Paul Driessen is the author of the book Eco-Imperialism. Green Power, Black Death. As its title suggests, the book illustrates how a putative concern for protecting ecosystems and preserving the planet under the banner of "corporate responsibility" results in just the opposite, not to mention the malnutrition, disease and deaths of millions of 3rd world people. Read this compelling interview of Paul Driessen in its entirety. Let me tease you:
Two billion people still don’t have electricity. In Uganda and many other countries, less than 3 percent of the population has regular access to electricity. Abundant, reliable, affordable electricity is a precondition for health, economic and environmental progress. Without it, people cannot have light and refrigeration in their homes; modern hospitals, schools, factories or water purification plants for their communities; economic opportunity or hope for the future.
And yet, radical environmentalists adamantly oppose fossil fuel, nuclear and hydroelectric power projects – and insist on inadequate wind turbines, or little solar panels on huts, instead. This means millions of mothers and girls must continue spending hours each day cutting down forests for firewood, or gathering, drying and storing cow dung to burn. Then they are forced to spend more hours carrying water from lakes and rivers that are often tainted with bacteria – and still more hours breathing acrid, polluted smoke from their cooking and heating fires. The results are easily foreseeable.
Wildlife habitats are destroyed. Vast areas are blanketed with dense air pollution. And over 4 million infants, children and mothers die every year from lung infections we never even hear about anymore in the USA – millions more from dysentery and other diseases caused by unsafe water and spoiled food.
Malaria is another scourge made infinitely worse by green extremists. We used DDT to eliminate this mosquito-borne disease in the United States and Europe. Now well-off environmental activists can afford to rail against pesticide use in Africa, while they enjoy all the comforts that our high-tech, malaria-free society bestows upon them.
Meanwhile, 2 million Africans die every year from this dreaded disease. Hundreds of millions get so sick each year they can’t work, attend school, care for their families or tend their fields for weeks or months on end. Millions are so weakened from malaria that they succumb to AIDS, dysentery, tuberculosis and other serial killers that stalk these impoverished lands – diseases that many of them would survive if they weren’t so weakened by malaria and malnutrition. It’s no wonder sub-Saharan Africa is one of the most destitute regions on Earth.[... snip ...]
Radical greens are fond of claiming they are committed to preserving “indigenous lifestyles” from the encroachment of western civilization. Of course, they would never give up their own comfortable western lifestyle, or all the wondrous medicines, foods and technologies it provides. Nor would they survive long actually living like natives in a desert or rain forest.
Moreover, as Kenya’s Akinyi Arunga so eloquently put it, “Cute, indigenous customs aren’t so charming when they make up one’s day-to-day existence. Then they mean indigenous poverty, indigenous malnutrition, indigenous disease and childhood death. I don’t wish this on my worst enemy, and I wish our so-called friends would stop imposing it on us.”
Depriving the world’s poor of electricity and pesticides is just the beginning. Biotechnology could fortify plants with vitamins, to reduce malnutrition and blindness, replace crops devastated by disease and drought, and reduce the need to cultivate so much wildlife habitat and use so many pesticides. It could also help developing countries increase their agricultural incomes and compete with European and American farmers who get over $300 billion a year in subsidies. [... snip ...]
There's a lot more here, and it's all worth reading.
Here is an interesting op-ed piece from the Daily Telegraph in London. The issue itself is whether or not a research institute to study neurological diseases using monkeys will be constructed by Cambridge University in Girton. The local Southcambridgshire council does not want it, but the national Government does and is overruling the locals. But the kicker is that the council's reason for opposing the facility is that they've been intimidated by the Animal Rights activists.
Here are the money quotes:
The local councillors took their decision after police had raised fears about public safety at the site, and the cost of providing security weighed with the university in finally dropping the project. It would thus appear that animal rights organisations, from those that conduct peaceful protests to advocates of violence, have an effective veto over new centres for scientific experiments on animals. ....
Their cause is helped by a natural revulsion against animal laboratories. But experiments conducted there remain vital for research into diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. A Mori poll last year found an overwhelming majority in favour of vivisection providing certain conditions were met. Legitimate scientific research aimed at relieving human suffering should not be held to ransom by a few determined, and sometimes violent, campaigners. The Government should reaffirm its commitment to thwarting them.
I think this piece captures the essence of one of the many very dark sides of the AR movment: to win by intimidating the people who oppose them, and to hold for ransom any activity they deem contrary to their agenda. I've seen these tactics first hand, and they are exceptionally effective.
When you think about it, it's pretty chilling. How does this approach differ from garden variety thuggery, protection schemes and shakedowns?
Oh wait! I know! It's different because it's done in service to a lofty moral cause, rather than for base material gain ...
Even if the AR folks are motivated by a high morality - and I sometimes doubt they are - that's a pretty slippery slope, and I'm very leery of anyone who steps onto it. To me, using "high morality" to justify thugish tactics is wrong until proven otherwise.
It turns out that the rats of one New York City neighborhood are under asault:
New York -- A Bronx neighborhood group is using bacon, peanut butter and cheese to lure some 10,000 rats to their deaths within a month.
Hispanics Across America planted more than 20 boxes of fatty food around Joyce Kilmer Park -- two blocks from Yankee Stadium -- on Sunday. Once inside the boxes, the rats would be exterminated, said Fernando Mateo, the group's president.
"It's a very serious situation because people in that neighborhood cannot walk the sidewalks," he told Newsday for Monday editions. "If we waited for the mayor and city to do everything, the entire city would be a dump."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced several new rat-busting initiatives in August -- including more aggressive inspections and rat-resistant garbage containers -- but Mateo said those measures weren't sufficient.
The rat problem in the Big Apple is really quite a big deal - the number of rats believed to live there number anywhere from 1 to 6 per NYC human resident and rats pose a major hazard to human health (not only do they spread disease, but being Norwegian rats, they are both large and aggressive - meaning that rat bites are disturbingly common).
So New York City has devoted millions of dollars per year to the enterprise of rat extermination. It turns out that rats are amazingly prolific - female rats can have litters of up to 21 pups every few weeks, and poison alone won't do the job of killing them. The only sure way to bring their numbers under control is to destroy their habitat - meaning that they must be deprived of access to breeding sites (as in walls and basements) and nourishment (as in they must be kept away from garbage).
However one looks at this, the NYC rats are being targeted for extinction by the human hand.
Now, if we take PeTA at their word, viz, that animals have the right not to be killed by humans, the deliberate extermination of the New York City rats would seem to be an issue that would capture PeTA's attention.
What, I wonder, is their position on this? What should NYC and it's citizens do, if anything, about the rats? Should NYC citizenry celebrate the lives of the rats and co-exist with them, accepting disease and bites as small payment for the privilege of co-habiting? Or, should the people starve or poison the rats to death?
This is a fair question - if all animals have the right not to be killed or eaten by people, then so too do the rats of NYC and PeTA ought to protest their slaughter.
I strongly support the right of Animal Rights groups to hold seminars like this one, sponsored by Penn Students for Animal Rights, and featuring Ken Balk, the "outreach coordinator" for the AR group Compassion Over Killing.
"The sound of chickens clucking as they are bleeding to death is hopefully a haunting sound that will reverberate over and over again," Balk said.
Balk began the discussion by examining the rationale for eating meat. Encouraging audience participation, Balk asked a group of mostly Penn students to bring up the reasons that humans slaughter animals. He framed the decision as an ethical one, questioning the religious viewpoints that condone or advocate meat eating.
"It seems to me a loving God would never advocate animal cruelty," Balk said to the approximately 20 people seated in the audience. ...
The video, entitled Meet Your Meat, showed scenes of slaughterhouses, diseased animals, animals being hit with metal rods and the slaughter of chickens, cows and pigs. Actor Alec Baldwin narrated the video and described the striking details, ending with the message, "Every time we eat, we make a choice."
Balk continued moderating the discussion, emphasizing ways in which the audience could act.
He advocated veganism and education, such as passing out animal rights leaflets to Penn students. ...
Of course, their purpose is to indoctrinate a naive public in their bizarre way of thinking: they represent veganism as being "cruelty free," as if growing, storing and transporting vegetables is not. But so what? How is this purpose different from what any committed politician does?
There was, of course no competing voice - and that's fine. There's nothing that mandates that there should be.
Still, I, for one, would love to see somebody sponsor a parallel seminar featuring video tapes of the bodies of small animals and birds that had been shredded by tillers and harvesters during the process of raising and marketing crops so that vegetarians can maintain the illusion that their diet is "cruelty-free" and they are morally superior to the rest of us. And, of course, there are all those vermin that must be poisoned (and left to die a lingering death) to protect stores of produce.
Why, exactly, is it more cruel to kill animals quickly and decisively and to eat them, then it is to maim them or poison them, let them die a lingering death, and not comsume them?
Finally, I note with interest the vapid, biologically-challenged and patronizing comment by Heather Moore, a PeTA staff writer, who praises those who choose to adopt a "cruelty-free" (=meatless) diet:
It's wonderful that many Penn students were receptive to Josh Balk's compassionate message.
Most people simply don't know chickens as well as they know dogs and cats, but these birds do show affection and feel happiness, love, loneliness, fear and pain just the same. They are social, intelligent, interesting individuals who have much more to offer than greasy nuggets or drumsticks. ....
There's nothing quite as irritating as being instructed on ethics by an ignorant representative of an organization that has demonized mothers who wear fur, but that openly supports domestic terrorists(you'll need to click on "Black Eye")!
In a recent post, I cited an article lambasting the green movement for imposing its ideological views about "how to save the planet" on developing nations, while turning a blind eye towards the sickness, malnutrition and starvation that is a direct consequence of their actions.
We used DDT to eliminate malaria in the United States. Now environmental activists can afford to rail against pesticide use inAfrica, while they enjoy all the comforts that our high-tech, malaria-free society bestows upon them. Meanwhile, 2 million Africans die every year from this dreaded disease. Over 200 million get so sick each year they can't work, go to school, care for their families or tend their fields for weeks or months on end. Millions are so weakened from malaria that they succumb to AIDS and other serial killers that stalk these impoverished lands.
Why? Because Greenpeace, the Pesticide Action Network, Sierra Club, World Health Organization, and even the US Agency for International Development do all they can to prevent this miracle pesticide's use. Instead, they promote drugs and insecticide-treated bed nets. Hollywood elites and big donor groups like the Ford, Pew, MacArthur and Schumann foundations support these callous groups with tens of millions of dollars a year.
Drugs and bed nets help. But they are expensive, hard to get and often don't work. They mean hundreds of thousands of children and parents die every year who would live, if their countries could also use DDT -- spraying it in tiny quantities on the inside walls of homes, just once or twice a year, to repel, incapacitate and exterminate mosquitoes.
Fifi Kobusingye ran into one of these activists in the Kampala,Uganda airport this past November. "You don't have malaria," she told the woman, "because you used DDT." The woman replied, "But we lost our birds" -- referring to erroneous claims by Rachel Carson and others that DDT had killed birds and thinned eggshells.
"Well, I lost my son and nephew, and my friend lost her daughter," Ms. Kobusingye responded. "Don't talk to me about birds."
The greens condemn what they call western - or first world - oppression of developing nations. Yet they promote a "protect-the-ecological-status-quo" ideology that is itself highly oppressive to third world peoples: it provides a rationale for totalitarian regimes to keep their citizenry poor to the point of starvation, and therefore compliant; and it provides a rationale for the EU and other political entities to erect trade barriers against competition from developing nations.
The greens provide the ideology, and others use it for their own purposes. And to hell with the people of developing nations.
The people at PeTA are scary smart, so don't be deceived into thinking that the goofy folks who dress up like an asparagus stalk are at all representative of the quality of thought that drives the organization's propaganda.
Now, before I start, keep in mind that it's perfectly possible to appreciate and admire perfection without thinking of it as a force for good (I feel this way about sharks ... they're perfect, but they're not a force for good - at least my good ...). And so too it also is with some humans - the idea being best captured by the term "evil genius." Here is a classic example of a PeTA writer revealing how brilliantly nuanced his "evil genius" really is:
Pinch yourself if you think that you’re dreaming, but the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, a national lobbying and advocacy group for hunters, has added its voice to PETA’s call for a boycott of pet-food maker Iams. The hunters and PETA are both furious with Iams for cosponsoring Pet Fest America—a series of companion-animal shows that tours the country—held by the Washington, D.C.-based Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), which actively opposes hunting. PETA has been waging an international campaign against Iams, a subsidiary of Procter & Gamble, for causing misery and death to scores of dogs and cats confined to barren laboratory cages and subjected to crude "nutrition" tests, after which the dogs are often killed.
The casual reader might think that the two organizations, PeTA and the U.S.S.A., had joined forces because they shared a common goal viz, to stop Iam's parent company (Procter & Gamble) from using animals to test pet food. But that casual reader would be wrong: this is what the U.S. Sportsman's Alliance has to say about PetA's press release:
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) published a report yesterday stating “…the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, a national lobbying and advocacy group for hunters, has added its voice to PETA’s call for a boycott of pet food maker Iams.” The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance is encouraging sportsmen to contact the Iams Company, but the call to action is in no way related to the antis’ objection to the company’s testing of pet food on animals.
Sportsmen are urged to oppose Iams’ sponsorship of Pet Fest America, a series of animal shows developed by the country’s largest anti-hunting group, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
Now here's the genius of the PeTA writer - he has stacked the deck (I would argue deliberately) in such a way that PeTA cannot possibly lose completely, but (at least in theory) could be totally victorious.
Had the U.S.S.A. not responded, PeTA's misrepresentation would have stood unchallenged, and PeTA's deception would have been the last word - a total victory. But even with the U.S.S.A. responding, PeTA has created a case of "he-said/she-said" - one in which at least some broad-minded citizens who lacked the time or interest to search for and read the primary sources would give partial credence to PeTA's deception - and thus would PeTA gain a partial victory.
Folks, these PeTA people really do know what they're doing - so don't laugh too hard when you see that walking asparagus, or become complacent, either.
I think just about everyone knows that food preferences differ, sometimes drastically, between cultures: what is eaten, say, by a typical African Bushman would most likely seem strange and unpalatable - if not downright disgusting - to the average Yank. And it is likely that our Bushman would be equally off-put by such staples as a Big Mac.
I bring this up because of an interesting issue currently simmering in Illinois: controversy over the slaughter of horses for human consumption. It turns out that Belgian owned Cavel International operates a horse slaughterhouse in DeKalb, and ships horse meat to Asia and Europe for human consumption.
This has caught the attention of an Animal Rights group calling themselves SHARK (SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness), and SHARK is lobbying against reopening the Cavel plant, which was rebuilt after a fire in 2002. SHARK is supporting state legislation to make it illegal to kill horses for human food, and they are getting some traction: a state legislator, Robert Molaro (D) has introduced legislation to ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption, a law which may be unenforceable because federal law allows horses to be killed for just this purpose.
I see this as an excellent example of how AR groups inch their way towards their goal to abolish meat eating. The horse story is useful for them because of its emotional impact.
If you think about it, there is precious little logic in favor of such a ban: all sorts of animals are slaughtered specifically for human consumption, and there is no special moral or health reasons that should disqualify horses from being consumed, while allowing the consumption of pigs, goats, sheep, cattle, chickens, fish ... well, you get the idea.
Beyond this, even the production of food crops kills animals we don't generally think of as food - the tilling of soil and the harvesting of crops cannot be done without the unintentional deaths of volls, rabbits, gophers, squirrels and a whole slew of birds. So it's not as though converting to vegetarianism is cruelty-free (as the AR folks would like us to believe).
My point: animals die so that humans may live.
Still, there is an aesthetic reason to stop Cavel International from doing its thing: humans have romanticized the horse, and tend to attribute the human attributes of nobility, loyalty and beauty to horses in a way not generally done to pigs, sheep or cattle. So it offends our sense of aesthetics that the noble horse might be used to tickle the palettes of some epicures, and SHARK is counting on that offense to muster support for its campaign. They would have you focus on the nobility of the horse, and not the logic and facts of how humans go about the business of feeding themselves.
I'm not particularly keen to eat horse meat myself, but I see no ethical or health reasons for denying others the right to enjoy the taste of horse meat if they so choose.
On the other hand, I strongly oppose legislation that deprives people of the freedom to choose what food they eat when such legislation is based not one wit on fact or logic, but exclusively on emotion and aesthetics.
UPDATE: Here is an article that expands on some of the points I've been making.
For those of you who haven't been keeping up with current events in higher education, you might want to peruse NoIndoctrination.org, a watchdog organization that, among other things, seeks to document cases of academic imbalance.
It's a highly credible if unsettling site, and provides us with student comments about a Sociology course taught at Western Kentucky University by a Professor Eric Mielants. Professor Mielants is now at the University of Utah (undoubtedly to the relief of the Western Kentucky students):
For his lecture he used the website http://www.masskilings.com. It is a website funded by the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals. It compared the killing of animals to the holocaust. Many people left during this class. It was unbelievable that a professor would use a website like this one for legitimate lecture material. It seemed as if his lectures were just based on his political ideologies. ...
I remember during the lecture on animals some students spoke up and said an animal's life is not as important as a human life. He called Americans murderers because we eat animals. He said that if Americans did not eat beef, then we'd be able to use the grain that is used to feed cattle to supply the starving people of the world with food. ...
NoIndoctrination.com is worth perusing - they take sound precautions to avoid making errors and provide faculty who are criticized an opportunity to respond (Prof. Mielants has not). I'm strongly inclined to take the criticisms of Mielants at face value, at least for the time being.
I'm profoundly struck by what a clear example of indoctrination this course evidently was; that a newly minted PhD should teach such a course right off the bat speaks to the state of higher education as it presently is.
I'm also impressed by the tone of the comments, which captures the depth of Prof. Mielants' convictions and moral fervor. You don't have to read very much between the lines to conclude that the emoting Professor has more in common with a religious zealot than with the objective and dispassionate academic he should at least pretend to be.
But I'm chilled to my core that the Professor sees PeTA as an authority on anything other than propaganda and marketing, thinks people who eat meat are murderers, and will not or cannot distinguish between killing animals and the holocaust. When you combine the apparent strength of the professors beliefs with a cup of moral rightousness and a hefty dash of religious fervor, you end up with a delicious meat-free stew that would delight the palette of your local garden-variety ecoterrorist.
On the brighter side, full marks go to the students who recognized the professor for what he is, and were outraged by it. There really is hope.