Friday, October 26, 2007

Coffee and Provocation

Going to Hell in a Handbasket:
The United Nations has put out another report saying the world's environment is going to hell in a handbasket due to rapid and sustained human population growth. That's exactly what I have been saying for 27 years. There's just one little problem with this story board as a policy-making tool: the folks that vote and read United Nations reports are humans, and for the human race (taken as a whole) things are actually better now than they were 20, 50, 100, or 150 years ago based on almost any metric you would like to choose (longevity, neonatal mortality, income, access to clean water, food intake, sanitation, women's rights, etc.). Yes, things are often worse for wildlife (though not always), but wildlife and wild places don't get a vote in this human-dominated world of ours. To bad, we may think, but that's the sum total of the world's environmental problems in a nutshell.

Time to Cull the Badgers:
The British Government's chief scientific advisor, Sir David King, has said culling badgers is the "best option available at the moment to reduce the reservoir of tuberculosis infection in wildlife," and that a cull will start in a few months. I am not sure how this is news: DEFRA, the Department of Environmental and Rural Affairs in the U.K., has been gassing scores of thousands of badgers in TB-plagued areas of the U.K. for years. Nonetheless, the badger population in the U.K. is at historical records, and in fact there are now reported to be more badgers in the U.K. than fox!

Protecting Virginia Wilderness:
The Virginia Ridge and Valley Act, which will permanently protect as wilderness almost 55,000 acres in Virginia's Jefferson National Forest, has passed the House of Representatives. Let us hope the Senate is next. To read more about the region.

National Geographic in Praise of Hunters:
The National Geographic has come out with a piece in praise of hunters! About time they recognized the conservation history here. The article, entitled Hunters: For the Love of the Land, gets it just about right.

HSUS Says It's the Ignorant Public's Fault
Read this piece from the folks at the National Animal Interest Alliance about the Humane Society of the U.S. is concerned. Patti Strand of the National Animal Interest Alliance notes that, "HSUS calls itself a mainstream advocacy group, hiding or downplaying the fact that it ... is all about promoting vegan diets - no meat, no dairy - and ending traditional human-animal relationships across the board, from agriculture to biomedical research. . . . Mr. Pacelle [of the HSUS] seems baffled that anyone would go after HSUS for not having shelters because as he stated, 'We never said we run - local animal shelters.' This is vintage HSUS. They call themselves a humane society and then blame the public for being confused. By calling itself the Humane Society of the United States, HSUS rides into every situation on a 'case of mistaken identity' - an identity that, oops, just happens to raise millions of dollars: the mistaken impression for many Americans being that it is a humane society rather than a giant propaganda, lobbying and fundraising machine." Of course, what Strand does not mention is that her organization is a professional apologist for the puppy mill industry and factory farming, while she herself is on the board of the AKC where she works to make sure the Dalmatian registry is kept firmly closed so that the deep (and painful) health problems of that breed are not rectified through outcrossing. Nice! Talk about calling the kettle black!

Drunk and Disorderly in India:
In India, a herd of about 40 wild Asian elephants in Chandan Nukat, in northeast India, got drunk on beer kept outside in casks by local villagers, and then proceeded to run through a nearby paddy field where one of them struck an electrical pole and came in contact with a very powerful electrical wire. Writhing in pain while being juiced by electricity, other elephants tried to come to its aid, and a total of 6 elephants ended up being electrocuted. The report is that there would have been even more elephant deaths had not villagers, awakened by the cries of the animals, not chased them away to protect them. For the record, this was not the first time drunken elephants have rioted in Chandan Nukat -- it happened three years ago. Perhaps now is a good time to suggest leaving the beer kegs inside?

Electrocuting Elephants With Thomas Alva Edison:
In turn out that drunken elephants in India story (see above) is not the first time an elephant has been electrocuted. Believe it or not, the first elephant electrocution was orchestrated as a stunt in 1903 by none other than Thomas Alva Edison who was looking for a shocking (pun intended) publicity ploy to show that the alternating current (AC) system being proposed by George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla was dangerous and could kill people, while his direct current (DC) system could not. The gruesome elephant-killing publicity stunt was even filmed, but guess what? It didn't work! We have AC in our houses today, and DC is what runs all those little battery-operated thinga-ma-jigs we get at Best Buy.

Thank You Blowhards!
A special shout-out to the folks at 2Blowhards who gave us a very nice atta-boy for a couple of posts on this blog. Considering the rather stellar and far-reaching content of their blog, I am pleased as punch by their compliments.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

RE: Drunken Elephants

When I was considerably younger, we had a friend with a cider press. Each fall my Dad and I would stop by the press periodically, pick up the apple pulp left after pressing cider, load it in the truck and drop it off in piles in the mountains surrounding our cabin. It not only fed the deer, but attracted them to areas we wanted to hunt. (Yeah... I know. No longer considered appropriate wildlife management practices.)

The piles of apple pulp would ferment and reach an alcohol level high enough to get the deer intoxicated. We never hunted over the piles, that would have been illegal, but we'd often visit the piles outside of the hunting seasons to observe the deer. They'd be prancing around like puppies, just having a grand old time with an applejack buzz on.

Apparently deer are much friendlier drunks than elephants.