Take Action Tuesday: Speak Up for Clean Water, the Arctic, Wolves, Dogs and Pigs

Hiding from hunters: A gray wolf pup at the entrance to his den. Bowing to the interests of the livestock industry, Washington state officials have allowed the misguided and cruel killing of wolves, including wolf pups and endangered wolves. Activists have been putting pressure on state lawmakers to end this inhumane practice that threatens natural ecosystems. (Photo credit: Hillary Cooley/U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service via Flickr)



Center for Biological Diversity: Washington state is going on a killing-spree of endangered wolves, and it must be stopped. Last year, over Labor Day weekend, a helicopter sniper gunned down the sole adult male wolf of the Togo pack. He was the devoted father to two pups seen in this video. In a sick twist, the state admitted that killing him could force the remaining adult female to hunt livestock to feed the pups. In effect, the state has set her up to have conflicts with livestock, knowing they could kill her and the two pups next. Just weeks later, a sniper in a helicopter shot and killed a five-month-old wolf pup from the Old Profanity Territory pack. These wolves are living in the exact territory where the state slaughtered seven wolves from the Profanity Peak pack in 2016—leaving just one female to fend for herself with three pups. The state has killed 16 state-endangered wolves from four different packs, all at the bidding of a single cattle business. Another three were killed for other livestock operations. It’s a bloody legacy that can’t continue.
>>>Urge Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Kelly Susewind to stop killing endangered wolves just to line the pockets of a handful of cattle businesses.

Change: Those who want to protect the last slice of untouched nature in the U.S. from oil exploitation are running out of time. The Arctic Slope Regional Corporation is aggressively lobbying to open the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) to oil drilling—and they just might get their way. There is still time for those who want to protect the land and animals of ANWR to make their voices heard. Sign and share this petition before March 13th—when the time for public input comes to an end.
>>>Tell the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation to get out of ANWR.

League of Conservation Voters: The Trump administration is attacking the nation’s most essential clean water safeguards. By stripping bedrock protections for streams and wetlands, the EPA’s plan exposes drinking water sources to toxic pollution from oil and gas drilling, development and other sources. The agency is now accepting public comments, and it’s critical that voters show strong opposition now.
>>>Tell Trump’s EPA that you oppose their “Dirty Water” Rule.

Care2: Pigs are some of the most intelligent and sensitive animals on Earth. They even have the intelligence of a three-year-old human. Yet, they are treated like objects to be tortured, slaughtered and consumed as food. Thirty-eight states in the U.S. still allow farmers to keep sows used for breeding in cages called gestation crates. These crates are so tiny the pigs can’t even turn around. Then they are repeatedly, forcibly impregnated and made to give birth. It’s cruel and it must end.
>>>Urge the 38 states without laws against gestation crates to pass them.

PETA: According to documents obtained by PETA and disturbing reports from a whistleblower, the Louisiana State University (LSU) School of Veterinary Medicine has, for years, purchased dogs from a local animal shelter for use in deadly training laboratories. Worse yet, it appears that the shelter was knowingly cooperating with this deadly practice, marking the dogs it supplied to LSU as “releases” in its records and advertising that at least some of the dogs had been “adopted,” perhaps as part of a deceptive scheme to manipulate its shelter statistics.
>>>Urge LSU to end its practice of purchasing dogs from shelters for use in deadly training exercises.

This is not good…

Dangerous decibels: A humpback whale breaching Alaskan waters. Increasing human activity in the world’s oceans, including ship traffic and offshore energy exploration, which uses sonar and seismic air gun blasts, spells serious trouble and even death for a wide range of marine species up and down the food chain, from whales and dolphins to fish, squid, octopuses and plankton. (Photo credit: Navin75/Flickr)

Round of applause…

Beau soleil: A solar field in Vallée du Rhône, France. France is one of 18 nations—17 European countries and the U.S.—that have successfully decreased emissions from fossil fuels, mainly through energy efficiency and lowered demand. (Photo credit: Jeanne Menjoulet/Flickr)

Parting thought…

“I have from an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men.” —Leonardo da Vinci

Take Action Tuesday: Speak Up Against Dirty Energy, Shark-Finning, Seal Slaughter and Factory Farming

Make the switch: Climate activists pose with a symbolic anti-coal installation in Johannesburg’s Gandhi Square to call on the South African government to end coal power and switch on renewable energy instead. July 1, 2013. (Photo credit: Greenpeace Africa/Flickr)



350Africa: Banks are walking away from funding South Africa’s coal industry, including Nedbank and FirstRand Group, both of which pulled funding for Thabametsi, a proposed 630-megawatt coal-fired power station in Limpopo province. The impacts of climate change are being felt in South Africa today more than ever, and developing another power plant in a water-stressed region stands to threaten local communities. In order to avoid catastrophic climate change, no new coal infrastructure should be built.
>>>Urge the Development Bank of Southern Africa to publicly commit to not fund the Thabametsi coal-fired power plant and invest in renewable clean energy instead.

Compassion Over Killing: The Trump administration is letting slaughter plants kill at increasingly dangerous rates, going from a staggering 140 birds killed per minute (or more than two birds every single second) to 175. This misguided decision benefits only the meat industry at the expense of animals, workers and consumers.
>>>Tell the USDA to end the horror of high-speed slaughter.

PETA: In a matter of weeks, the largest annual slaughter of marine mammals on Earth begins in Canada. Many of the seals killed won’t have eaten their first solid meal or learned how to swim—yet they’ll be shot or viciously clubbed as their mothers watch in despair. Sometimes, it takes more than one blow to the head for a seal to die. And often, they’re left to die slowly and painfully on the ice. This cruelty continues, even though all major markets have banned seal-fur imports, including the U.S., the EU and Russia. Even though most Canadians also oppose the annual slaughter, their tax dollars are the only thing propping up this inhumane and unnecessary industry.
>>>Urge Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to end his nation’s cruel seal slaughter.

Care2: The process of shark finning is a cruel and wasteful practice. Fishermen cut the fins off while the shark is still alive, then throw the helpless animal in agonizing pain back into the ocean to drown, bleed to death or be eaten alive by another animal. This happens to more than 70 million sharks every single year, including sharks at risk of going extinct. The Canadian House of Commons is currently considering a bill which would ban the import and export of shark fins.
>>>Urge the Canadian government to end Canada’s cruel shark fin trade.

Last Chance for Animals: Rodeos and rodeo-type activities, such as bull riding, are exhibitions of animal cruelty that are sanctioned in the guise of competition. Due to events like bull riding, wrestling, calf roping and steer tailing, calves, steers, bulls, horses and other animals suffer horrific psychological and physical traumas, including broken limbs, cardiac arrest, punctured lungs, torn ligaments, ruptured organs, broken necks, crushed tracheas and more. While Los Angeles has become a national animal rights leader, cruel rodeos are still permitted there.
>>>Urge the Los Angeles City Council to prohibit the staging of rodeos and rodeo-type activities.

This is not good…

Under siege: Elephants Without Borders conducted a four-yearly survey with the Botswanan government and said there was a six-fold increase in the number of fresh or recent elephant carcasses in the northern part of the country amid obvious signs of poaching. Nearly 130 dead elephants were found in one poaching hotspot alone. Botswana is home to 130,000 elephants—a third of the total number in Africa, a continent where approximately 100 elephants are killed each day primarily to supply the demand for ivory and ineffective traditional Chinese “medicine.” (Photo credit: Brian Ralphs/Flickr)

Round of applause…

Honey, I’m home: Scientists are attempting to reintroduce seven South American species—jaguars, pampas deer, giant anteaters, macaws, peccaries and tapirs (pictured)—to the Iberá project, a wetland reserve in northern Argentina. Such rewilding projects are meant to reverse the ecological damage done when humans remove apex predators, usually through overhunting or habitat destruction. (Photo credit: Tambako the Jaguar/Flickr)

Parting thought…

“It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.” —Ansel Adams

Take Action Tuesday: Speak Up for Antarctic Wildlife, Welsh Biodiversity and Yellowstone Bears

A little help, please: Adélie penguin feeding a chick. Adélie penguins have survived in Antarctica for almost 45,000 years, by human factors like commercial fishing and climate change could decimate them in just a century. The creation of a network of marine protected areas and reserves would go a long way to protecting their habitat. (Photo credit: Jerzy Strzelecki/Wikipedia)



Pew Charitable Trusts: In October 2016, the 25 member governments that make up the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) agreed by consensus to designate the world’s largest marine protected area in Antarctica’s Ross Sea. Commercial fishing is banned throughout an area that covers more than 2 million square kilometers, including the Ross Ice Shelf. The commission now has the opportunity to establish a network of marine protected areas and reserves throughout the Southern Ocean by 2020, which would protect critical penguin habitat.
>>>Urge the CCAMLR to designate MPAs in the Weddell Sea and in the waters off East Antarctica.

Care2: Wetlands are vital ecosystems on which many species depend for their survival. That’s why it’s so tragic that the Welsh government is on the brink of approving a project that just might destroy one of their most important wetland areas—the Gwent Levels. £1 billion has been invested in a 14-mile stretch of motorway that will cut across this precious area near Cardiff. If the project is approved, four sites of scientific interest will be affected during its construction and long after the motorway is built. Otters, water voles and countless species of insect and birds, including rare cranes, use the wetlands as a safe haven to breed, raise their young rest during migration.
>>>Urge the Welsh Assembly protect this rare biodiversity hotspot and to deny the motorway proposal.

Change: Bili the bonobo was born in England in 2008. His mother did not accept him, so he came to Frankfurt at the age of 3 months. Contrary to the claims of the Wuppertal Zoo, he was very well integrated into his group there before he was shipped to Wuppertal as a new breeding male. In the following weeks, they tried to integrate him into the group, but failed. The bonobo group began to attack Bili violently, resulting in him losing an ear, and left him severely traumatized in the bonobo concrete bunker. Now the zoo is planning to euthanize Bili.
>>>Urge the Wuppertal Zoo to immediately transfer Bili to the Ape Monkey Rescue Sanctuary in Wales.

PETA: While Yellowstone National Park is home to large populations of wild bears, Yellowstone Bear World breeds bears, holds them captive and forces the cubs to take part in cruel public encounters. Wild bear cubs naturally play, explore, and socialize with one another and their mothers for several years. But at Yellowstone Bear World, they’re taken away from their mothers prematurely, forced into close proximity with humans—who they would naturally shun—and are exploited for bottle-feeding encounters with the public as well as carted to crowded events to be used as props for tourists’ photos.
>>>Urge Yellowstone Bear World to stop using bear cubs as tourist photo props.

This is not good…

Mother’s milk: The natural lifespan of a cow is 20 years. But mother cows trapped in the dairy industry are confined in inhumane conditions, forcibly inseminated so that they are regularly pregnant and lactating, and forced to experience the emotional anguish of having their calves taken away from them. Around a third of the 9.3 million dairy cows in the U.S. are slaughtered each year for their meat, along with 500,000 of their male calves, making the dairy industry directly connected to the meat industry—something that many people, including ethical vegetarians who consume dairy, don’t realize. (Photo credit: Oregon Department of Agriculture/Flickr)

Round of applause…

The company she keeps: Ariana Grande performing in 2014. “I love animals more than I love most people, not kidding,” the singer said in an interview with The Mirror, explaining why she switched to a vegan diet in 2013. “I was raised on meat and cheese, so I’ve had enough for anyone’s normal lifespan.” (photo credit: Lindsay Neilson/Flickr)

Parting thought…

“We must fight against the spirit of unconscious cruelty with which we treat animals. Animals suffer as much as we do. True humanity does not allow us to impose such sufferings on them. It is our duty to make the whole world recognize it.” —Albert Schweitzer

Take Action Tuesday: Speak Up for Child Workers, Bumblebees, Kangaroos and Orcas

Bitter fruit: A child worker opens a cacao seed pod. Surrounded by sweet white pulp are the bitter cocoa beans used to make chocolate. There are an estimated 2 million children working in the cocoa sector in West Africa, according to a 2014 report from Tulane University. (Photo: U.S. Department of Labor)



Rainforest Rescue: Chocolate has a dark side: Millions of children are forced to work on plantations, with little hope of pulling themselves out of poverty. In many places, the expanding plantations are eating their way into protected rainforest areas. As Germany is the largest cocoa market in the European Union, regulation with teeth can only be realized if the German government is on board. The German cabinet, however, disagrees over how to deal with the issues of deforestation and child labor. While the Development Ministry is in favor of a proactive approach, the Agriculture Ministry is digging its heels in.
>>>Urge German Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture Julia Klöckner to promote cocoa sector regulations that help prevent child labor, human rights violations and deforestation.

Humane Society of the United States: The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act will make it a federal crime to commit malicious cruelty to an animal on federal property or in interstate commerce. Federal law already prohibits animal fighting, as well as the creation and trade in obscene video depictions of animals being crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled or subjected to other forms of egregious cruelty—but the underlying cruelty itself is not banned. The PACT Act will create a federal anti-cruelty statute that complements the cruelty laws in the 50 states.
>>>Urge your representative to co-sponsor H.R. 724, the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act.

NRDC: The rusty patched bumblebee’s population has plummeted in recent decades due to habitat loss, pesticide use, climate change and other threats—leading to its official endangered species listing in 2017. But more than a year later, the U.S. Department of the Interior has failed to set aside protected habitat for the bee—violating the Endangered Species Act.
>>>Tell the Interior Department to follow through on bee protections.

Total Liberation International: Despite being Australia’s national symbol, millions of kangaroos are slaughtered—the largest land-based killing of wild animals in the world. In 2018 alone, nearly 7 million kangaroos will be killed. Many of these kangaroos end up as pet food sold on Chewy.com, a leading online retailer of pet food and supplies. This is an Australian government-sanctioned bloodbath and Chewy is complicit. It is a mass-scale profit-driven slaughter of kangaroos for their meat, leather and pelts. Adult kangaroos are shot. Hundreds of thousands of joeys (baby kangaroos) are clubbed, shot or decapitated after their mothers are killed. And, larger young but non-pouched orphaned kangaroos are left to die. Like the African elephant, kangaroos could be eliminated completely due to slaughter on a massive scale.
>>>Urge Chewy to stop supporting the slaughter and stop selling kangaroo meat.

Southern Resident Killer Whale Chinook Salmon Initiative: The 75 remaining wild critically endangered salmon-eating southern resident orcas off the coast of Washington state are dying from starvation, leaving an effective breeding population of less than 30—near the point of no recovery. More than 50 percent of their diet comes from salmon in the Columbia Basin, half of which are from the Snake River System. The orcas can be saved if they can access this salmon, which can be done only if the state government breaches the Lower Snake River Dams.
>>>Urge Senator Patty Murray and Governor Jay Inslee to direct the Army Corps’ General Helmlinger and Bonneville Power Administration’s Elliot Mainzer to begin breaching dams in 2019.


This is not good…


Round of applause…

Call of the wild: On January 28, a California state court judge upheld protection for gray wolves under the state’s Endangered Species Act. The ruling rejected a challenge from the Pacific Legal Foundation on behalf of the California Cattlemen’s Association and California Farm Bureau Federation, two trade associations supporting beef producers. “Wolves are not yet close to recovered in California, said Joseph Vaile, executive director of Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center. At a time when the Trump administration is hostile to endangered species conservation, it is critically important that the state of California help recover wildlife like the iconic gray wolf.” (Photo credit: Retron/Wikimedia Commons)

Parting thought…

“The butterfly flitting from flower to flower ever remains mine. I lose the one that is netted by me.” —Rabindranath Tagore

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.

How Examining My Whiteness Brought Me to Animal Rights

Sisters-in-arms, and legs: Without an animal rights pedagogy, any anti-oppression movement that seeks “liberation for all” is fundamentally deficient.  (Photo credit: Kat Jayne/Pexels)

As a queer white woman doing social justice work, giving my money to the animal industrial complex was an expression of solidarity with my oppressor.

By Stuart McDonald, Independent Media Institute


3 min read

Growing up in rural Virginia, veganism was never on the menu. It was one of the many things I simply did not know about until later in my life—much like the idea that I could love women, or that I am complicit in systems that oppress people of color.

The bootstraps ideology I was raised to believe in—this idea that those with less than me simply didn’t work hard enough to earn it—instigated not only my racism but my speciesism. I believed we were entitled to animals because we had dominion over them by virtue of being “smarter,” more “developed,” and able to “contribute to society” in a way that non-human animals could not. It wasn’t exploitation; it was just the natural order of things.

Even when I struggled with eating meat and felt actively uncomfortable consuming the flesh of animals, my socialization made it easier to push my qualms aside than parse through my discomfort.

When I left for college and began to interrogate my place in the world as a white, able-bodied, cisgender, queer woman, my cognitive dissonance around speciesism was still very much intact. I viewed animal rights as a petty movement of yuppies determined to steal the narrative from people of color; to say “it isn’t about you; look how bad the animals have it.” Looking back, I think my determination to believe that was less about inclusivity in the animal rights movement and more about using my social justice ideals to justify not engaging with the topic.

So, to my great convenience, I was able to ignore the issue of animal exploitation. As I became more and more politicized I focused instead on racial and queer justice, examining and unlearning how my whiteness contributed to a racialized system of oppression. It wasn’t until my professor Dr. Paul Gorski introduced me to Dr. A. Breeze Harper’s anthology Sistah Vegan that I realized my determination to whitewash the vegan movement was actually ignoring and discounting the hard work of the many women of color who pioneered it.

As a graduate teaching assistant, I constantly pushed my students to consider the root causes of societal problems. Issues like poverty and food insecurity do not exist in a vacuum—they are the direct result of a system designed to preserve the power of the ruling class. These causes are rooted in those “-isms” and “-phobias,” and in some ways, specifically, anti-Blackness.

When confronted with the realities of the animal agriculture industry, with its wide range of exploitation of human and non-human animals, I realized that without an animal rights pedagogy, my anti-oppression lens was incomplete. And as a queer white woman doing social justice work, giving my money to the animal industrial complex was an expression of solidarity with my oppressor.

Beyond recognizing the systemic connection between human and animal liberation, veganism offered me a much-needed way to care for myself. When faced with the enormity of the world’s injustice, changing my eating habits was a simple way to make a quantifiable impact. Not only that, but eating a plant-based diet did wonders for my health, virtually eliminating medical issues I had struggled with since I was a child and helping me better manage my depression and anxiety (although I don’t want to claim that veganism can be a cure-all for everyone). My renewed energy makes me a better asset to all the movements and causes I fight for.

Even today, nearly three years into my veganism, I realize my consumption is not, and can never be, completely ethical. But as I attempt to navigate the world in the most compassionate and just way I can, veganism offers me a tangible way to refuse to be complicit and to move toward “liberation for all.”


Stuart McDonald is a creative writer for Compassion Over Killing, a national animal protection nonprofit based in Washington, D.C.

This article is part of a content partnership between Earth | Food | Life, a project of the Independent Media Institute, and Encompass. An earlier version was originally published by Encompass on September 4, 2018.

Take Action Tuesday: Speak up for Children, Communities of Color, Rainforests and Gray Wolves

Food for thought: One in five children live in poverty, and they rely on school lunches to meet some or all of their nutritional needs. (Photo credit: National Institutes of Health)

S.E. Smith, Truthout: More than 12 million children in the U.S. experience food insecurity — and that doesn’t just mean they don’t always know when their next meal is. The backpack program, which is often administered through a food bank that partners with a school, is just one tactic being used by advocacy groups and schools to combat hunger and poverty.
>>>Fight child hunger this winter by supporting a backpack program.

Rainforest Rescue: Policymakers and industries in more than 20 countries have signed on to a “Biofuture Platform” that would use biofuels, bioplastics and biomaterials as an alternative to fossil fuels. The consequences for land, food production, ecosystems and human rights would be dire.
>>>Urge governments to reject the misguided Biofuture Platform and embrace real solutions such as reducing consumption, protecting ecosystems and promoting agroecology instead.

Ju-Hyun Park, 350.org: In 2014, after years of grassroots organizing, Governor Andrew Cuomo bowed to public pressure and banned fracking in the state of New York. But that hasn’t stopped the progress of a massive new fracked gas infrastructure project — the Williams Northeast Supply Enhancement Pipeline, which would stretch along the floor of New York Harbor for 23 miles, passing by Staten Island, Coney Island, just 4 miles south of the Rockaways. There’s no new demand for the gas that this pipeline would carry, and it endangers coastal communities, most of which are low-income communities of color.
>>>Tell Governor Cuomo to stop the Williams Pipeline.

Kevin Mathews, Care2: The House of Representatives passed a bill to remove protections from the gray wolf in the U.S, which would allow hunters and landowners to shoot the wolves at whim. Before these protections were instituted, the gray wolf was nearly wiped out entirely in the same way. The measures taken have helped the wolves to rebound to over 5,000, which is still way under what the population used to be. Although they may not be considered “endangered” anymore, reviving hunting is a recipe for decimating the population all over again.
>>>Urge Senate Energy & Natural Resources Chair Lisa Murkowski and the U.S. Senate to reject this bill .

Patagonia: Tasmania’s takayna/Tarkine is a 495,000-hectare region in northwestern Tasmania and one of the last undisturbed tracts of ancient rainforest in the world. The area is a crucial habitat for sixty of Tasmania’s rare and endangered species including the Tasmanian giant freshwater crayfish, the Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle and the iconic Tasmanian devil. Despite its immense ecological and cultural value, it remains unprotected and at the mercy of destructive extraction industries, including logging and mining.
>>>Urge Tasmanian State Premier Will Hodgman to nominate takayna/Tarkine for World Heritage protection to protect it from extractive industries.

The Hunger Site: The fast fashion industry promotes cheaply made products that are “in style” for a single season, and then pushes out the next style as fast as the first. It is the second greatest pollution-causing industry on the planet and a huge exploiter of women and children.
>>>Tell the CEOs of Zara, H&M and Forever 21 to stop exploiting people and harming the planet by buying low-quality goods from unethical suppliers.

PETA: Since 2017, Johns Hopkins University experimenter Shreesh Mysore has received more than $800,000 in tax-funded grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct cruel and useless tests on barn owls, in which he restrains the birds, cuts into their skulls and inserts electrodes into their brains — even though the evidence is overwhelming that data from experiments on animals can’t be reliably applied to humans.
>>>Urge NIH not to squander taxpayer dollars on Mysore’s cruel and worthless experiments and instead to redirect funds to modern, superior, non-animal research methods.

Parting thought…

“It is one thing to show a man that he is in error, and another to put him in possession of the truth.” —John Locke

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 Safe Drinking Water, Laboratory Dogs and the Arctic Refuge

Drinking water
Dangerous waters: More than 70 million pounds of the pesticide atrazine — which has been linked to serious health effects like hormone disruption, shorter pregnancy and even cancer — are dumped on American farmland each year.



Olga Naidenko and Sydney Evans, Environmental Working Group: Seasonal spikes of atrazine, a weed killer that disrupts hormones and harms the developing fetus, contaminate the drinking water of millions of Americans at potentially hazardous levels as run-off from corn-growing areas finds its way into source waters and reservoirs. In 2016, California state scientists listed atrazine, simazine and related chemicals as substances known to cause reproductive toxicity. The European Union completely phased out atrazine in 2003 because of its potential to contaminate drinking water sources. Yet in the U.S., the EPA continues to allow the pollution of drinking water with atrazine and similar weed killers.
>>>Tell the EPA to ban atrazine and protect America’s drinking water.

Priyvrat Gadhvi, Change.org: The single biggest reason for poaching of tigers, rhinos, elephants, several reptiles and a host of other mammalian species is to feed the huge demand for their body parts for use in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) — one of the greatest threats to wildlife globally. TCM uses a range of wildlife parts and claims to cure a host of ailments, using therapies which have no basis in science, but the World Health Organization is about to endorse TCM in its annual medical compendium.
>>>Tell the World Health Organization: Don’t endorse any TCM product that uses ingredients made from wildlife parts.

Alka Chandna, Ph.D., PETA: Experimenters at Colorado State University trap American crows, American robins, and house sparrows in the wild; infect them with West Nile virus; watch as they develop painful and debilitating symptoms from the viral infection; and kill them. These experiments don’t help birds or humans — but our tax dollars have bankrolled this cruelty for years.
>>>Urge CSU to end these cruel, deadly experiments.

Adam Kolton, Alaska Wilderness League: New members-elect of Congress from across the country have already committed to protecting the Arctic Refuge by signing Alaska Wilderness Action’s Pledge for the Refuge. They will join more than one hundred current members who have committed to protect the Arctic Refuge from oil drilling, so we’re on the right track.
>>>Urge the newly elected House to quickly begin restoring protections for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Care2: Chickens raised for meat in factory farms spend their miserable lives crammed into sheds where they can barely move before they’re hung upside down and stunned — although some birds remain fully conscious — and their throats are slit. Because of this cruelty, Burger King, Jack in the Box, Subway and nearly 90 other companies have promised to stop using chickens from factory farms — but not fast-food giant McDonald’s, which sold 490 million pounds of the birds in one year alone.
>>>Urge McDonald’s to switch to more humanely raised chickens.

Causes: Dow Chemicals is attempting to expand its use of a bee-killing pesticide, despite federal regulations that have repeatedly tried to reign in the dangerous chemical. Earlier this month, Dow Chemicals submitted an application to the EPA to receive a waiver that would allow them to massively expand their use of sulfoxaflor, an insecticide that is detrimental to bee populations.
>>Urge EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to deny Dow’s request.

White Coat Waste Project: An investigation by White Coat Waste Project revealed that more than 1,100 beagles, hounds and mixed-breed dogs — even puppies — are subjected to secretive, wasteful and cruel experiments inside government laboratories each year. Most agencies including the VA, DOD, FDA and CDC do not reveal details of how our taxpayer dollars are being used for experiments on dogs, but on one of the few projects for which spending data is available, NIH experimenters have used nearly $6 million of taxpayers’ money since 2011 to give dogs heart attacks.
>>>Urge Congress to end this cruel, wasteful government spending on flawed research.

Care2: After the announcement of the approval of a third bat cull since 2015, the scientific community is extremely alarmed. In 2018, the Mauritian government plans to kill 20 percent of the current population: 13,000 out of 65,000. 38,000 bats were officially killed in the past two years — and this does not count the undocumented killing carried out by the public. Now, the population is weaker and less resilient to natural calamities — the two previous cullings resulted in the species being uplisted to Endangered in 2018.
>>>Urge the government of Mauritius to stop the planned cull.

One Green Planet: While many of us will attend family gatherings this Thanksgiving, let’s not forget about the awesomeness that is Friendsgiving. For those who don’t know, Friendsgiving is a relatively new holiday celebration (the term first emerged in 2007) and has become a much-anticipated part of many of our lives.
>>>Check out 15 budget-friendly vegan dishes to bring to Friendsgiving.

Parting thought…

“The assumption that animals are without rights and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality.” ―Arthur Schopenhauer

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.

Climate Change Has Unleashed a Global Wave of Marine Invasions That Could Threaten Our Food Supply

Rising temperatures are pushing species into new territory, which could endanger fisheries around the world.

by Amy McDermott

Gloomy octopuses used to blend in. They were just another cephalopod, drab-gray and medium-bodied, living in the ocean off east-central Australia—until a few decades ago, when the octopuses started to spread.

They crept south, establishing populations down Australia’s East Coast, a climate change hotspot where seawater temperatures are rising almost four times faster than the global average. Gloomies love the heat—and chowing down on shellfish. If the newcomers’ appetites disrupt existing fisheries, researchers say, it could spell trouble.

In Australia and around the world, ocean animals are relocating because of climate change, often with consequences for fisheries. Gloomy octopuses are just one of many marine species on the move. Their expansion is a harbinger of what’s to come in places warming more slowly than Australia. Forget blending in: Climate consequences have arrived.

Gloomy octopuses have expanded down the East Coast of Australia in recent years. Above, one recovers after genetic sampling in Cape Conran, Australia. (image credit: Colin Silvey)

Lives in Motion

It happened fast.

Named for their ghostly white eyes, gloomy octopuses spread steadily south in the last two decades, said fisheries scientist Brad Moore of the University of Tasmania in Hobart. Gloomies are naturally found in central-eastern Australia, but appeared hundreds of miles south in Victoria after 2000, and even further down, off the island of Tasmania, in 2006. Three years later, Moore said, the species was included in Tasmania’s fisheries guidebook.

Recreational fishermen and divers also noticed gloomies out of place, and reported sightings as part of an Australian citizen science project called Redmap, which tracks marine species on the move.

“People send in photo observations,” said marine ecologist Gretta Pecl, who started Redmap as part of her research at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania. “We get an early indication of what species might be shifting, and then we initiate a more targeted research study.”

In the gloomy’s case, commercial fishermen and citizen scientist observations tipped off Pecl’s team, and inspired a forthcoming genetic study, led by marine biologist Jorge Ramos, which confirms a rapid and recent expansion south.

Tentacled Tides

Gloomies can thank climate change for their new digs. Global warming affects ocean currents, including one that runs down the East Coast of Australia. The East Australian Current has extended farther and farther south over the last 50 years.

“We believe it’s moving species into Tasmanian waters,” Ramos said. Warm, strong flows act like a southerly conveyor belt for marine creatures, including the octopuses.

While gloomies are thriving, their arrival in Tasmania has some experts worried. Abalone and rock lobster are the two largest commercial wild fisheries for the island, making up more than 75 percent of landings by weight. Both could suffer, Ramos said, if the octopus eats too many of the shellfish. Abalone and oysters are already struggling through marine heat waves, caused by the growing warm current. Another problem is the last thing they need.

A gloomy octopus rests after scientist Jorge Ramos collected a small tissue sample from one of its arms for genetic analysis. Octopuses can regrow lost limbs, “so the piece of arm will grow back,” Ramos said. (image credit: Colin Silvey)

Not everyone is so worried. Craig Hardy is an octopus fisherman in Stanley, Tasmania, where he’s seen gloomies off the island’s northern tip for about 10 years—as long as he’s been fishing up there. Hardy was the first to hunt octopus in the area, he said, and suspects the gloomies were around all along; people just hadn’t seen them.

That’s possible, Ramos agreed, but he thinks the current swept more octopuses down in the last decade. Based on his forthcoming genetic work, Ramos would “guess the species was there, but in low numbers, and now it’s becoming more common.”

Octopus fishing is decent business in Tasmania. After abalone and lobster, it accounts for 11 percent of remaining landings by weight. Fishermen like Hardy haven’t historically caught gloomies. Most of their catch is a smaller, native species. But the newcomer is becoming an attractive target, Hardy said, because of its size. Gloomies are common in markets on the mainland up north, and Hardy’s found them “a good species to sell.”

The gloomy octopus isn’t the only stranger in Tasmanian waters. The East Australian Current has washed more than 70 species south in recent years. Some, like the long-spined sea urchin, have wrought havoc upon arrival. Others have been less damaging, but they all bring new considerations. Critters will keep coming down the coast in the next 50 years, fisheries scientist Moore expects, making Tasmania’s coast more like the eastern mainland’s as time goes by.

Australia and its gloomy octopus are a parable of things to come in many slower-warming places. Along the West Coast of North America, for example, some fish could shift more than 900 miles this century under a high emissions scenario. Even if change hasn’t come yet, “there’s a lot of evidence to say things will change,” Moore said. “It’s about getting ready.”


Amy McDermott is a science writer and web editor at Oceana, where she covers marine conservation. Previously, her work has appeared in Grist, Discover and The Atlantic, among others. Follow her on Twitter @amygmcdermott.

Top image credit: Colin Silvey

This article is part of a content partnership between Oceana and Earth | Food | Life, a project of the Independent Media Institute.