By Reynard Loki
Warning: This article contains graphic descriptions and images of animal abuse.
In September of last year, two executives of JBS, the world's largest meat producer, based in Brazil, were arrested and charged with insider trading. In May 2017, the billionaire siblings—Wesley Batista, JBS's CEO, and his younger brother Joesley, the firm's former chairman—admitted to bribing more than 1,800 politicians and government officials, including meat inspectors, in an effort to avoid food safety checks.
Now, new undercover video shot by a Mercy for Animals (MFA) investigator at Tosh Farms, a JBS pork supplier based in Franklin, Kentucky, exposes what the animal rights group calls the "malicious and systemic abuse of mother pigs and piglets."
"I'll never forget the way they looked up at me," said Tyler, the MFA investigator, about the pigs he documented at Tosh Farms. "They all shared the same look of helplessness and fear."
"One mother pig stumbled down a corridor with her uterus hanging outside her body. She wouldn't live much longer," he said on an MFA website launched specifically to document the JBS investigation, jbstorture.com.
Tyler witnessed workers at Tosh Farms kicking and striking animals in their faces, ripping out the testicles of piglets without any pain relief, and even smashing the heads of piglets against the ground in order to kill them.
Those piglets who did not immediately die were left to suffer, denied proper veterinary care. "A worker grabbed a piglet, just hours old, by the feet and swung him high and then slammed his head down against the hard concrete," said Tyler. "Any life left quickly vanished."
"From the day pigs are born until the day they are violently killed for JBS pork, their lives are filled with misery and deprivation," said Matt Rice, president of MFA, in a press statement. "If JBS executives abused even one dog or cat the way their suppliers abuse millions of pigs, they would be jailed for cruelty to animals. As the largest meat company in the world, JBS has the power and responsibility to end this torture."
Clare Ellis, publisher of Stone Pier Press, which recently released "Sprig the Rescue Pig," the first of its Farm Animal Rescue Books for children, was appalled: "Stories like this are even more heartbreaking and upsetting when you consider how very smart, curious, affectionate and sensitive pigs are." She added that, "Close to 99 percent of animals raised for food come from factory farms, which, in addition to being terribly cruel, do an enormous amount of environmental damage."
Following the July 17 release of the video, which was taken between December 2017 and March 2018, JBS said it suspended shipments from that supplier site. "The images presented in the video fall completely outside the company's standards," JBS said in a statement, but did not name the supplier involved.
But for MFA, suspending shipments from that single supplier isn't nearly enough. "JBS's decision to suspend Tosh Farms as a supplier is too little, too late," Kenny Torrella, director of communications with MFA, told Truthout. "It amounts to nothing more than meaningless PR spin."
The group, headquartered in Los Angeles, is now calling on JBS to end factory farm cruelty across its global pork supply chains, including the elimination of painful mutilations. In addition, MFA is calling on JBS to prohibit its suppliers from housing sows in tiny gestation crates for nearly their entire lives. These metal cages, the standard of which measures just 6.6 feet x 2 feet—so small that they can't even turn around or lie down comfortably—are where pregnant sows live in factory farms around the globe for nearly their entire lives. In the United States as of 2016, there were 5.36 million breeding sows, most of them kept in gestation crates.
Confined to tiny gestation crates, mother pigs are not only denied basic natural behaviors like playing, exploring and engaging with their peers and children, but they also must endure immense and prolonged mental and emotional suffering. "These curious animals lose their minds from frustration and stress," writes Lucas Alvarenga, vice president of MFA in Brazil. "They often also suffer painful pressure sores from rubbing against the bars of their crates and crippling joint problems as their muscles waste away from lack of use."
While gestation crates are still the norm across the world, things are beginning to change for the better. Canada, the European Union, New Zealand and Australia, as well as 10 US states, have banned cruel gestation crates. Further, more than 60 major food companies—including McDonald's, Walmart, Burger King and Nestlé—have said they would ban gestation crates from their suppliers.
In addition, California voters will have the opportunity in November to ban the sale of pork from pigs confined in gestation crates. If the measure passes, that will impact Tosh Farms and JBS, as the pigs reared at Tosh are then transported to a JBS slaughterhouse in Louisville, Kentucky, which supplies pork products to stores across California.
The systemic abuse and torture of pigs is an industry-wide problem. Last year, MFA investigators at the Aurora cooperative pig factory farm in the state of Santa Catarina in Brazil, the third-largest meat producer in Brazil and a major pork exporter to the United States, recorded video of pigs and piglets enduring a wide range of cruelty, including, notes Alvarenga, "workers slicing off the tails, cutting holes in the ears and grinding the teeth of piglets without any pain relief."
Animal rights advocates are quick to point out that pigs—as well as other animals raised for human consumption—are intelligent, have rich emotional lives and possess unique, individual personalities. For some, these are reasons to not eat them. Ellen Page, one of many celebrity vegans who have used their fame to speak out on behalf of animals raised for food, said, "The inhumane factory farming process regards animals and the natural world merely as commodities to be exploited for profit."
"The animals who are raised to be food for humans are so much more than just burgers and bacon," said Marc Bekoff, professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and co-author of The Animals' Agenda: Freedom, Compassion, and Coexistence in the Human Age.
"Pigs, cows, chickens, turkeys and other non-human animals whose flesh is destined to wind up in our mouths were once sentient beings with rich emotional lives," said Bekoff, who is also the co-founder, with Jane Goodall, of Ethologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. "But because consumers rarely interact with them while they are still alive, they don't see that these animals feel such a wide range of emotions, ranging from joy to sadness to grief, just like we all do."
Non-human animals aren't the only victims of the factory farm system. Slaughterhouse workers must witness the nightmarish conditions that the animals must endure. Some workers must do the actual killing, day in and day out.
"The psychological toll this takes on a person cannot be underestimated," writes Ashitha Nagesh. "Slaughterhouse work has been linked to a variety of disorders, including PTSD and the lesser-known PITS (perpetration-induced traumatic stress). It has also been connected to an increase in crime rates, including higher incidents of domestic abuse."
"To help move society to a more ethical food system, we as consumers must think less about 'what' is on our plate and more about 'who' is on our plate," said Bekoff.
TAKE ACTION: Sign the petition urging JBS to ban gestation crates and painful mutilations.
This article was produced by Earth | Food | Life, a project of the Independent Media Institute.
- Giraffe Parts Sold Across U.S. Despite Plummeting Wild Populations ›
- Animal Activists Face Felony Charges for Rescuing Dying Birds ›
The California State Assembly unanimously approved a bill on Thursday that phases out the use drift gillnets in the state by January 2023.
The controversial fishing gear, which can stretch a mile long and suspend 100 feet underwater, is used by fishers to target sharks and swordfish, but the nets inadvertently entangle and kill scores of other marine animals, including endangered species.
The Assembly voted 78 to 0 on Senate Bill 1017, sponsored by state Sen. Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica). It passed 36 to 1 in the Senate in June. It now heads to Gov. Jerry Brown, who has until Sept. 30 to sign it into law.
"So grateful to everyone for their hard work pulling together a strong bipartisan vote in support of protecting marine-life from unnecessary death with SB 1017," Allen tweeted Thursday.
Gillnet with white perch. NOAA / Chris Doley
Should the bill become law, it would create a buy-back program that offers up to $110,000 to fishers to give up their nets,
NBC Bay Area reported.
California fishers said the ban threatens their livelihood and the buyout amount is not enough for them to transition to another type of fishing.
"I don't know what I'd do," Mike Flynn, who has used drift gillnets to catch swordfish for the past 40 years, told the publication. "There's very few of us left, and we don't seem to have a chance ... we're being villainized, unjustly."
The news site reported that some 20 fisherman actively use the gear off the California coast, down from 141 active permits at its peak in 1990, according to NOAA.
The bill's passage comes just months after conservation group Mercy For Animals and the Ban Death Nets coalition released grisly undercover footage showing the harmful impact of driftnet fishing on marine life.
Mercy For Animals celebrated the vote and urged Gov. Brown to join other governments that have outlawed the nets. "California is the last remaining U.S. state to allow driftnets, which have already been phased out off the U.S. East Coast and banned by Oregon and Washington states, the United Nations, and countries around the world," the group stated on their website.
World Animal Protection released a report highlighting that 640,000 metric tons of fishing nets are lost or discarded in our oceans each year, trapping and killing countless marine mammals, including endangered whales, seals and turtles. Shallow coral reef habitats also suffer further degradation from the gear, which can take up to 600 years to decompose.
Earlier this week, fishermen found roughly 300 dead sea turtles off the southern Pacific coast of Mexico. The olive ridley turtles, which Mexico classifies as being at risk of extinction, were entangled in an abandoned illegal fishing net.
Mexico's office of the federal attorney for environmental protection said the turtles were found in a 393-foot long net that is not approved for fishing, according to the Associated Press.
300 #Endangered #SeaTurtles Killed in Illegal Fishing Net Off Mexico's Pacific Coast #turtles https://t.co/JbrHkAUp54— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1535616132.0
- Lawsuit Filed to Protect Whales, Sea Turtles From Drowning in Drift ... ›
- Gillnet Fishing Blamed for Killing Up to 100 Baby Hammerhead ... ›
- Gill Nets Push Species to the Brink of Extinction ›
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.
By Joe Loria
A groundbreaking study by Tulane University and the University of Michigan published in Environmental Research Letters found that meat, dairy and egg consumption is responsible for nearly 84 percent of food-related greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.
Scientists analyzed the effects of more than 300 foods and the diets of 16,000 Americans. They found that only 20 percent of Americans, those who eat the most animal products, make up 46 percent of diet-related emissions overall on an average day.
Plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, cereals and grains, and nuts and seeds, make up a mere three percent of diet-related emissions. Legumes were found to be the least harmful to the planet, with pulses accounting for just 0.3 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.
"Reducing the impact of our diets—by eating fewer calories and less animal-based foods—could achieve significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in the United States," said Martin Heller, a researcher at the University of Michigan. "It's climate action that is accessible to everyone, because we all decide on a daily basis what we eat."
This is hardly the first time eating animal products has been deemed harmful to the planet. Last year, the Alliance of World Scientists, a group of 15,000 scientists from 184 countries, concluded that humans must change their behavior and switch to a plant-based diet to prevent environmental destruction.
Raising animals for food produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all the cars, planes and other forms of transportation combined. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, carbon dioxide emissions from raising farmed animals make up about 15 percent of global human-induced emissions, with beef and milk production as the leading culprits. In fact, even without fossil fuels, we will exceed our 565-gigaton CO2e limit by 2030.
Furthermore, simply by avoiding animal products, we can cut our carbon footprints in half. A pound of beef requires 13 percent more fossil fuel and 15 times more water to produce than a pound of soy.
There is no such thing as sustainable meat. Plant-based alternatives to meat, dairy and eggs take a mere fraction of the resources to produce than their animal-based counterparts. It's time for anyone who cares about the future of our planet to take action and ditch animal-based products altogether.
But a vegan diet isn't just good for the planet; it also spares countless animals a lifetime of misery at factory farms. Pigs, cows, chickens and other farmed animals suffer terribly from birth to death.
So what are you waiting for? Join the millions of people who are helping to protect farmed animals and the planet by switching to a vegan diet. Click here to get started. And check out Mercy for Animals' Pinterest page for thousands of recipe ideas.
Joe Loria is the communications and content manager at Mercy For Animals.
Reposted with permission from our media associate AlterNet.
By Rachel Krantz
For most of my life, I genuinely believed the false advertising used to sell dairy. When I learned the truth—that nearly all cows used for dairy are kept inside, locked up, forcibly inseminated, and hooked up to painful milking machines—I was heartbroken. How had I never put two and two together: that for humans to consume cow's milk, mother cows must have their calves taken?
I had been duped by dairy brands, whose misleading ads have never been regulated, despite truth-in-advertising laws. This discrepancy prompted a 2003 lawsuit involving the "Happy Cows" campaign, but the case was thrown out over a technicality. "The state's false advertising law simply doesn't apply to the government," explained Mercy For Animals lawyer Rachel Faulkner. The 'Happy Cow' ads were run by the California Milk Advisory Board, a marketing arm of the California Food and Agriculture Department.
It's troubling that you can't sue the government for false advertising, but the case presents another issue that needs unpacking: how the dairy industry uses advertising to sell a false narrative about the lives of cows.
Here are common myths in dairy advertising, and the truth behind them.
A disclaimer: The images of actual cows used here are from MFA undercover investigations into dairy farms. While they are not from the following brands' facilities, the images show the standard conditions and abuses at typical factory farms, where such products are manufactured.
1. The Advertisement:
1. The Reality:
Cows used for dairy do not spend their lives on open green pastures, grazing in the sun. Nearly all cows live on factory farms, which make up 99 percent of farms, and they spend their lives almost entirely indoors.
According to a recent study, fewer than 5 percent of the 10 million lactating cows in the U.S. have access to pasture during grazing season. The most common type of housing is the stanchion barn, where cows are tied up and have little freedom of movement, usually without access to natural light.
Equally heartbreaking, their young are repeatedly taken from them. Much like humans, cows naturally nurse their young for six to nine months, weaning their babies gradually. Female calves stay with their mothers for life. But on dairy farms, calves are taken within hours of birth so that their mother's milk can be consumed by humans. This is the case even at organic or local dairy farms.
These mother cows know their babies are being taken from them, and they have been known to cry for hours after the separation. Case in point: In 2013, locals in Newbury, Massachusetts, called the police because of crying they'd heard from a nearby dairy farm. Upon investigation, authorities discovered that the cries had come from mothers whose newborns had been ripped away.
2. The Advertisement:
2. The Reality:
The image of the happy cow is everywhere. "Not only do we not listen to cows, we also replace their story with one we feel comfortable with: cows want to give us their milk, they want to get pregnant and give us their calf," said Elise Desaulniers, author of Cash Cow: Ten Myths About the Dairy Industry. "A term has been coined to describe those advertising images produced to make us feel good: suicide food. Animals that are delighted to be killed, and sometimes robbed and tortured, for you."
In reality, the dairy industry forces a cow to produce around 6.5 gallons of milk per day—at least 10 times the amount she would naturally produce for her calf. As a result, cows often develop mastitis, a potentially fatal mammary gland infection. Imagine the unbearable pain of producing 10 times the milk your body naturally makes, for almost your entire life.
Cows raised for dairy are slaughtered after their milk production decreases or their bodies give out, usually around age four (under natural conditions, they could live as long as 25 years). Slaughter awaits all cows and steers, but there is arguably more suffering in a glass of milk than in a hamburger.
3. The Advertisement:
3. The Reality:
If your milk claims to be humane or ethical, beware. "There is no regulation for the word 'humane' in advertising," Faulkner said. Terms such as "natural" also aren't regulated. And "free-range" doesn't mean animals live outdoors; it just means they must have some access to grazing (and it's usually very little).
A dairy brand's use of the name "Fairlife" is both audacious and offensive. There's nothing fair about it.
4. The Advertisement:
4. The Reality:
We're told we need milk to grow up big and strong, but milk actually makes us sick. An astonishing three-quarters of people lack the enzyme to properly digest cow's milk, causing an array of digestive issues. Dairy is also linked to cancer. Studies show that one connection is through dietary hormones, especially estrogen, as dairy accounts for 60 to 80 percent of estrogens consumed by humans today.
Milk is high in estrogen even if it is labeled "hormone-free"; you can't omit the cow's naturally occurring pregnancy and lactation hormones. Low consumption of milk and other dairy products, on the other hand, is linked to significantly decreased risks of lung, breast, prostate and ovarian cancers as well as a decreased risk of Parkinson's disease.
And calcium? That's another myth we've been sold. Many nutritionists argue that dairy products are an inferior source of calcium. While we absorb about 30 percent of the calcium in milk, our absorption rate with other foods, especially kale, broccoli and bok choy, may be twice as high.
We can get all the calcium we need from plant-based foods, without the cholesterol and saturated fat in dairy products. Ironically, high consumption of cow's milk is also associated with increased risk for bone fractures, according to a recent study in the British Medical Journal. Women who consumed three or more glasses of milk per day had a 60 percent increased risk for hip fractures and a 16 percent increased risk for other fractures.
5. The Advertisement:
5. The Reality:
The dairy industry is built on the exploitation of female bodies. Cows are impregnated and their babies are taken. The argument "that's what they're designed for" is no more true than when it's used against women. No living creature wants to be used solely for her reproductive system and denied the right to motherhood, bodily autonomy and freedom.
Cows are intelligent, sensitive beings who experience pain and develop social bonds, just like we do. They hold grudges against other cows for months or years, feel joy after they solve a complex problem, and even seek out human help in anticipation of a difficult birth.
Cows' bodies, their offspring and their milk are their own. Cows don't exist for our consumption anymore than a woman's body exists for a man's pleasure. By leaving animals off our plates, we can help create a world where happy cows are more than just an advertising ploy.
By Mark Devries
The animal agriculture industry spends millions on deceptive advertising to persuade consumers that farmed animals roam freely on bucolic pastures. But I've been piloting drones over animal agriculture facilities for several years, and the video I've captured tells a far different story. Nearly all animals raised and slaughtered for food in the U.S. live in factory farms—facilities that treat animals as mere production units and show little regard for the natural environment or public health. Instead of creating widgets, these factories confine, mutilate and disassemble animals who feel pain and pleasure just like our dogs and cats.
Aerial views of the first factory farms I visited—pig facilities—didn't capture grass and rolling hills, but instead exposed rows of windowless metal buildings. Each confined thousands of intelligent, sensitive pigs who spent their lives on concrete floors in crowded pens. The footage also reveals what appear to be red lakes but are in fact giant, open-air cesspools. Waste falls through slats in the pigs' concrete flooring and is flushed into these massive pits, which sometimes have the surface area of multiple football fields. To lower the levels of these cesspools, many facilities spray their contents into the air where they turn into mist and drift into neighboring communities.
In North Carolina, this practice has been associated with spikes in blood pressure among community members and increased asthma symptoms among nearby schoolchildren. I spoke with neighbors who described walking outside and falling down in their own front yards because the stench of these factory farms made it so difficult to breathe.
I recently piloted drones over factory egg farms, perhaps the most industrialized sector of animal agriculture, with each shed confining thousands of hens and some facilities holding over a million. If I hadn't known better, I would have thought the 24 sheet-metal buildings were airplane hangars or industrial storage facilities. Mercy For Animals undercover investigations have revealed that hens inside such facilities spend their lives trapped in cages so small the birds can't even fully spread their wings. Such confinement is so intensive that many hens die and decompose among cagemates still producing eggs to be sold as food.
Indeed, drones have put to bed the myth of Old MacDonald's farm. Armed with the truth, we must take responsibility. The practices exposed only exist because people purchase products of factory farms. Each of us has the power to stand up and vote against this industry by simply leaving animals off our plates.
Mark Devries serves as special projects coordinator for investigations, with a focus on directing short-form documentaries about factory farming and animal rights. Before joining Mercy For Animals, he directed Speciesism: The Movie and conducted the world's first drone-based investigation of factory farming. The movie is widely used as an introduction to animal rights, and the drone footage has amassed tens of millions of views globally. Mark is also an attorney licensed to practice in Washington, DC.
By Rachel Krantz
Feel-good cheers in the audience abounded, but in my seat, I was seething over the truth that was conveniently omitted from the new sequel to An Inconvenient Truth: that the most significant thing we as ordinary individuals can do every day to fight climate change is to adopt a plant-based diet. Al Gore himself went vegan in 2014, but aside from a split-second where he mentions that "agriculture is another major cause" of CO2 emissions, the subject is entirely left out of the film.
And that's disgraceful.
You want me to #BeInconvenient? OK, here are some facts: According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the livestock sector is one of the largest sources of carbon dioxide pollution, and the single largest source of both methane and nitrous oxide. According to the World Bank, animal agriculture is responsible for nearly 90 percent of Amazon rainforest destruction. The rainforest is our planet's lungs, and we are destroying it simply to make enough space to kill more animals. More than 80,000 acres of tropical rainforest—and 135 animal, plant and insect species—are lost due to this destruction each day.
If that kind of devastation is too massive to comprehend, consider these more convenient truths: If every American committed to just one Meatless Monday a week, it would be the environmental equivalent of all of the cars on the road switching from sedans to hybrids. The link is so significant that according to research published in the journal Climate Change, if you adopt a plant-based diet, you'll cut your carbon footprint in half.
Yet the bulk of An Inconvenient Sequel focuses on former Vice President Al Gore's quest to save the world, and the behind-the-scenes drama at the Paris climate accords. While it's inspiring to watch Gore help convince India's leaders to use more solar energy, far too much of the documentary is devoted to spotlighting him as a leader rather than informing viewers about the many concrete actions they can take to limit their own carbon footprints.
Telling viewers to fight back simply by taking the hashtag pledge to #BeInconvenient and ambiguously "vote with their choices" is a cop-out. What about the very concrete choice we can all start making today to leave animal products off our plates? Perhaps the filmmakers thought mainstream American viewers couldn't handle that message. After all, when we're still trying to get parts of the country and politicians to admit climate change is real, the bar is awfully low when it comes to confronting reality—even transportation's impact on the climate went unmentioned in the film.
But Gore is right when we he argues that we don't have any time to waste. If sea levels continue to rise at current pace, scientists estimate that New Orleans and Miami will be underwater by the end of the century. Due to our warming oceans, weather events are becoming more and more extreme—as Gore says, "every night on the evening news is like a walk through the Book of Revelations." Lobbying for solar power alone isn't going to cut it.
So yes, by all means, #BeInconvenient. Demand alternative energy reforms, vote in every election, and consider making the ultimate environmental statement by leaving animals off your plate—if not for their sake and your health, then for humanity. Because here's one of the most uncomfortable truths: We talk about climate change as if Earth's destruction hangs in the balance. But the truth is, the planet will persevere. It is mankind—and the many species we should be stewards of—that may not.
Space World—a theme park in Kitakyushu City, Japan—has apologized after drawing intense criticism for putting 5,000 fish into the floor of an ice skating rink.
Japanese skating rink with 5,000 dead fish frozen into ice forced to close after animal rights outrage (pic via… https://t.co/RLmqFcrTZw— CCTVNEWS (@CCTVNEWS)1480301794.0
According to the Tokyo Reporter, the spectacle was part a limited winter and spring exhibition called "Freezing Port" that opened Nov. 12.
The park said that the point of the attraction was to allow visitors to skate above fish, shellfish and other marine animals in different oceanic zones.
"We wanted customers to experience the feeling of skating on the sea, but after receiving criticism, we decided that we could not operate it any more," Space World general manager Toshimi Takeda told AFP.
Space World shut the attraction down on Sunday following the flood of criticism and is now melting the rink, a process that will take about a week. The park will also hold a memorial service for the fish.
The exhibition was touted as "not only a Japan-first, but undeniably a world-first." The theme park started posting preview photos of its fish-filled ice rink onto its social media pages last month.
The photos, especially ones of larger creatures such as whale sharks and rays, sparked online fervor. One particularly incendiary image showed half-frozen fish with a caption that read, "I'm d..d..drowning…It h…h..hurts…"
Japan skating rink that froze 5,000 dead fish into the ice as visitor attraction has been forced to close… https://t.co/JyEIY0Cjgp— AFP news agency (@AFP news agency)1480313611.0
Commenters condemned the attraction, with one saying that Space World should not "make life into a toy."
However, a park official said that live fish were not used and that the photos of the larger sea creatures were not real.
“The real fish we used were provided wholesale from public fish markets, and these fish sellers are all aware of the purpose of this project," the official told Tokyo Reporter. “Many of these fish don't meet standards for selling to customers. And the big fish like whale sharks, sharks, and rays aren't real, they're simply photos that were blown up and embedded in the ice."
As for the "drowning" caption, the official said that a park employee wrote it "hoping people would find it funny," but added, "I do feel that not enough caution was taken. I apologize."
"We received critical voices saying it is not good to use creatures as a toy, and that it is bad to let food go to waste," Space World spokesman Koji Shibata told AFP.
Let's also note that global fish stocks are currently being depleted at unsustainable rates and we are on the brink of running out of fish. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization revealed this summer that due to vast overfishing, nearly 90 percent of global fish stocks are either fully fished or overfished.
Global Fish Stocks Depleted to 'Alarming' Levels - EcoWatch https://t.co/1u7aU47UJp @wwwfoecouk @GreenpeaceUK— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1468064410.0