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Secrets of the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center

US Meat Animal Research Center
If you haven't read the shocking, eye-opening report by the New York Times on the secret, government-operated US Meat Animal Research Center and its "one overarching mission: helping producers of beef, pork and lamb turn a higher profit," you owe it to yourself and to the animals to check it out.

The article is much more than just a litany of horrors; it's a meticulous description of living creatures being used in experiments to turn them into bigger, better, tastier, faster-growing units in the vast industrial machine of factory farming. For example:

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A New World View of Our Fellow Animals

unity-of-life-12315In the first part of our interview with Stephen Cave, he talked about how, once we decide that we are fundamentally different in kind from the other animals, we can then view them as having a lower moral status, and how that, in turn, opens up "a whole world of possibilities for how we treat them."

In this second part, he talks about how we need to develop a new world view and a new kind of "story" that we tell ourselves to describe who and what we are. It would be a story that can replace the increasingly destructive one we tell ourselves about how we're a separate and superior creation whose mission is to take "dominion" over the other animals and to "subdue the Earth."

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How Our Immortality Projects Impact the Other Animals

In previous posts we’ve talked about how our relationship to our fellow animals and the way we treat them is driven by our anxiety over the fact that we’re animals, too, and our denial of our own animal nature.

In his book Immortality: The Quest to Live Forever and How it Drives Civilization, Stephen Cave discusses the chief ways in which we persuade ourselves that we’re not really animals, that we can avoid death altogether, or at least that some part of us will live on in some way after we’re dead. Here’s the trailer to the book:

In the first of two posts, Cave explains how, once we decide that we are fundamentally different in kind from other animals, we can then view them as having a lower moral status. And that, in turn, opens up "a whole world of possibilities for how we treat them."

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Taking Dominion and Subduing the Earth


Starting around 9,000 years ago, the agricultural era brought about the large-scale domestication of animals and a fundamental shift in our relationship to them. Less and less beings of great mystery and power, they were becoming, instead, commodities.

(Fourth in a series about how and why our relationship to our fellow animals has deteriorated to the point of an unfolding mass extinction.)

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The Birth of Human Exceptionalism


How and when did we humans decide we didn’t want to think of ourselves as animals any longer? How did we go from thinking of the other animals as essentially our equals to treating them as commodities that exist to be mined from the oceans by huge factory ships and manufactured from birth to death on factory farms?

It’s obviously a long and complex story, but we can get an idea of how it took place over thousands of years in various parts of the world.

(Third in a series about how and why our relationship to our fellow animals has deteriorated to the point of an unfolding mass extinction.)

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Believe It or Not

Sandra tries to hide in her pen at the Buenos Aires Zoo

In the first-ever case of its kind, an orangutan at a zoo in Argentina has been recognized by a high court as being a "legal person" with the capacity for certain legal rights, including habeas corpus, so she may be taken from the zoo and sent to a sanctuary.

Sounds great. Except that none of it is true.

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Of Popes, Pets and Paradise

pope-animals-heaven-4-1121814If you've ever wondered whether there's an afterlife, you've probably found yourself making a mental list of the people you'd look forward to seeing there.

This may have led to thinking about the people you'd seriously want to avoid there ... which may, in turn, have sparked the question of what happens if you don't want to spend your afterlife with people who very much want to spend theirs with you.

It all gets quite complicated. And even more so when you bring nonhuman animals into the discussion, too. Many of us like to think of our deceased pets as waiting patiently for us at the proverbial Rainbow Bridge. But what does a mosquito's paradise look like?

Even more to the point: What happens to the chicken you roasted and ate last week? Imagine having a heart attack right after dinner and being greeted, just a few moments later, by Mrs. Chicken herself, slightly the worse for having been eaten and definitely not taking too kindly to what you just did to her.

Even more embarrassing: Imagine the problem at the Pearly Gates for the high-ups at animal welfare groups who promote "happy meat" and heap praise upon the people who kill animals for profit but do it "humanely".

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What Happens at the Mythic Tree of Knowledge

In the story of the Garden of Eden, our early ancestors find themselves confronted by a choice.

They’re already developing an increasingly complex self-awareness that gives them the ability to think in terms of good and bad. And they’re acquiring an existential understanding of their personal mortality.

As this awareness grows, they find themselves hearing two voices: one calling them back to a state of innocence in paradise; the other beckoning them forward to a future where they might become “as gods” in their own right, taking dominion over the world, freeing themselves from their animality, and even becoming immortal.

(Second in a series about how and why our relationship to our fellow animals has deteriorated to the point of an unfolding mass extinction.)

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Tommy the Chimpanzee’s Case Will Move to New York’s Highest Court

Tommy-cropThe New York State Appellate Court, Third Division, has issued its decision in the case of Tommy the chimpanzee, and has essentially opened the door for Tommy’s case to be taken to New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals.

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Why the Animal Protection Movement Has Failed

A new paper by Michael Mountain and Dr. Lori Marino, published by the journal Anthrozoos, explores the psychology behind why we humans continue to reduce the other animals to the status of resources, commodities and property.

Why do we continue to behave in a way that’s driving much of life on Earth to extinction?

The answer is to be found at the core of the human condition in our need to tell ourselves and each other that “I am not an animal!”

(First in a series about how and why our relationship to our fellow animals has deteriorated to the point of an unfolding mass extinction.)

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The Growth Monster

"Six years on from the financial crash that brought the world to its knees, red warning lights are once again flashing on the dashboard of the global economy."

G20-summit-112014That was UK Prime Minister David Cameron's take on the situation as 26 world leaders wrapped up their G-20 economic summit in Australia.

The solution, according to the leaders of all these countries and to most economists, is, as always, more "growth". But what exactly are we going to grow, and how and where are we going to grow it?

Most of all, how is yet more of this "growth" going to affect the millions of animals whose homes and lives we've already appropriated and who are now threatened with extinction? Read more

A Year in the Life of Earth’s CO2

An eerily beautiful video, created by a NASA super-computer, showing how human-generated carbon dioxide builds up in the atmosphere in winter and retreats in summer as trees and other plants photosynthesize much of it.

Note also how plumes of carbon monoxide, shown in gray, stream from fires in Africa, Australia and South America.

Psychologists Explain Why So Many Republicans Are Climate Science Deniers

Inhofe Clean Water Act
If you care about the animals and nature, Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma is the climate science denier you love to hate. The senator, in turn, loves to go out of his way to make off-the-wall comments about the Environmental Protection Agency being a "Gestapo bureaucracy." And he gets a kick out of putting up signs like "Honk if you love global warming!"

Inhofe is poised to take over the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works again, and while he may seem like a cartoonish yahoo, he's no fool. So you have to wonder: Does he truly believe that climate change is a "hoax" and a "conspiracy"? Does he just make this stuff up for fun? Or is something else going on?

A fascinating new study suggests that something else is indeed going on. And it helps explain why so many Republican legislators are determined to deny the plain fact that we humans are creating catastrophic climate change and mass extinction.

(Oh, and before we go on: Liberal Democrats are not off the hook; it turns out they do the same thing, just in relation to different issues. Basically, we all do it.)

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How We Just Voted for Extinction

Asked whether he thought the new Senate will be able to pass any bi-partisan legislation at all, Senator-elect Cory Gardner of Colorado paused for a moment and said, "Yes, the Keystone Pipeline."

In other words, the one thing we can expect Congress to agree on is poisoning the land and burning more fossil fuels than ever.

"This was the most content-free election I’ve ever seen," veteran reporter Al Hunt told Charlie Rose. "There was no talk about the war, there was no talk about immigration, there was no talk about infrastructure, any of the big issues."

But wait! When it comes to "big issues", even these top journalists are apparently oblivious to the biggest issue of all and the only issue that’s going to matter to anyone a few brief decades from now: global earth changes and mass extinction.

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Ridiculously Cute

Light relief – a break from our usual fare! . . .

Baby rhino and baby goat do their thing. (More below)

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Hope and Faith in a Time of Destruction

In the Ancient Greek drama Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus, Prometheus tells of the terrible mistake he made in giving humans self-awareness and enlightenment. The "gift", he explains, turned out to be a curse because it made us humans deeply aware of our own mortality.

But while he can't take the gift/curse away, Prometheus has taken steps to relieve the grinding, lifelong anxiety he's caused. His remedy, he says, is to enable us to live in permanent denial of our mortal nature.

Prometheus: I prevented mortals from foreseeing their death.
Chorus Leader: By finding what remedy for this malady?
Prometheus: I caused blind hope to dwell within them.
Chorus Leader: In this you gave a mighty benefit to mortals!

Prometheus's solution may have been workable when the stakes weren't as high as they are today. But blind hope and optimism are not the best prescription when you're entering a period of mass extinction.

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Whose Temperature Should You Be Taking?


While passengers arriving from West Africa at Dulles International Airport last week were having their temperatures taken, this woman was sitting on the other side of the airport, in the Departures area, wearing a homemade, head-to-toe Hazmat suit.

The woman's paranoia might be excused if she were concerned about seasonal flu, which kills up to half a million people a year. But of all the things we can be seriously worried about right now (like mass extinction), catching Ebola in the Departures area of an airport is not one of them.

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How Ebola Is Killing Our Cousins


If chimpanzees and gorillas had their own version of the Internet, they'd probably be posting headlines like:

Gorillas Face Extinction as Invasive Species Rampages through Forests
Humans Most Likely Source of Deadly Infection . . .

That's because while most of us seven billion humans are at small risk of catching Ebola, the same is not true for our great ape cousins. They're catching it in droves.

We don't know the numbers yet, but with gorillas and chimpanzees already facing extinction, Ebola could be the final coup-de-grace.

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Tommy’s Owner Speaks

It was probably a good idea for Patrick Lavery, the "owner" of Tommy the chimpanzee, not to make an appearance at the appellate court in Albany, NY, yesterday. Check out what he told a TV reporter.

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Inside the Courtroom at Tommy’s Appeal


It was a packed courtroom at the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, for the Matter of the Nonhuman Rights Project v. Lavery, 518336 – better known as Tommy the chimpanzee's appeal hearing.

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