Archive | September, 2015

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Pope’s Visit Highlights Humility

Posted on 25 September 2015 by Jerry

The Pope delivered a message and was a prime example of humility to the Congress. Most of us were moved by his messages that pointed out we are each single human beings with responsibilities to find our highest values and act on them. All of the members of Congress could not help but put aside political considerations and seek a path to work together on the very special issues we are all facing. It is gratifying to see the Pope use his platform to highlight the worldwide dilemmas we face. As a human being, he is truly deserving of our admiration.

The humility he displayed was underscored by how he spent his time. His decision was that he would not spend his lunchtime with our legislators but rather have lunch with a group of homeless people served by a Catholic charity. This choice exemplified his priorities.

He stressed that as individuals we must protect other humans from adversity (or take care of people and realize what they are going through) whether they are refugees from Syria, Mexico or anywhere. We need to put ourselves in their shoes and empathize with the challenges they face. He changed subjects and stated we must protect the environment as the final shepherds of our planet’s wellbeing (or we must pool our collective efforts to deal with global warming).

While there are some areas that are still ripe for disagreement, the messages he gave were general enough to be inclusive of most of us. As an example he asked each of us to respect the sanctity of life, to protect life at every stage of its development. His remarks about the abolishment of the death penalty were consistent with his admonishment to respect the sanctity of life.

His remarks were also interpreted by some as a reference to abortion.   Whether you are a supporter of a woman’s right to choose or believe that life begins at conception, his point was broad enough to include most of us.

He reminded people to reject their tendency to paint all peoples, including those who have our adversaries in their ranks, with a common brush. We must not extend our dislike of individual actions to an entire population (we should not blame all in a group, for instance Muslims or arms traders, for the violent or illegal actions of a few within that group). We should love all peoples irrespective of members within these groups whose actions we don’t support.

He reminded us to eradicate poverty and hunger in the world. He restated that we must become our brother’s keepers who truly care about the well being of all others no matter where they exist in the world.

His references to great examples of faith included Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day (founder of the Catholic Worker Movement) and Thomas Merton (an American Cistercian monk). These were pious Americans who lived the essence of these beliefs. We also appreciated his reminder for us of the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Mt: 712).

No matter who you are or which belief system you accept, his statements resonate at a very personal level as a single human being concerned about the future. He picked issues of concern to all of us to include in his statements. We all hope that the warm glow of his remarks continues beyond the time of his departure.

There are so many things that we, each of us, must do. Ours is a time for reflection where each of us must ask ourselves what are we doing to further these beliefs or solve humanity’s problems. We have a common cause with Catholic beliefs to act consistent with our highest values in how we conduct ourselves and which issues we support and to which we dedicate our lives.

Use the attached link to access the Pope’s message to Congress. The link accesses the text of the Pope’s speech.

http://time.com/4048176/pope-francis-us-visit-congress-transcript/

 

 

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Humans are Super-Predators and Anti-Evolution

Posted on 22 September 2015 by Jerry

Predators, other than humans, assist the process of evolution by picking the young, sick, lame or aged as the victims of their predation or the ones they kill. They help the evolution of the strong and healthy by taking victims who are less capable of resisting their attacks. They beneficially cull the bloodlines of all animals. They improve a selection process that favors stronger animals.

Human hunters however, act as an opposing force to evolution. They do not seek to kill the young, sick, lame or aged but rather seek the robust specimens they would be proud to mount on their walls. Using deer as our example, do you see the heads of females or babies on the wall or the adult male ‘five pointers’ or heads with huge antlers? The answer is obvious. These are the successful male deer, those who avoided hunters and represent a strong evolutionary line and influence. These are the deer to preserve not destroy.

Hunters relive old animal instincts. They attack the most able, reliving age-old demonstrations that they are the greatest natural predator. Hunters cloke their behavior in modern rationalizations to confuse the recognition of their true motives.

A new study summarized and published in the August 21, 2015 issue of Science magazine compares the human predator, hunters and fishermen, with the rest of the carnivore predators in the animal kingdom. An article about the results of the study in part states, “We are still the unique super-predator that we evolved to be. Analyzing an extensive database of 2125 exploited wild animal populations, the authors find that humans take up to 14 times as much adult prey biomass as do other predators.”

Many articles defend the need for hunters citing excess animals in a variety of cities across the world. Of course these articles do not list the reasons for too many wild pigs in San Jose, California, too many wild turkeys in Maine or too many deer in Ohio. They also do not address the surplus of Badgers in the U.K., Whitetail deer in Long Island, elephants in South Africa, Red Deer in Scotland or grey wolves in the U.S.

It could be the humans or bureaucrats who control these areas made earlier mistakes that created a surplus of these animals. It could be just a bureaucrat who feels he or she has reached an equilibrium that should allow the raising of more money by selling hunting permits.

These locations and bureaucrats all argue that they permit hunters because the alternative of professional exterminators is too expensive. This does not explain why hunters are unencumbered by limitations on their weapons. Why bow hunting is separately permitted in various jurisdictions? Why heavy weapons with large caliber ammunition is used to give the hunter an inordinate advantage over the defenseless animal.

A professional sharpshooter in explaining how a cull actually works was quoted in an Outdoor Life article published on April 9, 2014. He stated, “It is unfortunate that suppressed firearms aren’t more widely accepted across the country. Luckily, we were able to utilize them during culls, even though New York doesn’t permit their use by the general public. We used .243-caliber rifles built off of Remington and Savage bolt actions…Upon penetration, the rounds quickly broke apart and dumped all of their energy into the animals’ soft tissue…I can’t recall a single instance of pass through, and the devastation the bullets caused was truly amazing, often turning the entire skull to jelly.”

Most of these jurisdictions do not point at the issuance of hunting permits to generate revenue. Many of these jurisdictions seek to hide their motivation in a variety of regulations that are an olive branch to those who would protect these animals. Most areas for example, dictate that if a mature female of a species is taken and would leave a young baby to fend for itself (or die alone) the baby should be killed along with the mother.

Hunting permits issued to human beings are an imbedded feature of most human societies around the world. It probably would take a very long campaign to abolish or put enough peer pressure on the hunting culture of human beings. We should try however. The behavior of these people is archaic and represents one of the worst ongoing offenses of our species. Given the age of the species, we should have outgrown this behavior long ago.

We should once and forever admit that hunting should be abolished except in cultures where it provides necessary sustenance. That everywhere else it is a throwback to behavior that is the worst, most animalistic in our history. We should admit that hunting permits are established all over the world as a revenue-generating tool. We should use all other options even if they are more costly to protect our view of human beings, our behavior, and ourselves. We should make being human a greater calling than just being at the top of the food chain as the world’s greatest predator.

Use the following links to access additional information or see the original documents that generated this article.

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/349/6250/784.summary?sid=9434edba-b1f6-47c8-8485-0b25f1cd184b

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/349/6250/858.abstract?sid=899c45a6-300d-4f09-8533-4523250c006d

http://www.outdoorlife.com/blogs/big-buck-zone/2014/04/confessions-sharpshooter-how-deer-cull-actually-works

http://dissidentvoice.org/2014/09/in-defence-of-life-standing-up-against-the-lust-for-culling-wildlife/

http://www.fws.gov/international/permits/by-species/three-antelope.html

http://www.awf.org/news/south-africa-allow-elephant-culling

http://www.attadale.com/culling

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/03/140305-culling-badgers-deer-bison-swans-ethics-conservation/

http://wildliferesearch.org/conservation/wildlife-management-cull-cull/

http://time.com/709/americas-pest-problem-its-time-to-cull-the-herd/

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/tv-presenter-slammed-photo-lion-killed-article-1.1519039

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/07/american-hunter-kills-famous-zimbabwe-lion-cecil-150729032425463.html

http://praag.org/?p=19882

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/15/hunter-melissa-bachman-picture-lion-south-africa

http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/28/africa/zimbabwe-lion-killed/index.html

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Ozone Progress but India Pollutes China, U.S.

Posted on 10 September 2015 by Jerry

The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, effective a little over 25 years ago has been labeled the most successful international agreement in history. Since the banning of substances that destroy the ozone in the upper atmosphere, we have seen concrete improvement or slight shrinkage of the Ozone Hole over the South Pole.

The agreement banned substances used in refrigeration (air conditioning, freezers, etc.) to do away with the ozone hole. Unfortunately, many of the substitutes, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), while sparing the ozone, “have a substantial global warming potential.” So says a July 31, 2015 article released by the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development (IGSD).

The article speaks to efforts to get the Open Ended Working Group (OEWG), the group of nations that have been meeting to monitor the original Montreal agreement, to take on the management of the elimination of the HFCs. This would put these parties directly in the middle of the climate change problem.

What gives this move its impetus in part is a working paper issued by the IGSD that says that a quick elimination by 2020 of these HFCs could prevent half a degree of world temperature rise by the year 2100. This is viewed as a significant contribution to progress of efforts to control global warming.

Once again there was disagreement over how best to tackle the issue. Whether it was best to deal with the HFCs in this group or give the issue to those organizations fighting climate change. The last few meetings of this group showed promise when several nations changed their positions. Led by India these countries put forward proposals to confront the problem. Pakistan however, blocked adoption of any one of the four different plans presented by stating that none of the substitutes for the HFCs would be an effective refrigerant against the heat in their country.

At the same time a report published in Nature magazine in its August 10, 2015 issue blamed pollution wafting across the ocean from India and China as the reason the West Coast of the U.S.A. has not made any progress in lowering the ozone pollutants in its atmosphere.  Citing the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory that undertook the study, Nature reported that this Chinese pollution was the reason the Western states of the USA showed no lessening of its atmospheric pollutants after reducing its production of ozone-forming pollutants by 21 percent between 2005 and 2010.

NASAs JPL said in its release that “Scientists from the Netherlands and from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California looked at ozone in the mid-troposphere, about 10,000 to 30,000 feet (3 to 9 kilometers) above ground level….In the mid-troposphere, ozone has a measurable greenhouse effect.”

Finally, scientists have reported on the Nature Geoscience web site on February 16, 2015 that they have discovered that a very short-lived substance, less than six months, is a significant contributor to the destruction of ozone. This article says, “Halogens released from long-lived anthropogenic substances, such as chlorofluorocarbons, are the principal cause of recent depletion of stratospheric ozone, a greenhouse gas.”

Their research results, “Show atmospheric levels of dichloromethane, a short-lived chlorine substance not controlled by the Montreal Protocol, are rapidly increasing. We conclude that potential further significant increases in the atmospheric abundance of short-lived halogen substances, through changing natural processes or continued anthropogenic emissions, could be important for future climate.”

We are seeing unprecedented success to keep the benefits of our ozone depletion fighting efforts. In fact, the choices our scientists have selected are contributing to climate change and they are being pressed into service to start helping with climate change as well.

At the same time we see that our world is interdependent. Our weather and the continued effort are worldwide phenomena and our responsibility. We see that India pollutes China that in turn pollutes the West Coast of the U.S. We also understand there is another chemical that needs to be covered by the Montreal Protocol in order to continue our progress against ozone destruction.

We must not forget the ozone depletion and the danger an ozone hole represents to life on earth. We must continue our forward movement. We must also continue to support those scientists and countries that are fighting to protect our ozone.

Use the following links to access additional information or the original documents used to formulate this article.

http://www.ictsd.org/bridges-news/biores/news/hfc-negotiations-under-the-montreal-protocol-inch-forward

http://www.mepielan-ebulletin.gr/default.aspx?pid=18&catigoryld=12&articleld=215&article=montreal-protocol-inches-closer-to-negotiations-on-hfc-phase-down (Scroll down on right to this article)

http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v8/n9/full/ngeo2493.html

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2015-263

http://phys.org/news/2015-08-china-exporting-ozone-pollution.html

http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v8/n3/full/ngeo2363.html

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It is Time for Animals to Have Rights

Posted on 03 September 2015 by Jerry

Charles Darwin said, “There is no fundamental difference between man and the higher mammals in their mental faculties…The difference in mind between man and the higher animals, great as it is, certainly is one of degree and not of kind.” (see Beyond Animal, Ego and Time page 63) With those words Darwin foreshadowed the knowledge we would gain from the many experiments with animals we’ve conducted over the years. Calls for further experiments to end are justified by what we now know. In fact, it is time we granted additional rights to proven sentient animals.

“As of 14 September, no U.S. labs will be conducting invasive studies on chimps”, so reads the subtitle of an article appearing in the August 21, 2015 issue of Science magazine. This article announced there have been no permits filed anywhere in the U.S. to conduct invasive research on chimpanzees. This represents a new rule from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).

Animals who have passed the mirror and mark tests and consequently have self-recognition, have been gaining rights in various countries over the years.   Great Britain was the first government to ban experimentation on chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas. In 1999, New Zealand’s parliament gave apes legal protection from animal experimentation.

But the first country to bestow full freedom for these animals was the Spanish parliament that passed a resolution in 2008 that gave great apes the right to life and freedom. This was a result of work by the Great Apes Project that was founded by Peter Singer and Paola Cavalieri.

In 2013 India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests forbade the keeping of captive dolphins for public entertainment anywhere in the country. The Ministry is quoted as stating, “Whereas cetaceans in general are highly intelligent and sensitive, and various scientists who have researched dolphin behavior have suggested that the unusually high intelligence; as compared to other animals means that dolphins should be seen as ‘non-human persons’ and as such should have their own specific rights and its morally unacceptable to keep them captive for entertainment purpose.”

In late 2014 an orangutan in an Argentine zoo was transferred to a sanctuary after an Argentine court gave the ape a “non-human person” status. This was in response to a habeas corpus petition that was filed by the Association of Officials and Lawyers for Animal Rights (AFADA) that took the position the ape had sufficient cognitive functions and should not be treated as an object. The orangutan that had been in captivity since it was born in a German zoo was sent to live out its days in a wildlife sanctuary in Brazil.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the Great Apes Project, Peter Singer, Paola Cavalieri, and the Nonhuman Rights Project founded by Steven Wise, who recently brought a habeas corpus writ for two chimpanzees that was denied in the U.S., have long been battling for the rights of these animals. Films such as the award winning “The Cove” have documented outright animal cruelty perpetrated on these sentient animals.

It is time that U.S. granted “non-human personhood” rights to these animals that have innate self-recognition. This includes all great apes (chimpanzees, orangutans and bonobos), all elephants, and all breeds of cetaceans (porpoises and dolphins). I would add a family of birds, the Corvids (crows, ravens, and jays) as self-aware and deserving of rights.

The Indian Ministry of Environment and Forest has provided us a good starting point. Their Declaration on cetaceans (porpoises and dolphins) should be applied to all sentient animals worldwide. They offer declarations that in an article in the July 30, 2013 issue of the Daily Kos are referred to as follows. They state, “Unlike…positive rights, such as the ‘right’ to education or health care, the animal right is, at bottom, a right to be left alone. It does not call for government to tax us in order to provide animals with food, shelter, and veterinary care. It only requires us to stop killing them and making them suffer.”

Their Declarations are as follows and should be recognized by local and international laws:

  1. Every individual animal granted rights should have the right to life.
  2. No sentient animal should be held in captivity or servitude; be subject to cruel treatment; or be removed from their natural environment.
  3. All of these animals have the right to freedom of movement and residence within their natural environment.
  4. None of these animals is the property of any state, corporation, human group or individual.
  5. All of these animals have the right to the protection of a natural environment.
  6. All of these animals have the right not to be subject to the disruption of their cultures.
  7. The rights, freedoms and norms set forth in this Declaration should be protected under international and domestic law.

Of course there should be a reasonable amount of time for zoos, entertainment parks, and researchers to find substitutes in their operations for these animals. In many respects these animals have been prized for their very intellect and self-awareness. After all it is their trainability that has made them so highly valued.

We need to once and for all recognize their legal right to exist and be left alone.   Indeed we should protect them from the human beings that are barely their betters. If this happens within the big established countries, all others will follow. Write your congresspersons, senators and tell all others it is time we made these rights official.

Use the following articles to gain additional information or access the source documents used in this writing.

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/349/6250/777.summary?sid=19a8e1ee-158f-45e8-af28-17f52bc6fa59

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/jun/26/humanrights.animalwelfare

http://www.wired.com/2014/12/orangutan-personhood/

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/12/21/us-argentina-orangutan-iduskbn0jz0q620141221

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/07/30/1226634/-india-declares-dolphins-non-human-persons-dolphin-shows-banned#

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-ropeik/humans-or-non-human-anima_b_8052124.html

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/non-human-persons-animal-rights-090000255.html

http://science.time.com/2013/12/02/chimps-human-rights-lawsuit/

http://condofire.com/2015/05/22/ted-x-steven-wise-on-why-chimps-should-have-legal-person-status-non-human-rights-project/

http://www.lifenews.com/2013/02/04/transhumanism-pushing-rights-for-non-human-persons/

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