What Pundit Ezra Klein Doesn’t Get About Parenting in a Looming Climate Crisis

One and done? Having smaller families is one of the most impactful ways to reduce anthropogenic emissions. (Photo credit: Edward Zulawski/Flickr)

It’s a matter of math: Bigger families mean more carbon emissions.

By Carter Dillard, Independent Media Institute

6 min read

Having the opportunity to write in the New York Times about having kids during the current climate crisis is a major opportunity to do good, by highlighting reforms that can promote smaller families as one of the most impactful long-run ways to reduce emissions and enhance equitable investments in each child (through things like baby bonds) to help prepare them to deal with the consequences of climate change in the future.

New York Times columnist Ezra Klein recently had that opportunity, but that’s not the opinion piece he ended up writing (“You’re Kids Are Not Doomed,” June 5, 2022), and many are disappointed.

Instead, Klein did what Elon Musk, Mitt Romney, many growth-minded economists and dozens of other relatively wealthy white men have done. He pushed people (women, actually) to have kids. Instead of offering a nuanced response to the problems, Klein framed the issue as a simple idea about having kids, and then urged people to go forward and have them.

Who benefits from that advice, which many studies show is the worst way to exacerbate the climate crisis? The investor class, according to Nobel laureate Steven Chu. A class that, according to another economist, ignores the need to stabilize the human population at a much lower level than what exists today.

Klein gave it away when he said: “This is a vision of more, not less.” Does he mean more consumers, workers, and taxpayers who heighten the pyramid scheme that benefits the wealthy class? His recipe for the future is simply to ensure more of the same system that created the crisis, where a few influence the fate of many, and risk the worst of outcomes for generations to come.

Forget what the climate crisis will do to future generations and just consider more immediate issues that most men who push women to have children miss. In the United States alone in 2019, state agencies identified an estimated 1,840 children who died as a result of abuse and neglect—an average of five children a day. Internationally the number of children “exposed to violence” could be as high as 1 billion. To ensure a better future for the children, we need to create a conducive environment to help protect them. We need to collectively plan, not push.

Urging people to just have kids is especially surprising for Klein, who routinely champions veganism and animal rights. Given that a small percentage of people will change what they consume to protect animals, he is undoing with one hand what he claims to be doing with the other. Few animals will benefit from the arrival of more humans on the planet. Human activity has already “shrunk wildlife populations by 60 percent.”

Instead of an anthropocentric view of the world, which mostly benefits the few, we need to look at a reformative ecocentric view that benefits everyone. The most thoughtful and caring people are not having kids because of the harm they will suffer today, because of a crisis fundamentally created by others having kids without considering the long-term effects of their choices. Simply urging people to have kids exacerbates this situation: Human population growth is a fundamental driver of the Anthropocene. It also continues a centuries-long process of growth in which humans have slowly traded consensual political relations for exploitative commercial ones, based on the fallacy that having kids is a more personal choice that parents have the right to make rather than an interpersonal choice involving society.

Why not promote a climate-responsive change in culture that urges parents to show readiness to delay having kids and have smaller families, as well as promote redistribution of wealth to offset childhood inequity? Why not urge greenhouse gas emitting people in the United States to have fewer kids, and to invest instead in protecting children abroad—through adoption and otherwise—who are at imminent risk of starvation because of our climatological impacts?

This could also help eliminate the massive and growing gap between Black and white kids in the United States via wealth transfers, and ensure birth conditions that are at least consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child? Certainly now would be a good time to question the fundamental power structure, and nothing is more fundamental than how we see our species relative to others, or our position in the political hierarchy relative to other persons, whether we are born poor or rich, for example. Why see those relations as commercial ones, rather than as a chance to reverse birth destiny and create true equality of opportunity?

The climate crisis was created by a universal family planning model devoid of the need to protect nonhuman animals and nature, to ensure birth equity or a fair start in life, and to have children for functional democracies. Political scientists, like Leah Stokes, whom Klein cited, missed this point. Urging people to have more kids because one might become a Greta Thunberg, and thus solve the problem created by the act of having so many kids, is an exemplary idea of that thought process. The costs of Stokes’ and other people’s mistakes are astronomical and climbing. The crisis means we should change that model. Klein recommends nothing of the sort. Instead, we get cliches: “To bring a child into this world has always been an act of hope.” And hyperbole: “I don’t just prefer a world of net-zero emissions to a world of net-zero children.” And naivete: “If the commitments world governments have made since the Paris climate accord hold, we’re on track for a rise of 2 degrees or even less.” He should know that non-legally binding commitments are toothless, and ultimately, meaningless.

Still, Klein, his children, and many of the people he interviews benefitted and continue to benefit from an unsustainable system of growth that places its costs and suffering on others, thoughtful people whose right to have children has been impacted by others, and future generations who will suffer the loss of the natural environment that allowed past generations to flourish. There is a strong baseline argument that recovering those costs from the wealthy and using those resources to institute post-climate change family reforms described herein—incentivizing eco-socially restorative families—is the most effective long-run way to do good today. There is an increasingly accepted argument that such reparations existentially precede and thereby override property rights (the majority of rights holders are future generations), enabling people to seize the wealth as recompense.

And while Klein’s advice will go to benefit the pyramids of power described by the Nobel laureate Steven Chu above that created by people like former U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, reparations that limit and decentralize their power—per one recent peer-reviewed article—may be our best long-term hope for true democracy. That decentralization must address the wealth gap and include a shift to an equitable socioeconomic system that represents and empowers women and children.

That is the fundamental power shift that our species, from people who are animal advocates to the conservative National Review (which sides with Klein), is evading, perhaps because it is truly fundamental. That’s all the more reason to do it.

One question remains: How will Ezra Klein, Elon Musk and Mitt Romney pay for those costs?


Carter Dillard is the policy adviser for the Fair Start Movement. He served as an Honors Program attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice and served with a national security law agency before developing a comprehensive account of reforming family planning for the Yale Human Rights and Development Law Journal. See his recent EFL pieces on NationofChange, EcoWatch and iEyeNews.

Take action…

Charred life: Coal is loaded onto a train’s coal tender in the town of Traralgon, in Victoria, Australia. (Photo credit: Michael Greenhill/Flickr)

Children petition Australian government to honor Paris Agreement, give up coal

“The UN Environment Programme reports the targets offered up by countries, including Australia, are too low to keep global warming under 1.5° Celsius. The reason why children are organizing this petition is that we can’t vote and climate change is going to have a bigger impact on our generation. We want to have our voices heard—the voices of the future. We, the children of Australia, therefore call on the Commonwealth Government of Australia to commit to renewable energy and a climate policy that contributes to stopping climate change and honors the nation’s commitment to the Paris Agreement and the Green Climate Fund. More coal is not going to help. We hope that you consider us and our future in your policy-making.” —Ella-Mei Graham, Change.org

Sign Ella-Mei’s petition urging Australia to honor its commitment to the Paris Agreement.

Letter to the editor…

Damn dam: A dam in Hordaland, Norway. Dams threaten the life cycles of fish by blocking their movements along their natural migrations between feeding and spawning locations, disrupting their reproductive ability. (Photo credit: Astrid Westvang/Flickr)

Dear Earth | Food | Life,

Though big dams are generally more destructive than beneficial (10 Reasons Why Hydropower Dams Are a False Climate Solution,” Josh Klemm and Eugene Simonov, EFL/CounterPunch, April 8, 2022), so-called “microhydro power” can be both sustainable and useful. Microhydro is small-scale and suitable for local use, but not utility-scale. The installations often do not require any dam at all, or at most a low dam across which fish and other animals can easily pass. The idea is to collect some of the stream flow at a higher elevation and divert it through a pipe to a generator at a lower elevation, from where the water is returned to the river. Obviously, only a portion of the stream is diverted so the stream continues flowing free, just with somewhat less water. Droughts would make microhydro useless, but floods would have no impact on a well-designed system.

We need to use as many alternatives for clean energy as possible, and not eliminate any alternative that seems viable. In addition to microhydro, we should also consider tidal, wave, and ocean current systems, though these also have issues. Tidal power in particular often requires damming a bay or estuary, which is as destructive as a freshwater dam or even more so. Wave and current systems may be preferred, but these also have their own set of environmental impacts. These are all currently small-scale systems, but then again, so is rooftop solar. Every little bit helps.

Fusion is the holy grail of clean energy, and it looks now like fusion is coming, maybe in time, to help us as quickly as any other development. Fusion is the best utility-scale form of clean energy because the footprint is so much smaller than solar or wind. Finally, though it is unpopular with many environmentalists, burning non-fossil methane for energy actually makes sense if the methane is going to enter the atmosphere anyway. This does not include fracking or drilling of course but does include methane from decomposition and possibly methane bubbling up from methane sea ice. Burning the methane converts it into carbon dioxide more quickly than natural processes would, and methane is more potent as a greenhouse gas, so this is a benefit. Also, we get the energy that would otherwise have to come from other sources. This kind of methane use should not impact the environment or the Indigenous people.

Rejecting viable energy sources is foolish; it will only make fossil fuels more necessary if we insist on only using perfect energy systems—of which there are none, in fact. Both wind and solar require vast amounts of materials, the production of which causes plenty of environmental damage. Solar and wind projects are big—displacing the natural inhabitants of the area. Thermal solar projects require water and are often built in the desert: a bad combination. Wind turbines kill birds. Geothermal projects can cause earthquakes, limiting safe locations to unpopulated areas. Of course, drilling for fossil fuels also causes earthquakes, but let’s not advocate for more fossil fuels. The point is that every form of energy has adverse environmental impacts. Using less energy is therefore always a good thing. But human civilization requires energy, so we are going to have to make compromises.

—Larry Lawton, Aberdeen, Washington, April 12, 2022

Parting thought…

Newbie: A sprout breaks through. (Photo credit: Andrew Gustar/Flickr)

“Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders.” —Henry David Thoreau

Earth | Food | Life (EFL) explores the critical and often interconnected issues facing the climate/environment, food/agriculture and nature/animal rights, and champions action; specifically, how responsible citizens, voters and consumers can help put society on an ethical path of sustainability that respects the rights of all species who call this planet home. EFL emphasizes the idea that everything is connected, so every decision matters.

Click here to support the work of EFL and the Independent Media Institute.

Questions, comments, suggestions, submissions? Contact EFL editor Reynard Loki at [email protected]. Follow EFL on Twitter @EarthFoodLife.

How I Found Myself Befriending a Wild Fox

Unforgettable: A wild fox started showing up on the author’s property every day at 4:15 pm, and sat next to a lone forget-me-not. (Photo credit: Catherine Raven)

A scientist went against the grain on her industry’s rule against anthropomorphizing nonhuman animals—here’s what she discovered.

By Catherine Raven, Independent Media Institute

8 min read

This excerpt is from Fox & I: An Uncommon Friendship by Catherine Raven. Copyright © 2021 by the author and reprinted with permission of Spiegel & Grau, LLC. It was adapted for the web by Earth | Food | Life, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

Editor’s note: At 15, Catherine Raven left home and headed west to work as a national park ranger. She later earned a PhD in biology and built an off-the-grid house on an isolated plot of land in Montana, making a living by remote teaching and leading field classes in Yellowstone National Park. One day, she noticed that the wild fox who had been showing up on her property was now appearing every day at 4:15 p.m. One day she brought a camping chair outside and sat just feet away from him. And then she began to read to him from The Little Prince. Her memoir about the relationship that developed between them, Fox & I: An Uncommon Friendship, is the winner of the 2022 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award.

For 12 consecutive days, the fox had appeared at my cottage. At no more than one minute after the sun capped the western hill, he lay down in a spot of dirt among the powdery blue bunchgrasses. Tucking the tip of his tail under his chin and squinting his eyes, he pretended to sleep. I sat on a camp chair with stiff spikes of bunchgrass poking into the canvas. Opening a book, I pretended to read. Nothing but 2 meters and one spindly forget-me-not lay between us. Someone may have been watching us—a dusky shrew, a field mouse, a rubber boa—but it felt like we were alone with the world to ourselves.

On the thirteenth day, at around 3:30 and no later than 4 p.m., I bundled up in more clothing than necessary to stay comfortably warm and went outside. Pressing my hands together as if praying, I pushed them between my knees while I sat with my feet tapping the ground. I was waiting for the fox and hoping he wouldn’t show.

Two miles up a gravel road in an isolated mountain valley and 60 miles from the nearest city, the cottage was not an appropriate arrangement for a girl on her own. My street was unnamed, so I didn’t have an address. Living in this remote spot left me without access to reasonable employment. I was many miles beyond reach of cell phone towers, and if a rattlesnake bit me, or if I slipped climbing the rocky cliff behind the cottage, no one would hear me cry for help. Of course, this saved me the trouble of crying in the first place.

I had purchased this land three years earlier. Until then I had been living up valley, renting a cabin that the owner had “winterized,” in the sense that if I wore a down parka and mukluks to bed, I wouldn’t succumb to frostbite overnight. That was what I could afford with the money I’d earned guiding backcountry hikers and teaching field classes part-time. When a university offered me a one-year research position, you might think I would have jumped at the chance to leave. Not just because I was dodging icicles when entering the shower, but because riding the postdoc train was the next logical step for a biologist. But I didn’t jump. I made the university wait until after I had bought this land. Then I accepted and rented a speck of a dormitory room at the university, 130 miles away. Every weekend, through snowstorms and over icy roads, I drove back here to camp. Perching on a small boulder, listening to my propane stove hissing and the pinging sound of grasshoppers flying headfirst into my tent’s taut surface, I felt like I was part of my land. I had never felt part of anything before. When the university position ended, I camped full-time while arranging for contractors to develop the land and build the cottage.

Outside the cottage, from where I sat waiting for the fox, the view was beautiful. Few structures marred my valley; full rainbows were common. The ends of the rainbows touched down in the rolling fields below me, no place green enough to hide a leprechaun but a fair swap for living with rattlers. Still, I was torn. Even a full double rainbow couldn’t give me what a city could: a chance to interact with people, immerse myself in culture, and find a real job to keep me so busy doing responsible work that I wouldn’t have time for chasing a fox down a hole. I had sacrificed plenty to earn my PhD in biology: I had slept in abandoned buildings and mopped floors at the university. In exchange for which I had learned that the scientific method is the foundation for knowledge and that wild foxes do not have personalities.

When Fox padded toward me, a flute was playing a faint, hypnotic melody like the Pied Piper’s song in my favorite fairy tale. You remember: a colorfully dressed stranger appears in town, enticing children with his music to a land of alpine lakes and snowy peaks. When the fox curled up beside me and squinted, I opened my book. The music was still playing. No, it wasn’t the Pied Piper at all. It was just a bird—a faraway thrush.

The next day, while waiting for Fox’s 4:15 appearance, I thought about our upcoming milestone: 15 consecutive days spent reading together—six months in fox time. Many foxes had visited before him; some had been born a minute’s walk from my back door. All of them remained furtive. Against all odds, and over several months, Fox and I had created a relationship by carefully navigating a series of sundry and haphazard events. We had achieved something worth celebrating. But how to celebrate?

I decided to ditch him.

I poured coffee grounds from a red can into a pot of boiling water, waited to decant cowboy coffee, and thought about how to lose the fox. Maybe he wouldn’t come by anymore. I opened the door of the fridge. “Have I mistaken a coincidence for a commitment?”

The refrigerator had no answer and very little food. But it gave me an idea. I drew up a list of grocery items and enough chores to keep me busy until long after 4:15 p.m. and headed out. The supermarket was in a small town thirty miles down valley, and I had to drive with my blue southern sky behind me. Ahead, black-bottomed clouds with white faces chased each other into the eastern mountains. Below, in the revolving shade, Angus cattle, lambing ewes, and rough horses conspired to render each passing mile indistinguishable from the one before. Usually, I tracked my location counting bends in the snaky river, my time watching the clouds shift, and my fortune spotting golden eagles. (Seven was my record; four earned a journal entry.) Not today.

Now that I was free to be anywhere I wanted at 4:15 p.m., I returned to my mercurial habits and drove too fast to tally eagles. Imagine a straight open road with no potholes and not another rig in sight. Shifting into fifth gear, I straddled the centerline to correct the bevel toward the borrow pit and accelerated into triple digits. Never mind the adjective, I was mercury: quicksilver, Hg, hydrargyrum, ore of cinnabar, resistant to herding, incapable of assuming a fixed form. The steering wheel vibrated in agreement.

The privilege of consorting with a fox cost more than I had already paid. The previous week, while I was in town collecting my groceries, I got a wild hair to stop at the gym. The only person lifting weights was Bill, a scientist whom I had worked with in the park service. I mentioned that a fox “might” be visiting me. “As long as you’re not anthropomorphizing,” he responded. Six words and a wink left me mortified, and I slunk away. Anthropomorphism describes the unacceptable act of humanizing animals, imagining that they have qualities only people should have, and admitting foxes into your social circle. Anyone could get away with humanizing animals they owned—horses, hawks, or even leashed skunks. But for someone like me, teaching natural history, anthropomorphizing wild animals was corny and very uncool.

You don’t need much imagination to see that society has bulldozed a gorge between humans and wild, unboxed animals, and it’s far too wide and deep for anyone who isn’t foolhardy to risk the crossing. As for making yourself unpopular, you might as well show up to a university lecture wearing Christopher Robin shorts and white bobby socks as be accused of anthropomorphism. Only Winnie-the-Pooh would associate with you.

Why suffer such humiliation? Better to stay on your own side of the gorge. As for me, I was bushed from climbing in, crossing over, and climbing out so many times. Sometimes, I wasn’t climbing in and out so much as falling. Was I imagining Fox’s personality? My notion of anthropomorphism kept changing as I spent time with him. At this point, at the beginning of our relationship, I was mostly overcome with curiosity.

Catherine Raven is a former national park ranger at Glacier, Mount Rainier, North Cascades, Voyageurs, and Yellowstone national parks. She earned a PhD in biology from Montana State University, holds degrees in zoology and botany from the University of Montana, and is a member of American Mensa and Sigma Xi. Her natural history essays have appeared in American Scientist, Mensa Journal, and Montana Magazine.

Take action…

Retire the hounds: Fox hunting was banned in England and Wales when the Hunting Act was passed in 2004. (Photo credit: Sarah Altendorf/Flickr)

Protect wild foxes in the United Kingdom from illegal hunting

Keep the Ban: “At least 84 percent of the U.K. population are in favor of fox hunting being illegal and yet there were attempts to weaken the act. The Hunting Act of 2004, which banned fox hunting, needs strengthening to ensure people are discouraged from participating in illegal hunting, and for those caught hunting, the penalty and arrest need to be more severe. We would like to see section 6 of the Act to be amended to add a provision for a prison sentence of up to six months for illegal hunting. Additionally, there should be a ‘reckless’ clause that will make it an offense for anyone to ‘cause or permit’ one or more dogs to seek out, chase, injure or kill a wild mammal. The widespread flouting of the ban continues to this day and these measures along with several other reforms could ensure wildlife is adequately protected.”

Urge U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson to strengthen the 2004 Hunting Act to protect wild foxes.

Cause for concern…

Sea change: The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, part of the Earth’s oceanic “conveyor belt” that helps to regulate the world’s climate, has been slowing down in part due to human-caused climate change. (Image credit: NASA)

The collapse of a major Atlantic current would cause worldwide disasters

“A shutdown of a major current in the Atlantic Ocean would rapidly transform wind, temperature, and precipitation patterns across the whole globe, according to new research,” reports Lauren Leffer for Gizmodo. “The current is already slowing, likely at least in part because of human-caused climate change. Now, scientists have found that, if the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) collapses completely, there would be never-before-predicted impacts, according to a study published last week in the journal Nature Climate Change.”

“The northern Pacific Ocean would cool. Patches of the Northern Hemisphere would get drier, while patches of the South become wetter,” writes Leffer. “Atmospheric pressure would shift to be much higher over Eurasia and other parts of the Northern Hemisphere. Trade winds from the north would move farther south and get stronger. Other winds elsewhere would also intensify. Antarctic ice could melt even faster. In short: all the basics about the planet we know and love get thrown way out of whack. No corner of Earth is forecast to be unaffected by an AMOC collapse in the new research.”

Letter to the editor…

Market share: Indigenous women sell food at a municipal market in Tucuru, Guatemala. Food sovereignty holds that food producers, distributors and consumers are also the ones who define and control the policies and operations of the overall food and agricultural systems. (Photo credit: UN Women)

Dear Earth | Food | Life,

Last week, thanks to the Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts and the Santa Barbara County Food Action Network, I was able to join the Santa Barbara Culinary Experience. There, I had the honor of speaking with Congressmember Salud Carbajal, truly one of the food and labor warriors in Congress who’s working across party lines to help farmers, workers, and eaters alike.

Whether or not the politicians we voted for are the ones who end up representing us, he said that the communication between citizens and our elected officials is vital. Rep. Carbajal told me that the stories he hears from his constituents really matter, and he takes them seriously. A lot of folks might think it’s old-fashioned to write, email, or call your representatives, senators, and governors, but it really makes a difference. Do it right now—here’s a link to contact your elected officials.

And like many of us in the food system, Rep. Carbajal has also been devoting energy and thought to the Farm Bill. Yes, it’s a messy and complicated piece of legislation. It also holds massive potential to really help farmers, eaters, and businesses in the food and agriculture sectors to do things differently. One place to start is by incorporating food security and food sovereignty more strongly into the Farm Bill. I’m invigorated by an idea I’ve heard from Ricardo Salvador of the Union of Concerned Scientists, chef Andrew Zimmern, and others: A coordinated national food policy, or even a Secretary of Food or a Food and Farm Bill to unify our national and international approaches to food.

Dani Nierenberg
Food Tank
May 26, 2022


Friends, not food: Lina Lind Christensen, who runs the Danish sanctuary Frie Vinger (“Free Wings”), with a rescued hen. Frie Vinger rescues and re-homes battery hens saved from the egg industry. (Photo credit: Jo-Anne McArthur/#unboundproject/We Animals Media)

Thinking about chickens differently

Though chickens are polygamous, mating with more than one member of the opposite sex, individual birds are attracted to each other. They not only “breed”; but they also form bonds, clucking endearments to one another throughout the day. A rooster does a courtly dance for his special hens in which he “skitters sideways and opens his wing feathers downward like Japanese fans,” according to Rick and Gail Luttmann’s book “Chickens in Your Backyard.” A man once told me, “When I was a young man I worked on a chicken farm, and one of the most amazing things about those chickens was that they would actually choose each other and refuse to mate with anyone else.”

Sadly, the eggs of these parent flocks are snatched away and sent to mechanical incubators, so the parents never see their chicks. “Breeder” roosters and hens are routinely culled for low fertility, and also because “if a particular male becomes unable to mate, his matching females will not accept another male until he is removed,” explains the book “Commercial Chicken Meat and Egg Production.”

Little more than a year later, the parents who have survived their miserable life are sent to slaughter just like the chicks they never got to see, raise or protect, as they would otherwise have chosen to do if they were free.

—EFL contributor Karen Davis, “On International Respect for Chickens Day, Try Thinking About Them Differently” (Countercurrents, April 26, 2022)

Parting thought…

Kisses: Susie Coston, the national shelter director of Farm Sanctuary, spends some quality time with one of the residents of the pig barn at the sanctuary’s Watkins Glen, New York, location. One of the largest farm animal sanctuaries in the U.S., Farm Sanctuary has provided a safe haven for thousands of rescued farm animals. (Photo credit: Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals Media)

“Just how destructive does a culinary preference have to be before we decide to eat something else? If contributing to the suffering of billions of animals that live miserable lives and (quite often) die in horrific ways isn’t motivating, what would be? If being the number one contributor to the most serious threat facing the planet (global warming) isn’t enough, what is? And if you are tempted to put off these questions of conscience, to say not now, then when?” —Jonathan Safran Foer, “Eating Animals

Earth | Food | Life (EFL) explores the critical and often interconnected issues facing the climate/environment, food/agriculture and nature/animal rights, and champions action; specifically, how responsible citizens, voters and consumers can help put society on an ethical path of sustainability that respects the rights of all species who call this planet home. EFL emphasizes the idea that everything is connected, so every decision matters.

Click here to support the work of EFL and the Independent Media Institute.

Questions, comments, suggestions, submissions? Contact EFL editor Reynard Loki at [email protected]. Follow EFL on Twitter @EarthFoodLife.

Let’s Get to the Heart of the Matter With Biolabs and Cows

Vicious cycle: The government subsidies that the cattle industry receives prove to be dangerous for our health while profiting the corporate subsidy recipients. (Photo credit: Rusty Clark/Flickr)

How can we justify slaughtering cows to repair our hearts, when the consumption of cows is what weakens our hearts?

By Maureen Medina, Independent Media Institute

6 min read

The demand for bovine heart valves to treat cardiovascular disease—the top global killer—is rising, and there is a cruel irony—with which I have firsthand experience—in how the cattle industry has become both the problem and the solution. We rely on medical treatments procured from cows to treat cardiovascular disease in humans, which is largely caused by our consumption of cows and other animals (red meat).

Brilliant marketing campaigns by the cattle industry have shielded us from the ugly truth all along: the cattle industry is only interested in making profits at the cost of our health and well-being and the lives of other animals.

The cattle industry profits from government-funded exploitation of cows under the guise of nutrition and medicine. Corporate giants in the food industry, such as Cargill and Tyson Foods, and medical technology giants, such as Edwards Lifesciences, all profit from the cattle they slaughter for their meat, dairy and tissue.

The government subsidies that the cattle industry receives prove to be dangerous for our health while profiting the corporate subsidy recipients. “‘[C]urrent federal agricultural subsidies focus on financing production of food commodities, a large portion of which are converted into high-fat meat and dairy products’ and other items that increase the risk for cardiometabolic risks in American adults,” stated the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, while quoting from a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Emory University.

Yet “the U.S. government spends $38 billion each year to subsidize the meat and dairy industries, but only… $17 million… each year to subsidize fruits and vegetables,” according to a 2015 University of California, Berkeley paper.

It’s a vicious cycle that harms people and animals, and benefits profit-driven corporations. On one side, big agribusiness is slaughtering cows for meat and dairy—foods that researchers have linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. On the other side, medical corporations are profiting from producing bovine heart valves.

Cargill, which is one of the largest beef processors in North America and earned $134.4 billion in 2021, has been dubbed “the worst company in the world” by environmental organization Mighty Earth for its unethical and unsustainable business practices and the environmental damage it has caused. In addition to perpetuating antibiotic resistance, Cargill has repeatedly been the source of multiple outbreaks of foodborne illnesses, such as listeria, salmonella and E. coli, over the years, and is responsible for distributing millions of pounds of contaminated poultry and beef.

Tyson Foods is the world’s second-largest meat processor and one of four companies that control more than 80 percent of beef processing in the United States. In 2020, it earned about $43.2 billion, which is mostly attributed to its sale of beef. In 2015, Tyson Foods recalled approximately 16,000 pounds of ground beef products that may have been contaminated with E. coli and had to recall 8,955,296 pounds of chicken products due to potential contamination of listeria in 2021.

Edwards Lifesciences, with reported revenue of $4.4 billion in 2020, receives pig hearts and cow tissue daily and has federal approval to sell cow-based valves in the United States. It typically takes the pericardium from three cows to create one heart valve. The company has imported more than 100,000 batches of bovine tissue from Australia since 2020. Edwards Lifesciences predicts that “the global surgical structural heart market opportunity will reach $2 billion by 2028.”

In 2012, I received a 23 mm bovine valve from Edwards Lifesciences to replace my pulmonary valve.

At only 23 years of age, I had my second open-heart surgery. My sternum was cut and spread open, my heart muscle was exposed, my heart was stopped while a machine operated in its place, and my pulmonary valve was replaced with bovine tissue. This was the most extreme experience I have ever endured, yet, according to one estimate, the prevalence of heart valve surgery will increase from 290,000 to 890,000 between 2003 and 2050.

I was given the option of a mechanical heart valve but was told that, if I did, I would require anticoagulants for the rest of my life to prevent blood clotting; the other option was getting a biological valve, which was encouraged. Though the risks of clotting in biological valves are downplayed, especially in comparison to the risks associated with mechanical valves, my cardiologists from New York-Presbyterian/Cornell Medical Center have urged me—and others who have undergone similar procedures—to take blood thinners daily for the rest of our lives. With biological valves, which are associated with easy intraoperative handling and minimal suture line bleeding, there is a risk of degradation after 15-20 years due to calcification or inflammation; the course of action if that happens is to replace the valve once it expires.

I put my fate entirely in the doctors’ hands—as most people do—and, desperate to alleviate my symptoms rather than add to them, I chose to get a biological valve made from bovine tissue.

It took almost a year to be operated on, yet no preventative measures were taken or recommended to alleviate my pain. I begged for surgery because I thought it was the only way. But was it?

While many conditions (like mine) are congenital, we can still argue about nature versus nurture.

Research presented by the European Society of Cardiology found that eating greater amounts of red and processed meat is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and death. According to a study conducted by the University of Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Population Health, which involved more than 1.4 million people whose health was tracked for 30 years, for every 1.76 ounces of unprocessed red meat consumed per day, the risk of coronary heart disease increased by 9 percent. Heart disease claims approximately 17.9 million lives worldwide annually.

On condition of anonymity, one nurse shared with me, “Healthy people don’t make money.”

“More than 70 percent of chronic illnesses [including heart failure] can be prevented or reversed with a whole-food, plant-based dietary lifestyle,” according to the Plantrician Project. Yet, “the market for replacement heart valves is growing at a rate of about 13 percent every year globally and demand outstrips supply,” according to Stuff, a New Zealand-based news website.

There are about 10.4 million beef and dairy cattle in New Zealand, and the United States constitutes the biggest market for the pericardia extracted from these animals. One source reportedly refused to divulge to Stuff the number of cow pericardia extracted and sold per year, citing “commercial reasons.”

According to new research on the bovine pericardial market, “the market is expected to reach… $4,134.4 million by 2027 from… $1,959.7 million in 2019; it is estimated to grow at a… [compound annual growth rate (CAGR)] of 9.9 percent from 2020 to 2027.”

“[One] hurdle we cannot ignore is that there is no profit in health, while there are immense profits derived from disease; hence, the U.S. has created a ‘disease and disability’ care system, rather than a true ‘health’ care system built on the foundational pillar of prevention,” pointed out the Plantrician Project.

How can we justify slaughtering cows to repair our hearts, when the consumption of cows is what weakens our hearts? While discerning between farming corporations and medical corporations within the cattle industry, one must ask: Is there a difference?

For the good of human health, as well as the health of the planet and its nonhuman inhabitants (especially cows), it is important for each person to listen to their own body, and that they (in tandem with physicians) stay informed and explore preventative measures.


Maureen Medina is the founder of Leave in Peace and a campaign strategist and organizer for Slaughter Free NYC. In alignment with the idea that none of us are free unless all of us are free, Maureen hopes to inspire the pursuit of collective liberation through her writing. Find Maureen’s work on Linktree.

Take action…

Checkered: A 2019 satellite image of palm oil plantations in East Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of the island Borneo, reveals a scarred landscape that has threatened ecosystems, biodiversity and local populations. (Photo credit: European Space Agency/Flickr)

​​​​The worst company in the world: Cargill

“Numerous corporations are guilty of trashing nature. Major chocolate manufacturers, countless palm oil producers and global fast-food chains are all driving the decline of the world’s forests, savannas and other ecosystems. Yet when it comes to environmental destruction, Cargill dwarfs all the rest: If other corporations are piranhas, Cargill is a great white shark,” says Rainforest Rescue, a nonprofit environmental group based in Hamburg, Germany. “The U.S.-based multinational has a long and sordid history of duplicity, deception and destruction that earned it the title “worst company in the world” in a report by the NGO Mighty Earth. The report describes in detail how Cargill profits from the destruction of the environment and the exploitation of people and how it blocks urgently needed changes.

“In Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia, Cargill is involved in the wholesale destruction of the Amazon, Grand Chaco and Cerrado ecosystems for the production of soy and beef,” the group states. “In Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, Cargill buys cocoa that has been illegally grown in protected areas and national parks. The company also does not seem to have a problem with buying cocoa that was produced using child labor. In Indonesia and Malaysia, Cargill buys palm oil from companies that illegally clear rainforests and are involved in child and forced labor. Cargill ignores those issues: profits come before ethics.”

Tell McDonald’s, Burger King, Walmart and Unilever to drop Cargill from their supply chains.

Cause for concern…

Ship of fools: As global trade expands, the worldwide shipping industry’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions could rise from 3 percent today to 17 percent or more by 2050. (Photo credit: Andres Alvarado/Flickr)

Ship pollution is rising as the U.S. waits for world leaders to act

“As sales of electric cars increase and renewable energy proliferates, only a few shippers have begun to try zero-emission fuels and wind-propulsion technology,” reports Anna Phillips for the Washington Post. “Efforts to cut carbon emissions through international regulations have met resistance from shipbuilders, oil companies and countries aligned with the handful of major shippers dominating the industry.”

“On [June 6], the International Maritime Organization, the UN agency that regulates international shipping, brought together officials from more than 100 countries for a virtual meeting to discuss whether to raise their collective climate ambition. But the shipping and fossil fuel industries wield considerable influence in these negotiations: Financing for the IMO’s green ships initiative, for example, comes from Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter.”

Round of applause…

Resistance: Thousands of activists gathered at San Francisco Civic Center on November 15, 2016, to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in North Dakota and the gathering of water protectors standing against the Dakota Access Pipeline. (Photo credit: Peg Hunter/Flickr)

Reversing Trump, EPA will restore Tribes’ and states’ power to oppose pipelines

On June 2, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a rule restoring power to Tribes and states seeking to oppose pipeline projects on the grounds that such projects threaten waterways and wetlands, reversing a contentious Trump-era policy that imposed strict deadlines and limited reviews.

“For 50 years, the Clean Water Act has protected water resources that are essential to thriving communities, vibrant ecosystems, and sustainable economic growth,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “EPA’s proposed rule builds on this foundation by empowering states, territories, and Tribes to use Congressionally granted authority to protect precious water resources while supporting much-needed infrastructure projects that create jobs and bolster our economy.”

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, said, “The Clean Water Act quite clearly gives states, territories, and Tribes the ability to protect their water quality when projects are permitted or licensed.”

Letter to the editor…

Home sweet home: Moon bears rescued by Animals Asia enjoy their new lives at a sanctuary in Vietnam. (Photo credit: Animals Asia)

The end of bear bile farming in Vietnam

Dear Earth | Food | Life,

I am writing to you about great news in the animal welfare and biodiversity area: Animals Asia is ending bear bile farming in Vietnam. We are presenting the last bear sanctuary in the country to save the last remaining 310 bears from farms.

After we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Vietnamese Government in 1997, bear bile farming was declared illegal in the country; and since then, we have been rescuing the remaining bears on bile farms. But our current bear rescue center in Tam Dao is now approaching its full capacity; therefore, we are about to break ground for a new sanctuary in Bach Ma. 

This 12-hectare sanctuary will be home to all rescued bears. Once the last bear is saved, this cruelty will be history for Vietnam and set a precedent for other countries in the region to follow. This is a monumental step in biodiversity since this cruel practice has been pushing moon and sun bears towards extinction in the country and is listed as “vulnerable to extinction” by International Union for Conservation of Nature. 


Nezahat E. Sevim
Global Head of Media Relations and PR
Animals Asia
May 24, 2022

Parting thought…

Smarter than you think: An arc-eyed hawkfish (Paracirrhites arcatus) keeping watch from a branching coral at Cod Hole in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (Photo credit: Richard Ling/Flickr)

“Fish don’t have a three-second memory … in fact, they can be taught how to evade a trap and remember it a year later. Fish can learn from each other, recognize other fish they’ve spent time with previously, know their place within fish social hierarchies, and remember complex spatial maps of their surroundings. There’s even some evidence … that they use tools.” —Joseph Stromberg, “Are fish far more intelligent than we realize?” (Vox)

Earth | Food | Life (EFL) explores the critical and often interconnected issues facing the climate/environment, food/agriculture and nature/animal rights, and champions action; specifically, how responsible citizens, voters and consumers can help put society on an ethical path of sustainability that respects the rights of all species who call this planet home. EFL emphasizes the idea that everything is connected, so every decision matters.

Click here to support the work of EFL and the Independent Media Institute.

Questions, comments, suggestions, submissions? Contact EFL editor Reynard Loki at [email protected]. Follow EFL on Twitter @EarthFoodLife.

Letter From the Editor: Introducing &Art, a Project of Earth | Food | Life

The kids are alright: Fundred founding artist Mel Chin and participating children cut the blue ribbon to officially open the 2017 Fundred Reserve at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at George Washington University, Washington, D.C. Chin’s work is the subject of a new article by Rachel Raphaela Gugelberger, a new editorial fellow at the Independent Media Institute and the founding editor of &Art, a project of Earth | Food | Life. (Photo credit: Sarah Buckner, courtesy Fundred Project)

Dear Earth | Food | Life reader,

It is a distinct pleasure to introduce Rachel Raphaela Gugelberger, a newly minted fellow here at the Independent Media Institute (IMI), and the founding editor of &Art, a new project at Earth | Food | Life (EFL).

Over the last two decades, Rachel and I have discussed the many possibilities of art to engage with environmental issues, including climate change, food and agriculture, and animal rights. As a contemporary art curator and advocate of justice not just for humans but for all species, Rachel is uniquely qualified to create a dynamic and critical space for cross-disciplinary dialogues that extend IMI’s focus on producing media that has the power to shift attitudes and sensibilities.

Rachel has more than 20 years of experience in the arts, spanning nonprofit, education, and commercial sectors. Many of the exhibitions she has organized underscore how art can welcome local communities in conversations about art and culture—for example, through thoughtful, site-specific, and unusual uses of spaces like empty storefronts. Recent projects of the New York City-based &Art founder include “​Storying” at the Andrew Freedman Home in the Bronx; “Bound up Together: On the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment” at Smack Mellon in Brooklyn; “(after)care” ​at Kings County Hospital Center in East Flatbush, Brooklyn; “Jameco Exchange” in Jamaica, Queens; and “​Hold These Truths​” and “​Bring in the Reality”​ at the Nathan Cummings Foundation in Manhattan.

Rachel has designed &Art with a specific remit: Investigate the work of activist artists, cultural workers, and arts and social justice organizations who fight for the environment, food justice, and intersectional animal rights. One of EFL’s primary contentions about our world is that everything is connected—including systems of oppression that impact not only BIPOC communities, fenceline communities, and food system workers, but also wildlife and nonhuman animals trapped in our food system. &Art will navigate these complex issues by examining not only how contemporary artists address them, but also how art can advance practical approaches toward manifesting meaningful, positive change.

It is an honor to launch &Art with Rachel’s take on the work of conceptual artist and social activist Mel Chin, a recent recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship (aka the “Genius Grant”). Chin’s work is complex, critical, eclectic, and challenging. But his work also has a social impact that is absent in much of conceptual art. It is in this way that Chin’s creative practice exemplifies a central ambition of &Art: to uncover the capacity of art to transcend an aesthetic experience and to inspire the kinds of personal and social transformations that can ultimately shape civic and political discourse.

I’m excited to expand EFL with &Art. Please join me in welcoming Rachel and her inaugural &Art piece, “How Artist Mel Chin’s ‘Constant Revolution’ Is Tackling Humanity’s Environmental Challenges.”


Reynard Loki

Reynard Loki is a writing fellow at the Independent Media Institute, where he serves as the editor and chief correspondent for Earth | Food | Life. He previously served as the environment, food and animal rights editor at AlterNet and as a reporter for Justmeans/3BL Media covering sustainability and corporate social responsibility. His work has been published by Yes! Magazine, Salon, Truthout, Asia Times, BillMoyers.com, Counterpunch, EcoWatch and Truthdig, among others, and in Spanish, Italian and German translation by Pressenza. He was named one of FilterBuy’s Top 50 Health & Environmental Journalists to Follow in 2016.

Earth | Food | Life (EFL) explores the critical and often interconnected issues facing the climate/environment, food/agriculture and nature/animal rights, and champions action; specifically, how responsible citizens, voters and consumers can help put society on an ethical path of sustainability that respects the rights of all species who call this planet home. EFL emphasizes the idea that everything is connected, so every decision matters.

Click here to support the work of EFL and the Independent Media Institute.

Questions, comments, suggestions, submissions? Contact EFL editor Reynard Loki at [email protected]. Follow EFL on Twitter @EarthFoodLife.

Take Action Tuesday: Speak Up for Monkeys, Dogs and Dolphins—and Against a Fracked Gas Pipeline

Fracking fracas: Williams Transco has proposed a new 23.4-mile, 26-inch diameter pipeline in New York to expand its existing Williams fracked gas transmission system. The pipeline will originate in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, travel across New Jersey and ending in the Rockaway Peninsula in New York City. Opponents cite threats to air quality, water quality, marine animals and natural ecosystems—and “dire impacts from the further burning of fossil fuels.” More than 11,000 Americans have signed a petition to block the project. (Image: Action Network)



350.org: Earlier this month, Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered his annual State of the State address, where he committed to a Green New Deal for New York, including a $1.5 billion investment in wind power, directives for state agencies to study fossil fuel divestment, and a new goal of 100 percent clean power by 2040. But he didn’t say anything about stopping fracked gas infrastructure projects—and there’s no such thing as a “Green New Deal” that includes pipelines. Unless Cuomo takes action, the Williams fracked gas pipeline could be built right in New York Harbor.
>>>Urge Governor Cuomo to block the permits for the Williams pipeline.

Citizens for Alternatives to Animal Research and Experimentation: In a laboratory at John Hopkins University, a group of monkeys spend their lives as research subjects for brain experiments. Two of these monkeys—Aragorn and Isildur—were recently used in experiments to investigate which region of the brain is involved in human gambling. Aragorn has been confined and used in these types of experiments for nearly 10 years. This madness has consumed $2.5 million in federal dollars since 2015, supposedly informing scientists about the human brain’s involvement in human gambling behavior. These twisted and unnatural experiments are not simply callous, they are also totally unnecessary. Using methods that enable non-invasive brain monitoring, neuroscientists can directly study blood flow and electrical activity in the human brain as willing participants carry out tasks with computers or simulated casino games, including people with actual gambling disorders.
>>>Urge the National Institutes of Health and Johns Hopkins University to put an end to these cruel experiments and immediately release the monkeys to a sanctuary.

Born Free: Dolphins are self-aware and wide-roaming, and they have complex social and emotional lives. How would anyone still consider it acceptable to confine them in tanks for entertainment? Sadly, the Tropicarium aquarium in Budapest, Hungary, is proposing to do just that—despite a ban on the imports of dolphins into the country. To date, the aquarium has not applied for an exception to allow the import of dolphins, but plans have been published in the media.
>>>Urge the Hungarian Minister of Agriculture to uphold Hungary’s ban on dolphin imports.

Care2: As Spain’s hunting season comes to an end, so do the lives of the dogs who were used to help hunters track and kill game. The worst part? This Spanish tradition of executing these dogs is performed by the animals’ owners. During the annual hunting season in parts of rural Spain, each hunter purchases around 10 to 70 Spanish greyhounds, called galgos. Dogs who don’t perform during the season are abandoned and left to starve to death, thrown down wells, shot or, more traditionally, hung. An estimated 100,000 galgos are killed each year by their owners. The root of this rampant killing is the fact that hare coursing—the cruel sport of using galgos to hunt down live rabbits—is still legal in Spain.
>>>Urge the Spanish government to end the ritual killing of hunting dogs by banning the cruel “sport” of hare coursing.

V.I. Dolphin Voices: Dolphins will be held captive for financial gain and entertainment at a new dolphin enclosure built by Coral World Ocean Park located within Water Bay, St. Thomas, a body of water that has been deemed as unsafe for swimming and fishing by the Virgin Islands government. It is cruel and unhealthy for dolphins to be confined and permanently housed—especially in a body of water that is so frequently polluted by pathogens.
>>>Urge Carnival Cruise Lines to not market and/or sell cruise ship excursions to the future dolphin enclosure at Coral World Ocean Park in St. Thomas.

Parting thought…

“Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest.” —Mark Twain

Earth | Food | Life (EFL) explores the critical and often interconnected issues facing the climate/environment, food/agriculture and animal/nature rights, and champions action; specifically, how responsible citizens, voters and consumers can help put society on an ethical path of sustainability that respects the rights of all species who call this planet home. EFL emphasizes the idea that everything is connected, so every decision matters.

Click here to support the work of EFL and the Independent Media Institute.

Questions, comments, suggestions, submissions? Contact EFL editor Reynard Loki at [email protected]. Follow EFL on Twitter @EarthFoodLife.

Ecuador Drilling Plans in Yasuní National Park Threaten Indigenous People

Paradise lost: Ecuador’s Yasuní national park, one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, was “once a beacon of hope for global conservation,” writes Jonathan Watts, global environment editor for The Guardian. But the lure of oil has marred that view—and a sensitive ecosystem. (Photo credit: Buster&Bubby/Flickr)

Amazon Watch: Ecuador’s president recently named Marcelo Mata Guerrero to lead the country’s environmental agency. A career oil executive, he is expected to grant an environmental license for new oil drilling deep inside Yasuní National Park—widely regarded as one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet. The project would allow multiple drilling platforms, 200+ wells, pipelines and access roads, and it would threaten the very existence of the Tagaeri-Taromenane indigenous people living there in voluntary isolation.
>>>Urge Minister Mata to protect Yasuní from oil drilling.

Katherine Sacks, FoodPrint: Are you resolving to live in a more eco-conscious way in the new year? Here’s a list of resolutions you can commit to in 2019 to lower your “foodprint.” You could start out small and pick just one. Or pick one for just a month. Or try one once a week. Or, if you are a champion (or a superhero), you could try all seven at once.
>>>7 New Year’s resolutions for a more sustainable 2019.

Caroline Cox, Center for Environmental Health: Glyphosate has been found in over 70 percent of oat-based breakfast cereals served in U.S. schools. Exposing children, with their developing bodies, to a chemical that can cause cancer and hormone dysfunction is wrong. It’s especially wrong for children simply eating breakfast at school, who often are from low-income families.
>>>Tell the CEO of General Mills to get rid of glyphosate in Cheerios and other cereal products by switching to organic oats.

Asha & Jia Kirkpatrick (aged 11 & 8), Leighton Buzzard, UK: Sisters Asha and Jia love orangutans. They are big fans of Orangutan Jungle School on BBC Channel 4. “We were really upset when they saw that the orangutans are being killed and orphaned as their jungle homes are destroyed by companies that want cheap palm oil,” they write in their petition. “We want it to stop now.”
>>>Join Asha and Jia in urging Kellogg’s to stop using these suppliers immediately and to tell the public exactly which palm oil companies they buy from.

Care2: Animals like elephants, rhinos and lions—despite their vulnerable or endangered status—are legally hunted in South Africa. Trophy hunters argue that their activities and the money they pay to take big African game actually creates an incentive for locals to protect these vulnerable species. But according to research by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, trophy hunting has negative impacts on wild populations, and legal hunting and poaching are closely linked.
>>>Urge the South African government to ban trophy hunting.

Alexa Frandina-Brown, PETA: After activists pointed out that more than 150 dogs have died during the Iditarod’s history and that off-season tours keep mushers’ kennels in business, Merit Travel Group—which operates CruiseExperts Travel and AlaskaShoreExperts.com—dropped dogsledding excursions. It’s time for Discover Holidays to join the competition by ending its sale of these activities.
>>>Urge Discover Holidays to remove all dogsledding excursions and replace them with activities that showcase Alaska’s beauty and culture without promoting cruelty.

Parting thought…

“There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew.” —Marshall McLuhan

Earth | Food | Life (EFL) explores the critical and often interconnected issues facing the climate/environment, food/agriculture and animal/nature rights, and champions action; specifically, how responsible citizens, voters and consumers can help put society on an ethical path of sustainability that respects the rights of all species who call this planet home. EFL emphasizes the idea that everything is connected, so every decision matters.

Click here to support the work of EFL and the Independent Media Institute.

Questions, comments, suggestions, submissions? Contact EFL editor Reynard Loki at [email protected]. Follow EFL on Twitter @EarthFoodLife.

Take Action Tuesday: Speak Up for Animals, Sustainable Food and Small-Scale Farmers

Egypt is definitely not for the birds: Robins are among the many species of birds that will be captured and killed along Egypt’s Mediterranean coast during their winter migration.



Reinhard Behrend, Rainforest Rescue: The 14th UN Biodiversity Conference will take place in Egypt in late November. Ironically, while the delegations gather in a luxury resort in Sharm El Sheikh, millions of migratory birds from Europe, on their journey to their winter quarters in Africa, will face a gauntlet of nets, snares, glue traps and loudspeakers playing bird calls that stretches 700 km along Egypt’s Mediterranean coast. Some of the captured birds are sold alive, but most are plucked and frozen. Songbirds such as robins and nightingales, as well as turtledoves, quail and wild ducks end up on the plates of “gourmets” in dubious restaurants. Some birds of prey such as falcons are sold alive to wealthy “bird lovers” in the Gulf States for their private aviaries.
>>>Tell the Egyptian government to put an end to this heinous crime against nature.

John Gilroy, The Pew Charitable Trusts: Bears Ears National Monument was designated in 2016 to safeguard one of the most significant cultural areas in the United States and to honor tribal nations that have ancestral and contemporary connections to the region. On Dec. 4, 2017, President Donald Trump signed a proclamation significantly reducing the size of the monument and breaking it up into two units. Now the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has drafted land use plans for the new smaller monument, despite active litigation regarding the action to reduce the monument.
>>>Urge BLM to protect Bears Ears’ important cultural, scientific and historic resources.

Real Meals Campaign: Instead of siding with Big Food corporations like Tyson, food service companies like Aramark, Sodexo and Compass Group should support small-scale producers, disenfranchised farmers and fishers and sustainable suppliers to help create a more just and sustainable food system.
>>>Urge Aramark, Sodexo and Compass Group to purchase at least 25 percent of the food they sell on US college campuses from sources that are local, community-based, fair, ecologically sound and humane.

PETA: An eyewitness investigation of Hemopet, a canine blood bank in California, found approximately 200 greyhounds bred for and discarded by the racing industry, kept in tiny crates and barren kennels for about 23 hours out of every day so their blood could be repeatedly taken and sold. Some of these inhumane blood banks even masquerade as dog rescues.
>>>Tell the National Greyhound Association to bar its members’ dogs from being held captive in blood banks.

Center for Biological Diversity: Horrible news out of Washington state: Wildlife officials have just issued death warrants for two more wolf packs. Last week, the state authorized the killing of wolves from the Smackout pack and approved taking out the mother and remaining pup from the Togo pack. In September a helicopter sniper gunned down the sole adult male wolf of the Togo pack, pictured above. He was the father of two pups and left behind his mate to fend for them on her own. Now Washington is gunning for her. And since 2012 the state has killed 21 state-endangered wolves—17 of which were killed for the same rancher. Killing wolves is not just cruel and inhumane. It also leads to more conflicts, breaks up wolf families and reduces social tolerance for wolves.
>>>Urge Governor Jay Inslee to bring an immediate halt to the senseless wolf killing.

Environmental Working Group: Bees are dying at alarming rates worldwide—and because bees are responsible for roughly one in every three bites of food we eat, we’re all in trouble. A decade of research has made it clear that neonicotinoid pesticides are highly toxic to bees and are at least partially responsible for the pollinators dying in record numbers. Earlier this year, the EPA finally confirmed this troubling fact. The agency even concluded the benefits of one of the most common uses of neonic treatments, as a coating on soy and corn seed, are questionable for farmers.
>>>Tell the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to require farmers to use these pesticides only when they can prove they need them.

Lacey Kohlmoos, Change.org: There are so many cruelty-free ways to enjoy the world, but Fodor’s, the world’s largest publisher of English language travel and tourism information, has shamelessly decided to promote attractions that exploit and hurt elephants. Elephants don’t do tricks because they “enjoy showing off their skills,” as Fodor’s claims. They do them because they will be hurt if they don’t. The only way to teach wild elephants to paint, play instruments, roll logs and carry people on their back is by torturing them into submission using bullhooks and other cruel methods. This is well-documented, and yet Fodor’s doesn’t mention a thing about this abuse on their website or in their books.
>>>Tell Fodor’s to follow the lead of Lonely Planet by making a commitment to stop promoting elephant rides and shows on their website and in their books.

PETA: Marmosets, which comprise 22 species of New World monkeys, live high up in the canopies of rainforests in social groups composed of up to three generations of family members. They’re highly vocal, communicating with each other in complex, high-pitched calls that convey information about a wide range of emotions and situations. The National Institutes of Health (NIH)—the largest funder of animal experimentation worldwide—announced that it’s planning to launch “funding opportunities to support centralized infrastructure” for research on these intelligent and curious animals.
>>>Tell NIH to scrap plans to expand the use of marmosets in laboratory experiments and redirect funds to modern, non-animal research methods.

African Wildlife Foundation: Wildlife criminals are driving Africa’s wildlife to extinction. But the RAWR Act can help put an end to the multi-billion dollar wildlife trafficking industry. The act authorizes the US State Department to use rewards for any information leading to the capture and conviction of wildlife criminals. The bill has passed in the House of Representatives and is now before the Senate.
>>>Urge your senator to vote yes on the RAWR act.

Gina Florio, Hello Giggles: Eating tasty, nutritious food doesn’t necessarily mean we’re also eating sustainably. It’s just as important to ask about the sustainability of our eating habits as it is to wonder whether we’re maintaining a balanced diet. Our planet is suffering from the inflated animal agriculture industry, and we’re becoming more dependent on foreign soil for produce than ever before. We need to all take a time-out and ask ourselves how we can do our part to cook and eat in a way that will slow down the deterioration of the planet, rather than speed it up.
>>>Check out these 8 easy ways to eat more sustainably.

Parting thought…

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” — George Bernard Shaw

Earth | Food | Life (EFL) explores the critical and often interconnected issues facing the climate/environment, food/agriculture and animal/nature rights, and champions action; specifically, how responsible citizens, voters and consumers can help put society on an ethical path of sustainability that respects the rights of all species who call this planet home. EFL emphasizes the idea that everything is connected, so every decision matters.

Click here to support the work of EFL and the Independent Media Institute.

Questions, comments, suggestions, submissions? Contact EFL editor Reynard Loki at [email protected]. Follow EFL on Twitter @EarthFoodLife.