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Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate change

This is where you can talk about every subject (previously it was called shout room)

Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Aug 30, 2019 12:22 am

There's no such thing as humane
meat or eggs. Stop kidding yourself


A few years ago I wanted to visit the best egg farm I could find. I had been inside an egg factory farm. I had seen a dozen sheds, each with a dozen rows of wire cages stacked two high and 150ft deep. Those cages were so small the birds inside couldn’t even spread their wings. They were half-starved, diseased, and undeniably miserable

Factory farming was clearly wrong, so I wanted to instead find a farm that represented an ethical and humane way to raise animals for food.

Fortunately some small farms, such as those who set up stands at farmers’ markets, are willing to let people visit their facilities. So in March 2016, I drove from my home in San Francisco up California’s northern coast, through towering redwoods and past crashing waves, to one of the best egg farms in the state.

The award-winning farm was nestled in a landscape of bucolic green grass and rolling hills. It looked like it came straight out of an advertisement. I saw a charmingly rundown-yet-functional mobile chicken coop standing in a football-field-sized pasture peppered with free-roaming chickens.

I thought to myself, why couldn’t all farms be like this? I had seen what happened behind the locked doors of factory farms, but here I seemed to be witnessing a better way. I would soon learn just how wrong I was.

Americans care about farmed animal welfare. In fact, last week California passed a ballot measure for cage-free eggs with 61% of the vote, a rare level of agreement in these divided times. In 2016, a similar initiative in Massachusetts succeeded with 78%.

Consumers go out of their way to buy cage-free or pasture-based eggs or buy meat at the local farmers’ market. My colleagues and I ran a survey in 2017 that showed that 75% of US adults believe they usually eat meat, dairy, and eggs “from animals that are treated humanely.” In fact, when vegans ask their friends to stop eating animals, one of the most common responses they hear is, “Don’t worry. I only eat humane meat.”

Are consumers right? It’s impossible for all of them to be. Data on the number of animals per farm in the US suggests that over 99% of US farmed animals live on Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, commonly known as “factory farms”. Globally, that figure is probably over 90%.

So 75% of Americans think they consume humane meat, but a tiny fraction actually do. The majority of consumers seem tragically wrong about what they eat.

Take cage-free eggs, for example. Just because the birds aren’t in cages doesn’t mean they’re healthy or happy. Cage-free birds have around the same total space per bird; they just live in a large shed with thousands of other birds.

In this stressful environment, birds frequently peck each other so much that they lose feathers, bleed, and even die from what is effectively cannibalism caused by the birds’ high-density confinement. The air quality on cage-free farms tends to be worse as chickens walking around kick up dust and feces, which threatens food safety.

Raising chickens on pasture avoids some of these issues, but it invites new problems. Pasture-based flocks suffer due to predation and disease from wild animals.

By some measures grass-fed cow farming is potentially worse than grain-fed cow farming. Grass-fed cow farming leads to two to four times more production of methane, a major greenhouse gas, than grain-fed cow farming. It also takes more land, water, and fossil fuels to produce grass-fed beef. Buying “grass-fed” or “pasture-raised” can be seen as a salve for the environmental conscience, but the damage can actually be greater.

Maybe there are some rotational, labor-intensive methods that do reduce environmental impact. However, eco-conscious animal farming does little to mitigate health concerns aside from the overuse of antibiotics. And the animal suffering, especially on chicken farms, is still staggering.

You may be thinking that even if the vast majority of farms still have serious issues, surely at least a few farms have happy animals.

This response is valid, to an extent. Where I grew up in rural Texas, I lived around pasture-raised cattle who seemed perfectly content to chew their cud. I helped raise a handful chickens and goats myself. Yes, their slaughter might be a terrible experience, but it seems plausible that one day of even suffering might not outweigh a few years of happy cud-chewing life.

When people call upon the idea of ethical animal farming – even if that constitutes little or none of their actual consumption – it has dangerous effects as a “psychological refuge” they indirectly use to justify their consumption of factory farmed products.

Most Americans have been exposed to the realities of animal farming from hundreds of undercover investigations over the years and dozens of scientific reports on the industry’s environmental and public health impacts.

But their minds resolve this conflict between their values and their behavior by insisting that they eat a humane kind of meat that doesn’t cause animal suffering or environmental damage.

Their other options are to stop eating animal products or to accept that what they’re doing is harmful, and neither of these options are particularly appealing. This is why we see 75% of US adults thinking they eat humane meat, despite fewer than 1% of farmed animals actually living on non-factory farms.

Ethical farming – nice try

At the California egg farm I visited, the devil was in the details. Despite the pastoral scenery, I found that the birds were in worse health than those of any other farm I’d been to. I saw many cases of Marek’s, a highly contagious disease that had led to partial blindness in many of them; swollen abdomens, some with over a pound of fluid buildup in their less-than-five-pound body;and lice.

Like the hens in factory farms, many of them suffered and died from cancer, stuck eggs, reproductive tract infections, and other ailments that result from artificial breeding for hyperactive reproductive systems that make them lay unnatural numbers of eggs.

When I visited the farm, I sincerely wanted to believe that these animals had good lives, but the evidence just wasn’t there to support it. It wasn’t as bad as the factory farms I visited, but it still wasn’t the kind of life I’d want to live myself.

Of course, the current scarcity of humane animal farms doesn’t preclude their theoretically possibility. But consider the cost: the eggs at the farm I visited cost over $6 per dozen. Hardly anyone is willing to pay that much for food, and that farm still had serious ethical problems.

I was disappointed by the visit to this farm and other farm visits, as well as evidence from hundreds of other visits to “humane” farms by animal protection advocates and investigators. Mercy For Animals, the international non-profit animal protection organisation, says it randomly selects farms to investigate, and other groups have specifically sought out farms with leading humane certifications in order to show that even the animals on those farms still suffer tremendously.

Time to abolish factory farming

We would need extensive regulations and enforcement to maintain high animal welfare throughout the industry. This would include the expenses of regular independent inspections and livestreamed security footage at all facilities.

Consumers or taxpayers would also need to pay for direct costs such as more space per animal, an army of veterinarians and medical supplies for sick animals, and a reversion of the artificial breeding that has made animals grow meat and produce milk and eggs at ultra-fast rates. That level of welfare doesn’t exist at the very best farms today, so even the steep price tag of the eggs from the pasture farm I visited is still too low to guarantee that the animals have good lives.

So even if humane animal farming is possible in theory, and maybe even real in a handful of isolated cases, it can’t feasibly feed around 10 billion people by 2050.

The fact is that when we use animals as raw materials or labor in the food system this inevitably leads to mass cruelty because cheap prices and profits will always come before their welfare.

This means we need to take a position against animal farming. Then I think we’ll be on track to end all animal farming.

https://www.theguardian.com/food/2018/n ... -XNG5pwLEc
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Aug 30, 2019 12:28 am

Arnold Schwarzenegger Loves
Plant-Based Food More Than Meat


Sonoma County Fair replaced the cruel tradition of children wrangling piglets for fun with watermelons

The 83-year-old fair, which took place earlier this month, previously featured the “pig scramble,” an event where a group of elementary school kids descend upon a pack of recently weaned piglets under the blistering August sun.

In yesteryear, winners got to keep their captive pigs. But in modern times, winners receive a gift certificate. This year saw to the start of a new, kinder tradition where 20 elementary schoolers attempted to be the first to make it through an obstacle course while carrying an oiled watermelon.

Sonoma County Fair board officials acknowledged that as the local community has a heightened awareness of animal welfare, it was time for the pig scramble to end.

“It’s just the right thing to do. We don’t want to see any of the animals get stressed out or hurt,” Annette O’Kelley, a board member of 19 years, told The Press Democrat.

What’s to Love About Pigs?

Pigs are intelligent, social animals who use more than 20 different oiks, grunts, and snorts to communicate. They are one of the few species to pass the “mirror test” — considered a sign of self-awareness — where they are able to use a mirror to find hidden food in a room.

Like dogs, pigs like to play fetch, can learn tricks, and are always curious about the world around them. Naturalist Lyall Watson wrote in his 2004 book “The Whole Hog”: “I know of no other animals that are more consistently curious, more willing to explore new experiences, more ready to meet the world with open mouthed enthusiasm. Pigs, I have discovered, are incurable optimists and get a big kick out of just being.”

But life for factory farmed pigs is very different. Every year, 121 million pigs are killed for food in the U.S., according to animal rights group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). On factory farms, pigs are confined to cramped, filthy spaces until they are loaded onto transport trucks and shipped to the slaughterhouse.

Factory farm environments can be damaging to pigs’ mental health; they are known to self-mutilate or cannibalize other pigs, chew on metal bars, and exhibit other stereotypic behaviors, a 2017 study from the College of Animal Science and Technology revealed.

Speaking about replacing the pig scramble with a watermelon event, PETA caseworker Gemma Vaughan said: “It shows there’s always a creative option to animal cruelty.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger says he now loves plant-based foods more than meat

The former bodybuilder and filmstar makes the claim in “The Game Changers” documentary, which is set to be screened in a global theatrical event in September.

“The Game Changers” posted an exclusive clip of Schwarzenegger on its Instagram account. Talking about his bodybuilding days, he says, “I ate a lot of meat — I ate my 10, 15 eggs a day. I had my 250 grams of protein in a day because I weighed 250 pounds.”

“As I got older and I started reading up on it, I recognized the fact that you really don’t have to get your protein from meat — or from animals,” he continues. “So we started going more in the direction of a vegetarian kind of diet. Now we’re doing it the right way, with spices, and all of a sudden, I love it much more than the meat.”

The switch has been beneficial for the actor’s health. He adds, “the cholesterol went down to around 109, it was the lowest that it ever was in my entire life, at almost 69.”

‘The World’s Most Dangerous Myth’

Schwarzenegger co-produced “The Game Changers,” which was directed by Academy Award-winner Louie Psihoyos (2009’s documentary “The Cove” about the Taiji dolphin hunt in Japan) and executive produced by Academy Award-winner James Cameron (“Avatar,” “Titanic”).

It stars a number of plant-based athletes, including Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton, lifter Kendrick Farris, tennis star Novak Djokovic, and Olympic cyclist Dotsie Bausch. The documentary predominantly follows James Wilks, an elite special forces trainer, who is “on a quest for the truth behind the world’s most dangerous myth: that meat is necessary for protein, strength, and optimal health.”

According to Schwarzenegger, this myth has come about because of marketing. “There’s no one that can relate better to that than I do because I have lived in that world,” he says in an earlier trailer for the film. “They show these commercials — burgers, George Foreman Grill, big sandwiches and all that stuff.”

“This is great, great marketing by the meat industry,” he continues. “Selling the idea that real men eat meat. But you’ve got to understand: that’s marketing.

That’s not based on reality.”

https://www.livekindly.com/arnold-schwa ... uz8gRm1fGI
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Aug 30, 2019 1:38 am

Air pollution could be
affecting mental health


Air pollution could be causing mental health issues later in life, a new study has found

Research from the University of Chicago analysed health data from 152 million people in the US and Denmark over 11 years and found a ‘significant link’ between mental health disorders and exposure to air pollution.

The study found that countries with more severe air pollution see a 27 per cent rise in citizens with bipolar disorder and a six per cent rise in citizens with major depression compared to countries with better air quality.

Andrey Rzhetsky, study author and professor of medicine and human genetics at the University of Chicago, said in a statement: “There’s quite a few known triggers but pollution is a new direction.

“Research on dogs and rodents shows air pollution can get into the brain and cause inflammation which results in symptoms resembling depression. It’s quite possible that the same thing happens in humans.”

For the Denmark-specific research, the study found adults who had lived in areas of poor environmental air quality up to the age of 10 saw a 29 per cent increase in mental health disorders as well as a two-fold increase in schizophrenia cases and higher rates of depression, bipolar and personality disorder.

While further research needs to be done, there have been criticisms in the scientific community, with John Ioannidis, a professor at Stanford University, stating: “Despite analyses involving large datasets, the available evidence has substantial shortcomings and a long series of potential biases may invalidate the observed associations.”

Air pollution has been a hot topic recently and earlier this month a study found that air pollution can hinder fertility in both men and women living in big cities.

Professor Simon Fishel, Founder and President of the CARE Fertility Group, told the Standard: “It has been shown for some time that pollution has devastating effects on fertility.”

https://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/he ... 18111.html
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Sep 02, 2019 12:54 pm

Extinction Rebellion to take
over Manchester street


Hundreds of climate protesters planed to occupy one of Manchester’s busiest streets for four days last weekend to expose the “huge contradictions” of a city region that has declared a climate emergency while planning to massively expand its airport

The Extinction Rebellion group says that from 10am on Friday at least 750 people pledged to take over part of Deansgate, a popular area for shopping and entertainment that has illegal levels of air pollution, many more turned up

A “canvas city” is expected to be pitched on the street outside House of Fraser, with tents occupied around the clock until Monday evening for what organisers have billed the northern rebellion. A similar action in April across various sites in London, including Oxford Circus, resulted in more than 1,000 arrests.

All of the events will be open to the public and will include talks from experts, including the climate scientist Prof Julia Steinberger – one of the authors of the UN climate change report, which warned there are only 12 years left to limit global warming to 1.5C to avoid a climate emergency.

Organisers are also expecting an address by an Amazonian tribesman who is studying English in Manchester.

There will be dedicated zones within the occupied area, including the “rebel camp”, which will include art installations, a garden and activities for families and children.

Greater Manchester police (GMP) said its aim was to “facilitate the protest, whilst trying to minimise disruption to all those who work, live or who will be visiting Manchester over this period”. There will be an increased police presence in and around the city centre and across the transport network, a spokeswoman said.

The occupation is the latest headache for Manchester city council, which has come under increasing pressure after announcing plans to open a 440-space car park next to a primary school and spending £9.1m on a revamp of a key thoroughfare that will remove cycle lanes.

A recent report found motorists already occupied 59% of the transport infrastructure area in Manchester despite making 13% of the journeys. All of Greater Manchester’s 10 boroughs have vowed to prioritise people over cars as the region develops. They have even signed up to a plan by Chris Boardman, the region’s cycling and walking commissioner, which pledges to “ensure all upcoming public realm and infrastructure investments, alongside all related policy programmes, have walking and cycling integrated at the development stage”.

Earlier this month residents of Ancoats, a rapidly expanding neighbourhood just outside the city centre, opened a “people’s park” on a 4-hectare (10.5-acre) site formerly occupied by the Central Retail Park, which the council wants to turn into a huge interim car park despite it being next to New Islington free school.

The people’s park is the brainchild of Gemma Cameron, a local resident with asthma who has started the Trees Not Cars campaign. “They’ve declared a climate emergency but it just feels that every single decision that has been made by the council in the moment is in complete contradiction to this climate emergency,” said Cameron. “It’s cheaper to park in Manchester than it is to get public transport and it’s unsafe for people to walk or cycle and there’s no green space.”

Next door in the Northern Quarter, the residents’ forum has consulted lawyers to challenge the council over the car park, believing it would harm the human rights and health of the people who live and work in the area. A spokesperson said the forum had found a barrister willing to work pro bono on a potential judicial review should the scheme pass planning.

Residents in both neighbourhoods have already held several protests against plans to remove the bike lane from Great Ancoats Street, the five-lane road that separates the two areas.

In June, the council announced a £9.1m “green transformation” of Great Ancoats Street, which will take out the existing cycle lanes without replacing them.

At the time, the Guardian asked the council whether it had commissioned and discarded cycle-friendly designs and was told it had not. Yet a month later, a freedom of information request by Manchester Friends of the Earth discovered that Transport for Greater Manchester had modelled an option for the council that kept the bike lanes. The council’s own scrutiny committee then castigated the plans and recommended they return to public consultation, but their recommendation was ignored.

Sir Richard Leese, Manchester’s leader since 1996, said in a recent blogpost that the Central Retail Park car park development fitted in with a parking strategy “that takes account of changing behaviour, that has the right nudges to influence behaviour”.

Yet Extinction Rebellion believes Leese and his colleagues say one thing and do another. Claire Stocks, whose VW Polo will be used to occupy Deansgate, along with a boat, as she aims to go car-free herself, said: “Greater Manchester has said it needs to reduce car journeys by 1 million a day and have 50% of all journeys made by foot, bike or public transport by 2040, yet there have not been significant enough measures to make that a reality. Richard Leese has talked about car-free days but we haven’t seen any, despite them being a quick and easy win, so we are holding a few to show how to get us started.”

Greater Manchester’s 10 councils also own large stakes in Manchester airport, which wants to increase passenger numbers from more than 25 million to 45 million by 2040.

Stocks said: “We see huge contradictions – most Greater Manchester boroughs and the GM combined authority (GMCA) have now declared a climate emergency yet Manchester airport is still expanding, and millions are still being invested in major road developments that will increase car journeys, such as Great Ancoats Street in Manchester.”

Nigel Murphy, deputy leader of Manchester City Council, insisted the council was serious about tackling climate change. He said councillors had set a target of making Manchester a zero carbon city by 2038 or earlier and was working on a detailed Zero Carbon Action Plan, due to be approved in March 2020.

“Latest data, from 2018/19, shows that the Council has almost halved its carbon emissions from a 2009/10 baseline – a drop of 48.1%, exceeding the 41% by 2020 target we had set ourselves. But the declaration of a climate emergency recognises that the council and the city can and must do more,” he said.

In a statement, the GMCA said: “Greater Manchester is a city-region with a proud history of protest and we are aware that Manchester City Council, Greater Manchester Police and other agencies are engaging with the organisers to better understand their intended action whilst trying to minimise disruption to all those who work, live or who will be visiting Manchester over this period. People across our city-region will still be travelling in to Manchester city centre for work and leisure this weekend and we hope that the protestors will bear them in mind during their protest.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... te-protest
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Sep 02, 2019 12:58 pm

"The timetable is shrinking": Protesters take to streets to demand action on climate change

Environmental activists took to the streets of Weymouth to raise awareness and to demand action on climate change

Extinction Rebellion (XR) held a 'Day of Action' in the town centre on Saturday, during which protesters and a samba band marched through the streets and onto the Esplanade.

Members of the group also drew chalk messages on the streets as well as staging street theatre and other visual displays around the town. There were also tide lines in chalk on walls, demonstrating where tide lines could rise to by 2099 based on predictions from climate scientists.

As well as the action on the streets, members of the group also offered informative film screenings in St Mary's Church.

The group aims to raise awareness for the causes and effects of climate change.

Gail Quilter, from XR Dorchester and Weymouth, said that rising sea levels could leave large parts of the town flooded if global temperatures continue to rise at the current rate.

She said: "Our number one purpose is to raise awareness. Dorset Council and Weymouth Town Council have declared a climate emergency. This is huge, that is serious. Why do people not know about this if it is an emergency? People need to know. That is why we're here.

"It is all about being friendly and fun and showing people that we are all normal people.

"In 20 years time, I don't want my children to say to me, 'Mum, why didn't you do more?'"

Retired doctor Alastair Macdonald, 72, who is involved in the movement, said: "Quite a lot of people are signing up for the mailing list. People are enquiring. Enquiry in the long term can lead to action.

"People are getting more and more concerned about it. The timetable is shrinking."

Fiona Marlow, 50, who was handing out flyers for XR, said: "We have a lot of positive feedback. We have given out a lot of leaflets. It has not all been positive, but I think it has been good. We are trying to have a conversation."

At the head of the procession was a boat decorated with the words 'ACT NOW' in large letters.

Many Weymouth residents who came to observe the demonstration reacted positively to the protest.

Cherie Whitley said: "I have had a look at what they are doing and I think it is brilliant. We can make a difference if we actually do something."

People looking to find out more about the group can attend their 'Heading for Extinction' talk tonight in the Park Community Centre at 7pm.

People's Assembly in the afternoon

After the procession, Extinction Rebellion arranged a 'People's Assembly' in St Mary's Church, where members of the public were invited to participate in a discussion.

The event was attended by Cllr Graham Lambert of Weymouth Town Council and Cllr Louie O'Leary of Dorset Council.

Attendees were split into groups in which they were presented two questions, "What did you get from today’s XR action?" and "What should Weymouth do now?"

A spokesman for XR said that the feedback from the public was positive and that people understood the importance of their message.

They also said that members of the public taking part in the assembly acknowledged the need for the community to come together to act.

Penny Quilter, a local XR facilitator, said: "This is what the people of Weymouth want to do to tackle this emergency, but we need to work together with the council and government to take positive action.

"Imagine what we could achieve, and how empowering it would be for our community, if the council worked alongside its citizens to make Weymouth and Dorset the country’s leaders in addressing this climate emergency. Let’s hold a Citizen’s Assembly and do it together."

https://www.dorsetecho.co.uk/news/17873 ... -weymouth/
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Sep 11, 2019 9:59 am

Vet says badger culls
caused immense pain


Up to 9,000 of badgers are likely to have suffered "immense pain" in culls to control cattle TB, according to a former government adviser

Prof Ranald Munro is the ex-Chair of an independent expert group appointed by the government to assess its trials.

He has written to Natural England to say that the policy is causing "huge suffering".

He adds that the culls are not reducing TB in cattle and in one area the incidence of the disease has gone up.

The culls began in 2012 following appeals from cattle farmers whose livelihoods are continuing to be damaged by the spread of TB.

Prof Munro's independent expert group found that up 23% of badgers took more than five minutes to die after they were shot. These figures prompted the group to conclude that the culls were inhumane in its assessment report to government. This document's publication was delayed but its contents were revealed by BBC News in 2014.

The independent expert group was disbanded by the Department for Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) ministers, who said that its work had been completed - though this was against the wishes of many of the experts involved, with one claiming that ministers were "wilfully" ignoring scientific advice.

Speaking ahead of the expected announcement of new culling areas for 2019 later this week, Prof Munro estimates that 40,000 badgers have been culled so far which according to the expert group's figures equates to thousands of them dying slowly.

"The numbers are huge, they really are. If you look at the likelihood of not dying within five minutes of being shot, you are looking at 3,000 badgers having suffered immense pain at a minimum. It could be as high as 9,000. There is a huge issue of suffering in these badgers."
Cattle Image copyright Reuters

Prof Munro's remarks come as he and 19 other vets, scientists and animal welfare campaigners wrote to Natural England, the body that oversees the culls.

A freedom of information request by the group has shown that as the number of cull areas has increased over the years, the environment watchdog's monitoring staff have been spread ever thinner.

In 2014, 20% of culls were supervised by Natural England staff. In 2018, it was able to monitor only 0.4%.

"The terms of the roll-out of the culling have not been adhered to," Prof Munro said.

"They are saying 'oh yes, we are observing'; but they are observing at a level which is of no value whatsoever in determining the humanness of culling and whether badgers are being injured or how long they are taking to die."

An NFU spokesperson said that the rates of suffering quoted by Prof Munro were out of date.

"Those involved with the cull take their responsibilities very seriously and have all taken part in rigorous training. The Chief Vet has said that contractors continued to show high levels of discipline and compliance with the best practice guidance that governs the culls.

"No-one involved in the organisation and management of a targeted badger cull as part of the government's TB eradication strategy would recognise the figures being talked about today. They appear to be an extrapolation of data from seven years ago and bear no relation to the safety and humaneness levels being recorded today.

"We believe the science and evidence due will show a positive impact on bovine TB incidences in cattle."

Weight of science

The FOI request also revealed that in the very first cull area, in Gloucestershire, which could be among the first to see benefits if there are any from the policy, the number of new herds confirmed to have TB increased from 10 in 2017 to 23 in 2018.

This single increase in one year in one area is not sufficient to show that the culls are not working. More data and expert analysis will be needed to determine their effectiveness one way or another.

But the experts and campaigners write in their letter: "We are unconvinced that the culling of large numbers continues to be justified in the view of recent data showing zero disease control benefits after six years of culling of badgers in Gloucestershire."

A Natural England spokesperson said: "We help to implement the badger culling policy under the direction of Defra and in line with decisions taken by ministers. We are in the process of reviewing the badger cull applications for 2019 made under that policy and will communicate decisions in due course.

"One of our roles is to independently consider licence applications to cull or vaccinate badgers, and we take policy advice from Defra when deciding if the activity will deliver effective disease control. Licensing is not done lightly and those involved in the cull - farmers, contractors and Natural England staff - take the welfare of badgers very seriously."

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-envi ... dDZBzC54cA
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Sep 13, 2019 4:16 am

Old enemies in the Amazon
unite to save their land


Kayapó and Panará, once rivals, have united against the policies of the Brazilian government

While the world's attention has been focused on the fires raging in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, indigenous people living there have warned that the policies of President Jair Bolsonaro pose a bigger threat to their existence.

Rival groups have now come together to fight the government's plans for the region that is their home, as BBC News Brasil's João Fellet reports from the Amazon village of Kubenkokre.

Dozens of indigenous people gathered in this remote part of northern Brazil last month after travelling for days by bus and boat.

The meeting brought together formerly sworn enemies such as the Kayapó and the Panará.

The two groups were at war for decades, raiding each other's villages in tit-for-tat attacks. The warring came to a brutal end in 1968, when an attack by the Kayapó, who came armed with guns, left 26 Panará, who only had arrows to defend themselves, dead.

Tensions remained high for years but according to those gathered in Kubenkokre, the two sides have now overcome their animosity for a greater goal.

"Today, we have only one enemy, the government of Brazil, the president of Brazil, and those invading [indigenous territories]," Kayapó leader Mudjire explained.

"We have internal fights but we've come together to fight this government."

His words were echoed by Panará leader Sinku: "We've killed the Kayapó and the Kayapó have killed us, we've reconciled and will no longer fight."

"We've got a shared interest to stand together so the non-indigenous people don't kill all of us," he said, referring to the threats posed by the arrival of miners and loggers carrying out illegal activities in their area.

'69,000 football fields lost'

More than 800,000 indigenous people live in 450 demarcated indigenous territories across Brazil, about 12% of Brazil's total territory. Most are located in the Amazon region and some groups still live completely isolated and without outside contact.

President Jair Bolsonaro, who took office in January, has repeatedly questioned whether these demarcated territories - which are enshrined in Brazil's constitution - should continue to exist, arguing that their size is disproportionate to the number of indigenous people living there.

His plans to open up these territories for mining, logging and agriculture are controversial, and any change to their status would need to be passed by the Brazilian Congress.

But it is something that worries the indigenous leaders gathered in Kubenkokre. "Other presidents had more concern for our land. [Mr Bolsonaro] isn't concerned about this, he wants to put an end to what our people have and to how we live," explains Panará leader Sinku.

"That's why I have a heavy heart and that's why we're here talking to each other."

In some demarcated areas, loggers and miners are already at work after some local indigenous leaders granted them permission.

Indigenous leader Bepto Xikrin told the gathering how some 400 miners and loggers had illegally entered the Bacajá territory since the start of the year. He said that members of his indigenous group were scared and did not know what to do.

And according to a network of 24 environmental and indigenous groups, Rede Xingu+, an area equivalent to 69,000 football fields was destroyed between January and June of this year alone in the Xingu river region.

Heavy machinery has caused major damage and the Fresco and Branco rivers that run through the region have been contaminated with mercury

Kayapó leader Doto Takakire said illegal mining had been further encouraged by the fact that it often goes unpunished.

Analysis by BBC Brasil shows the number of fines handed out by the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama) for environmental violations has dropped significantly since President Bolsonaro took office on 1 January.

Mr Bolsonaro has in the past pledged to limit the fines imposed for damaging the Amazon and many blame the president for Ibama's current weak position.

'We won't repeat the past'

At the meeting - which was held in both Portuguese and Kayapó - participants discussed projects for their region's economic developments which do not contribute to deforestation, such as handicrafts and the processing of native fruits.

"I'm concerned about the trees, water, fish, the non-indigenous people who want to enter our land," explained Sinku. "I don't want to contaminate the water with [toxic products from] mining... That's why I'm here."

Indigenous groups which have allowed miners on to their land were not invited, an omission which some of those attending described as a missed opportunity.

"There's no-one here who wants agribusiness or mining in their villages, so are we just going to talk amongst ourselves?" Kayapó leader Oé asked.

The fires which have been burning across the Amazon were not a big topic of debate at the gathering, in part because they have mainly happened outside protected indigenous reserves but also because those gathered consider illegal mining and logging as more pressing threats.

"We won't repeat the past," Kayapó leader Kadkure concluded. "From now on, we'll be united."

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-49660695
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:05 pm

Dirty secret gas
boosts climate warming


It's the most powerful greenhouse gas known to humanity, and emissions have risen rapidly in recent years, the BBC has learned

Sulphur hexafluoride, or SF6, is widely used in the electrical industry to prevent short circuits and accidents.

But leaks of the little-known gas in the UK and the rest of the EU in 2017 were the equivalent of putting an extra 1.3 million cars on the road.

Levels are rising as an unintended consequence of the green energy boom.

Cheap and non-flammable, SF6 is a colourless, odourless, synthetic gas. It makes a hugely effective insulating material for medium and high-voltage electrical installations.

It is widely used across the industry, from large power stations to wind turbines to electrical sub-stations in towns and cities. It prevents electrical accidents and fires.

However, the significant downside to using the gas is that it has the highest global warming potential of any known substance. It is 23,500 times more warming than carbon dioxide (CO2)

Just one kilogram of SF6 warms the Earth to the same extent as 24 people flying London to New York return.

It also persists in the atmosphere for a long time, warming the Earth for at least 1,000 years.
So why are we using more of this powerful warming gas?

The way we make electricity around the world is changing rapidly.

Where once large coal-fired power stations brought energy to millions, the drive to combat climate change means they are now being replaced by mixed sources of power including wind, solar and gas.

This has resulted in many more connections to the electricity grid, and a rise in the number of electrical switches and circuit breakers that are needed to prevent serious accidents.

Collectively, these safety devices are called switchgear. The vast majority use SF6 gas to quench arcs and stop short circuits.

"As renewable projects are getting bigger and bigger, we have had to use it within wind turbines specifically," said Costa Pirgousis, an engineer with Scottish Power Renewables on its new East Anglia wind farm, which doesn't use SF6 in turbines.

"As we are putting in more and more turbines, we need more and more switchgear and, as a result, more SF6 is being introduced into big turbines off shore.

"It's been proven for years and we know how it works, and as a result it is very reliable and very low maintenance for us offshore."

How do we know that SF6 is increasing?

Across the entire UK network of power lines and substations, there are around one million kilograms of SF6 installed.

A study from the University of Cardiff found that across all transmission and distribution networks, the amount used was increasing by 30-40 tonnes per year.

This rise was also reflected across Europe with total emissions from the 28 member states in 2017 equivalent to 6.73 million tonnes of CO2. That's the same as the emissions from 1.3 million extra cars on the road for a year.

SF6 explainer

Researchers at the University of Bristol who monitor concentrations of warming gases in the atmosphere say they have seen significant rises in the last 20 years.

"We make measurements of SF6 in the background atmosphere," said Dr Matt Rigby, reader in atmospheric chemistry at Bristol.

"What we've seen is that the levels have increased substantially, and we've seen almost a doubling of the atmospheric concentration in the last two decades."

How does SF6 get into the atmosphere?

The most important means by which SF6 gets into the atmosphere is from leaks in the electricity industry.

Electrical company Eaton, which manufactures switchgear without SF6, says its research indicates that for the full life-cycle of the product, leaks could be as high as 15% - much higher than many other estimates.

Louis Shaffer, electrical business manager at Eaton, said: "The newer gear has very low leak rates but the key question is do you have newer gear?

"We looked at all equipment and looked at the average of all those leak rates, and we didn't see people taking into account the filling of the gas. Plus, we looked at how you recycle it and return it and also included the catastrophic leaks."

How damaging to the climate is this gas?

Concentrations in the atmosphere are very small right now, just a fraction of the amount of CO2 in the air.

However, the global installed base of SF6 is expected to grow by 75% by 2030.

Another concern is that SF6 is a synthetic gas and isn't absorbed or destroyed naturally. It will all have to be replaced and destroyed to limit the impact on the climate.

Developed countries are expected to report every year to the UN on how much SF6 they use, but developing countries do not face any restrictions on use.

Right now, scientists are detecting concentrations in the atmosphere that are 10 times the amount declared by countries in their reports. Scientists say this is not all coming from countries like India, China and South Korea.

One study found that the methods used to calculate emissions in richer countries "severely under-reported" emissions over the past two decades.

Why hasn't this been banned?

SF6 comes under a group of human-produced substances known as F-gases. The European Commission tried to prohibit a number of these environmentally harmful substances, including gases in refrigeration and air conditioning, back in 2014.

But they faced strong opposition from industries across Europe.

"In the end, the electrical industry lobby was too strong and we had to give in to them," said Dutch Green MEP Bas Eickhout, who was responsible for the attempt to regulate F-gases.

"The electric sector was very strong in arguing that if you want an energy transition, and you have to shift more to electricity, you will need more electric devices. And then you also will need more SF6.

"They used the argument that otherwise the energy transition would be slowed down."

What do regulator say about the gas?

Everyone is trying to reduce their dependence on the gas, as it is universally recognised as harmful to the climate.

In the UK, energy regulator Ofgem says it is working with utilities to try to limit leaks of the gas.

"We are using a range of tools to make sure that companies limit their use of SF6, a potent greenhouse gas, where this is in the interest of energy consumers," an Ofgem spokesperson told BBC News.

"This includes funding innovation trials and rewarding companies to research and find alternatives, setting emissions targets, rewarding companies that beat those targets, and penalising those that miss them."

Are there alternatives - and are they very expensive?

The question of alternatives to SF6 has been contentious over recent years.

For high-voltage applications, experts say there are very few solutions that have been rigorously tested.

"There is no real alternative that is proven," said Prof Manu Haddad from the school of engineering at Cardiff University.

"There are some that are being proposed now but to prove their operation over a long period of time is a risk that many companies don't want to take."

However, for medium voltage operations there are several tried-and-tested materials. Some in the industry say that the conservative nature of the electrical industry is the key reason that few want to change to a less harmful alternative.

"I will tell you, everyone in this industry knows you can do this; there is not a technical reason not to do it," said Louis Shaffer from Eaton.

"It's not really economic; it's more a question that change takes effort and if you don't have to, you won't do it."

Some companies are feeling the winds of change

Sitting in the North Sea some 43km from the Suffolk coast, Scottish Power Renewables has installed one of world's biggest wind farms where the turbines will be free of SF6 gas.

East Anglia One will see 102 of these towering generators erected, with the capacity to produce up to 714MW (megawatts) of power by 2020, enough to supply half a million homes.

Previously, an installation like this would have used switchgear supplied with SF6, to prevent the electrical accidents that can lead to fires.

Each turbine would normally have contained around 5kg of SF6, which, if it leaked into the atmosphere, would add the equivalent of around 117 tonnes of carbon dioxide. This is roughly the same as the annual emissions from 25 cars.

"In this case we are using a combination of clean air and vacuum technology within the turbine. It allows us to still have a very efficient, reliable, high-voltage network but to also be environmentally friendly," said Costa Pirgousis from Scottish Power Renewables.

"Once there are viable alternatives on the market, there is no reason not to use them. In this case, we've got a viable alternative and that's why we are using it."

But even for companies that are trying to limit the use of SF6, there are still limitations. At the heart of East Anglia One sits a giant offshore substation to which all 102 turbines will connect. It still uses significant quantities of the highly warming gas.

What happens next ?

The EU will review the use of SF6 next year and will examine whether alternatives are available. However, even the most optimistic experts don't think that any ban is likely to be put in place before 2025.

Link to Article - Photos:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-49567197
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Sep 13, 2019 9:28 pm

Arctic glaciers shrinking
by 300m each year


Glaciers in the Arctic are shrinking by as much as 300m a year, a Scottish-based research team from the Scottish Association for Marine Science near Oban used robot submarines to study glaciers in the west of the Svalbard archipelago in the Norwegian Arctic

SAMS scientists have been studying the area's glaciers for two decades.

Dr John Howe, leading the team, said the Arctic was probably warming faster than any other part of the planet.

He said: "There have been studies by satellite looking at the loss of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean.

"But we're interested in the role of glaciers, and in particular why glaciers are retreating and how they behave under these warmer conditions."

Dr Howe's team found Svalbard's glaciers are retreating by as much as 300m each year.

This is not merely the result of rising air temperatures. A relatively warmer ocean and local conditions in the fjords are also having an effect.

"Warm water that used to be there is now washing the front of the glacier," Dr Howe says.

"The warm water is there because of the shape of the seabed.

"Water is able to get into the fjords, and that warmer water is promoting the collapse and therefore the retreat of this ice."

That ice melts when it gets warm is no surprise but, writing in the journal Marine Geology, the team say they found an unexpected consequence.

A plume of cold, fresh meltwater had been expected to protect the front of the glacier from the warmer seawater.

But it's not.

Instead it floats on the surface of the ocean, drawing seawater to the front of the glacier and accelerating the melting process.

The research has immediate implications for wildlife, fisheries and shipping.

But Dr Howe says there are even bigger considerations as the research adds to science's understanding how a warming Arctic is driving change in the sea level.

"If you lose the Greenland ice cap, which is currently pinned by the glaciers, there's this notional seven metre rise in sea levels," he said.

To make the detailed measurements underpinning the Svalbard study, the team had to get their instruments as close as possible to the point where the glaciers meet the ocean.

But as glaciers melt they "calve" great chunks of ice into the sea, causing huge waves. That's not the sort of thing to keep the health and safety-conscious happy.

So SAMS has been using something that has transformed their work in recent years: a robot.
Robot submarine Image copyright Sams

It has a fleet of them, some with wings that 'glide' through Arctic waters for months and beam their data back by satellite.

This one, though, is distinctive.

"It's like a yellow torpedo, a submarine," says Dr Howe.

"It can 'fly' close to the glacier front and make these measurements while the boat stays a good kilometre away - safely away from the falling ice."

If the warming of the Arctic continues, robot subs may not be needed. As the glaciers retreat, Dr Howe warns they will no longer meet the sea at all.

"Rather than being dominated by a white-blue walls of ice at the head of the fjord, it'll be a river."

SAMS is based at Dunstaffnage, near Oban, and is part of the University of the Highlands and Islands.

The work was funded by the Norwegian Research Council and led by the Norwegian Polar Institute.

Link to Article - Stunning Photos:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-49678903
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Re: Updates: polution; hunting; animal slaughter; climate ch

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Sep 14, 2019 12:45 am

UK badger cull extended
to unimaginable scale


The controversial badger cull in England has been expanded to an “unimaginable scale”, according to a leading expert who warned the government is paying far too little attention to the transmission of tuberculosis between cattle when they are traded

Ministers approved culling in 11 new areas on Wednesday, taking the total to 43. Up to 64,000 animals are likely to be killed this autumn, up from a maximum of 42,000 last year.

TB infections in cattle blight farms and cost taxpayers more than £100m a year in compensation payments. But scientists and conservationists oppose the cull, saying there is little evidence it is effective and is being badly run.

The cull started in 2013 in Gloucester and Somerset and takes place in 43 areas, from Cornwall to Cumbria. A proposed cull in Derbyshire, where a badger vaccination programme has been taking place, was not approved.

“Bovine TB remains the greatest animal health threat to the UK,” the farming minister, George Eustice, said. He added that there was no single measure to beat the disease, with tighter cattle movement controls, improved biosecurity on farms and badger vaccination all required.

A large-scale trial of badger culling that ended in 2006 indicated that a minimum of 70% of a badger population must be killed for a cull to be effective. If fewer are culled, disruption of badger social groups can lead to TB being spread more widely.

However, the culls must not kill every badger either, so minimum and maximum numbers are set. This year’s minimum is 37,482 and the maximum is 64,400. Culls now cover 90% of Wiltshire, 84% of Devon, and 83% of Cornwall.

“The culls have expanded to unimaginable scales, covering an area larger than Israel,” said Prof Rosie Woodroffe, an ecologist at the Zoological Society of London, one of the team that conducted the earlier large-scale trial.

“I cannot understand why the government has permitted this massive expansion of badger culling, when it has not yet responded to the Godfray Review it commissioned and received nearly a year ago,” she said.

“The review concluded the government and farming industry were paying far too much attention to badger management, and far too little attention to cattle-to-cattle transmission, which is responsible for the majority of TB incidents in cattle.”

The review also called upon government to properly evaluate badger vaccination as a non-lethal alternative to culling, Woodroffe said. “Ministers regularly call for the conservation of wildlife in other countries, but refuse to invest in helping their own farmers to coexist with wildlife.”

Eustice said the government would fully respond to the review in the near future.

Dominic Dyer, chief executive of the Badger Trust, said: “This year will take the number of badgers killed since the cull started to over 130,000, pushing the species to the verge of local extinction in areas of England which it has inhabited since the ice age.

“The public costs of the badger cull are estimated to exceed £60m by the end of 2019, yet the government has provided no evidence to prove this cruel slaughter is having any significant impact on lowering bovine TB.”

Arthur Thomas, the campaigns manager at the animal welfare group IFAW, said: “The expansion to the badger cull is not only a tragedy for British wildlife, but also for our farmers,. The government’s decision flies in the face of scientific evidence.”

Bill Harper, the chair of the National Beef Association’s TB committee, said he believed the decision to turn down the application to cull in Derbyshire was purely political. Prime minister Boris Johnson’s partner, Carrie Symonds, is an opponent of the cull. “It is almost like Boris Johnson is saying, ‘Oh right darling, we will not allow that one’,” Harper told Farmers Weekly.

Prof Ranald Munro was the chair of an independent expert group appointed by the government to assess the first culls, which is now disbanded. He said up to 9,000 badgers are likely to have suffered “immense pain” as a result of the culls.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... dfd_Jq7Uqk
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