Category Archives: Other animals
Christopher Lewis asked me on Facebook:
I am interesting on understanding your scale for judging an animal’s suffering. How do we know killing one animal is fine, another is wrong. Torturing one animal ok, hunting another to extinction not.
Here’s my answer:
Christopher Lewis It’s an excellent question.
I would formulate my thoughts this way:
- Vulnerability to extinction.
First, we have to protect species against extinction. I believe it is a massive sin to cause any extinction of species, a total blasphemy against the Creator as we cannot create a single species. And also the loss of the genetic material robs future human generations of the opportunity to experience this life form. So I make the same point here for animals, plants, fungi and without regard to size or complexity. We cannot replace them, and don’t destroy what you cannot create is an excellent maxim for life.
- Controllability of habitat and numbers
Second, given the first point, we need to take more care with regard to animals or plants where the slide to extinction is less controllable by us. So at the moment marine life has a bigger call on protection because we have certainly placed plastics into the oceans at measurable amounts and this is completely and guaranteedly anthropogenic and there is no debate about it, unlike the debates that can be made in the case of greenhouse gases and global warming. I am in two minds about GW but I am not in two minds at all about the plastic issue, to the degree where I jumped up and down and got everyone in a small chain of stores I do things with to abandon plastic bags entirely. I have been talking about the plastic issue for fifteen years in fact, and finally people are starting to take the issue seriously and hopefully not too late, but we still don’t know how good the clean up can be and how fast. So I put animals in the line of threat from plastics into a degree of priority.
- Strength of links to others of the species
It does appear that certain animals, even from their behaviour, have empathy to each other and interact with each other and some have interactions with their offspring which are related to love and tenderness in the human. For animals where the loss of one causes distress to others, I give more consideration than for the ones which do not have such a case. There are many species of bird, for example, that could be domesticated but humans have not chosen for the farmyard those which have lifelong pairbonds and which pine away when their loved one is taken. Take a chicken from the rooster and he happily carries on with his existing harem and the other chickens also don’t tend to look around for the missing hen. Do this to penguins, storks, swans and many other birds and mammals and you have a node of suffering. So I give priority not to eat the animals which show tenderness to one another and which demonstrate meaning to one another. In “The Time Machine”, for example, H.G.Wells Morlocks have taken the trouble to breed out of the Eloi race of humans they are farming any kind of empathy for each other. As indeed the powers that be do to us today, replacing Christ’s call to love our neighbour with the empty husk of political “correctness”.
- Intelligence regardless of sociability
Fourthly, the above point doesn’t mean that vertebrates are always preferred over invertebrates. It appears that shrimp which people eat in great numbers are social and that the octopus, which is pretty anti-social really, is a startling intelligence and deserves a bit more respect than your typical invertebrate. All of this is subordinate to the first and second point, anyway.
- Deaths per kilogramme of useable protein
This leads on to the fifth and this is an important point. If we are turning a living, sentient animal into amino acids for our own digestion, it seems to me to be more moral to take one animal that will feed many families over many meals than to take an animal which it takes many of to feed one person one meal. This is one of the reasons why I try to avoid shrimps. It takes maybe 10 shrimps to make a meal for one person, whereas a cow might make a hundred meals so the relationship of shrimps to cattle to give you a tonne of protein is at least a thousand (maybe closer to ten thousand) shrimps to one cow. This is an extreme example. Now if we placed the intelligence and value of the life of the shrimp at only one thousandth of that of the cow, maybe that would be justifiable. But if you look at shrimps in an aquarium for any length of time you’ll see probably just as much different activity and expression going on as you’ll see on a cow’s face as it stands around chewing cud, and maybe even more. So for me it’s disturbing to think that we could be making a virtual holocaust of these crustaceans just to produce the kilos of a single slaughtered cow. Likewise when it comes to fish is it not a bit disturbing to take a thousand capelin to give us the equivalent flesh of one tuna? Worth a thought.
- Naturally predated
And then we have the sixth issue. Prey animals. Animals are by nature divided into hunter and hunted. The hunted tend to be thise which are naturally in the niche of proviing meat to other species and to a degree they evolved into it. It is part of being a sheep that you get eaten by a tiger, it is part of being a tiger that you don’t get eaten by anything. Human agriculture fit into this natural division in that we usually don’t eat tigers (some do) and usually do eat sheep (some don’t).
If an animal or plant can be substituted with another in order to give the necessary thing we are looking for (example tortoiseshell now largely replaced by plastics) then it is best to take the version of the product with the least offences against these other points. If there is no substitute then all the more we need to take care that the species is protected from extinction. Usually this involves careful cultivation over a number of different sites.
Given the last point, an animal or plant which can actually be farmed is a better candidate for use than a wild species that cannot be kept and cultivated under human control. Those which can be kept ought to be kept in a proper way, with regard to diet, housing and enrichment. The use of battery farms and similar is becoming thankfully a thing of the past, and this trend should continue. We are making a one way trade with these animals, they feed us and give us food and fibres, plants render to us all their nutrients and chemicals and of course it is not a deal any of them signed up to. The least we can do is give them a reasonable time of quality life with as low suffering as possible prior to sacrificing that life, again with the minimum possible suffering. Not all species lend themselves to farming, on the other hand those species which do also seem to lend themselves to adaptation into numerous breeds with varying characteristics.
- Multiple products.
It is maybe good in view of the above to use synthetic fur rather than real fur, however if synthetic fur becomes unviable for any reason, it is better to farm fur animals which are also edible, such as rabbits, rather than mink which are only there to provide fur and which by the way require the sacrifice of numerous other animals to nourish them, although they can of course be fed on foods made from spent hens and dairy cows not usually sold for human cuisine. If we are going to sacrifice an animal, we should at least waste as little of it as possible. It is good to keep sheep as they provide milk and wool in addition to the produce of their carcase. Cattle produce leather in addition to their milk and blood products taken during their lives but this, like their meat and unlike wool, is a one off event at their death.
- Utilisation of inedible food. Humans cannot eat grass which is the easy crop. Cattle, sheep and camels do eat these as they are cellulose metabolised, thanks to their microbiota hosted in special chambers of their alimentary canal. Pigs can eat acorns and scraps which humans cannot eat. Via these animals, oak forests and grasslands have a use to us which might make the difference between keeping them going with their additional biodiversity, which you wouldn’t find in say a wheatfield. Hence farming them has advantages which vegetarians tend to overlook.
Now let’s apply all the above to the issue of whales. They for sure let themselves down on the size issue – one whale will feed more than one of almost anything else, and given that we cannot eat plankton they let themselves down in the acorn argument too, but on the other arguments we shouldn’t be taking them.
Original YT playout date: 15 April 2008
I have made better films and photos of the firebug, which is very frequently found in Warsaw, these ones next to the Warsaw office, on the parking space paving blocks we ourselves unpacked all those years earlier.
Find out the reason for the unusual Polish common name of this insect “tramway”…
Original playout date: 2 March 2008
A nice visit to Tring Museum with family. Sophie and cousins.
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Original playout date: 14 July 2007
The conference over, I go out to visit the Hortobagy Puszta, so we see Heroes Square and the drive out east.
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Gallery Page 3 – Gecko on the Wall
Here’s a tropical lizard on the wall of the villa I was staying in. I assume this is a gecko of some sort, but what I don’t know is what sort, exactly. It allowed me to take a load of photos at quite close range, of which this is perhaps the most detailed. Please E-mail or bulletin board if you know what species of lizard this is precisely.
Gordon the Gecko is not wired for sound this time, but was under surveillance anyway
Stay with the tour for more natural history photos, and numerous other topics….
DJJ 13th February 2005
- Geckos Invade Museum Of Science (boston.cbslocal.com)
- My Geckos (seniorvagabond.wordpress.com)
- Skinks & geckos (pili, pilimo’o) (pacificislandparks.com)
I’m scheduling some reposts of some content I used to have on Usenetposts.com – over the next few days I’ll be showing some old photos I took and placed on the old site as a tour. I’ll be keeping the old original text I wrote some years ago, as this is now not up anywhere else since Usenetposts.com, in the form it was hosted before, was sabotaged by the sad, conceited drug addict who hosted it, whilst pretending to be an Evangelical Christian, which he has since dropped his pretense of being.
Gallery Page 1 – Tropical Moth
Welcome to my picture gallery. This is just a small selection of the photos I’ve been taking. The rule here is to give a small amount of text around the picture, but to give pride of place to the pictures in each page of the gallery, between 1 and 3 pictures per side. They have all been made very small for the net, and if anyone likes any of them particularly, then they can always ask me for a full sized version by e-mail.
I am not making an index to the gallery, but taking it as a tour, so as to encourage people to see all the pictures. I’m not saying at this stage what is around the corner, the best thing is simply to follow the links to the next page at the end of each gallery page. When it is finished it will lead back to the home page of this site, but as this is going to be an ongoing work in progress, as I take photos all the time, you may like to check back in a few weeks and see if there are any more.
DJJ 12th February 2005 (original time of publishing)
This is a tiny piece taken from a Holiday in France film which isn’t up yet – it will be in a few weeks – showing how if you take the context away you simply can’t tell if – as Longlat39 put it “this critter would fit in your hand or take your leg off”. The real answer is that the animal will fit in your hand, but the blood effect on the walls (actually the back of a plantpot and a window ledge were “walls”). So basically the piece was about that, really. Another loyal viewer said he was lost by it, but that’s really all it was. And the fact that I need to balance some big pieces several hours long with some things under a minute.
That way, you never know what you’ll get next.
Some people would never post up long pieces like mine, partly because they still have 10 minute limits in many people’s cases, but anyway splitting an item down into smaller parts gets the hit rates for the channel right up. I never really wanted to drive hits in any way that would be artificial.
So my pieces are really as long as it’s needed for the point of that particular piece. If it’s a reposted Soviet film or a radio show, or a Yom Kippur service like the one coming up, you get the whole thing in one go. If you don’t want to watch it in one go, you can mark how many minutes you were in and come back to it. For years now you’ve been able to start a YT film from any part of it. This was not the case at the very beginning – in 2007 if you remember, you had to start always from the beginning. You could pause, but if you came out of it altogether, you had to start over.
We’ve come so far since there I bet that’s just a dim and distant memory for most of you?
OK, polltime again – I got to quite liking these polldaddy things. Even if you don’t feel like posting a comment (and I do hope more of my new readers will start doing this and we can get a proper community going over here) still it’s got to be easy to respond to a poll. Or better still, please do both!
- Smallest blue lizard on my desk….. (mewritenow.wordpress.com)
- 5-Foot Monitor Lizard Caught in California (VIDEO) (blippitt.com)
- Escaped Giant Lizard Reunited With Owner (shoppingblog.com)
- Monitor Lizard Runs Amuck in Riverside (nowpublic.com)
- 5-Foot Monitor Lizard Caught Roaming California Neighborhood (newsfeed.time.com)
This one shows, to the background of a couple of Thai songs which are highly unlikely to get me done for using music the way that western music is prone to do, some beautiful insects using the lavendar bush next to our holiday cottage. There were bees and hummingbird moths in this film, there were also cabbage white butterflies, hoverflies and other insects on that bush during our week, but nothing as impressive as the hummingbird moth Macroglossa.
Underneath it one evening I also found a toad, which I allowed to remain there undisturbed.
It’s amazing how much life can exist around one bush of lavender.
- Using lavender for woodworm (ask.metafilter.com)
- Uses for Lavender Sugar (foodandfeminism.wordpress.com)
- I have achieved lavender ice cream! (magickalrealism.com)
- Olympic Peninsula lavender growers can’t get along (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Registered nurse Norberto Molina Jr., chairman of JMH gay lavender caucus, named a Jackson Hero (miamiherald.typepad.com)
- Natural Remedies for Mood Disorders (brighthub.com)
The fifth in a series of about 20 quite varying videos from our Summer holiday this year, currently uploaded to YT.
You won’t believe the insect in this film – I really had to stop and think whether it was a moth or a hummingbird!
The location is not being disclosed at this time. It may be disclosed in a passworded post later on.
This is because it’s too good. If people knew what good value for money this was, I wouldn’t get a look in.
It’s near Tours, that’s all I’m sayin’. Knawm sayin’?
- Capturing Insects in flight – begin an amazing journey (pixiq.com)
- Decking causing British butterfly decline (telegraph.co.uk)
- Plant biology: Growth industry (nature.com)
- Damselflies in distress forced back to UK by climate change (independent.co.uk)
- Fish, Birds, and Bats Inspire Navy’s Next-Gen Drones (wired.com)
- Scientist at Work: Of Birds and Insects (and a Coral Snake) (scientistatwork.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Poll: 1 In 5 Americans Believe Obama Is A Cactus (theonion.com)
Here we have the fourth in our French Holiday series from July 2010, near Tours. Here we see Sophie having a swim as it gets dark and she also gives voice to a couple of her favorite pieces.
One of the aspects here that didn’t show up too clearly were these huge stag beetles which were flying around. They only really put in a big appearance at dusk for about 15 minutes and then they were not in evidence – too dark for them to fly or at least be seen. But they make a racket also so we would have known if they were flying.
- Case Race in Budapest (CUV) (huliganov.tv)
- Scientists bug stag beetle larvae to record rasping ‘communication’ (dailymail.co.uk)
- Ginger ‘irresistible to beetles’ (bbc.co.uk)
Pushkin sitting on a copy of his complete works.