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Environment and Animal Rights Presentation


A presentation from a forum organised by Animal Rights Advocates Inc. on the intersections of environmentalism and animal rights - where they converge and where they conflict and how we can move both …

A presentation from a forum organised by Animal Rights Advocates Inc. on the intersections of environmentalism and animal rights - where they converge and where they conflict and how we can move both forward ethically and responsibly.

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  • 1. Environmental and Animal Issues
    • 23 May 2010
    • Sarah Clement, Animal Rights Advocates, Inc.
    • www.ara.org.au
  • 2. Overview
    • Introduction and about ARA
    • Setting the Scene:
      • Brief overview of animal rights and environmental philosophy
      • Environmental impact of animal agriculture and feral animals
    • Examples
    • Break
    • Questions and Open Discussion
  • 3. About Us
    • Volunteer not-for-profit organisation that campaigns for the abolition of animal exploitation
    • Education and Behavioural Change
      • Resource production and distribution
      • Skill-building
      • Media
    • Lobbying
      • Political Lobbying
      • Lobbying other organisations
    • Other events this year: Animal Activist Law, Animal Rights + Human Rights, Cruelty Free Festival, Release of Vegan in Perth Guide, Launching Vegan Mentoring program, Art exhibition
    • Our Values:
    • Integrity
    • Non-Violence
    • Sustainability
    • Collaboration
    • Equity and
    • Social Justice
  • 4. Why are we doing this?
    • ARA is an abolitionist organisation, and as such we recognise the similarities between speciesism and other 'isms'.
    • We also recognise that the same root causes causing animal suffering are causing environmental degradation.
    • Linking with other causes offers benefits for all involved, and helps us all better understand the connections.
    • Overlap between issues – important to highlight those links and discuss the challenges, as well as the natural connections.
  • 5. Environmental Philosophy
    • Relevance and importance
    • Some key questions it seeks to answer:
      • Does nature have intrinsic value, or is it valuable on because humans deem it to be so
      • What uses of the environment to fulfil human needs are appropriate? Which aren't?
      • What responsibility do we have to conserve the environment for future generations?
      • Should a particular place or species be protected? Why or why not?
  • 6. Environmental Philosophy
    • Many names and ways of describing environmental philosophy, but are sometimes broadly divided into three categories (overlap):
      • 'Radical' ecophilosophy (e.g. deep ecology, ecofeminism, social ecology)
        • N eed for a paradigm shift, not reform.
        • Roots: anthropocentrism, patriarchy,social hierarchy
      • Environmental ethics (e.g. weak anthropocentrics, ecohumanists, conservationists, libertarian and ecological extension, etc.)
        • Extend moral consideration into the non-human world
        • Roots: anthropocentrism, dualism
        • Peter Singer, Aldo Leopold, James Lovelock
  • 7. Environmental Philosophy
    • Anthropocentric reformism
      • Law and policy reform,land ownership, education and awareness
      • Roots: shortsightedness, ignorance, greed, etc.
      • The mainstream environmental movement largely falls under this umbrella.
    • Often depicted as a spectrum, from anthropocentrism to non-anthropocentrism (or biocentric or ecocentric, etc).
  • 8. Animal Rights Philosophy
    • Some key questions:
          • Are humans superior to non-human animals? Do we have special moral status?
          • Should animals be considered in our moral considerations?
          • Do animals have rights? What rights?
          • Do we have the right to use and own animals? If so, for what purposes and under what circumstances?
          • Are there justifications for inflicting suffering on non-human animals? If so, what are they?
  • 9. Animal Welfare and Animal Rights
    • As before, there are many ways of describing categorising the various philosophies
    • Animal liberation movement – includes non-human animals in our moral considerations
      • Tom Reagan: ascribes inherent value, and thus moral rights, to non-humans, but not equal consideration
      • Peter Singer: utilitarian – greatest happiness to greatest number
      • Gary Francione: abolitionist animal theory of animal rights
    • Currently, debate focuses largely on animal welfare versus animal abolitionism
      • Welfarists advocate for stronger laws preventing cruelty and requiring humane treatment
      • Abolitionists oppose and and all human use of animals
  • 10. Abolitionist Animal Rights Philosophy
    • Root cause of problem: Animals as property
      • The most basic right of a sentient being, whether they are human or any other animal, is the right to not be someone else's property.
      • Human and non-human animals are sentient and have an interest in avoiding pain, suffering, and death.
      • Using animals as resources causes pain, suffering and death. We have a moral obligation to not inflict unnecessary suffering on non-humans.
      • All sentient beings have an interest, and the right, not to be treated as property.
      • These interests are morally significant, even if they are different than those of humans.
  • 11. Overlap
    • Similar attitudes lead to similar problems (e.g. anthropocentrism, social structures, patriarchy) lead to domination over nature, including nonhuman animals.
    • Have similar ideals, even if the goals aren't always identical, e.g. including animals in our moral considerations, challenging human dominance and the use values of nature.
  • 12. Environmental Impacts of Animal Agriculture
    • Livestock: 18 percent of anthropogenic GHG emissions, more than transport. 37% of methane (23 times more potent than CO2)
      • Deforestation is a major contributor
    • Water pollution: pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, pathogens, fertilisers, pesticides and sediments. One cow's phosphorus output is equivalent to 18-20 humans (grazing at pasture or in a feedlot). Eutrophication, habitat depletion, reduced biodiversity, etc.
  • 13. Environmental Impacts
    • Slaughter:
      • Blood (which has a high biological oxygen demand), fat, rumen contents and solid waste (e.g. intestines, hair and horns).
      • 100 kg of paunch manure and 6 kg of fat per tonne animal flesh, on average
    • Resource Intensive:
      • Requires 6 kg plant protein to produce 1 kg animal protein
      • 60% of maize and barley is fed to animals, not humans
  • 14. Some Australian Examples
    • Agriculture accounts for about two-thirds of water consumption.
      • Of this, livestock, pasture, dairy, and grains account for about 55%
    • Major driver of deforestation and biodiversity loss
    • About 58 percent of Australia’s land is devoted to agriculture, most of which is for grazing animals and producing animal feed.
      • 35 percent of WA modified by pasture, (doesn’t include land devoted to feedlots, dairy operations, poultry production or growing livestock feed)
    • Intensive farming is increasingly common, sig. environmental/AR implications
  • 15. Some Australian Examples
    • Feedlots not just abroad: 700 accredited beef feedlots in Australia
      • Approximately 40% of Australia’s total beef supply, 80% of beef sold in major domestic supermarkets
      • Accounts for most of the growth over the past decade in the beef industry
    • 98% of pigs in Australia are reared in intensive conditions.
  • 16. Animal Rights Perspective
    • Impacts
    • Overlap with environmentalists
    • Conflicts (real and perceived)
  • 17. Non-native/invasive/pest/feral animals
    • Both plants and animals
    • Invasives: focus is on non-native species that affect the environment or economy
    • Examples
      • Rabbits, foxes, camels, cats, dingoes
      • Cane toads, house gecko
      • Carp, trout, perch
      • Fire ants, honey bees, millipedes
      • Pigeons, common starling
    • Non-native species from other regions can also be problematic
    • Native species can also be considered pests
  • 18. Feral/invasive/pests in Australia
    • Method of introduction: from deliberate (e.g. to hunt or to eradicate other pests) to accidental (e.g. imported)
    • Our view of 'pests' depends on our perspective and changes over time in society
            • Native animals have been considered 'pests' and have faced extinction as a result (e.g. Tasmanian devils, spotted quolls)
  • 19. What makes Australia unique?
    • Change has been slow: continental drift and geologic stability
    • Climate – El Nino more influential than seasons
    • Animals often 'living on the edge'
      • Poor soil quality, nutrient poor food sources
    • Coevolution and interdependencies
  • 20. Why are feral animals so damaging?
    • They have few natural predators, and may prey on native animals
    • Often can reproduce more quickly than native animals
    • Compete for resources (e.g. food and habitat) with native animals
    • Often reproduce more quickly than native animals
    • May carry disease, to which native animals have no immunity, and destroy habitat (e.g. grazing and erosion)
    • Damage property (e.g. pigeons)
  • 21. Control Methods
    • “ Conventional”, e.g. baiting, trapping, shooting, fencing, bashing.
    • Biological, e.g. predators, parasites, disease-carrying viruses or bacteria
    • The use of bounties is common in Australia
  • 22. Problems
    • Questionable efficacy
    • Little protection for feral animals under the law
          • Exemption in animal welfare law for killing pests, so long as it's in a way that is 'usual and reasonable'
          • Simply have to take 'reasonable steps' to ensure you don't kill other animals in the process
          • Code of practice for capture and marketing of feral animals does not include wild animals
          • Enforcement issues (e.g. feral pigs)
  • 23. Problems
    • Common methods of killing would be considered inhumane (e.g. 1080/Sodium fluoroacetate)
      • Western Shield Program – wild dogs and foxes
      • Tension between animal rights and environmental protection?
    • Examples