Adversarial Politics is Killing the Progressives

general election 2017 logo

Progressive parties are damaging their own interests by splitting the left field. Meanwhile the Conservatives have learned and have lunged right to effectively absorb UKIP, giving themselves a clear right field. I am ever hopeful, particularly if more younger folk vote. However, while progressive parties continue competing with each other, I fear the out-dated first-past-the-post electoral system at GE17 will stymie progressive forces. Continue reading

Badgers and Cognitive Dissonance

badger

Another badger cull debate

The UK government’s policy of culling badgers as part of tackling bovine tuberculosis (bTB) was debated in parliament for a second time on 27 March 2017 (Transcript/Video). What was striking about this debate, as well as its predecessor on 7 September 2016, was its ineffectiveness in informing or influencing. Much heartfelt opinion and many purported facts were aired, and there is some value in bringing the issue to the public attention again, but I doubt anyone changed their mind, certainly not the government. Continue reading

Animal Emancipation

chimpanzee hand grasping wire fence

Ask not what wildlife can do for you: could the next wave of emancipation be the recognition of non-human people?

We like to see good triumph over evil. We like to feel a little righteous. We’re less keen on the reversal – on being ‘wrong’. At empathy grade one, ‘am I being unreasonable?’ becomes ‘how would I feel if someone behaved this way toward me?’ Similarly, ‘how could those {insert people and historic period of choice} allow that {genocide/enslavement/oppression} to take place?’ becomes ‘when have I gone along with a crowd of idiots doing something immoral?’ Or, more radically: what attitudes or practices am I complicit in now that will be judged poorly by history? That’s unsettling.

Unfortunately it’s likely: arrogance survives despite successive, massive intellectual blows to “the dominionist, anthropocentric, speciesist, theocratic, and geocentric worldview of Western society.”[1] In a progressive world, what might follow the race, feminist, and sexual-orientation revolutions? Could our treatment of wild animals in the pursuit of food, entertainment, research and material resources “seem to our descendants as unspeakable as that of the slaves in the middle passage seem[s] to us”?[2] Continue reading

Poaching Campaigns: Missing the Horn’s Point

Patronising is not persuading

Time and time again I read of conservationists’ frustration with demand for horn, scales, and other wildlife body parts used in traditional Asian medicines. This demand is driving species through poaching to extinction. I share that frustration. And I abhor the cruelty and suffering, and the criminal racketeering that supplies the demand. However, campaigners lose my support when they claim that belief in the medicinal power of such items is misplaced ‘because it has no basis in science.’

Rhinoceros horn

Rhinoceros horn, ideally still attached to the rhinoceros

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Missing Hen Harriers: time for zero tolerance

The campaign to ban driven grouse shooting began because the pastime is incompatible with the salvation of hen harriers in particular and the protection of raptors in general. Driven grouse shooting requires intensive land use to maximise the grouse available for shooting. The grouse are ‘driven’ at the guns – beaters flush them toward the shooters, a form of ‘canned hunting’. Despite legal protection, these birds of prey keep disappearing from our skies and often turn up poisoned or shot. There is sufficient suitable habitat for over 300 pairs of hen harriers in England and Wales; the actual number of nesting attempts is in single figures – “a tiny handful“; the number of successful breeding attempts is usually zero.

hen harrier

Hen harrier, via Scottish Natural Heritage media library – copyright-free images of English hen harriers are as rare as…the birds themselves

The justification for seeking this ban has widened to include grouse shooting’s other serious negative consequences. Continue reading

Squirrelling Away

red squirrel

The squirrel debate seems straightforward: red squirrels are native to Britain. Grey squirrels are invasive aliens. Reds are endangered. Greys are rampant. The disease squirrel pox threatens reds, while greys are immune carriers. Greys outcompete reds for habitat and food. So greys must be handicapped? Like any ecological relationship, the truth is much more complex and fascinating. Continue reading

Bullfighting: cruel, outdated, and paid for by us

Bullfighting

On Wednesday MEPs have an opportunity to end the use of European funds to support farmers who breed bulls for bullfights. Please ask them to use it.

Bullfighting takes place in a relatively small number of countries across the world including Spain, Portugal, France, Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela and Peru. There are also many bull running or fiesta events, which often lead to the death of the bull. Many countries have banned bullfighting by law, including Argentina, Canada, Cuba, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Forty thousands bulls are killed for this bloodlust every year in Europe alone. The bulls are abused beforehand and tortured throughout the unfair fight. This barbaric activity is certainly not entertainment and has no place in the 21st century. Traditions should expire as our moral sense evolves. Yet, not only is it going ahead against the wishes of most Europeans, we are paying for it. Continue reading

Eathics: eat better for whatever you believe in

Chickens roasting
‘Eat less, better quality meat’ is common advice these days. It’s healthier for you, it’s ‘better’ for the animals you eat, it’s fairer for producers, and it’s sustainable for the environment. Simple? Of course not.

“In rich Western nations, preaching about how eating a lot of meat is bad for both one’s health and the planet provokes resentment. Meanwhile, in developing nations, the rising middle-classes can at last afford to eat more meat, which was previously a luxury. It’s not surprising that governments worldwide duck out of tackling the problem.” Continue reading

Green Momentum

People along the broad frontier of radical pluralism
Positive socio-environmental change is happening in Britain—a skim through recent progress.

Rewilding is not only being seriously discussed, it’s happening. Beavers are back in Scotland and wild in England. Lynx may soon follow as a range of stakeholders recognise benefits and negligible risks — lynx are wary of humans and unlikely to target livestock; instead they are a natural predator for deer, numbers of which are wholly out of control. Continue reading

Sustainable Development is an Oxymoron

Development, according to our current terms, is unsustainable and needs to, er, develop – a wry wander through current thinking.

“The goal of sustainable development is to enable all people throughout the world to satisfy their basic needs and enjoy a better quality of life without compromising the quality of life of future generations. The Scottish Government has as its overall purpose to focus government and public services on creating a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth.” (http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Environment/SustainableDevelopment)

“Increasing sustainable economic growth”? That’s a lot of bulge. Continue reading