sources… so it might be things like drugs that we’re taking and they flush through our sewerage systems and end up in the rivers.”
She added that dust from industrial production travelling into the atmosphere could also carry contaminants that end up in rivers as rainfall, even travelling long distances between countries.
Sorry, otters. All those lovely Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals that help us thrive are slowly murdering you.
"People are very quick to say: otters are in our rivers. That must mean rivers are perfect, they’re so clean, everything’s fine again… but it’s not really that simple," said [Countryfile director Anna ] Jones.
[Photo by Keven Law via Flickr]
Factory Farming Awareness Coalition says, pink slime isn’t the only deadly sludge »
Our pal Katie Cantrell of the Factory Farming Awareness Coalition (formerly known as the Coalition to Fight Factory Farming) would like to remind you that pink slime isn’t the only nasty slime in our lives:
[N]ow there’s a new alarming factory farmed byproduct: green slime. Blue-green algae is infesting lakes and rivers, making people and companion animals ill and costing billions of dollars in lost revenue, environmental, and public health costs.
There are tons of images of these cyanobacteria covering lakes around the world. The above photo is from Wisconsin; the below is from Finland.
Sometimes it occurs naturally, but the recent uptick is due to runoff from factory farms, hooray! And it’s totally toxic and can fuck shit up for you and any other animals who come in contact with it!
Read more at FFAC blog, and curse the heavens that your being vegan doesn’t stop you from being affected by the disgusting practices of factory farming.
International tragedy: Britain’s National Pig Association predicts global bacon shortage »
[T]he European Union pig herd is declining at a significant rate, and this is a trend that is being mirrored around the world. Pig farmers have been plunged into loss by high pig-feed costs, caused by the global failure of maize and soya harvests.
(“maize and soya” means “corn and soybeans,” but you knew that already.)
Global warming is fucking it up for you meat-eaters all over the place: those cows being fed gelatin and sugar instead of corn; the World Water Week scientists predicting our need for water will make eating meat globally untenable. We are running out of water to nourish everything on the planet that needs water (read: everything on the planet), and raising commercial livestock not only requires massive amounts of water, but it contributes to the global warming that makes water even more difficult to get.
It just gets harder and harder to be a meat-loving food-obsessed asshole, doesn’t it. Even with the Today Show inanely calling this whole thing “ham-maggedon” like colossal fuckfaces. At least it’s not “bacon-gate.” I really hate meat-product fetishists.
[Photo: Oklahoma bacon cheeseburger at Native Foods by Jeff Gunn via Flickr]
(Source: The Huffington Post)
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]
World Water Week advocates a meat-free future, for humanity’s survival »
We’ve talked about the ridiculous amount of water needed to sustain our national (and increasingly international) meat-heavy diet, and by “meat-heavy” I mean “20 percent meat-based.” Well, the scientists in charge of World Water Week, happening right now in Stockholm, are now predicting that a meat-heavy diet is an “impossible alternative” to our continued existence.
If you want to read this year’s WWW report, which is really long but also very interesting, here’s a pdf. If you don’t, definitely read the Guardian's analysis (and the internet is full of analyses), which tells you things like “Animal protein-rich food consumes five to 10 times more water than a vegetarian diet. One third of the world’s arable land is used to grow crops to feed animals.”
My main question is, why not just advocate a vegan diet? Those dairy cows don’t spring from the foreheads of their mothers, fully formed and ready to make milk.
People hate a smug vegan because people hate smug. So maybe this isn’t a reason to be smug so much as a reason to worry. Will our rich, privileged peers* change their diets to support the future of the planet? I hate selling veganism with the “lose weight, feel great” line, but if that’s what it takes to get people to stop eating so much goddamn meat, then fine. Maybe we should start lying to people. “I used to be 1,000 pounds before going vegan!” “I had a vestigial skull attached to my neck from the twin I absorbed in the womb before going vegan!” “I was a horrible selfish jerk who was almost incapable of empathy, and it showed on my hideous face, before going vegan!”
Because there is no reason to eat animals. Science is on our side. And it’s just disgusting that, in the face of facts like these, people continue to do it.
[Photo: ILRI/Dorine Adhoch via World Water Week]
*By which I mean, people who aren’t starving to death.
Last week, Meave asked, “Is Iowa Rep. Steve King the worst person in Congress?”. This week, Stephen Colbert rips Steve King a new one re: his defense of dog fighting. COINCIDENCE? Probably yes, but still. I guess all Steve King is saying is that we shouldn’t judge him for having impregnated that dog and then taken it across the border for a forced abortion to protect the world from his monstrous glassy-eyed man-puppies, right??? Right.
USDA retracts support of Meatless Mondays, is beef industry’s puppet »
Man, this is so gross. Even more proof that the governmental agencies put in place to protect us only care about appeasing the big money$$$.
From the USDA Twitter:
You can just imagine how that went down. Like, lower level people at the USDA were all, “sure, Meatless Monday, that’s cool, Americans should eat several fewer pounds of shit-laced meat a day!” and then the beef industry bigwigs saw it and freaked the fuck out because, “OMG AMERICANS EATING FEWER DEAD ANIMALS THAT’S UN-AMERICAN!! AND ALSO, HOW WILL WE GET RICHER AND MAKE EVERYONE ELSE SICK AND POOR???” and then they called the USDA bigwigs who—shocker!—are some of their bff’s/former employees and BAM, Meatless Monday retracted.
What. a. bunch. of. bullshit. LITERALLY.