The Rights of Nature

“Just as human beings have human rights, all other beings also have rights which are specific to their species or kind and appropriate for their role and function within the communities within which they exist.”

The Universal Declaration of Rights of Mother Earth

Nature has Rights! And not just in our wishful pipe dreams. Two countries hit the headlines recently with court rulings acknowledging the legal personhood of three rivers. In New Zealand the Wanganui River, and the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers in India now have rights. On 31st March India granted Himalayan glaciers the same status. They are legal persons.

A similar judgment has been made in Costa Rican law courts for the planet’s second largest reef which happens to lie in their waters.

Costa Rica’s not too distant neighbour Ecuador was already well ahead of the game – in 2008, the first country in the world to embed in the nation’s constitution itself, the Rights of Nature. The constitution was then put to a referendum of the people, and they voted yes. Ground-breakers indeed.

Not to be left behind, Bolivia was next to achieve a milestone for Nature’s Rights. Half a century after the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Bolivian President Evo Morales Ayma, drove forward the initiative to present the United Nations with a draft of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth.

Since that time:

  • Nearly 40 municipalities in the US have adopted Nature’s Rights
  • The dignity of all beings is recognised in Switzerland’s constitution
  • Spain recognises the rights of apes
  • And Romania is in the process of doing the same for dolphins

The EU is lagging behind! But there is hope, as we will see. First, how law for Nature operates in most countries of the world now.

The law with reference to Nature at present stumbles along under one of three paradigms. All outdated, none holistic. Take your pick:
  • mechanistic – viewing the world as made up of separate unconnected objects interacting in a predicable way
  • anthropocentric – viewing the world as existing solely for the use of human beings – our own ‘natural resources’ or ‘natural capital’. Nature is judged only by its economic value to Man rather than on its own intrinsic value
  • adversarial – where one party wins at the expense of another. Guess who nearly always wins? It’s not Nature.
But we already have laws to protect wildlife and the environment – like our own UK Wildlife and Countryside Act. So why does Nature need legal Rights?

Generally speaking – though as we have seen there are exceptions – the law as it stands recognises only two kinds of ‘holders of rights’: humans and human-created entities such as corporations. Everything else – animals domesticated, farmed and wild, land and water, Nature itself – is ‘property’. Nature our thinking goes, belongs to us, is our possession. So laws of protection that come, can just as easily go, depending on the prevailing governmental winds.

The classic example is the USA’s iconic gray wolf, already extinct over most of its historic range. The wolf was listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1974, delisted in 2012, relisted in 2014, and now once again loses  protection in Alaska, in national wildlife refuges fgs, under Trump. The man is hell bent on sweeping aside just about every protection U.S. wildlife and wild places – so hard striven for over decades – now enjoy. If ever there was someone out of tune with Nature….

Rights on the other hand give the highest level of legal protection.

Rather than treating nature as property under the law, Rights for Nature… acknowledge that nature in all its life forms has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles.  And we – the people –  have the legal authority to enforce these rights on behalf of ecosystems. The ecosystem itself can be named as the defendant [and in courts of law we can be its advocate].

And so we come to the ECI – A European Citizens’ Initiative for the Rights of Nature

vII8ChdUxsdMEueu8GoGHUsKT6xziUJ5k45bQMJKNm07IeMjECZMyq0pleanp1K3ViJy7gVg9qoqwzJo0jtlRpmUrAvHLW_lnSsI7h0k0O34H1o5KH6D9wTTRj5NsMGkHrS_3IUQ.pngThe European Citizens Initiative scheme was established five years ago with the aim of increasing direct democracy by enabling “EU citizens to participate directly in the development of EU policies”. Now, a group of lawyers, environmentalists, academics and others from 13 EU countries have come together in a project to present the Rights of Nature to the EU Commission and get those rights enshrined in EU law.

Their Project Vision

Humanity flourishing in harmony with Nature.

Project Mission

To establish nature’s rights – legal personality and rights for ecosystems and other species – in law throughout Europe.

Project Aim

To launch a European Citizens’ Initiative to propose nature’s rights to the legislative agenda of the EU – see our Draft Directive.

Why This Initiative?

Ecosystems and other species are alive. Yet the law treats them as objects separate to us. This has wide reaching social and economic consequences that drive the environmental crisis. Rights of nature is a game changing solution that brings fundamental and systemic transformation to our legal and economic system by re-characterising nature – ecosystems and species – as a subject of the law with legal personality and tangible rights that can be defended in court by people. This ensures that economic activity operates to enhance rather than undermine the resilience of ecosystems so that humanity can thrive in harmony with nature. It forms a powerful counterbalance to corporate rights and a viable alternative to the financialisation of nature.  To find out more see this article – Rights of Nature – Why Do We Need It? and this TEDx Talk.

Nature needs us to create new legal systems that promote

  • respect for the profound inter-existence of all life
  • respect for the intrinsic value of all life
  • healthy relationships with all life
  • harmony with the universal laws that govern all life

Sadly, since the European Citizens’ Initiative first came into effect, only three ECIs have managed to collect the 1 million signatures required for a response from the EU Commission. And of those three, only one was approved for a follow-up proposal. (One of those rejected by the Commission was a proposal for the European Anthem to be sung in Esperanto!)

But with our support the chances for the ECI – Rights of Nature are hopeful. And here are ways you can help

If you have skills in the following areas and would like to be involved in co-creating this exciting history-making initiative, please get in touch with Mumta Ito, as representative of the organising committee, at mumtaito@gmail.com. The specific areas additional assistance is needed are:

  • Administration/administrative support; fundraising; accounting; research; IT/websites/social media; branding; education; advocacy; lobbying; project management.
  • Additional members to join the existing 13 country teams (UK, Spain, Portugal, Germany, France, Luxembourg, Hungary, Croatia, Romania, Ireland, Italy, Belgium and Latvia)
  • People who would like to lead the initiative in the EU countries where we still don’t have people (Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Malta, Lithuania, Estonia, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Austria, Estonia, Bulgaria and Greece)
  • We also have places for self-funding internships in Findhorn and Andalucía.

Offers of skills support could be in a purely ‘advisory’ capacity or more hands-on – (no offer of assistance is too small). To be kept in the loop subscribe at the Being Nature Project.

We look forward to hearing from you and to creating together the legal frameworks needed to form a more resilient, thriving world for all of our future generations.

Of course here in the UK we have Brexit looming. But until the two years after the triggering of Article 50 is over, we can still have our say and make our contribution.

Follow European Citizens’ Inititative on Facebook here

Sign the Global Alliance’s Letter of Commitment to the Rights of Nature here

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It’s true UNESCO already has its own Earth Charter, approved at a meeting of the Earth Charter Commission in Paris in 2000. It lists four Principles. The problem for me lies in Principle Two :

a. Accept that with the right to own, manage, and use natural resources comes the duty to prevent environmental harm and protect the rights of people.

That strikes me as reinforcing the status quo, the rights of Man to treat Nature as property – more a denial of the Rights of Nature than part of a charter to protect them. I would like to see UNESCO replace the Earth Charter with the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth which places Man not bestriding the Earth, above Nature with the right to own it and use it, but as just one thread in the complex web of life, each part of which is every bit as entitled to rights as are we humans.

Read the full Universal Declaration here

And sign the petition to the UN for the Rights of Mother Earth here


Postscript

Two hugely important questions arise for me from discussion about the Rights of Nature.

The first, for those of us who are dedicated to Animal Rights: if we achieve legal Rights for Nature, what does that mean for nonhuman animals? Does it mean that animal advocates like the Nonhuman Rights Project should cease the legal battle to win personhood for individual chimpanzees like Tommy, and throw its weight instead behind the fight for Rights of Nature?

Does it also mean that if nonhuman animals have the right to live at liberty in their own natural environment without interference and exploitation from humans, that the farming of animals would cease?

That we would get the vegan world of which we dream? A sentence in the Declaration seems to say so:

‘Every being has the right to wellbeing and to live free from torture or cruel treatment by human beings”

Secondly, as the capitalist system is based on extracting Nature’s ‘commodities’ and exploiting animals, human and nonhuman in the pursuit of profit and ‘growth’, don’t we need a new paradigm not just for law, but for world economics too?

Maybe I can explore these questions further at a later date, but now I would greatly value your ideas and comments on this immense subject.

Related posts

Human Rights Are Animal Rights!

A Promising Way Forward for Animal Rights?

Busting the Myths of Human Superiority

Through Artist’s Eyes- The Wondrous Web of Life & Death

Sources

Being Nature – Extending Civil Rights to the Natural World – The Ecologist

Rights of Mother Earth

Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature

European Citizens Initiative – Wiki

ECI for the Rights of Nature – International Centre for Wholistic Law

ECI Project Summary – A European Citizens Initiative for the Rights of Nature

Revising the ECI: How to make it ‘fit for purpose’ – Euractiv

 

Walking Hand in Hand with Nature

“Nature inspires me. My hope is that my art will serve its purpose, remind us of how the human-nature relationship is supposed to be, beautiful, harmonious, and living side by side. My subjects are often children and animals because they are sincere, unprejudiced and unpretentious. There’s an innate relationship between them.” Indonesian artist Elicia Edijanto

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I find these watercolour paintings profoundly moving. I hope you enjoy them, and that they will continue to touch the hearts of those who see them. The simplicity of colour and detail creates a timeless, tranquil, dreamlike other-world. Is this the Garden of Eden? The kingdom of heaven? The way life was here on Earth before abuse of power, greed, exploitation, cruelty and fear trampled innocence, reverence, trust and love into the dust? Elicia’s art brings to my mind two passages from the Bible, see below.

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The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. Isaiah 11 v 6

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He [Jesus] called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matt 18 vv 2-4

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Elicia depicts the animals with simple reverence, in all their majesty. They are here in their own personhood, with their own standing. They do not seek Man’s permission. They owe us nothing. They are here by right.

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Discover the artist and see more of Elicia’s beautiful work on her website

Related posts

Busting the Myths of Human Superiority

Through Artist’s Eyes – The Wondrous Web of Life & Death

Vegan Artist’s Surreal Vision of Animals & Our Planet

The ‘Serious Intensity of Being’ in Animal Art

Anger & Beauty – Inspiration for Artist Andrew Tilsley

 
 

 

Human Rights are Animal Rights!

by Peter Tatchell for the Ecologist

Abusing animals is no more justifiable than abusing people, writes Peter Tatchell. The moral touchstone is sentience, not species, and the ‘humans first’ ideology of speciesism is analogous to homophobia, racism & misogyny. Cruelty is barbarism, whether inflicted on humans or on other species. We need to recognise and accept our common animal nature.

Since we humans are an animal species, it is obvious that human rights are a form of animal rights; and that animal rights include – or should include – the human species.

“We accept that we have a special responsibility to protect weaker, more vulnerable humans. Surely the same reasoning applies to other weaker, more vulnerable thinking, feeling creatures?”

Sadly, not everyone sees it this way. Many view humans and other animals as totally distinct: drawing a clear, sharp line between animal rights and human rights.
That’s not my view. Sentience is the bond that unites all animal species, human and non-human. I accept our shared animalism and advocate our shared claim to be spared suffering and accorded inalienable rights.

It is true that other animals are less intelligent than humans and lack our mental-physical skills and our capacity for culture and conscience.¹ But this is no justification for abusing them. Just as we do not sanction the abuse of humans – such as babies and disabled people – who lack these highly developed capacities.

We accept that we have a special responsibility to protect weaker, more vulnerable humans. Surely the same reasoning applies to other weaker, more vulnerable thinking, feeling creatures?

There is, in my moral universe, no great ethical gulf between the abuse of human and non-human animals or between our duty of compassion towards other humans and other species.

Indeed, I see a link between the oppression of non-human animals and the oppression of human beings because of their nationality, race, gender, faith or non-faith, political beliefs, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Speciesism is analogous to homophobia, racism and misogyny

The different forms of human and other animal oppression are interconnected, based on the similar abuse of power and the infliction of harm and suffering. They cannot be fully understood separately from one another.

How we mistreat animals parallels how we mistreat people. Cruelty is barbarism, whether it is inflicted on humans or on other species. The campaigns for animal rights and human rights share the same fundamental aim: a world without oppression and suffering, based on love, kindness and compassion.

Speciesism is the belief and practice of human supremacism over other animal species. It is prejudice, discrimination or violence in favour of human beings; variously involving the exploitation, incarceration, mistreatment or killing of other animals by humans.

This humans-first ideology of speciesism is analogous to homophobia, racism and misogyny. A form of prejudice, domination and oppression, it is incompatible with a humane, civilised society.

We humans are an animal species. We know about pain and suffering. So why do most of us hold high-handed attitudes towards other animals and accept their abuse in medical laboratories, farms, zoos, circuses and sports events?

It does not follow that our highly sophisticated intelligence and material development gives us the right to lord it over other species. Just because we have the capacity to do so, does not mean that we should. On the contrary: our brain power and conscience give us a special responsibility of stewardship over the Earth and all its beings.

We must start thinking in a new way …

My thinking has been influenced by the Australian philosopher, Peter Singer, and his ground-breaking book, Animal Liberation. In my mind, it is one the most important books of the last 100 years. It expands our moral horizons beyond our own species and is thereby a major evolution in ethics.

Singer challenges human chauvinism. By viewing non-human sentient beings as ‘other’, we allow ourselves the ‘excuse’ to look down on and mistreat them; including to insult, exploit, abuse, dominate or even kill those ‘other’ beings. We stop seeing them as living, thinking, feeling creatures.

Anti-animal prejudice runs deep. Bigots often disparage other people with speciesist epithets. They accuse them of acting ‘just like a beast’ or ‘worse than an animal.’ This bigotry echoes the vile insults that black people are ‘savages’, women are ‘bitches’ and that LGBT people are ‘perverts.’

Before we can liberate the millions of oppressed humans and billions of exploited animals we need to free our minds and start thinking in a new way: to consciously eliminate the mentality of subjugation and entitlement that allows us to passively acquiesce or, even worse, actively participate in the cycle of abuse against other sentient beings – human and non-human.

Animal liberation is in the same ethical tradition as women’s, black and LGBT liberation. It is about ending the suffering that flows from a supremacist mindset and power relations of domination.

Surely, in the twenty-first century, the time has come to emancipate non-human animals, just like we previously emancipated humans through abolishing slavery, male-only suffrage and anti-LGBT laws?

We have a moral duty to stop abusing other animal species. They aren’t really that different from us humans. Vertebrates share much of our DNA and our capacity for thought, feelings, emotions, sociability, language, altruism and empathy.

We need to recognise and accept our common animal nature. If we did that, the excuses and rationalisations for treating other species badly would fall away.


¹I love this piece and totally endorse everything Peter says – except for the statement: “It is true that other animals are less intelligent than humans and lack our mental-physical skills …” Intelligence is a human construct. Some nonhumans display remarkable intelligence even by that human-centric standard, while others show their own special intelligences that we can scarcely understand or lay claim to ourselves. As for mental-physical skills, many if not all of the 7.77 million species on our planet could give humans a good run for their money.

If you haven’t already done so, please sign the Declaration of Animal Rights


Peter Tatchell is a British human rights campaigner, originally from Australia, best known for his work with LGBT social movements. Tatchell was selected as Labour Party Parliamentary candidate for Bermondsey in 1981.

Event: Peter Tatchell’s keynote address ‘Human rights ARE animal rights’ takes place at Veggie World London at 2pm on Saturday 8th April, Kensington Town Hall, West London. Advance tickets available online: £8 for adults and £6 concessions.


Source: Human rights are animal rights! – The Ecologist


Related posts

Busting the Myths of Human Superiority

Will Today be the Day Chimpanzees become Legal Persons?

A Promising New Way Forward for Animal Rights?

Vegan Rights & Why They Really Matter for the Animals

EU Animals Face Abuse And Torture During Live Exports | Care2 Causes

This is no less appalling for being not entirely unexpected. Who really would want to insist on buying chunks of our fellow animals’ tortured bodies to eat knowing they were personally contributing to such horror?

An investigation by Animals International has found that live animal exports from the European Union are subjected to inhumane treatment and conditions that have been described as abuse and torture. 

In an extensive exposé The Guardian reports on the Animals International operation that collected footage from various ports and abattoirs over an eight month period:

Dozens of undercover videos and photographs obtained by the Guardian show live cattle and sheep from EU countries being beaten, shocked with electric prods, held for days in overcrowded pens and covered head to toe in faeces as they are transported from Europe to their final destinations in Turkey and the Middle East in conditions that breach European law.

At their destination, at least some of the animals are slaughtered in appalling conditions. The footage shows cattle and sheep from France, Romania and Lithuania kicking and flailing violently as their throats are crudely cut or sawed at repeatedly, often in crowded street markets and run-down abattoirs.

The export of live animals has been a contentious issue for the EU for a number of years, with campaigners saying that not only is the practice unsound from a food safety point of view, it is deeply harmful to the animals and rife with abuse.

Please read on: EU Animals Face Abuse And Torture During Live Exports | Care2 Causes

A Fragile Butterfly Joins The Face Off At Standing Rock Revisited

Cover pic from Willamette Weekly – Dakota skipper butterfly by artist Roger Peet

“The butterfly is a small thing. It’s not a very dramatic creature. It’s about an inch long, but it’s part of the great community of life that exists on the plains.”

Roger Peet

7th February 2017 was a black day for the protesters at Standing Rock.

It was way back in April 2016 that members of the Sioux and other Native American Nations established their camps of resistance in April 2016. And there they still stand, they and their supporters, braving the snow and winter storms, resolute to prevent the last remaining 1.5 miles of the Dakota Access Pipeline desecrating Native American sacred land, and polluting their water ways.

As the world watched with disbelief, President Trump’s first week in office spewed forth an unprecedented flood of executive orders, including one reinstating the work on both the Keystone pipeline and the DAPL.

The order runs contrary to the Army Corps of Engineer’s decision in December to initiate a complete environmental impact assessment. But it seems that under pressure from Washington, the ACE has not waited for the assessment report, instead clearing the way for Energy Transfer Partners to carry on with the completion of this last section of the 1,700 mile long pipeline. Though the Sioux vow to challenge Trump’s decision in court, their window of opportunity has been cut short, possibly too short to even lodge that challenge.

Now more than ever we need to show our support for the protesters, and Stand with Standing Rock. Another new petition to sign here

Other petitions to sign below.

Thursday 9th February

Everyday at Standing Rock brings new developments. Earlier in the week, police arrived in armored vehicles and in riot gear, some of them armed, to arrest 76 Water Protectors at their newly established ‘Last Child’ camp.

In response to this and the easement pushed through for DAPL thousands of Veterans who visited in December to support the protestors are planning their return to Standing Rock, to stand as a peaceful human shield between the Water Protectors and the ‘heavily militarised police’.

“We are committed to the people of Standing Rock, we are committed to nonviolence and we will do everything within our power to ensure that the environment and human life are respected. That pipeline will not get completed. Not on our watch,” Anthony Diggs, a spokesman for Veterans Stand, told CNBCCare2

Veterans Stand launched a new crowdfunding campaign to continue their commitment of protecting their “indigenous brothers and sisters”, and asked, “how can something be good for America when it disregards due process of law, risking our civil liberties and essential natural resources?”

An excellent question Mr Trump. Do you have an answer?

Friday 10th February

“Construction crews have resumed work on the final segment of the Dakota Access pipeline, and the developer of the long-delayed project said Thursday that the full system could be operational within three months.

Meanwhile, an American Indian tribe filed a legal challenge to block the work and protect its water supply.Chicago Tribune

Monday 13th February

Judge refuses to block work on Dakota Access pipeline. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg said he would not grant a temporary restraining order against the project sought by the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe. It means that oil could potentially run through the pipeline within 45 days, if not sooner. The Hill

Wednesday 15th February

On February 15th, 2017, Pope John Francis joined the fray. The Pope met with representatives from the Standing Rock Sioux at a U.N. Agricultural meeting in Rome to discuss the issue. Afterward, he made this statement to the press,”The right to prior and informed consent [should always prevail especially] when planning economic activities which may interfere with indigenous cultures and their ancestral relationship to the Earth.” We salute the Pope for coming out against this gross violation of the Standing Rock Sioux’s rights.

You can also use the White House contact page to express your displeasure regarding this policy. Finally, you can send supplies to the protesters on the ground by contacting Sacred Stone Legal Defense Fund and  Standing Rock Sioux Tribe DAPL Donation Fund. United we are stronger than any government or corporation. One Green Planet

Wednesday 22nd February

All but a 100 or so water protectors left Standing Rock before the deadline expired at 2pm. 10 who remained were arrested. Those left were given another chance to leave peacefully Thursday.

Thursday 23rd February

The protest finally ends. Standing Rock camps cleared by force. “In distressing scenes for anyone who has been involved fighting the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, highly militarized law enforcement—some carrying guns, riot gear and backed up by Humvees and bulldozers—moved into the Oceti Sakowin camp near the pipeline route.” Another 46 arrested. Oil could be flowing through the DAPL as soon as mid-March.

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Tuesday 7th March 2017

Native Nations take their protest to Washington

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Thursday 9th March 2017

 Original post 5th December 2016

This week we were shocked by news that in sub zero temperatures and snow, local police used water cannon, rubber bullets, mace and percussion grenades on the Native Americans camped out at Standing Rock in North Dakota.
The huge mural of a Dakota skipper butterfly now stands there as a symbol of support for the protestors, and a reminder of what wonders there are to lose if the Dakota Access pipeline is allowed to go through this sacred area.

And the butterfly is not the only species at risk. There are 18 others, including the whooping crane, the piping plover, and the northern long-eared bat. Does the Dakota Access LLC oil company care? It seems not.

The company’s pipeline is a multi-billion dollar project to transport crude oil through the land to a refinery in Illinois. But the stand off at Standing Rock is not just about wildlife. The Native American people claim it will run right through sacred native lands. And it threatens to contaminate their water which comes from the great Missouri river. They say the DAPL violates the United Nations’ declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples, it violates federal law, and it violates native treaties with the federal government. And haven’t the Native American people suffered plenty of treachery like that in the last couple of hundred years!

The protest began in April. The Standing Rock Lakota and other Native American nations rode on horseback to Standing Rock and established a camp they named Sacred Stone. And so the peaceful protest began – peaceful on the protestors side at least. Their battle tactics have been setting up camps and prayer circles.

Now Standing Rock is home to 6,000 protestors. There are 3 camps:

  • the original Sacred Stone Camp close to the river among clusters of trees
  • the Oceti Sakowin Camp home to 4,000, talking quietly huddled around fires in the snow, or sheltering in tepees
  • and last but not least, the Red Warrior Camp, command centre from where disruptive actions are launched

The people have got themselves very well organised and have everything they need. There are tents full of donated sleeping bags, warm gloves and hats, kitchens cooking up mountains of rice and beans, and even traditional healers and doctors on hand.

And it wasn’t all bad this week. Film star Jane Fonda who is actively campaigning against DAPL visited Standing Rock with a delegation of 50 to serve a Wopila feast to the Native Americans, in thanks for their courage protecting Mother Earth.

And now the glorious big bold butterfly mural, the work of artist Roger Peet, leader of the  national Endangered Species Mural Project for the Center for Biological Diversity. This makes the tenth so far of different artists’ murals feasting the eyes of passersby on walls across the US, from Kentucky to Minnesota, California to Tennessee. The aim is to increase awareness and appreciation of the threatened species depicted.

“[Being at Standing Rock] is very humbling. It’s very intense. And it’s very cold. It’s a very rare space to be in in North America—to be in an environment where indigenous culture and voice is at the forefront of everything that’s happening,” says Peet. “The priorities of the settler culture that’s been imposed on this continent is very much requested to take a step back and not insert themselves. It’s a great learning experience opportunity to engage with people who are doing very intense serious work to defend their lives and environment.”

It’s more than sad that the attack on the protestors looks about to gain momentum. President-elect Trump it seems has a financial interest in the oil company – now there’s a surprise. Besides which he’s a self-declared champion of dirty energy. When he enters office in January, it’s expected that Day 1 will see him sweep aside any remaining legal obstacles to the Dakota Access Pipeline and deal strenuously with the protestors.

So what can a fragile butterfly do to bolster their chances against the most powerful man on Earth?

The time is surely coming when the very many of us who hold dear all that is sacred in life: art, spirituality, the rights of indigenous peoples, the rights of animals, the rights of Nature itself, will together gather enough impetus to overpower the crass materialism and corporate greed of those who hold sway today.

Sign here, here and  here to express your support for the Sioux people of Standing Rock

More Ways You Can Stand Up For Standing Rock

Contact the White House ASAP. Use the White House contact page, White House, Inc., Twitter, or Facebook to tell Donald Trump that YOU are complaining about DAPL.
Make a call. Voice your opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline and ask for the environmental assessment to be completed by calling the Army Corps of Engineers at 202-761-5903.
Join a protest. Protests at pipeline construction sites in North Dakota have been going on since spring 2016. Consider heading up there for a few days or weeks to show your support in person or attend a local protest in your community such as the one recently in Los Angeles.
Divest your money. Leave financial institutions funding DAPL. Write a message to these companies stating that you plan to divest because you oppose this destructive project. Use this tool to send a mass email.
Send donations and/or supplies. Thousands of people are based in the area to protest and need supplies and financial support to keep going. Send donations to Sacred Stone Legal Defense Fund and  Standing Rock Sioux Tribe DAPL Donation Fund.
Educate others. Share updates on the DAPL situation with friends and family using social media (#DakotaAccessPipeline, #nodapl, #standingrock) to keep this issue top-of-mind.

Update

5th December 2016 US Army refuses N Dakota pipeline access – BBC News

6th December 2016 Pipeline company threatens to ignore US Army decision. Please sign petition here

Also on 6th,  Hero Veterinarian Takes 900 Mile Journey to Help Standing Rock Horses – Care2

17th January Standing Rock – We have work to do – Care2

24th January President’s executive order reopens door for controversial pipelines – MNN

It is not clear yet whether the order from the Oval Office supersedes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to alter the route of the pipeline and not send it under the Missouri River near tribal lands.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe said it would take legal action against Trump’s order.

7th February Trump’s executive order signed 24th January set in motion the Army Corps of Engineers’ clearing the way for Dakota Access Pipeline. This move negates ACE’s previous plan for a complete environmental assessment of land and water and cuts short the consultation period. It is now doubtful whether there will be time for the Sioux tribe to lodge a legal challenge to this decision.

Sources

The who, what and why of the Standing Rock protests – The Guardian

A Portland Artist Painted a Bold Mural at Standing Rock – Willamette Week

Standing Rock: Are pipeline protest camp days numbered? – BBC News

New Year New Start

Reminding us of just about everything that really matters in life:

No better way to kick start 2017

Kind to yourself

Kind to others – human and nonhuman

Kind to the planet

Try vegan this Veganuary

Gifts Animals Give – & Strictly No Socks!

No socks this year please Santa. But what is on your list? A ball of spit? A skewered frog or two? Or some silk-wrapped ‘pre-loved’ insect remains? No? Well, what about stolen goods then.

If you watched the last episode of Planet Earth II you can’t fail to have noticed  sundry animals getting up to all kinds of skullduggery, not to mention some downright theft. Sneaky, opportunistic – or just clever? Well, one poor little guy living near a golf course in Australia wasn’t as clever as he thought, and his gift-giving went horribly wrong.

Karma
The scene opens with our hero – a bower bird – fussing over his art work in front of his bower, arranging and rearranging, intent on enticing a prospective mate – or two, or three…
For his colour scheme he choses white, enlivened with a splash of red here and there: a red plastic fork, a red bottle top, lengths of red string. Still he contemplates his beak-work with dissatisfaction.

Something is missing and he knows just what it is. His neighbour has hit the jackpot with the latest find for his own showpiece – a red plush heart the size of a child’s hand. It seems so improbable, but yes, really, a red plush heart. How did that get on the golf course? Whatever, no bower bird of the opposite sex is going to be able to resist that!

Envy is eating our guy up, but he knows all he has to do is loiter nonchalantly in a nearby tree and wait. His patience is rewarded – the possessor of The Heart flies off to find more objets d’art for his masterpiece. Our guy wastes no time. He swoops and carries off the prize. Back home he makes the wondrous heart the centrepiece of his display.

Soon his artistry (and thievery) bear results – a visitor arrives to inspect his creation.

Our little guy parades one cherished object after another before his guest, starting with the red plastic fork. But the visitor is not impressed. How about a length of red string then? Boy, this one is hard to please. There’s nothing for it but to offer up his pièce de resistance – The Red Heart. He hopes this will clinch the deal, and yes, finally, his gift is a winner. His visitor graciously accepts the proffered heart.

But oh no, now what’s happening?!? Our little guy has been duped. Far from falling for his charms, the prospective mate flies off with his most treasured (but stolen) possession. She is no lady, and not just because she’s a trickster and a thief – ‘she’ is in fact a juvenile male. Well all’s fair in love and war they say, and there surely is no honour among bower bird thieves.

I Made it Myself

A red plush heart as a gift to impress your lady is one thing. But how about a ball of spit? And not just any old ball of spit. The male scorpion fly (so called because his tail-end resembles a scorpion’s sting, actually his genitalia) offers his girl a ball a whole tenth of his body-weight in spit. That’s an impressive amount of spit. If the protein-rich saliva wins her over, she eats it, and the deal is sealed.

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Still, a ball of spit has got to be better than a ball of something else, which is the dung beetle’s offering to his beloved!

Do I Look Stupid?

Dodgy doings and trickery are not exclusive to the bower bird. A certain S. American spider gift-wraps his prey in spider silk before offering it to his beloved. But who knows what’s really inside that silk parcel? This gent is prone to giving in to his greed and presenting his sweetheart with an offering that is, yes, beautifully wrapped. But when she tears off the layers in excitement, she discovers she’s been conned. All that’s inside is the evidence of his gluttony, the worthless remains of his prey. What a cheapskate. And no Mr. spider-guy, trying to claim it’s “pre-loved” simply will not cut it.

You’ll Want for Nothing, Darling

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Great Grey Shrike

No such scamming for this pretty little songbird. His modus operandi is 100% above board. Everything he has on offer he puts on conspicuous display to catch the eye of passing females. But don’t be deceived by those cute looks, this little avian has a startlingly macabre side. His love gift is a well-stocked ‘larder’… of corpses. If you’re ever in Scandinavia and stumble across  a spiky bush gruesomely adorned with the carcasses of insects, frogs, toads, fish, lizards, mice, voles, stoats, bats or maybe even other birds , all brutally skewered on its thorns, you’ll know ‘the butcher bird’ is not far away.

S*x

You may have noticed a common thread running through the antics of all our dudes so far, and it’s a three-letter word beginning with ‘s’. Those fellas without exception expect a full return on their gifts. But the critters up next have no such ulterior motives with their giving. A bunch of well-brought up crows in Washington State give gifts just to say ‘Thanks’.

Sparklies Are a Girl’s Best Friend

This murder of crows (that really is what seems a totally inappropriate collective noun for them) delivers all kinds of trinkets to Gabi, a young Seattle girl. Their offerings are invariably bright, shiny and small – small enough, naturally, to be carried in a crow’s beak.

Gabi had a habit of sharing her packed lunch with her feathered friends on her way to and from the school bus. Soon they were lining up on the fence waiting for her. So she began feeding them properly every day in her garden. It wasn’t long before she started to find little offerings left on the food trays – buttons, beads, bits of glass, earrings, paper clips, even a little silver ball.

One crow found the lens cap her mom had lost from her camera. He was seen dunking it in the bird bath as if to clean it before leaving it for her on one of the trays. To date she’s amassed quite a collection of little trinkets, and she treasures every one.

Stuff the ‘murder of crows’! Wouldn’t a much more fitting collective name for these clever, appreciative birds be ‘a courtesy of crows’?

The Gift that Says You Must Try Harder

Let experts disembarrass you though of the notion it’s “Thank you” your cat wishes to express when she drops her latest poor little victim on the carpet at your feet. Cat behaviorists say it’s the feline equivalent of a slap on the wrist, moggie’s way of venting her acute disappointment at your painful lack of hunting skills, and a much-needed lesson in how it’s done.

Cat behaviourists may think they’re doing us a favour with this unsolicited tidbit of information. But in this instance I reckon ignorance is bliss. Allow us to keep our happy little illusions. Forget the experts spoke. Of course our cats are saying “Thank you” and “I love you”. Aren’t they?

So, which animal is the bees’ knees, the cat’s pyjamas of gift-givers?

Just for their adorable good manners, the crows get my vote.

Compared with corpse larders, spit and dung though, socks may not be looking such a bad option after all!

Merry Christmas!

hsmno


Merriment aside

At the very end of Planet Earth II, Sir David Attenborough says this:

“Surely it’s our responsibility to do everything in our power to create a planet that’s not just for us but for all life on Earth

Sir David’s impassioned plea for the planet is sobering. Let’s hope the movers and shakers of the world took note, and that it prompts the rest of us as individuals to shoulder that responsibility on ourselves and do “everything in our power’ to live in a conscious, animal-friendly, life-friendly, eco-friendly, sustainable way.

Let’s make this our gift to the planet

There could be no better way of kickstarting 2017

Sign up to Veganuary here

Check out Veganuary’s Facebook page here

Discover a great resource for sustainable living tips here

Sources

5 Gifts That Animals Give Each Other – Center for Biological Diversity – Medium

The girl who gets gifts from birds – BBC News magazine

Cover pic socks from Sock It To Me

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‘The Serious Intensity of Being’ in Animal Art

“I became strongly aware of what life is all about and what it means to live. Each animal and human being, including myself, has its own life and will be gone someday. I felt that similarity, that we are all equal.”

Japanese Artist Chie Hitotsuyama

In Japan’s culture, its long tradition of exquisite perfection in every field of art and craft, there is always a spiritual dimension. The famous tea ceremony, bonsai, Zen gardens, shodo (calligraphy), netsuke (miniature sculptures), martial arts, to name but a few, all have certain qualities in common: “harmony, asymmetrical balance, artlessness, impermanence, and unity with the universe.” H.E. Davey

20160430-14-320x320To the many branches of Japan’s matchless artistry, should now be added one more, as unlikely as it is new – the recycling of old newspapers, transformed by artist Chie Hitotsuyama into incredible lifesize sculptures of animals.

You could say that paper is in Hitotsuyama’s blood. She was born into a family with a traditional paper-strip business in Fuji, their factory still using the old, wooden machinery. But there is more than just childhood influence in her choice of old newspapers for creating her work:

“Old thrown out newspapers attracted me as a medium, not only because they are easily obtained, but also, they are an accumulation of history and contain stories of human behavior. I see the correlation in how humans repeat their own histories as well as experience the cycles of life and death.”

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“Since the first sculptural piece I made, a rhinoceros, I have continued to sculpt forms of animals and while doing so I have become acutely aware of the life force in all beings. I admire the animals I study. I am in awe of their strength and survival in unforgiving nature.”

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“The strength of animals trying earnestly to live impresses me, their strength is much like the way pieces of newspapers rolled one by one, together, increase in strength as I work with them.”

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“Animals have led me to my way of life and the theme of my life. By creating animal sculptures that convey their respective lives, I’m trying to find out how I should live.”

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Hitotsuyama’s art is animated by her deeply reverent approach to life and the lives of all beings, our ‘unity with the universe’. I don’t know if she is vegan, but it would surprise me if she weren’t.

If you want to see her wonderful work  ‘in the flesh’ she has an exhibition through till January 7 at the Museum of Art and History’s satellite gallery, MOAH:CEDAR, in Lancaster, California.

Visit Hitotsuyama’s website

All image source: Ayako Hoshino

 

Sources

This Awesome Artist is Using Recycled Paper to Make Incredibly Lifelike Animal Sculptures – One Green Planet

These Wildlife Sculptures Are Yesterday’s News (Literally) – NRDC onEarth

Chie Hitotsuyama – Artist – Serious Paper & the Intensity of Being – Huffington Post

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Remembrance Day for Lost Species

Cover pic – Golden Toad Incilius Perigrenes Extinct Last seen 1989

All over the world on November 30th 2016, people will be gathering in small groups for rituals of grief to mourn species lost to extinction, and to reinvigorate their love for the natural world.

The age we are living in now is labelled by scientists the 6th Mass Extinction, or the Anthropocene. Anthropocene, because we humans are the ones responsible for wiping out animals, plants, their habitats, whole ecosystems, trashing the beautiful planet we share with them. Who knows how many species have been lost before they’ve even been discovered.

So how does it make us feel when the International Union for the Conservation of Nature publishes the latest additions to the Red List of species at threat of extinction?

Are those animals and plants meaningless names and numbers, easily swept to the furthest darkest recesses of the mind, and left there to gather dust? Are we living in denial?

“So much of the information we receive about extinctions and biodiversity decline today comes from science, not from personal experience in the wild. And while science is necessary, it is often represented in press releases that are bloodless, cold, even inhuman – a recitation of facts rather than a proper elegy for the lost.” Megan Hollingsworth

Or maybe the news does strike home and we feel helpless and hopeless, filled with sorrow, pain and frustration. Do we find ourselves suppressing our grief for fear it may overwhelm us?

Either way we are affected, the Remembrance Day for Lost Species on the 30th offers healing for ourselves, and a way to honour those earth-dwellers forever lost to the planet.

Find a grief ritual near you here

Read the rest of this fascinating and moving article here

 

Special thanks to Garry Rogers for sharing :Why don’t we grieve for extinct species? | GarryRogers Nature Conservation

 

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Meet Rocky the Calf – Star of Veganuary’s London Tube Ad Campaign

Veganuary is posting 2,000 ads around London’s tube stations to persuade travellers to go vegan in the New Year 2017.

An online campaign successfully in raising £23,000 to pay for the ads.

The final designs for the ads are secret but rumour has it we can expect to see Rocky the calf, a piglet called Ernie, and Little Eric the chick.

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Clea Grady, marketing manager at Veganuary said: “The rise in veganism may be influenced by celebrities but the number one reason that people give for taking part in Veganuary is to protect animals. Farming is a brutal business. 

“Male chicks are killed at a day old because they aren’t able to lay eggs, unwanted calves are shot, and pigs are locked in crates and treated like breeding machines. 

“Our London Underground adverts remind people of this unnecessary suffering and ask them to try vegan for one month, and discover a new way to eat that is better for them, better for the planet and – of course – better for animals like Rocky, Ernie and Little Eric.”

23,000 signed up to Veganuary 2016, celebs like the fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, food blogger Jack Monroe and actor Peter Egan among them.

Here’s hoping for many thousands more in New Year 2017, and steady and speedy progress towards a kinder world.
It can’t come soon enough for the animals.
No need to wait till January. Start your vegan journey now.
Here is Veganuary’s awesome website

Source

London Tube Station Campaign Launching to Urge Londoners to Go Vegan – The Evening Standard