Animals and the Environment
The long-term division between environmentalists and animal advocates serves the interests of powerful, mutual adversaries—namely, unscrupulous, large corporations—harming both earth and animals. Animals and the Environment explores shared philosophical groundings, exposes common cause in a variety of concerns, and raises a host of pressing and intriguing questions and concerns that lie at the intersection of environmental and animal ethics. This book features teachers, grassroots activists, and international lobbyists in Malaysia, Greece, Canada, The United States, Norway, and Uganda, including the voices of a Chicana Indigenae, a Native American, and an Indian-American. Authors in Animals and the Environment write through the lenses of mathematics, sociology, physics, ecology, psychology, Asian philosophy, ecofeminism, ethics, and biology as they explore diverse and intriguing real-life concerns such as the Southeast Asian palm industry, trapping and wildlife management, ethics and zoos, bears and habitat loss, nature films and ecofeminism, elephants and rural human communities.
Animals and the Environment is divided into two parts and five sections. Part I establishes theoretical foundations of interconnection, and then explores a rich array of common ground shared between earth and animal activists, focusing on habitat/wildlife and the ethics of diet. Essays in Part II ae written by people working at the intersections of earth and animal advocacy, or whose particular experiences and understandings shed light on the interconnected nature of earth and animal activism, and the importance of these two movements working together. Each chapter ends with a series of questions designed for reflection and discussion.
The Introduction outlines historic points of division between environmental and animal activism, first providing two case studies that exemplify these differences, then using these examples to highlight deep common ground, and finally revisiting one case study to refocus the debate on shared concerns.
ESTABLISHING AND EXPLORING COMMON GROUND
Conflict and Accord:
A Critical Review of Theory
and Methods for
Earth and Animal Advocacy
The first chapter in Part I offers a critical review of previous work in the field.
SECTION I: FOUNDATIONS:
The first series of essays explore and elucidate philosophical foundations and frameworks that support and validate an understanding of interconnections—of Earth and anymal activism as a single cause.
Beyond Intersectionality to Total Liberation
In the first essay in this section, Carol Glasser makes a case for total liberation, exploring systems of oppression that affect the natural world, anymals, and disempowered human beings.
“The interconnection of oppressions is especially relevant in the case of animal and Earth exploitation. Not only do the same structures oppress both, but the exploitation of one directly injures the other in obvious ways. The privatization of water, the overuse of disposable plastics, and animal slaughter all have severe negative consequences for both the Earth and nonhuman animals.” Carol Glasser in Animals and the Environment
Earthlings Seeking Justice: Integrity, Consistency, and Collaboration
In the next essay, Carrie Freeman places anymal advocacy front and center not only for environmental activism, but for all social justice movements.
“Animal rights advocacy is necessary to save Earthlings—every last one of us. This perhaps provocative premise is intended to privilege the importance of this social movement at the outset—one that is often marginalized in comparison to human rights and environmentalism, yet encompasses both by default. . . . This essay situates animal advocacy1 as the vital bridge connecting the struggle to protect the rights of human beings with the struggle to protect all living beings.” Carrie Freeman in Animals and the Environment
Caring for Earth and Her Creatures
Josephine Donovan explores ecofeminism and an ethic of care rooted in respect, responsibility and attentiveness as a way of understanding and implementing a unified activism for earth and animals.
“Most ethical theories about how humans should treat the earth and her creatures focus on one or the other: either on the natural world or on animals. Ecofeminism focuses on both, recognizing them as linked, inherently, and within a political web cast by patriarchal colonization. Ecofeminists seek to liberate nature and animals from this web of oppression; first, by challenging the powers who create and sustain the web, and second, by calling for a new way of relating to animals and the natural world, in which we hear their voices and pay attention to what they are telling us.” Josephine Donovan in Animals and the Environment
Activism and Asian Wisdom:
Oneness, Interdependence, and Harmony
The final essay in Section I (of Part I) turns attention to the ancient teachings of Asian that connect earth and anymal activism.
“Eastern philosophies and religions foster a bedrock vision of aesthetics and ethics rooted in oneness, interdependence, transformation, Unity of Being, harmony, and blending in. [Westerners] tend to view humanity as separate and distinct from chickens and lobsters and trees, as above and rightly in control of forests and waterways and flocks of seagulls. This worldview, which appears self-serving, is ultimately self-destructive.” Lisa Kemmerer in Animals and the Environment
WILDLIFE AND WILDERNESS
Sections II and III of Part I focus on the most obvious contemporary issues common to earth and anymal advocates: protecting ecosystems/habitat and the ethics of diet. Section II, “Common Ground: Wildlife and Wilderness,” explores core connections between wildlife and wilderness—most fundamentally, all creatures depend on habitat.
The first essay in this section, “Hunting Delusions,” debunks a handful of misconceptions and myths surrounding sport hunting, highlighting the damaging effects that hunting and hunting policies have on animals living in the wilderness and on ecosystems.
“North Americans who hunt almost always hunt for pleasure, not for sustenance. Perhaps the best proof of this is that hunters kill some twenty-five million mourning doves, sixteen million squirrels, two million woodchucks, half a million prairie dogs, six hundred thousand crows, and sixty-one thousand skunks every year (‘Learn’ n.d.). Have you ever been invited over for woodchuck soup or skunk stew?” Lisa Kemmerer in Animals and the Environment
Essential Elements for Elephants:
Problems and Solutions
Valarie Chalcraft turns focus to the cycle of misery and violence that damages and destroys both Asian elephants and rural villages.
“Killing elephants to reduce artificially inflated numbers might, on first sight, seem acceptable to many environmentalists, who are more interested in populations than individuals. Such an approach is, of course, completely contrary to animal advocates. On closer scrutiny, this approach is rightly rejected by both camps. Killing elephants is a short-term fix that avoids dealing with the real problem: increased human populations and our destruction of elephant habitat.” Valarie Chalcraft in Animals and the Environment
Individuals, Species, and Ecosystems at Risk
Anja Heister and Lisa Kemmerer expose the cruel and ecologically disruptive effects of Montana’s government-run Furbearer Trapping Program, which was designed by and for trappers.
“It is impossible to know what percentage of trappers comply with regulations. Montana is a big state with vast wilderness. How would anyone know if a trapper failed to present pelts for tagging, or continued to target a quota species long after the quota had been met and the season closed? How many trappers bring in the body of an endangered species knowing that the pelt (sometimes worth hundreds of dollars) will be confiscated? Trapping regulations are notoriously difficult to enforce, and it is impossible to know how many animals, or which species, are actually trapped each year.” Anja Heister and Lisa Kemmerer in Animals and the Environment
Seeing is Believing:
Nature Films in a Patriarchal Culture
Melanie Martin investigates how patriarchal nature films affect our understanding of and encounters with wilderness and wildlife, including feminization of land and masculinization of anymals, scientific “facts” that diminish and objectify anymals, and the many ways that cameras “penetrate” private spaces in the world of nature.
“Films are just one of the ways that we acquire attitudes about nature and nonhumans. Because of the prevalence and power of television—especially for children—nature films must now be recognized as a primary means of promoting violence toward nonhumans and nature more generally.” Melanie Martin in Animals and the Environment
Essays in Section III of Part I, “Common Ground: Dietary Choice,” focus on the ethics of diet and environmental degradation, exposing core connections between the two.
So You Want to Stop Devouring Ecosystems?
Do the Math!
In the first essay, John Halley uses a mathematical model to calculate the ecological footprint of several dietary options: omnivore, vegetarian, and vegan.
“Because of the enormous mass of humanity currently on the planet, even small changes in lifestyles, such as consuming fewer animal products, can have an enormous environmental impact. A diet rich in animal products leads to an environmentally devastating chain of events: greater land use, conversion of natural environments to farmland, displacement and death of wild animals living in these regions, and reduced wild populations in remaining wildlands (which leaves these populations more prone to extinction). Thus, the consumption of animal products leads to habitat destruction and species extinction. Humans can help end this disastrous spiral by consuming less meat, dairy, and eggs.” John Halley in Animals and the Environment
A Fishy Business
Moving offshore in the next chapter, Lisa Kemmerer and Bethany Dopp investigate the effects of industrial fishing on sealife, ocean habitat, and ocean ecosystems.
“Fish and oceanic ecosystems are in peril because we choose to eat animals who live in the sea—lots of them—frequently destroying their habitat in the process. Which is more important—our habit of consuming shrimp, crabs, salmon, tuna, and innumerable other disappearing sea creatures, or protecting and preserving the earth’s oceans?” Lisa Kemmerer and Bethany Dopp in Animals and the Environment
Farm Gone Factory:
Industrial Animal Agriculture,
Animal Welfare, and the Environment
The final two essays examine animal agriculture. Chris Hunt describes both the inherent cruelty of factory farms and how anymal agriculture pollutes air and water, thereby causing sexless fish, acid rain, and climate change.
“The industrialization of animal agriculture has enabled agribusiness to sell meat, eggs, and dairy products at historically low prices—but cheap food comes at great cost. Factory farms compromise the health and welfare of farmed animals and damage the environment, threatening human health and degrading surrounding communities. Though we prefer lower prices for food, few would argue that cost savings should be achieved by polluting waterways, contaminating the air, or causing farmed animals to suffer.” Chris Hunt in Animals and the Environment
The final essay in Section III, titled “Eating Ecosystems,” exposes connections between anymal agriculture and freshwater depletion, deforestation, soil degradation, wildlife, and land use.
“Despite severe ecological consequences, environmentalists tend to be unaccountably silent on the topic of dietary choice. Rather than alter meal plans—and ask others to do the same—environmentalists prefer to urge that we use less water on lawns, choose gas-efficient cars and fluorescent bulbs, and recycle—each of which is important, but each is also environmentally irrelevant compared with dietary choice. Eating plants and grains without cycling them through farmed animals is the most important change we can make on behalf of the environment.” Kemmerer in Animals and the Environment
RAISING QUESTIONS, PONDERING CONNECTIONS
The final section of Part I, provides a group of reflective, poignant essays exploring conflicts and connections between environmental and animal ethics. These essays tend to provide more questions than answers—because there are more questions than answers.
The Many and the One
In the first selection, wilderness advocate Randall Gloege discusses common complaints leveled by anymal advocates against environmentalists, then poses three fundamental questions regarding the nature of humanity, each central to our relationship with both anymals and the natural world.
“With regard to humans and wilderness, I would ask the following key questions:
• Are we hard-wired to use and abuse our environment, wild or otherwise?
• Is a love for wilderness and wild creatures innate, or must this be learned?
• Are we obliged only to love the living world and living beings, or must we further come to love the vast, ever-changing complex of things both living and lifeless?
In order to perceive wholes as well as parts, we must challenge our biases and commitments resulting from a life-long process of learning and unlearning.” Randall Gloege in Animals and the Environment
Conservation Research and Animal Activism:
In Search of a Better Balance
Next, Jon Swenson, head of the Scandinavian Brown Bear Research Project, describes his utilitarian, scientific approach, and how this approach places him at odds with animal activists. In the process, he ponders a handful of questions that lie at the heart of the historic divide between anymal and earth activists.
“This essay discusses the relationship between animal activism and conservation using brown bears as an example. I write from a researcher’s point of view, arguing that animal activists would do well to consider all that researchers can contribute to the conservation of animal populations. Activists also contribute to conservation,
of course, but animal activists sometimes oppose the capture of individuals for research, thereby undermining conservation projects. I contend that certain wildlife populations can sometimes benefit from capturing and radiocollaring random individuals for research purposes, and that for this reason both animal and earth activists who care about wild populations ought to support this research.” Jon Swenson in Animals and the Environment
Environmentalist Bernard Quetchenbach takes readers to a spectacular Montana wilderness riddled with dead and dying evergreens—destroyed by climate change through bark beetles—which causes him to reflect on “imbalance” and the path less taken.
“No one needs a vast, self-renewing forest more than the bark beetles. . . . If only we could tell these tree killers how much they depend on intact, functioning forest habitat. Of course, dozens of beetle generations cross a single human lifespan; if, like busy little industrialists, they eat their distant descendants out of house and home, humans are hardly in a position to call them on it.” Bernard Quetchenbach in Animals and the Environment
The Morning of the World
Finally, Cara Chamberlain explores and celebrates bison as “scapegoats, martyrs, icons,” and also as “wild bovines.” In the process, she suggests ways that we might re-envision our relationship with nature.
“I like it that love can stop 500 cars in their tracks. Watching a bison chase his sweetheart down a hill, through a meadow, across the Yellowstone River, and up the other side, I realize why Zeus appeared to Europa as a bull. I have also watched parted lovers reunite, racing—tails high with excitement—toward each other like the people in those old hair-coloring ads: “The closer he gets, the better you look.” Aww, I wanted to gush before remembering that the loving bison could demolish my car.” Cara Chamberlain in Animals and the Environment
POLITICS, ORGANIZED ACTIVISM,
AND PERSONAL ENCOUNTERS
Essays in Part II carry readers into the field, providing concrete examples of urgent and interconnected problems, of meaningful change, and of individuals working both as environmentalists and as animal advocates around the world.
SECTION I: FOUNDATIONS:
COMMUNITY AND POLITICS
The first section of Part II, “Foundations: Community and Politics,” looks to underlying problems that stem from and perpetuate broader social justice concerns.
Enforcing Human Rights for People, Animals, and the Planet
After describing a factory farm and introducing readers to the indigenous Malaysian Dayak people, displaced (along with rainforests and wildlife) by the voracious palm oil industry, Debra Erenberg suggest that we seek resolution through the International Declaration of Human Rights.
“Under this international framework, factory farming industries must be held accountable for harming the health and well-being of surrounding communities. Meat packers must respect a worker’s right to unionize, to receive a fair wage, and to safe working conditions. International agribusinesses must be called to answer—in both their home countries and in the countries in which they operate—for harassing, intimidating, and deceiving villagers to drive them from their ancestral lands, not to mention destroying water supplies, homes, endangered species, and food crops. By upholding these human rights, we will create immediate and substantial gains for other animals and the planet.” Debra Erenberg in Animals and the Environment
Recipe for Cooperation:
Omniocracy and the Definitional Good
Next, Charlotte Laws points to the giant pink elephant in the middle of the U.S. Congress: Democracy is a government by and for people—blatantly humanocentric. Laws outlines a utilitarian “omniocracy,” essential to the cause of both earth and anymal activists.
“When the root word “demos,” meaning “people” or “populace,” is used to describe a country’s political system, it places those who are not human in an inferior status, and in a compromised position. Demo-cracy is no more fair and equal than would be a white-ocracy or a rich-ocracy. Omni-ocracy (“omni” means “all’) is one possible political system that offers an alternative vision.” Charlotte Laws in Animals and the Environment
Deeper than Numbers:
Consumers, Condoms, Cows
Lisa Kemmerer, Daniel Kirjner, Jennifer Gross, Nathan Baillet close the section by outlining interconnections between environmental degradation, consumption, and reproduction.
“A fuller picture of environmental impact must take into consideration capitalism, materialism, and consumerism, as well as attitudes, values, and beliefs that undergird and foster excessive human fertility (more than two children birthed/fathered by any one individual), including sexism.” Kemmerer, Kirjner, Gross, and Baillet in Animals and the Environment
SECTION II: BRINGING CHANGE:
ACTIVISTS AND NGOS
The authors in Part II, Section II, “Bringing Change: Activists and NGOs,” simultaneously work to liberate Earth and anymals, demonstrating both the effectiveness and the common sense nature of this integrated approach.
Hunting for a Trophy Hunting Ethic:
Big Bears and Little Men (with Big Guns)
In Chapter 21, four members of the Raincoast Conservation Foundation discover—and successfully capitalize on—the power of ethics, economics, and human compassion to protect bears and ecosystems.
“Is not a debate about numbers futile when working with a provincial government willing to bend to the pressures of a powerful hunting lobby? Even worse, what if statistics from population and hunter kills showed that there were enough” bears to support a “management” or hunter’s vision of “harvestable surplus”? Even if the Great Bear Rainforest’s grizzly population was able to withstand some trophy hunting, we had, somewhere along the line, committed to a policy of individual protection, of flat-out no-kill for the animals in the Great Bear Rainforest. We wanted to end the trophy hunt permanently and completely. Whether or not the population could sustain such a hunt, individuals could not.” Darimon, Genovali, Service, and Paquet in Animals and the Environment
Next, Haida Bolton, explains how a youth camp she founded in Uganda helps local youth to foster environmental values as well as respect for wildlife.
“Oftentimes, what is missing from a child’s education is actual experience in the natural world, connecting with forests and wild animals. If we can bridge this gap, if we can offer children the knowledge of shared life and beauty in the natural world, we can help people to understand the importance of making environmentally sound choices.” Haida Bolton in Animals and the Environment
Preserving Earth is Protecting Animals
Finally, employed by a Malaysian environmental organization, Phaik Kee Lim describes her work educating the public and pressuring businesses and governments around the world on behalf of penguins, coral reefs, snakes, freshwater reserves, orangutans, and so much more.
“Birds are supposed to be hatched into a world of green space, but for the sake of human interests, many are put into cages so small that they cannot spread their wings. In Asia, captive parrots and macaws are chained by one leg, sold for a song, and spend their lives perched on a tiny stand. Each year, hundreds of exported birds die enroute to pet shops in foreign countries. Most people who buy these birds do not know how many birds die along the way, or how they are stolen from their wild ecosystem. On an individual level, a bird in a cage is cruel and therefore depressing. In the larger picture, trade in “exotic birds” devastates ecosystems and endangers species.” Phaik Kee Lim in Animals and the Environment
SECTION III: BRINGING CHANGE:
PERSONAL ENCOUNTERS AND REFLECTIONS
This final section explores personal journeys that have exposed the interrelated nature of earth and anymal activism.
Keeping Caged Animals, Keeping Secrets:
Working as a Keeper at the Zoo
Bethany Dopp, who took an internship at ZooMontana, walks readers through zoo facilities, exposing what goes on behind closed doors, and explaining how this experience led her to question zoo ethics, particularly caging carnivores, both for the sake of animals and the planet.
“Even now I feel mixed about my experiences at the zoo. It was sad and fun, interesting, and depressing, educational, and disturbing. I now know that zoo keepers can be very kind people who genuinely care about animals. They usually believe that they are helping animals, and as such, are well employed and doing the right things. Still, as the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Bethany Dopp in Animals and the Environment
Intersections: Activism and the Natural Sciences
Scientist and social justice activist, environmentalist and anymal activist, Xylem Galadhon clarifies how seemingly contradictory causes and interests support what he finds to be a complete, harmonious, and meaningful life.
“It behooves us to work to protect this grandeur. If we are to achieve this end, a holistic vision is essential. One cannot love and protect Earth without protecting everything therein.” Xylem Galadhon in Animals and the Environment
Ecology, Food, and Holistic Politics
Deric Shannon describes his winding path from Marx and anarchy through feminism to holistic revolution, which ultimately forced him to engage with both Earth and anymal liberation—however reluctantly.
“Whether people refer to themselves as “anarchist” or “feminist” or “liberationist” or “queer” matters little if our conception of revolutionary struggle is limited to human beings. We would do well to struggle to alter deeper aspects of our understanding and our culture: diet matters, daily life in general matters—not merely as patterns of consumption, but as ways that we relate to each other, ourselves, and the natural world.” Deric Shannon in Animals and the Environment