Category Archives: Animals

Trump lifts ban on lion and elephant trophy imports

“We will have so much winning if I get elected that you may get bored with winning.”
Donald Trump

Would someone close to the president let him know that winning at “Racing Extinction” does not mean promoting species eradication?

The world is a horrible place. Lions kill for food, but people kill for sport.”
Donald Trump


Wall Street Journal video:


Jimmy Kimmel on Cecil the Lion:


Click to see why the Trumps are smiling:
Big game hunters


One last update…

Cheers to what is (hopefully) the last update on my final project!

As of right now, I am still working hard to shoot one last time at either Pat LaFrieda or Gallaghers. I have still not had the best of luck but, again, am optimistic.

Last week, I went to Ronnybrook Dairy Farm to photograph some happy cows. That was truly one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. I got to lay in a wide open field with massive animals and have them lay with me, sniff me, and lick me. I got to pet and cuddle with cows and even meet a calf that was born earlier that day. (pic below)

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Being able to be with these animals and have such a personal experience with them really hit home for me about why I am so passionate about animal rights and happy farms. It also reiterated how terrible factory farms truly are. I wish that everyone who is adamant about eating meat could share that experience that I had because I am confident that even the biggest meat eater could never even look at another steak and find it appealing after being up close and personal with such gentle, sweet, and beautiful creatures. I’ve attached a couple of my B edit shots below.

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Beyond that, I have an edit of 64 photos to choose from (wish me luck). Tomorrow, I am printing them all out very small (4×6) and will be sequencing them into the series on my wall at home- I will add photos to this post of that process as it happens tomorrow.

My plan for the final presentation is to have two large images (I already know which ones but I want it to be a surprise) that juxtapose one another side by side. I will then have my artist statement explaining my project followed by the rest of the series. Under specific images I will have facts about factory farming versus happy farming to clarify why happy farms are better. I will also have facts about the meat and dairy industries as a whole and why they are ultimately harmful to our environment. All of this will be accompanied by an audio clip which you can listen to here. It is a combination of sounds of the steakhouse kitchen and sounds of the happy farm. I will include a small explanation about the audio within the layout of my project as well.

Overall, I am really excited about this project and how it has turned out! I have some great shots that really speak to what I am trying to say about happy farms. I have met some amazing people and had some amazing experiences.

Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping choir attempt to STOP the Robobees

“Colony Collapse Disorder is the phenomenon that occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear and leave behind a queen, plenty of food and a few nurse bees to care for the remaining immature bees and the queen…But hives cannot sustain themselves without worker bees and would eventually die.”— the Environmental Protection Agency.  

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https://www.epa.gov/pollinator-protection/colony-collapse-disorder

Beekeepers have been noticing decreases in bee populations since 2006, and the leading causes have been traced to

  • Pesticide poisoning through exposure to pesticides applied to crops or for in-hive insect or mite control.
  • Stress bees experience due to management practices such as transportation to multiple locations across the country for providing pollination services.
  • Changes to the habitat where bees forage.

Two years ago, Reverend Billy and The Stop Shopping Choir arrived at the doorsteps of Harvard with fruits from the Earth asking that the Wyss Institute redirect its research from creating Autonomous Flying Microrobots, or Robobees, to saving bees.

The Stop Shopping Choir is a New York based,  anti-consumerist gospel choir that focuses on the capitalist consumer’s environmental impact.  Please check out this hilarious video that I also take very seriously.  

Large Corporations Vs. Independent Thinkers

The two readings compliment each other in that they both explore the relationship between ethics and original scientific ideas versus the blindness of larger corporations.

A Valuable Reputation

Leverage Points

Leverage Points authored by scientist and environmentalist Donella Meadows, explains her twelve ways in which to intervene within a greater system. The topic of ‘growth’ with attention to slower growth was featured in her scientific argument. In A Valuable Reputation scientists Tyrone Hayes was struggling with his own discoveries and facts clashing with the ideas of large corporations. He focused on the effects of atrazine as a herbicide that results in birth defects in humans and animals. He conducted extensive experiments on frogs which showed that a frog’s hormones are identical to human hormones  and the effects of atrazine in their ecosystem was causing birth defects in male frogs. He was exploring if the influence of this chemical shared the same negative effects on humans. When he wished to re-do the experiments, in order to double-check his findings, the larger companies would not allow the extra money or time so Tyrone conducted the experiments on his own time without their influence. Meadows touched on an idea that the large companies such as NAFTA and GATT and The World Trade Organization whose strive to make the world work better are actually pushing us into the wrong direction. They were focused on fast growth in order to fix the problems in the economy, population and environment. What Meadows and Hayes have in common is that they fight for slower more steady or even no growth whatsoever when it comes to these topics of interest.

I believe that essentially what Meadows argued was that in order for the world to become further successful it must not yearn for more growth in order to fix the problems, but to maybe not even focus on growth at all but rather focus on the problems which we have currently environmentally and economically and stop the rapid growth all together. By allowing for her twelve system leverage points to work, we can not only rely on the intuition of what we think would be the best alternative or answer to our global problems. We must look at the facts that we are faced with and sort out steps or leverage points in order to regulate them. Similar to Hayes’s chemical discoveries, and battles with larger corporations trying to pull him down. He fought against the quick harsh decisions made by companies such as Syngenta or the EPA and continued to spend the time needed to fully investigate the harmful chemical disasters.

Donella Meadows' basic diagram of parameters, stocks, delays, flows and feedback
Donella Meadows’ basic diagram of parameters, stocks, delays, flows and feedback.

Tyrone Hayes’ ending words. 

 

Ecofeminism

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In the last couple of months I have come across ecofeminism–a third wave feminism that seeks solutions to power dynamics through taking action concerning animals, the environment, and of course patriarchal standards. Ecofeminism compares the oppression of women to that of nature, rooting in the idea that both forms of domination are fundamentally connected.  Although sometimes argued based on a certain kind of moral compass which I can acknowledge not every one shares, ecofeminism provides a new facet to view environmental issues.  If you consider yourself a feminist, an environmentalist, both, or even neither I encourage you to give some of this ecofeminist literature a read just to gain a new perspective.   To read more about the basics of ecofeminism click here.

For links to ecofeminist literature see below:

Power & Promise

Gender Bias

Animal Liberation

On the patriarchal system & animal agriculture

From Rupi Kaur's Milk & Honey
From Rupi Kaur’s Milk & Honey

Broken Battle

How the West Was Lost: Ranchers Devastated by Fossil Fuel Boom reaffirmed the notion that small communities are being abused by large corporations. The Turners lost the health of their land in Wyoming starting in the 1980s when the federal government began to use land just east of their ranch for coal mining. In order to gain access to the coal they suck up the water, which caused water levels to drop dramatically. When the Turners brought this information to the Wyoming Supreme Court their case was dismissed on the grounds that there were no “specific harms on their properties.” Reading this, it is crucial to recognize how the institutions on political and social platforms meant to protect us are actually harmful. In fact, it became law that oil, gas and coal companies restore the land’s natural environment when they are done mining. But according to the Turners, “only about 10 percent of the land strip-mined has been fully reclaimed.” However, the Turners admitted that they did accept an “income from fees paid to them by oil and gas companies that gained access to their land.” But does everyone get compensation for destruction brought upon them? And is it worth it?

Gary Packard drives past a newly constructed oil well that sits at the edge of his ranch. (Photo: Ed Glazar)
Gary Packard drives past a newly constructed oil well that sits at the edge of his ranch. (Photo: Ed Glazar)

In the article, The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare, you’ll see that it’s an incredibly arduous road to get any compensation or attention toward injustice. Rob Bilott was a corporate defense attorney for eight years before he took on the chemical giant DuPont. He was approached by Wilbur Tennant, who was concerned with a large pipe running through a creek and discharging “green water with bubbles on the surface.” That same creek flowed down to the pasture where Tennant’s cows grazed on and started acting “deranged.” The cows were suddenly suffering with “stringy tails, malformed hooves…and staggering bowlegged.” When Bilott filed a federal suit, it was ignored and established that the Tennant’s were at fault for their cows’ illness. Bilott pushed on and came across a letter DuPont sent to the E.P.A. about PFOA, which was short for perfluorooctanoic acid. At first, his request for all documentation on this substance from DuPont was refused, but in the fall of 2000 he requested a court order and won. Through this, he discovered that DuPont scientists had known for years that this chemical was bad, and affecting water everywhere. People and animals were getting sick, dying even, and nothing was being done. DuPont decided to settle the class-action suit and pay for medical monitoring, but were still not taking responsibility. It took seven years for the company to admit their “probable link” between PFOA and the numerous health problems. But what about the thousands of families and communities affected by risks such as this? What if they don’t have the time, money or resources to protect themselves?  

The chemical site near Parkersburg, W.Va., source of the waste at the center of the DuPont class-action lawsuit. BRYAN SCHUTMAAT FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES
The chemical site near Parkersburg, W.Va., source of the waste at the center of the DuPont class-action lawsuit. BRYAN SCHUTMAAT FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES.

Fortunately, Earthjustice is a hopeful organization that establishes a solution for this exact problem. Earthjustice is the largest nonprofit environmental law organization that fights for a “healthy world.” That is an incredible feat when you take into consideration the large corporations such as DuPont, and sometimes the federal government, who are abusing their immense power. To break the system is a difficult task, but Earthjustice is doing it and I find it incredibly admirable. Climate change is a very real and serious issue caused by humans. But the people in Earthjustice are the “legal backbone” that will get the attention and action done in order to make a difference. Earthjustice could have definitely helped the Turners and the Tennant’s, and would have done it free of charge.

The more I research and realize the potent dangers of large institutions that influence my everyday life, I am inspired to take action. It is frustrating to see innocent families be taken advantage of. Our world is sick, inside and out, and change needs to happen now. Even though I feel small in comparison to the problems ahead, I am confident in my art and will continue to use that as a vessel of expression to stop oppression.

 

Money, Money, Money, Money…MONEY

As I read “How the West was Lost: Ranchers Devastated by Fossil Fuel Boom” I noticed the recurring theme of money. How is it that when the government starts drilling for oil on your farming land, what you have devoted your life to, you starting thinking of the money you are receiving? The Turners, the family being affected in this situation stated, “The kids have been able to get a better education than we could have given them otherwise”. Yes, I am a person who believes that people should always look at the positive, but when these drillers, are invading your space and contaminating your land, your water, the money you receive should be the last thing on your mind. The water your livestock are drinking are then being passed on to the consumers of that animal. So, not only is it bad for the animals, but in turn bad for humans.

The companies are also only thinking about money, they want to make profits off of this oil. They do not care they are invading someones home, or ruing their livelihood. The workers want money, and the government wants money from the oil, once they accomplish that they leave. And like they state in the article, the workers are suppose to return the land to the way it was when they arrived, and most of the time they do not. This leaves thousands of acres that are now rendered useless to these farmers.

NATURE: The Plaintiff against INDUSTRY

I write in response to these heavy articles:

  • http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/01/10/magazine/the-lawyer-who-became-duponts-worst-nightmare.html?_r=1
  • http://www.takepart.com/feature/2016/09/30/how-west-was-lost-ranchers-devastated-fossil-fuel-boom?cmpid=organic-share-twitter

coalcows

The above image makes me feel many things. The main takeaway is that when you intermingle the industrial world with the natural world, there is something greatly off-putting. When you look at the image, the first uncomfortable detail is the smoke. It suffocates two-thirds of the image like a looming annoyance.post_smoke

But after I see the smoke, I start to focus on many other issues. The industrial giant: carving out the horizon with its harsh lines.

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The cows: grazing in peace while their lungs fill with mysterious byproducts.

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The trees: cut down to make space for the industrial giantpost_trees

The invisible organisms: the animals and plant life that were pushed out of their ecosystem long ago.

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The ones that may never return.

 

 

 

 

All of this sounds very harsh and depressing, but it is real. After reading these articles, my mind was racing in a similar way. When you dive into a big issue like the fossil fuel industry depleting the state of Wisconsin or DuPont poisoning communities nationally with unknown chemicals, it is hard not to watch your brain spin.

Person under crumpled pile of papers with hand holding a help sign

The articles uncovered many aspects of industrial corruption and coverup. They revealed the true power of these industries: A power that can profit meanwhile destroying the health of the people, community, and ecosystems surrounding them.

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In Bryan Schutmaat’s article, “The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare,” Lawyer Rob Billot went through the treacherous journey of these discoveries. The issues he found were much more serious then he had ever thought before. Like the image of the cows in front of the industrial giant, he was lost in a world where all the issues intertwined.

A similar dilemma is described in Emily J. Gertz’s article, “How the West Was Lost: Ranchers Devastated by Fossil Fuel Boom.” The powerful industries of an area were able to maneuver their way through laws and land and they could quickly take the health of that whole environment into their hands. If this was not true, Wisconsin would still be the Wild West.

Ironically, Wisconsin’s state slogan is: Stay Just a Little Bit LongerAmerica’s Dairyland.  post_quarter Agricultural protection is not on the Fossil Fuel Industry’s agenda.

 

Instead… I think the “FORWARD” thinking that Wisconsin had prized has become something more like:

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The scariest part of all of this, though, is not just the effects it has put on these ecosystems and communities; with the great power of these industries comes great resources to fight, fight, and fight.

Although Rob Billot fought DuPont for much of his career, his battle was not a full victory. They are still using chemicals that are quite similar to PFOA, and many of these chemicals are still floating around our everyday lives.

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If there is anything to be learned, it is that these battles cannot be fought alone. Wisconsin farmers are just a few. They watch their land degrade but they stand little chance against professional schemers. Similarly, civilians of a community with poisonous water might develop cancer but not even be aware of the cause because their water companies do not have to list the levels of chemicals that it contains.

They must be helped by others that can put up a fair fight against the professional schemers. They must join forces with members of the community that can challenge and try to change the laws put in place. Only TOGETHER do I think that anything can change.

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Although he did not win it all, Rob Billot did a brave and incredible amount of work. He opened up the conversation about environmental protection in relation to the world of Justice.

This is where Earthjustice comes into play. There is hope at the end of the tunnel if we have someone to help us take on these big industries. Earthjustice thrives on taking down the powerful and profiteering so that the communities from near and far can be improved. Because they are nonprofit, their drive will never be one like these industrial powers: they understand that a piece of paper is not as important as others make it out to be.

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Earthjustice has proven to work. They have helped environmental groups and movements throughout their history on a range of different issues. They understand that many of these environmental issues intercept, therefore they fight for healthier land, oceans, air, and animals.

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It is always important to remember, though, that these lawyers cannot help if they don’t have many others willing to bring the issues forward. As they describe on their website: “The generous support of hundreds of thousands of individuals like you allows us to take on the most important cases and stick with them for as long as it takes.

They also highlight that awareness and education is essential in the battle against environmental issues. For this reason they have advocacy campaigns that focus on this. It is important that every environmentalist joins in spreading awareness.

The case against DuPont is well known, but how well known?  If it had been spread around even more, how might things be different?

 

Reconsider this photo:

coalcows

Take a breath.

 

 

While all of these issues at once might be overwhelming, when you break them down and fight together, it is possible to make change.