Tag Archive | "Argentina"

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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.











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Consumption – Biodiversity = 6th Mass Extinction?

Posted on 15 September 2012 by Jerry

Three reports offer a chilling analysis of the overall loss of diversity of life on Planet Earth.  They suggest that humans in the developed world are consuming the planet’s resources at a record pace, biodiversity is seriously declining, and humanity is progressively crowding out other life forms, possibly initiating a sixth great extinction of life on our planet.  Readers are encouraged to follow the links provided at the end of this article to read the reports directly. 

The Living Planet Report is prepared every two years by the World Wide Fund for Nature, the Global Footprint Network and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).  The 2012 report paints a bleak picture about world consumption, declining biodiversity, and the five greatest pressures forcing further reductions of biodiversity.  

The report states that in terms of demand and consumption of natural resources worldwide we are using the equivalent of 1.5 planets to support our activities and will need the equivalent of two planets by 2030.  Of course we are consuming resources at a different pace in the various nations of the world.  Comparing countries, the report states “If all of humanity lived like an average resident of Indonesia only two-thirds of the planet’s bio-capacity would be used; if everyone lived like an average Argentinean, humanity would demand more than half an additional planet; and if everyone lived like an average resident of the USA, a total of four Earths would be required to regenerate humanity’s annual demand on nature.”

The report identifies the five greatest direct pressures on biodiversity:

  • Destruction of habitats
  • Over exploitation of wild species populations
  • Pollution
  • Climate Change
  • Invasive species

Further, it estimates biodiversity has shrunk by 30% between 1970 and 2008 and by 60% in the tropics.

A separate study of 60 protected areas located in 36 nations in the world’s major tropical regions has shown continuous erosion of biodiversity over the last 30 years.  Tropical forests are the biologically richest ecosystems on Earth and protecting them has been a priority for the last 100 years.  The study considered 31 functional groups of species and 21 potential drivers of environmental change in evaluating the performance of the protected reserves.  While about half of all reserves performed effectively or passably, the rest are experiencing “an erosion of biodiversity that is often alarmingly widespread taxonomically and functionally.”

Published by Nature in July of 2012, it reports the failure of protected areas in tropical environments to slow the decline of biodiversity. The most vulnerable species groups are top predators, large non-predatory vertebrates, bats, stream-dwelling amphibians, terrestrial amphibians, lizards and larger reptiles, non-venomous snakes, freshwater fish, and large-seeded old-growth trees.  Still vulnerable, but less so, are primates, birds of all kinds, venomous snakes and migratory species.  The research showed somewhat unfortunately that five groups increased their abundance in the reserves, including pioneer and generalist trees, lianas and vines, invasive animals, invasive plants and human diseases.

The report offered an analysis that ecological changes and pressures inside the reserves compared to those outside the reserves were highly similar.  This led to the following conclusion “Our findings signal that the fates of tropical protected areas will be determined by environmental changes both within and around the reserves, and that pressures inside reserves often closely reflect those occurring around them.  For many reasons, larger reserves should be more resilient to such changes, although we found that removing the effects of reserve area statistically did not consistently weaken the correlations between changes inside versus outside protected areas.”

These two reports support conclusions drawn in a third watershed publication in March of 2011, entitled “Has the Earth’s sixth mass extinction already arrived?”  Mass extinctions are identified as occurring “when the Earth loses more than three quarters of its species in a geologically short interval, as has happened only five times in the past 540 million years or so.”  Biologists are suggesting in this report that a sixth mass extinction may now be underway given the increasing species losses in the last few centuries and millennia.

The scientists have compared the present species loss rates with those found in other, older extinctions and suggest the present loss rates are higher than would be expected from the fossil record.  The authors state “Such observations suggest that humans are now causing the sixth mass extinction, through co-opting resources, fragmenting habitats, introducing non-native species, spreading pathogens, killing species directly and changing global climate.  If so, recovery of biodiversity will not occur on any timeframe meaningful to people: evolution of new species typically takes at least hundreds of thousands of years, and recovery from mass extinction episodes probably occurs on timescales encompassing millions of years.”

Use the following links to obtain more information on these topics:

Scroll down the page and select the form of the report you want to see: http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/all_publications/living_planet_report/2012_lpr/





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