Feeding Nine Billion has created this sensible, easy-to-understand video about food shortages, their causes, and strategies on avoiding them. It’s narrated by Evan Fraser of the University of Guelph in Canada, and it is really interesting. If you don’t think you can watch 12 minutes of video, treat it like a podcast and do something else while you listen. (Which is what I did because my audio-visual attention span is worthless.)
The video doesn’t address explicitly vegan concerns, but we’re all humans, and we certainly believe that access to sufficient, nutritious food is a human right. Check out Feeding Nine Billion to find out more about the project.
[via U.S. Food Policy blog]
Life as a lab animal is the worst: Thousands of NYU’s test rodents drowned this week »
Despite being “one of the largest and most valuable [collection of carefully bred rodents] of its kind in the country,” the thousands of mice and rats living in a cellar in New York University’s Smilow Research Center drowned in the Sandy-related flooding that began on Monday night. The New York Times reports that while most of the test-subject animals housed at the Smilow Center were rescued, workers could not save something like 10,000 rats and mice.
But don’t worry:
Already scientists at two research centers, the University of Pennsylvania and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island, have pledged to donate animals to restart some of the Smilow center’s colonies. “That’s the one really positive thing to come out of this,” Dr. Fishell said. “Individuals in the research community, who in most businesses would be considered my competitors, have been eager to help.”
Phew! I know I’m relieved our scientists can get back to torturing those animals in the name of humanity ASAP.
[Photo by Pockafwye via Flickr]
Rejoice! Looking at cute animal photos is good for you! »
Good news, everyone! Time to go find kittens, puppies, and bunnies online!
Wired Science reports on a new study that suggests looking at cute animal pictures can improve your concentration. The research was done in Japan, where cute overload is basically the national condition.
Cute baby animals help you concentrate, but they don’t help you just generally be smarter, though, so probably better to use kitten flashcards while studying but not while at cocktail parties. Though that would make you popular in other ways, so go for it! Bring kitten flashcards!
[Photo via cute overload]
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]
Who’s the fanciest moth of them all? The Venezuelan poodle moth! »
Move over PSY, there’s a new international superstar taking the internet by storm! Everyone, say hello to Venezuela’s own POODLE MOTH.
Go ahead, feast your eyes on this magnificent creature. I can’t get enough, I love this little guy! He’s so fancy. AND JUST LOOK AT THOSE TINY HANDS.
I’m not much of a science buff myself, and I’m not going to embarrass us by trying to fake it. Get yo’ science fill right here!
[Photo by Arthur Anker via Flickr]
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)
Debating the scientific merits of a vegan diet with the Wall Street Journal »
When even Rupert Murdoch’s favorite news producer wants an excuse to be vegan, you know we’ve arrived. The Wall Street Journal invites two professors of nutritional science, the delightful T. Colin Campbell and Nancy Rodriguez, to argue for and against a vegan diet.
The dairy industry has long promoted the myth that milk and milk products promote increased bone health—but the opposite is true. The evidence is now abundantly convincing that higher consumption of dairy is associated with higher rates of bone fracture and osteoporosis.
It’s also worth noting that the government recommendations for certain population groups to increase their protein and iron consumption come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, an agency long known to be subservient to the meat and dairy industries.
I’ve always been a welfare vegan, but it’s nice to have science on our side, for the humanists.
[photo by John Hritz via Flickr]
Unstitched Utilities: Vegan shoes for ladies and dudes! »
Hello, Turn Down Chukka QT
The New York Times’ International Herald Tribune did a little feature on Unstitched Utilities, a vegan shoe company that uses Tyvek to make sustainable, theoretically recyclable shoes. And they are kinda hot, you guys.
The totally vegan Hang Up Slip On, in a sunshiny yellow
What I particularly love is that not only are Unstitched Utilities shoes totally vegan and eco-friendly, they are waterproof. This means you can pop out of the house in your cheery yellow slip-ons, get caught in a freak rainstorm, and still have happy, dry feet! Because as much as I love a rainboot, I don’t always want to commit to full-on wellingtons. These are casual and charming and just weird-looking enough. And the men’s shoes are absolutely great, vegan dudes.
Read more about Unstitched Utilities at their site. Wearing stylish, eco-friendly vegan shoes increases your sexual attractiveness by 20 percent, guaranteed.
Conservation Biologist Thor Hansen explains why feathers matter »
This week on Fresh Air, Terri Gross interviewed Thor Hanson, a conservation biologist and author of the newly published Feathers: The Evolution of a Natural Miracle. As part of his research, he plucked a dead wren to count its feathers. It had 1,500. A tiny wren, like the Australian white-winged fairy wren in the photo!
In the interview, which you can listen to on NPR, Hanson discusses the biological makeup of feathers, why he thinks birds evolved feathers, and how they adapted them to flight. The first feathered animals might’ve used them primarily for insulation, and now, every single individual flight feather is an airfoil, while being part of the airfoil that is the bird’s wing. Double-airfoil action for maximum flight!
Animals are amazing! So is science!
[white-winged fairy wren photo by David Cook Wildlife Photography, via Flickr]
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.