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This is wonderful news and let us pray that Russia will now enforce these laws.
Please see our Mini Posts for details.
Please see our Mini Posts for details.
This is wonderful news and let us pray that Russia will now enforce these laws.
Find out your food’s climate footprint By Nassos Stylianou, Clara Guibourg and Helen Briggs
BBC News 13 December 2018 UN climate change conference 2018.
Full article with charts available at www.bbc.co.uk/news/source-environment-46459714
Avoiding meat and dairy products is one of the biggest ways to reduce your environmental impact, according to recent scientific studies.
But what is the difference between beef and chicken? Does a bowl of rice produce more climate warming greenhouse gases than a plate of chips?
Is wine more environmentally friendly than beer?
To find out the climate impact of what you eat and drink, choose from one of the 34 items in our calculator and pick how often you have it.
How do your food choices impact on the environment?
Which food would you like? How often do you have it? Find out
If you cannot view the food calculator, click to launch the interactive content.
Design by Prina Shah, development by Felix Stephenson and Becky Rush.
Food production is responsible for a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to global warming, according to a University of Oxford study.
However, the researchers found that the environmental impact of different foods varies hugely.
Their findings showed that meat and other animal products are responsible for more than half of food-related greenhouse gas emissions, despite providing only a fifth of the calories we eat and drink.
Of all the products analysed in the study, beef and lamb were found to have by far the most damaging effect on the environment.
The findings echo recommendations on how individuals can lessen climate change by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
When it comes to our diets, the IPCC says we need to buy less meat, milk, cheese and butter – but also eat more locally sourced seasonal food, and throw less of it away.
The IPCC also recommends that we insulate homes, take trains and buses instead of planes, and use video conferencing instead of business travel.
Cutting meat and dairy products from your diet could reduce an individual’s carbon footprint from food by two-thirds, according to the Oxford study, published in the journal Science.
“What we eat is one of the most powerful drivers behind most of the world’s major environmental issues, whether it’s climate change or biodiversity loss,” study researcher Joseph Poore told BBC News.
Changing your diet can make a big difference to your personal environmental footprint, from saving water to reducing pollution and the loss of forests, he said.
“It reduces the amount of land required to produce your food by about 75% – that’s a huge reduction, particularly if you scale that up globally,” Dr Poore explained.
If you fly regularly, replacing flying with other forms of transport may have a bigger impact on your carbon footprint than changing your diet. A passenger’s carbon footprint from a one-way flight from London to New York is just under half a tonne of greenhouse gases. Switching from a regular petrol vehicle to an electric car could save more than double that over a year.
Knowing how and where your food is produced is also important, as the same food can have huge differences in environmental impact.
For example, beef cattle raised on deforested land is responsible for 12 times more greenhouse gas emissions than cows reared on natural pastures.
The average beef from South America results in three times the amount of greenhouse gases as beef produced in Europe – and uses 10 times as much land.
Meat and dairy are not the only foods where the choices you make can make a big difference.
Chocolate and coffee originating from deforested rainforest produce relatively high greenhouse gases.
For climate-friendly tomatoes, choose those grown outdoors or in high-tech greenhouses, instead of in greenhouses heated by gas or oil. Environmentally-minded beer-drinkers may be interested to know that draught beer is responsible for fewer emissions than recyclable cans, or worse, glass bottles.
Even the most climate-friendly meat options still produce more greenhouse gases than vegetarian protein sources, like beans or nuts.
How did we make the calculator?
How is the environmental impact calculated?
University of Oxford researcher Joseph Poore, and Thomas Nemecek of the Agroecology and Environment Research Division in Zurich, Switzerland, looked at the environmental impact of 40 major food products that represent the vast majority of what is eaten globally.
They assessed the effect of these foods on climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions and the amount of land and fresh water used across all stages of their production, including processing, packaging, and transportation, but excluding the cooking process.
By analysing data from nearly 40,000 farms, 1,600 processors, packaging types and retailers, Poore and Nemecek were able to assess how different production practices and geographies have very different consequences on the planet.
What about serving sizes?
The data in the study looked at the environmental impact for 1kg of each of the different food products.
For this story, these were converted to impact per serving sizes based on serving sizes from the British Dietetic Association (BDA) and healthy diet portion sizes from BUPA.
The figures for serving sizes based on the BDA and BUPA suggestions are often lower than portion sizes commonly found in restaurants and what people normally expect, so the figures returned by the calculator on the impact of individuals’ consumption are likely to be higher in reality.
Protein-rich foods were calculated using the impact per 100g of protein from Poore and Nemecek’s research and data on protein per serving from the BDA, to avoid differences between cooked and uncooked foods.
What are greenhouse gases?
The figures for greenhouse gas emissions are in kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2eq). This is a unit that converts the impact of different kinds of greenhouse gases, like methane and nitrous oxide, to the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide.
How do you know what my diet is equal to in miles driven?
The annual impact from eating a specific food is calculated by multiplying the impact of one serving of that food by the times it is eaten in a year, based on the weekly estimates submitted by the user.
These are then compared with the emissions of other daily habits. The European Environment Agency estimates that driving a regular petrol car produces 392g of CO2eq/mile over its entire lifecycle, including emissions from the vehicle’s production, fuel production and exhaust emissions per mile.
Heating the average UK home produces 2.34 tonnes of CO2eq annually, according to data from the Committee on Climate Change, and a passenger’s carbon footprint for a return flight from London to Malaga is 320kg CO2eq, based on figures from the Carbon Neutral calculator.
The land used to produce the annual consumption of each food is compared with the size of a double tennis court, 261 metres squared.
The annual amount of water used is compared with a shower, based on figures suggesting the average shower lasts eight minutes and uses up 65 litres. Only “blue water”, i.e. water taken out of rivers or the ground, is included in the data.
This is an important message by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the delegates at COP 24.
Please read and share.
MESSAGE By His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew To the United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP 24)
(Poland, December 3-14, 2018)
Dear and distinguished friends,
We are pleased to send this brief greeting of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to the members of the United Nations Conference of the Parties and to all people of good will assembling in Poland this year to reflect on the impact of climate change and the urgency of addressing its implications.
We also welcome this opportunity to engage with and endorse implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals with a view to fostering collaborative and concerted action toward this purpose for all people and for the entire planet. We believe that it is the responsibility of faith communities to remind their respective governments of this mandate.
We also welcome this opportunity to engage with and endorse implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals with a view to fostering collaborative and concerted action toward this purpose for all people and for the entire planet. We believe that it is the responsibility of faith communities to remind their respective governments of this mandate.
Nevertheless, we are convinced that the time for reflection and deliberation is long gone. We wonder when the leaders of our world will realize how late we have left our response to the climate crisis. A few years ago, we wrote of reaching a point of no return. This was neither euphemism nor exaggeration. Scientists have long warned – and most recently in Inchon, Korea, they forcefully reaffirmed – that we have reached several tipping points; governments seem reluctant to respond, preferring to delay.
Of course, as a religious leader, we profess that God’s grace offers forgiveness and opportunities – indeed, many chances – for reconciliation. But Scripture also underlines that the time will come when we are obliged to face the consequences of our actions. The Gospel of Matthew describes a judgment where we will not be asked about our success and prosperity, but about our response to suffering and poverty. Indeed, in a parable of the same gospel, the rich man ignored the poor Lazarus and, upon pleading forgiveness, was told it was too late.
This is why, for the last thirty years, we have declared the intimate connection between the way we treat the earth and the way we treat our fellow human beings, especially the poor. At our symposium held in Athens this past June, entitled Toward a Greener Attica for a Sustainable Environment: Preserving the Planet and Protecting its People, we highlighted the religious and spiritual roots of the ecological crisis, while emphasizing that the necessary spiritual transformation of human beings and their attitude toward creation requires the collaboration of all social sectors and scientific disciplines.
In our understanding, the way we relate to nature as creation directly reflects the way we relate to God as Creator. There can be no distinction between concern for human welfare, protection of the environment, and care for our salvation. In order to restore the planet, we need a spirituality that brings humility and respect with regard to our attitudes and actions, our life choices and lifestyles. It should be abundantly clear by now that we must direct our focus away from what we want to what the planet needs.
Dear friends, we must of course remain optimistic – confident in the love of God and hopeful in the response of humankind. But when will we understand how important it is to leave as light a footprint as possible on this planet for the sake of future generations? The truth is that we can no longer afford to wait; indecision and inaction are not options. Faith makes it clear that we have a choice. The time to choose is now.
At the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the 10th of December, 2018.
Archbishop of Constantinople – New Rome
and Ecumenical Patriarch
BREXIT AND ANIMAL WELFARE
SPEECH TO THE 2018 AIA AGM
BY CHRIS FEGAN
This talk is not the most straightforward to give at this time because nobody knows with any degree of certainty what will be the outcome of BREXIT and indeed the Prime Minister is in Brussels again today trying to agree the final wording of a deal between the UK and the EU ahead of a hoped for summit tomorrow.
However, despIte the continued uncertainty, the animal advocacy world has been very busy over the last 2 years or so following the 2016 Referendum in preparing for March 2019 when the UK is due to leave the EU. I have been pleased to work with colleagues in this area and in particular to work within the Eurogroup for Animals BREXIT Task Force which has met on several occasions and which has produced various documents aimed at policy makers, officials and also, indeed, other animal advocacy colleagues, as well as the general public, and I think this work have been very helpful in considering the animal welfare issues in the BREXIT situation.
This Task Force has been very successfully chaired and its work co-ordinated by David Bowles of the RSPCA and also incredibly well supported by various Eurogroup officers, primarily Joe Moran and Stephanie Ghislain, as well as other members of the Eurogroup team based in Brussels. I would like to thank all of these for their support and help over this past difficult 2 year period in the work we have done in trying to get to grips with this vastly important set of issues and in particular Joe Moran and Doug Waley who have spent specific time and energy helping me prepare this talk for you today. I will try to give an overview on where I think we currently are, as well as also looking at one particular area of policy as a case study and that will be the Common Fisheries Policy.
It is difficult to think of many other areas that are as deeply affected by Brexit than animal welfare. Agriculture spending has accounted for more than 40% of the European Union’s budget for as long as Britain has been a member state, and 55% of British farmers’ income currently comes from direct payments. Last year alone the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments to the UK totalled about £3 billion, making up 55% of farmers’ incomes. The food security that the CAP has provided in turn gave European policy makers and citizens alike ‘food sovereignty’ and indeed security. As an aside here,we are now hearing of potential stockpiling of food and other goods in the UK in preparation for BREXIT day which is unheard of in the lives of most current UK citizens.
Returning to the current situation, the EU’s self-sufficiency in veal and pork stands at just over 100%. Is it any wonder then that the bloc has been able to ban veal crates or sow stalls? The Union’s ability to raise the bar has not been compromised by the necessity to open up its markets to territories where standards are lower, less healthy, palatable or even safe. Likewise, the EU has led the way globally in banning the testing of cosmetics on animals and has committed to phasing out the use of animal testing for medicines altogether. It was the sheer weight of the bloc that allowed it to defend its ban on the placing onto the market of seal products at the World Trade Organisation.
In short, EU membership has been unequivocally beneficial overall for animal welfare within the UK. This is a key message when we hear stories regarding questions of what has the EU ever done for the UK, etc.
Yet now that the UK is leaving, or at the very least planning to leave, we are in uncharted waters. Undoubtedly, the UK will now be, in theory, free to go above and beyond the existing standards it has inherited from its EU membership, and to remedy those aspects of EU policy that haven’t been quite so helpful. A ban on the live export of animals comes to mind and has been mentioned in various circles including up to Government level. We should be aware of and welcome Government’s comments about putting in place a new farming support system for England that won’t simply reward farmers for owning land and meeting minimum standards. The Environment Secretary and his Department deserve some credit for recognising that animal welfare is something valued by citizens, although opinon poll after opinion poll for may years makes this very clear to anyone who has been prepared to listen, and again as as aside, the numbers of the UK public supporting animal welfare is huge and is in stark contrast to the closeness of the BREXIT vote.
It is right that farming support constitutes a public good, and that public money only goes to rewarding public goods that go above and beyond basic legal requirements relating to the protection of soil, habitats, and yes, animal welfare.
However, it is clear that whether or not Animal Welfare flourishes in the UK post Brexit now depends on the form of Brexit we get. Fundamentally this comes down to regulation.
The choice is simple. Britain accounts for 3.4% of the world economy. The rest of the EU accounts for just under 25%. The United States represents just over 31%. China accounts for 17%, and rising. These three big economies set the agenda globally. They are regulatory superpowers. If you sell into their markets, you have to accept their regulatory standards.
Historically the situation was different but we live in 2018 and heading into 2019, and not 1918 turning into 1919 which we have been remembering and commemorating recently as the end of the 1st World War Period. In 1960 Britain accounted for 6.4%. At the turn of the last century, it was around 10%. But given Britain’s weight at the epicentre of an empire that spanned 25% of the globe, such rules were set in this country. Indeed, the Empire as a whole in 1900 accounted for 21% of global output.
However, today, this simply isn’t the case here and now ,and despite what we hear from some quarters it cannot be the case in 2019 and onwards.
In short, we have to face a choice, a choice between the differing regulatory models we want to most closely align ourselves too – and yes, this is crucial for animal welfare. To apprporiate Hamlet’s famous soliloquy about suicide at this point “therein lies the rub”.
These standards are not similar, they are all very different indeed. US agriculture has animal welfare and food standards that are far lower than we have at present. It is these lower standards that leads their chickens to be washed in chlorine before appearing on supermarket shelves, so as to ensure they don’t carry nasty diseases. Likewise, cattle in the USA are fed growth promoting hormones as normal, live on feedlots with little or no access to grass, and suffer as a consequence. Just as an aside, the average cow should receive no more than 25% in terms of grain for feed, and should have at least a 75% grass based diet. Their bodies are made for this. Otherwise they suffer from something called ruminal acidosis. This causes the cattle prolonged pain and bloating. In fact, some gases cause them to bloat so much that they have to be, quite literally, ‘popped’, where their excess gasses trapped in their stomachs are released through puncturing their abdomen. Not nice at all. Well, in the USA, the average cow receives the direct inverse: over 75% of their food is grain based in feedlots.
In China, not only is animal testing encouraged, but it is required. Not only for their domestic market, but also for those with whom they trade. That’s right – it’s a standard requirement of theirs that animal testing is routine for products, ranging from chemicals through to household cosmetics and cleaning products are tested on animals if another territory around the world signs a trade agreement with them.
So, yes in a post EU Brexit we might, and I emphasize the word might, be free to do as we wish. But as soon as we choose to trade, and on what terms, animal welfare will be affected and in my view affected badly.
And how does this relate to negotiations now which the Prime Minister is frantically trying to conclude as we sit here today?
Quite simply, I think that if the government manages to strike a withdrawal agreement with the EU, providing for an orderly transition, we are far more likely to end up in their regulatory orbit in the medium and longer term too. If, however, we end up with no deal at all, we are more at risk of being pulled into the orbit of one of these other great economic giants, and our standards will no doubt suffer as a consequence.
Where are we then, with the negotiations? Things are currently on a knife edge. Both sides want an agreement, clearly. It is not in the EU’s own interest to see the UK withdraw in a disorderly manner. However, it would be even more detrimental to the bloc should they give a third country, even one that has been on the inside of their tent for nearly 50 years, such privileged access that it would threaten the integrity of their Union.
No-one can expect the same benefits of any club they’ve left, as those they received when they were members, and part of the problem over the past 2 years or so is that the benefits of being an EU Member has been hardly been put or, if so, not put strongly enough to resonate and “cut through”.
I will now turn to have a look at the Common Fisheries Policy and this has become a major “last minute” area of controversy in the negotiations and the PM’s hoped for deal. The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) today is a broad set of rules and regulations. It makes no direct attempts to address the welfare of fish, but is important in many ways. Within European waters, it has established a framework for fishing at sustainable levels. On an annual basis, scientific bodies are charged with assessing the different populations of fish and advising what can be caught while maintaining the size of the population for next year. The Commission takes this advice and packages it up in the form of regulatory proposals. The Member States, sitting together as the Council of the European Union, takes those proposals and adds in a lot of political and economic interests on the way to setting the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for each controlled fish population. The Council then allocates quotas to each Member State. The CFP aims to have all fishing happening at sustainable levels by 2020, and while there has been progress that target will be missed by a long way.
In 2018, 49 of 67 TACS were set within the limits of the scientific advice and only last week, the Council set unsustainable TACs including allowing the fishing of critically endangered species.
There is a raft of other measures in support of this sustainability goal that also have important welfare implications. The ‘Landing Obligation’ means that if you catch it you bring it to shore and count it against quotas, no more discarding of small or less economically desirable fish. That’s another flagship target for 2020 that will be missed in several areas. A critical area is the ‘Technical Measures’ regulations; a constantly evolving package of rules on what type of nets and fishing practices can be used in different waters.
What do you need to do to protect dolphins and seals?
What gear is obligatory to enable small or non-target fish species to escape?
How long can a fish be left hooked and struggling in the water?
That’s all covered in the technical measures.
These rules don’t only apply in European waters, but they apply to European vessels and even individuals fishing in any waters around the globe including within the waters covered by the ten currently active EU sustainable fisheries partnership agreements that grant access for EU vessels into the fishing territory of third countries.
The CFP lays down common rules for the labelling and marketing of fishery products, whether produced domestically or imported. It has a subsidy mechanism putting over 1 billion Euros a year into the sector. It supports development and promotion of the aquaculture sector. And it lays out the rules by which fishing quotas can be traded.
What are we expecting from the Withdrawal Agreement?
Well, during the Transition Period, the UK will be invited to give an opinion on the TAC proposals before they are considered by The Council. The Council of the EU27 will then set TACs and quotas for UK fishing. All other rules within the CFP will continue to apply to UK operations.
What about future Arrangements?
The draft of the political declaration on the future UK-EU relationship tells us very little. Of course, the whole situation re BREXIT is so chaotic that this may have changed by the time I have sat down!!
The political declaration proposes that a “lot of cooperation” be conceived and implemented to ensure sustainable fishing, and that regulatory autonomy be preserved. Perhaps an arrangement similar to Norway’s will be established. Quotas for their respective fleets are negotiated between the EU and Norway every year.
What kind of regulatory divergence might we see?
Will either the EU or UK adopt welfare specific objectives in its fishing regulations? Will either party strengthen its technical measures, and would they enforce them on foreign boats in their waters? Will either party attach sustainability or welfare criteria to imports? There is huge scope for either party to raise standards and push those onto the other party. To coin a clumsy phrase, technical measures could become ‘non-TAC barriers’, driving up standards on one side in pursuit of an advantage for one’s own fleet.
What would happen in the infamous “No Deal” scenario?
Let’s be clear this is the simple option. We skip the cooperation and regulatory alignment bits and skip straight to the regulatory autonomy bit. Still relevant is the United Nations ‘Law of the Sea’, which grants fishing rights to any fleet in any area where it has fished historically and continually. The legal processes to enforce that right aren’t quick and aren’t always well defined. Perhaps a separate agreement could/would be made. Perhaps there would be lengthy legal processes involved.
In absence of a final agreement, we might expect to see fishermen resorting to their own dispute resolution mechanisms such as we saw in the recent conflict over scallop grounds.
However, we are where are, as they say.
The result of the Referendum (whatever one thinks of the whole thing) was for the UK to leave the EU. It would be unacceptable to many, whichever way one voted in the referendum, to remain subject to all EU law ad infinitum, without having a seat in the chambers, councils and halls of Brussels and Strasbourg where those laws are thrashed out. It is clear that a deal is nearly there. But whether it is finally agreed comes down to the thorny issue of Northern Ireland and the insurance policy that is designed to prevent a return of a hard border between it and Ireland.
And then, let’s not forget, even if a way through is found, it still has to be ratified both by the European Parliament and Council on one hand, and by the House of Commons and Lords on the other. Until we know, we can only look at forecasts of how animal welfare will be impacted depending on which side of the knife edge the negotiations land.
Let us presume first of all that there is a deal, and an orderly withdrawal. This would mean that at 11pm on 29th March next year, whilst Great Britain and Northern Ireland formally leave the EU, things will, to all intents and purposes, stay exactly the same. Life for us and for animals alike will look and feel no different. For 21 months, until the end of 2020 (and possibly longer), the UK Government and the European Commission would then engage in negotiations to reach a trade agreement, and a whole bunch of stand-alone, bilateral, yet consequential pacts. These would then come in either from the 1 January 2021, or as soon as possible after then.
Firstly, we know from the Prime Minister’s Chequers proposal that the Government would start from the place of seeking to stay within the regulatory orbit of the EU in many areas, including in many goods, but also crucially in terms of animal health and welfare. This doesn’t mean that standards would be exactly the same, but that there would be a baseline we couldn’t go below in the UK, but that we could go further and faster than EU countries.
We could still ban live exports, as the government has stated it wishes to do, but sadly doesn’t plan on doing at present. Frankly, I wouldn’t hold my breath on this one. It means we could introduce mandatory method of production labelling, which would state how an animal any product is derived from had been born, reared and slaughtered. Basically it would extend the current regime we see on packets of eggs to other products. With eggs now we can choose to buy from standard, caged hens, from barn kept birds, or from organic, free range animals. The same categories would apply to meats, milk, cheese, and potentially even processed products. Clearly this is something that would empower consumers, and as the British are (allegedly) a nation of animal lovers, we would have every expectation that consumers would buy more from higher welfare producers than from low welfare producers. This is certainly what we have seen with the market in shell eggs over the past fifteen years.
The government’s new Agriculture Bill for England would, under such a deal, create the perfect environment to drive on higher welfare farming. Similar agriculture Bills are expected in the devolved administrations. Farmers would properly be rewarded for their stewardship of the countryside and for producing what consumers need. Payments would reward higher standards and would, at last, reward outcomes rather than processes. British agriculture would carry an even higher reputation for quality and would, in turn, act as a beacon for other markets around the world, not least the biggest market we will continue to sell into – the EU. Moreover, agricultural products would move tariff free into and out of the EU, not quite with the same ease at present – frictionless trade outside of the EU is impossible, but it could be as frictionless as possible.
A ban on the testing of cosmetics domestically would remain, as would a marketing ban on the animal testing from outside the EU and UK. Veterinary medicines would move as freely as possible between the UK and the EU and innovation and research and development would allow for the continued high protection of animal health.
Also, before anyone begins to wonder when I am planning on mentioning our cuddly companions, cats and dogs would still be able to move freely between the UK and the EU, so yes, we can still take them on holiday. In fact, I believe that, contrary to some newspaper and social-media articles recently, this will happen even if there’s no deal. The pet passport system is, after all, based on the animal disease risk that countries pose to animal health in the EU. This is why a whole host of non-EU countries participate in it, from Canada and Mexico, to Tunisia, Turkey, Japan and Russia. No owner should be worried about this as far. Furthermore, we know that, from the associated agreements, the UK could even export any higher standards to the EU. The European Commission is currently proposing that there should be a joint veterinary agreement between the EU and UK as part of the future relationship. This would create a ‘common veterinary area’ between the UK and the EU and indeed a common veterinary area is not a new idea. The standalone veterinary agreement between the EU and Switzerland forms the basis for such an area, ensuring that EU and Swiss regulations on the prevention of epizootic diseases are consistent and lead to the same outcomes. The resulting veterinary area allows for equivalent trading conditions for both partners.
The Swiss example demonstrates how such an agreement can maintain trade flows between the EU and a third country and reduce technical obstacles to trade by reducing or removing non-tariff trade barriers – i.e. differences in regulatory standards. Most notably, however, the Swiss agreement allowed for the abolition of border veterinary controls for trade in animals and animal products in 2009. Shipments from non-EU countries are now inspected when they enter the Swiss-EU veterinary space and can then be moved freely.
Whilst veterinary checks currently exist between Great Britain and the island of Ireland, with 10 percent of all consignments being physically inspected, such a veterinary area could possibly alleviate the need for additional checks, yet would also allow for increased targeted or intelligence-led checks to prevent non-compliant movement as necessary. This would help maintain frictionless movement in-line with the Chequers proposal, whilst reducing needless stress for the animals and safeguarding a high standard of animal health. Crucially, it could also allow for continued British collaboration with key EU regulatory agencies – particularly the European Chemicals Agency, which plays a key role in avoiding the duplication of needless animal testing.
Such a standalone agreement, underpinning a common veterinary area, may enable a level playing field in terms of existing standards, but may also provide for the dynamic alignment of future standards adopted by either territory. That is to say if one territory – the UK or the EU – were to adopt new legislation, thereby raising the bar of animal welfare in a certain sector, the other should ensure that it provides for a similar standard according to their own requirements. Whilst this may sound ambitious, it is also not unrealistic. The UK and the EU are starting from the same standards in this area, after all. Furthermore, such a mechanism aligns with government promises to maintain the “highest animal welfare standards in the world” as well as demonstrating efforts to give animals the “respect and care they deserve at every stage of their lives”, whilst ensuring Britain is not at a competitive disadvantage in the European market place.
All in all, this form of agreement could provide some benefits. A high standard of animal welfare in the UK, which can go from strength to strength, yet which broadly keeps the UK in the EU’s regulatory orbit. As such, providing these agreements are struck first, they would insulate us against a lowering of standards through other subsequent trade agreements with other partners around the world: notably the USA.
However, turning to the other scenario, where no deal is reached and things look much bleaker.
Firstly, if the UK falls back onto World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules on 29 March next year, we would be the only country on the face of the planet that operates solely on these, with no other agreements in place. The resulting pressures on its domestic farming industry in particular will be intense. The UK is only 60% self-sufficient in food and imports more in every sector of animal-based agriculture than it exports, except for milk. With it having to apply ‘Most Favoured Nation’ tariffs, under WTO rules, without fear or favour to all, the pressures to import cheaper products to fill otherwise vacant supermarket shelves will be considerable. Likewise, the exigencies of domestic shortfall, coupled with competition from new markets abroad, will test the status quo.
Demand dictates supply, and whether we like it or not, intensive farming systems deliver goods more efficiently than extensive systems. The pressures to abandon support for higher welfare farming systems, both from consumers and in terms of the structural support from government would quickly win out. Current plans would go to the wall, whilst those other economic giants would rub their hands at opening their agricultural markets to British consumers, with potentially devastating effects.
New day-to-day challenges will also present themselves. Any further fall in the price of Sterling, or any significant further rise in commodity prices on global markets will, along with new tariffs, impact on the price of animal feed. Even a large proportion of the ingredients of companion animal food is imported – the vast majority from the EU. Should it become clear that no deal is around the corner, owners should remember this and I would advise them to stockpile accordingly.
Around 90% of official veterinarians in British slaughterhouses are citizens of the EU27, and around 30% of normal, private veterinarians too. Can we be assured that they will stay in post if living conditions subside? Most visibly perhaps, meat from British farms and slaughterhouses will not be registered for sale onto the EU market from 30 March next year. New veterinary and customs checks on live animals can be expected to significantly increase journey times, and that is before we begin to consider the anticipated delays that all consignments will face as they approach control posts and borders.
Delays and barriers to trade would be bound to have a knock-on effect to the availability of veterinary medicines, and whilst we know that the government have talked about stockpiling human drugs, we know of no such plans for veterinary products as yet.
Animal testing, with widespread duplication and waste, (due in part to the lack of a regulator in the UK) would be expected to double.
There are huge, daunting challenges to even begin to safeguard animal welfare in a Britain that is left with no deal.
However, I and my colleagues have some suggestions.
– Firstly we should have time to ensure that, on both sides of the Channel and Irish border, adequate resting areas are created alongside new border inspection posts. Such areas should ensure provisions for adequate food, water, grazing areas and shelter.
– Veterinary medicines should indeed be stockpiled within the UK to ensure plentiful supply, providing enough for several months at least.
– Incentives should be provided to ensure the retention of adequate numbers of official veterinarians.
– Crucially, the British government should not rush into new trade deals with partners who demand access for animal-based products with substantially lower production standards.
However, this would be easier said than done given the circumstances.
As you can no doubt see then, Brexit affects animal welfare in ways which have perhaps been overlooked, or even willfully ignored, by many including by policy makers. We are very fast now approaching a fork in the road that will ultimately determine how animal welfare looks in Britain for generations to come. It is clear that the best we can hope for, purely for the animals, is an agreement that allows for the UK to aim higher than it can at present, but which doesn’t allow for any lowering of standards. This is roughly where we are if we get a “good” deal.
However, a no deal Brexit would, in short, be a disaster.
That’s not hyperbole.
That’s not project fear.
That’s just reality.
In the meantime, all we can do is, as the saying goes, hope for the best and prepare for the worst, but I am not even sure as a country we are ANYWHERE NEAR understanding what the worst is and it would be much better if our policy makers heeded the words of Benjamin Disreali who said: ”I am prepared for the worst but hope for the best”.
Many thanks you for your kind attention.
This is an interesting story as it represents the situation in countries across the world. When we consider that we have already wiped out around 60% of the wildlife in the world, it is time for our governments to take decisive action to stop people killing animals as part of their recreational activities or hotly debated ‘management’ programs. If there is a genuine need to limit animal populations, there are other methods such as neutering or relocation. Economics should not be the prime factor in ‘conservation’ or ‘management’ programs. As Christians we have very clear teachings on participating in hunting or even attending hunts. St Cyril of Jerusalem teaches that hunting is an example of the “pomp of the devil” and a “soul-subverting exercise”. Hopefully Christian Church leaders will reiterate these early teachings so that we can protect what is left of our wildlife.
In 2012, a hunter in Wyoming shot and killed Yellowstone National Park’s most famous wolf—alpha female of the Lamar Canyon pack, known as 832F or 06 for the year she was born—not far from the park’s protected area. After that tragedy, 06′s daughter, named 926F or “Spitfire,” took over as the alpha for the pack. Just like her mom, Spitfire became a beloved and familiar sight in the park. Although she weighed only 80 pounds and was smaller than the other wolves in the Lamar Canyon pack, she more than made up for it in spirit. Her determination was vital in keeping the pack together over the years.
“I always called her the little wolf that could,” wildlife photographer Deby Dixon told the Jackson Hole Daily. “06 was well loved because she was bold and out there, but I don’t think that people got to watch her for as long as we watched this particular wolf.”
Just six years after her mother’s death, Spitfire has suffered the same fate. A trophy hunter shot and killed her in Cooke City, Montana, less than five miles from the northern entrance to Yellowstone National Park. And just like the hunter who shot her mother, Spitfire’s killer broke no laws.
“It was a legal harvest, and everything was legitimate about the way the wolf was taken,” Abby Nelson, a wolf management specialist for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, told the Jackson Hole Daily. “The circumstances are obviously a little bit harder for people to stomach, because that pack had showed signs of habituation.”
It’s currently wolf-hunting season in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. What’s especially hard to stomach is that when wolves wander outside the park boundaries into these states that border it, “they have zero protection,” Brooks Fahy, executive director of the nonprofit Predator Defense, told The Dodo. “This tragedy should be one more wake-up call,” he said.
Montana legalized wolf hunting in 2009. It allows hunters to kill five wolves in hunting zones just north of Yellowstone, but hunters regularly ignore this quota, the Jackson Hole Daily reports.
Spitfire was a fifth-generation descendant of the 31 wolves from Alberta, Canada reintroduced to Yellowstone in the mid-1990s. “One of the big reasons 926 is so very important to so many people is her lineage, which goes back to the very beginning,” Rick McIntyre, with the Yellowstone Wolf Project, told the Jackson Hole Daily. For over 20 years, there has been an ongoing debate between conservationists who argue that as a key species, wolves play an essential role in the ecosystem, and hunters and ranchers who complain that the wolves are a livestock-killing nuisance.
To prevent more wolf killings near Yellowstone’s boundaries, the states surrounding the national park should enact laws that ban any from being hunted and killed. That’s what happened in 2001 in Ontario, Canada, after hunters were killing wolves outside of Algonquin Provincial Park.
The hunting ban resulted in what Maggie Howell, executive director of the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC), called an amazing transition. “Protected from hunting, not only did the Algonquin wolf population hold steady, there was also a rapid transition to more stable, family-based packs,” she told The Dodo. “With added protections, eastern wolves reclaimed their place as a keystone species within the ecosystem.” Until Yellowstone’s wolves are better protected, Dixon offered some good advice for advocates of their welfare. Instead of wasting our energy hating trophy hunters, we should focus instead on raising awareness and educating people about the wolves. “We’re not going to change the minds of the die-hard wolf haters,” she told the Jackson Hole Daily, “but we can change the minds of their children.”
This is a report by the Guardian newspaper’s Damian Carrington from the COP24 meeting in Katowice @dpcarrington Wed 5 Dec 2018 10.29 GMT. It confirms what we and many other groups and scientists have been stating for many years now. In essence it reiterates the message that significantly reducing our consumption of animals food products is the quickest way to ensure effective limits to global warming. We have highlighted key points.
Beef-eating ‘must fall drastically’ as world population grows
Current food habits will lead to destruction of all forests and catastrophic climate change by 2050, report finds.
People in rich nations will have to make big cuts to the amount of beef and lamb they eat if the world is to be able to feed 10 billion people, according to a new report. These cuts and a series of other measures are also needed to prevent catastrophic climate change, it says.
More than 50% more food will be needed by 2050, according to the World Resources Institute (WRI) report, but greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture will have to fall by two-thirds at the same time. The extra food will have to be produced without creating new farmland, it says, otherwise the world’s remaining forests face destruction. Meat and dairy production use 83% of farmland and produce 60% of agriculture’s emissions. Increasing the amount of food produced per hectare was the most critical step, the experts said, followed by cutting meat-eating and putting a stop to the wasting of one-third of food produced.
“We have to change how we produce and consume food, not just for environmental reasons, but because this is an existential issue for humans,” said Janet Ranganathan, vice-president for science and research at the WRI.
Tim Searchinger, of the WRI and Princeton University, said: “If we tried to produce all the food needed in 2050 using today’s production systems, the world would have to convert most of its remaining forest, and agriculture alone would produce almost twice the emissions allowable from all human activities.” The new report, launched at the UN climate summit in Katowice, Poland, follows other major scientific analyses showing that huge reductions in meat-eating are “essential” to avoid dangerous climate change. Another found that avoiding meat and dairy products was the single biggest way to reduce an individual’s environmental impact on the planet, from slowing the annihilation of wildlife to healing dead zones in the oceans.
Avoiding meat and dairy is ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth
The world’s science academies concluded last week that the global food system was “broken”, leaving billions of people either underfed or overweight and driving dangerous global warming. Another new report concluded that the global food system required “radical transformation” if climate change and development goals were to be met, including “widespread dietary change”. After increased productivity, the WRI report focuses on meat from ruminant animals. The digestion of cattle and sheep produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Beef provided 3% of the calories in the diet of US citizens but was responsible for half the emissions, the WRI said.
The report recommends that 2 billion people across countries including the US, Russia and Brazil cut their beef and lamb consumption by 40%, limiting it to 1.5 servings a week on average. Most of the world’s citizens would continue to eat relatively little beef in the WRI scenario. But Searchinger said: “The world’s poor people are entitled to consume at least a little more.” The 40% reduction is a smaller cut than in other studies. “We think that is a realistic goal,” he said. “In the US and Europe, beef consumption has already reduced by one-third from the 1960s until today.”
Tobias Baedeker, of the World Bank, said farmers would require a lot of support to make the changes required but that redirecting the world’s huge subsidies could be a “game-changer”. Subsidies of more than $590bn (£460bn) a year are given to farmers in 51 nations, representing two-thirds of global food output, according to the OECD. In the US, these subsidies halve the current price of beef, the WRI says.
The sophisticated marketing and behaviour-change strategies that food companies already used to influence customers could help shift diets, said Ranganathan, as could governments encouraging less meat in schools, hospitals and other public institutions.
Other changes to farming that are needed, according to the WRI, include better feed to reduce methane production from cows, limiting biofuels made from food crops, managing manure and fertiliser better and cutting energy use by farm machinery. It also said the overall demand for food could be cut, with policies to curb population growth such as “improving women’s access to education and healthcare in Africa to accelerate voluntary reductions in fertility levels”.
The WRI report was launched at the UN climate summit in Poland where almost 200 nations are aiming to turn the carbon-cutting vision set out in Paris in 2015 into reality. The rapid ramping up of action is another key goal. Climate action must be increased fivefold to limit warming to the 1.5C scientists advise, according to the UN.
Lessons from the Desert Fathers for Today
Fr. Athanasius Shaw
Saint Nikolai Velimirovich says in “The Prologue” that the inner enemies of man, the
passions and the manifold vanities, constantly flare up afresh in the city, while in the
wilderness, or desert, they wither and disappear.
The Saints, Holy Fathers and Mothers, monastics and pilgrims have gone out into
the wilderness “to flee the corruption of cities, to wage war with their passions, but
especially to encounter the holy,” as Saint Jerome related in the 4th Century. Our Lord Jesus
Christ gave us the example of going out into the wilderness to pray. In the Tradition of the
Church, the wilderness is a place where we can draw closer to God.
When I was eleven years old I went on a fifty mile backpacking trip through the
Olympic Mountains in Washington State. There I experienced something of the holy,
though at the time I was unaware of the source of that holiness. I remember the great joy I
felt as I hiked up over a mountain covered with wild flowers and surrounded by snowcapped
peaks and a pure blue sky. I remember experiencing profound gratitude and love;
and I can still hear the deep silence of the wilderness. I had a sense that this place was
I continued to drink from this fountain throughout my life – I couldn’t get enough of
the mountains, streams and forests; the wilderness seemed to refresh and lift up my soul.
However, it wasn’t until my participation in a Christ in the Wilderness backpacking trip in
the High Sierras in 2004 that I became aware that the experiences of holiness that I had in
the wilderness throughout my life were encounters of the presence of Jesus Christ in
Creation. The realization that my relationship with Jesus Christ can be enriched through my
love of wilderness was a wonderful discovery.
God reveals Himself through His Creation. St. Paul proclaimed this is Romans 1:20:
“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being
understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead…”
St. Basil the Great exclaims: “This marvelous creation” is the “supreme icon” of
Christian faith which leads to knowledge of the “Supreme Artisan.” Nature is a vast icon of
Icons are windows into heaven; they offer us access to Divinity, therefore they have
to be approached with love and humility. The passions that manifest as arrogance, anger and
judgment of our neighbor are blocks to approaching the “supreme icon” of Creation and
thereby touching the hem of Christ’s garment.
My experience in Christ in the Wilderness has shown me in a powerful way that the
passions result as scales over my eyes, blinding me to the beauty around me, and within
myself and my brothers and sisters. It has been the practice of Orthodox spiritual life from
the beginning to struggle against the passions and make real in one’s own life the Godly
attributes of Jesus Christ as the path to communion with the Lord; to “put on Christ”, as we
sing while circling around the Baptismal font.
In Christ in the Wilderness, the focus is to “exercise ourselves unto godliness” (1
Tim. 4:7), as St. Paul tells us to do. This is done by practicing each day one of the virtues of
thanksgiving, humility, seeing the beauty of the Lord in and around oneself, silence, or
solitude, and love for Creation and one’s neighbor. Most participants have expressed the
commitment to continue the practice of these virtues in their daily life.
Wilderness offers the opportunity to learn spiritual lessons from nature. One time St.
Anthony the Great was asked how he got along out in the desert without any books. He
answered “My book is the nature of created things, and as often as I have a mind to read
the words of God, it is at my hand.”
St. John Chrysostom tells us: “From the creation, learn to admire the Lord… He has
made the mode of creation to be our best teacher…”
In our Theology, everything that God has created is a particular manifestation of God’s
will through the Divine Logos; everything in nature has something to say about God, some
lesson to teach us about ourselves and the spiritual life. St. Basil instructs us to learn from
the ant, to learn from the bee, in order to become more productive disciples of Jesus Christ.
Our Lord himself drew out lessons from nature… .
“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow…” (Matt .6:28-29) and
“Behold the fowls of the air…” (Matt.6:26-27)
Most of us are constantly surrounded by distractions; our society pulls at us to turn
away from God. Going out into the wilderness and seeking to draw closer to Jesus Christ,
practicing the virtues and learning spiritual lessons through His beautiful Creation informs
our walk in Christ and therefore is a valuable experience for our parish life.
One teenage participant offered this refection of her experience in the wilderness:
“During the following days I practiced turning to God constantly, something I easily forget
in my daily life. I learned how to address everything with prayer and how to quietly bless
places and people. We faced our inner challenges. This [time in the wilderness] was indeed
His Beatitude Patriarch Ignatius IV of Antioch and the East has stated
“Without the contemplation of nature, one never comes
to the mystical side of Orthodoxy.”
The Christ in the Wilderness program puts these words into action.
Keeping to the important theme of food choices and global warming, is this 28th Nov article by the Guardian’s Environmental editor:
Global food system is broken, say world’s science academies.
Radical overhaul in farming and consumption, with less meat eating, needed to avoid hunger and climate catastrophe.
The global food system is broken, leaving billions of people either underfed or overweight and driving the planet towards climate catastrophe, according to 130 national academies of science and medicine across the world.
Providing a healthy, affordable, and environmentally friendly diet for all people will require a radical transformation of the system, says the report by the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP). This will depend on better farming methods, wealthy nations consuming less meat and countries valuing food which is nutritious rather than cheap.
The report, which was peer reviewed and took three years to compile, sets out the scale of the problems as well as evidence-driven solutions.
The global food system is responsible for a third of all greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than all emissions from transport, heating, lighting and air conditioning combined. The global warming this is causing is now damaging food production through extreme weather events such as floods and drought.
The food system also fails to properly nourish billions of people. More than 820 million people went hungry last year, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, while a third of all people did not get enough vitamins. At the same time, 600 million people were classed as obese and 2 billion overweight, with serious consequences for their health. On top of this, more than 1bn tonnes of food is wasted every year, a third of the total produced.
“The global food system is broken,” said Tim Benton, professor of population ecology, at the University of Leeds, who is a member of one of the expert editorial groups which produced the report. He said the cost of the damage to human health and the environment was much greater than the profits made by the farming industry.
“Whether you look at it from a human health, environmental or climate perspective, our food system is currently unsustainable and given the challenges that will come from a rising global population that is a really [serious] thing to say,” Benton said.
Avoiding meat and dairy is ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth
Reducing meat and dairy consumption is the single biggest way individuals can lessen their impact on the planet, according to recent research. And tackling dangerous global warming is considered impossible without massive reductions in meat consumption.
Research published in the journal Climate Policy shows that at the present rate, cattle and other livestock will be responsible for half of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and that to prevent this will require “substantial reductions, far beyond what are planned or realistic, from other sectors”.
“It is vital [for a liveable planet] that we change our relationship with meat, especially with red meat. But no expert in this area is saying the world should be vegan or even vegetarian,” said Benton.
Rearing cattle and other livestock causes the same carbon emissions as all the world’s vehicles, trains, ships and planes combined. “We have spent 30 to 40 years investing quite heavily on fuel efficiency in the transport sector,” said Benton. “We need do something similarly radical in the farming sector and the scope for doing that by changing the way we raise the animals is much smaller than the scope we have by changing our diets.”
The IAP report notes that in poorer countries meat, eggs and dairy can be important in providing concentrated nutrients, especially for children. It also says other things livestock can provide should be taken into consideration, such as leather, wool, manure, transport and plough pulling.
The UN climate change conference, COP24, which starts on Sunday in Katowice, Poland, is an opportunity for political action, said Joachim von Braun, a professor who co-chairs the IAP project. “Our food systems are failing us. Agriculture and consumer choices are major factors driving disastrous climate change.”
Another member of the IAP editorial group, Aifric O’Sullivan, from University College Dublin, said: “We need to ensure that policymakers inform consumers about the climate impacts of their food choices, provide incentives for consumers to change their diets, and reduce food loss and waste.”
The report recommends many actions that could help deliver the “whole-scale root and branch transformation” that is required, said Benton. These include crops that are more resilient to climate change, smarter crop rotation, soil protection, precier use of fertilisers and less use of pesticides. It also backs innovation such as laboratory-grown meat and insect-based foods
This is an article from two friends who are professors at the Sumy National Agrarian University in the Ukraine.
Protection of animal rights: the humanization of legal regulation
Sumy National Agrarian University, Ukraine
Sumy National Agrarian University, Ukraine
According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the planet has lost more than 60% of mammals, birds, fish and amphibians since 1970 due to human activities. . Why does human activity have such a destructive character? After all lately public institutions, civic organizations and ordinary citizens are increasingly proclaiming the protection of animal rights. Instead, an objective situation requires additional effort.
Ukraine became independent only in 1991, therefore, the legislative legacy of the former USSR has affected its legal culture and reality.
In general, the Ukrainian animal welfare legislation is a relatively new regulatory and regulatory framework that needs constant attention and systematization.
For Ukraine, in terms positive changes in legal regulation, the turning point was the accession to the Council of Europe and Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU (the Agreement). In accordance with Part 2 of Art. 59 of the Agreement, Ukraine has committed itself to reaching an agreement with the EU on standards for the keeping and handling of animals. Despite the fact that Ukraine is actively advancing in the issue of legal regulation of the submitted issue, unfortunately to the full orderliness is far away.
– Currently, most international legal acts in the field of animal protection are ratified by Ukraine or the ones to which Ukraine has joined:
– – European Convention for the Protection of Animals of 1987., (by the way, Ukraine has become the twenty-third country that has signed and ratified the European Convention for the Protection of Animals, adopted in 1987.)
– Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural
– legacy of 1972.,
– Convention on the Protection of Biological Diversity, 1992.
However, some important international regulations are still unratified by Ukraine :
– European Convention for the Protection of Farms Animals 1976,
– European Convention for the Protection of Vertebrate Animals Used for Experiments and Other Scientific Purposes, 1986.
Currently, the normative basis of the presented issue in Ukraine are the Constitution of Ukraine, The Civil Code of Ukraine, the Water Code of Ukraine, the Land Code of Ukraine, the Forest Code of Ukraine, Code of Ukraine on Administrative Offenses, Criminal Code, Laws of Ukraine “On the Protection of the Environment”, “On the Animal World”, Laws of Ukraine “On the Red Book of Ukraine”, “On Veterinary Medicine”, “On Fish, Other Aquatic Living Resources and their Food Products” “On protection of animals from cruelty”, “On hunting economy and hunting” and other normative-legal acts concerning administrative, ecological, land, civil relations in the investigated sphere. Mentioned legislation is complex because it harmoniously combines the norms of various branches of law (environmental, civil, administrative criminal, etc.); complex character has most of its normative legal acts.
Despite the volumes, the current Ukrainian legislation has many gaps, which concern the regulation of the rational use of objects of the animal world. Even more problems arise in the area of its practical implementation.
So, for example, recently at a joint meeting of The Committee on Natural Resources, Nature Protection, Environmental Law and Procedural Law Committee of the Lawyers Association of Ukraine enforcement problems and urgent problems of prosecution for cruelty to animals were discussed. Should be highlighted:
– review of real cases from the representative of the zoo movement;
– overview standards for administrative and criminal liability for animal abuse;
– possibility of seizure / confiscation of animals by a court decision in cases of threat to their life and health;
– the division of powers between the police and the court in cases of administrative responsibility;
– necessity of carrying out veterinary-judicial expertise (or any other examination) to prove the fact of cruelty, causing injury or death of animal;
– review and discussion of court practice.
Another important issue is the size and legal responsibility for the cruelty of animals. As the Director of the Kiev Ecological and Cultural Center V. Boreyko notes, «on average, a year in Ukraine is prosecuted for cruelty to animals about 16 people, while, for example, in the neighboring Moldova – 230 people. An administrative fine in Ukraine cruelty to animals ranges from $ 9 to $ 14, Albania $ 130, Bulgaria, Hungary $ 650 » .
It should be noted that raising responsibility and working out the mechanism of protection of animal rights in Ukraine is related to the state of recognition of animal rights.
At the same time, animals are considered as moral partners of a humane. The interests and needs of animals in Ukraine are protected by law. The Ukrainian Law on the Protection of Animals from Cruelty (o. 3447-IV) was adopted in 2006 with the aim of protecting animals from suffering and death as a consequence of cruel treatment, to protect animals’ natural rights, and to reinforce morality and compassionate behavior in society. The law covers farm animals, domestic animals, wild animals, animals used in research, and animals in zoos and circuses. In particular, the Law of Ukraine “On the Protection of Animals from Cruelty» (the Law) the protection of animals is carried out not only from the suffering of the nature of external interference, but also the strengthening of the morality and humanity of society, which forms an understanding of the natural rights of the creature. One of the rights that this Law protects is the protection of animals from cruelty by humans. The law prohibits forcing animals to attack one another, use poisons for their killing, beat animals, and hunt for pregnant females. At the same time, in Art. 1 The law defines the notion of humane attitude towards animals; these are actions that meet the requirements of protecting animals from Cruelty and provide for a benevolent attitude towards animals, promotion of their good, improvement of their quality of life, etc. The Law of Ukraine “On the Red Book of Ukraine” substantially complements and details the protection not only of rare species of animals but also of species of non-pathogenic organisms.
The positive moment that is a sign of time is the formation and development of science “Bio Jurisprudence”. Polish author R. Tokarchich defining the subject of this science focuses on the filling of the meaning of human life, its humanistic orientation to the problem of ethical attitude to life, which is based on the principles of bioethics . However, the main emphasis of scientific discourse is on values – human life. In return, Bioethics, although related to the human perception of the environment, includes a range of human-nature interactions.
Understanding in this context animal rights to existence and development, natural freedom and protection against suffering from human expands the opportunity of application of various legal constructions, such as “inheritance rights”, “right to care” (for example, for pets), and perhaps even the right to elect (through their guardians), “the right to genetic diversity”, “the right to a lack of responsibility before a person”, “the right to the necessary share of material goods”, “the right to protection against genetic pollution » etc.
The level of public perception of the relevant animal rights “biosystem” or “ecosystem” depends on the progress of the human community. And these efforts have different emphasis and degree of implementation in different countries. However, the civic position, the activity of the academic, volunteer environment can significantly affect the process of recognizing and consolidating animal rights. Due to these efforts, animals can become not only the object of property rights, but also the subject of law, even with limited powers.
It is necessary to agree with the proposals on the creation of additional jurisdictional institutions designed to directly protect animal rights.
In particular, the creation of the post “animal rights commissioner” may in addition attract public attention to irresponsible attitudes towards animals. For example it cans prevent openly humiliation of animals in enchanting shows that are still popular in some countries. In the future, the system of specialized courts / specialized justice, which will work on the basis of preservation of the natural fund and humane attitude to bioresources, can acquire development. Each of these positions requires consolidation of efforts, expanded discussion and broadening the discussion of the problem. As the Ukrainian priest Eugene Zapletnyuk notes, animals “should not become for us on either the next idol or on the subject of wardrobe. Everything needs a measure» . Agreeing with this thesis, we note that the organization of harmonious coexistence of all biological species deserves attention and support.
1. WWF: Человек уничтожил 60% диких животных на планете. URL: http://hvylya.net/news/digest/wwf-chelovek-unichtozhil-60-dikih-zhivotnyih-na-planete.html (дата звернення: 10.10.2018).
2. Зоозахисники заклиають імплементувати в України Європейську конвенцію про захист домашніх тварин. URL:
3. https://press.unian.ua/press/1836494-zoozahisniki-zaklikayut-implementuvati-v-ukrajini-evropeysku-konventsiyu-pro-zahist-domashnih-tvarin.html (дата звернення: 10.10.2018).
4. Правники обговорять покарання за знущання над тваринами. URL:
http://zib.com.ua/ua/print/134816-pravniki_obgovoryat_pokarannya_za_znuschannya_nad_tvarinami.html (дата звернення: 10.10.2018).
5. Tokarchik R.А. BiologyUniversity. Grounds for the 21st Century: Teach. manual / R. A. Tokarchik; per. from the floor: O. S. Perelomova, V. M. Vandisheva; years old Ed. O. S. Perelomova; sciences Ed. M.P. Kurilo. – Kyiv: Condor, 2016. – 188 p.
6. Права тварин. URL: https://uk.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%9F%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%B2%D0%B0_%D1%82%D0%B2%D0%B0%D1%80%D0%B8%D0%BD. (дата звернення: 10.10.2018).
7. Заплетнюк Е. Про ставлення церкви до тварин. URL: http://bogoslov.org/animals/# (дата звернення: 10.10.2018).
Заплетнюк Е. Про ставлення церкви до тварин. URL: http://bogoslov.org/animals/# (дата звернення: 10.10.2018).
This is an article by one of our American friends which continues our discussions on Eastern Orthodox ecological perspectives.
Endangered Species: Christian Responsibility
By Fred Krueger
The abuse by contemporary man of his privileged position in creation and of the Creator’s order “to have dominion over the earth” (Genesis 1.28) has already led the world to the edge of apocalyptic self-destruction, either in the form of natural pollution which is dangerous for all living beings, or in the form of the extinction of many species of the animal and plant world…. – HAH Ecumenical Patriarch +Dimitrios
For humans to cause species to become extinct and to destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation… these things are sins. – HAH Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
A good steward is careful to protect the things of his Master’s house: he protects against destruction and decay. He would never permit pollution, rainforest burning, or the extinction of entire species. – HE Metropolitan +Nicholas of Amissos
SHOULD ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS BE CONCERNED ABOUT SAVING ENDANGERED ANIMAL SPECIES?
Critics sometimes claim that they get in the way of progress and development, and if they die out, it doesn’t really matter. There are thousands of other species. Is this a proper way for Christians to respond to this question? What is an appropriate way for Orthodox to understand the endangered species issue? As background, let us recall that North America was originally blessed with some of the world’s most amazing wildlife. When European settlers first visited this continent they encountered Eastern elk and wood buffalo populating the forests of Appalachia; a huge 10′ to 11″ tall golden grizzly bear was in the river valleys of California; a unique jaguar roamed the Arizona desert. On the coastal waters of the Pacific the Stellar sea cow – a large 35′ relative of the Florida manatee – was hunted to extinction because of 1 its tasty flesh. In the Atlantic the sea mink and the grey whale are now gone. In the skies, tens of millions of passenger pigeons filled the air; large flocks of colorful Carolina parakeets were in the forests, and the flightless great auk was on Atlantic islands. These creatures are all gone – extinct by the hand of a rapacious human society – as are many others including the once massive schools of salmon and steelhead that crowded western rivers; the huge flocks of ducks and geese that filled the skyways; and spectacular pods of whales that swam the oceans.
Pioneers saw this original abundance as evidence that God “shed His grace on Thee,” as the 19th century hymn “America, the Beautiful” proclaims. They arrived at this conclusion because the Scriptures repeatedly teach a respect and care for the animals. This we read in many different places in the Bible so that it becomes an inescapable conclusion for Christians. Here are several examples from Scripture.
The Witness of the Bible on Animals
When God created the animals – even before He created people – He gave them a divine mandate to multiply and fill the earth. They therefore have a command from God to continue their species. As humans we are to honor their responsibility to fulfill what God has commanded regarding the design of the world. Humans are given dominion over creation, including the animals. Dominion means that we are to treat God’s creation as the Lord would treat it. (The English word “dominion” derives from the Latin word “dominus” which means Lord, or to be as the Lord.) This implies love, care and thoughtfulness as well as concern for the welfare and the future of what God has placed into human care. It does not and never did mean a simplistic domination of the animals or the earth.
God tells us to replenish the earth – which means to put back what we take. Replenishment applies to the earth and everything in it, including the animals. We may take from creation to live, but we must ensure the continued fruitfulness of the land and the species which dwell on it. The mass killing of the buffalo on the American plains or the extermination of the passenger pigeons disregarded this command to replenish the earth – i.e., to maintain its fruitfulness.
God directed Adam to name the animals. This was not an arbitrary process. In Hebrew each letter has meaning that relates back to the qualities in the nature of God. The naming of each animal required a deep discernment of its inner essences and an identification of those attributes within creatures that connect them back to their Creator. The ancient responsibility to name the creatures reminds us that humans are priests of creation, charged by God with its care and keeping, but also with an accountability for a right relationship between heaven and earth.
At the time of the Flood, God commanded Noah to save each animal species. Notice in this story that God was more concerned about saving each species than He was about saving the sinful people. After the rains fell, God allowed those people to 2 drown who would not listen to Noah, but He ensured that the animal species were all preserved.
After the Flood God makes his covenant with Noah but also with all the animals in the ark. This covenant declares that as long as they obey God, there will not again be another great flood. If God can make covenant with Noah and his descendants in perpetuity, including the animals, His acknowledgment of them in a contractual manner means that He intends for them to survive into the future. Humans should not abrogate what God has intended by causing any species to be exterminated.
In the Psalms the author repeatedly presents images in which animals, plants, and trees coexist in a cosmic harmony. We read an epic vision in Psalm 103/104 in which there are places appointed for the animals and the Lord oversees the whole creation. The author then concludes “in wisdom hast thou made them all” (Ps. 103:24). Several lessons emerge from this sequence. As creation gives praise to God and exists in adequacy and simple sufficiency, not excess, this serves as a model for human behavior. The fact that creation is imbued with wisdom means that the order, balance, harmony, and beauty with which God has assembled the world should serve as the model and guide for how we are to structure and build human society. The implication is that we should make room for the animals and plants, and not allow their elimination.
A further implication is that wisdom is essential for a harmonious world. Because wisdom is accessed only by theosis, spiritual striving is fundamental for each person. This allows us to live consciously connected to God’s wisdom and therefore to discern and foresee the consequences that our actions have upon each another and the biotic world.
In the last book of the Bible, in the Book of Revelation, St. John the Evangelist writes that in the end, all the animals of earth and the creatures of the sea will join us in heaven and “sing in the choir,” giving praise to God (Rev. 5:13). If the animals are destined to sing in the heavenly choir, we should recognize this by respecting their place in the world.
The Witness of the Fathers and Saints
Just as the Scriptures are clear in their teaching about animals and their importance, so are the saints. They offer a rich and varied commentary that takes us deeper into an awareness of the connectedness of life. In particular we should note the different reasons that the saints offer for respecting animals.
Tertullian (160-230), an early father from the second century, declared that not only are the animals created by God, but they have their own form of prayer.
Cattle and wild beasts pray, and bend their knees, and in coming forth from their stalls and lairs 3 they too look up to heaven, their mouths not idle, Making the Spirit move in the fashion of their own kind.
Origen (185-254), considered “the Father of Theology” by early Christians, tells us that there is a divine art in the structure of the world and in the distribution of the creatures.
The divine art that is manifested in the structure of the world is not only to be seen in the sun, the moon and stars; it operates also on earth on a reduced scale. The hand of the Lord has not neglected the bodies of the smallest animals – and still less their souls – because each of them is seen to possess some feature that is personal to it, for instance, the way it protects itself. Nor has the hand of the Lord neglected the earth’s plants, each of which has some detail bearing the mark of the divine art, whether it be the roots, the leaves, the fruits or the variety of species. In the same way, in books written under the influence of divine inspiration, Providence imparts to the human race a wisdom that is more than human, sowing in each letter some saving truth insofar as that letter can convey it, marking out thus the path of wisdom. For once it has been granted that the Scriptures have God himself for their author, we must necessarily believe that the person who is asking questions of nature, and the person who is asking questions of the Scriptures, are bound to arrive at the same conclusions. Commentary on Psalm 1, 3 (PG 12, 1081)
St. Jerome (341-420), one of the western fathers and a historian of the Early church, reminds us that we admire the Creator for His creation of the animals, even the insects. He tells us that the mind of Christ is present even in the small creatures as well as the large.
We admire the Creator, not only as the framer of heaven and earth, of sun and ocean, … but for bears and lions, and also as the Maker of tiny creatures: ants, gnats, flies, etc. So the mind that is given to Christ is equally earnest in small things as in great, knowing that an account must be made in the end for even an idle word.
St. Basil the Great (329-379) says that we should care about the animals because the Lord has promised to save and redeem them as well as we humans.
For those, O Lord, the humble beasts that bear with us the burden and heat of the day 4 and offer their guileless lives for the well-being of humankind; And for the wild creatures, whom Thou hast made wise, strong, and beautiful, We supplicate for them Thy great tenderness of heart, for Thou has promised to save both man and beast, and great is Thy loving kindness, O Master, Saviour of the world.
St. John Chrysostom (347-407) writes that we should respect animals for many reasons, but “especially because they have the same origin as we do.” This should remind us that we are all connected.
St. John Climacus (509-603) relates that each animal embodies some portion of the wisdom of God.
Nothing is without order and purpose in the animal kingdom; each animal bears the wisdom of the Creator and testifies of Him. God granted man and animals many natural attributes, such as compassion, love, feelings… for even dumb animals bewail the loss of one of their own.
St. Isaac the Syrian (640?-8th century) describes a person who has a charitable heart in terms of how that person relates to the animals.
What is a charitable heart? It is a heart which is burning with a loving charity for the whole of creation, for men, for the birds, for the beasts, for the demons – for all creatures. He who has such a heart cannot see or call to mind a creature without his eyes being filled with tears by reason of the immense compassion which seizes his heart. A heart which is so softened can no longer bear to hear or learn from others of any suffering, even the smallest pain, being inflicted upon any creature. This is why such a man never ceases to pray for the animals, for the enemies of truth, and for those who do him evil, that they may be preserved and purified. He will pray even for the lizards and reptiles, moved by the infinite pity which reigns in the hearts of those who are becoming united with God.
St. Guthlac (673-714), one of the most revered and beloved of the early British saints, tells us that holiness tames the animals.
Brother, hast thou never learned in Holy Writ, that with him who has led his life after God’s will, the wild beasts and wild birds are tame? (Felix’s Life of St. Guthlac)
His biographer, Cynewulf, considered the first great Anglo-Saxon poet, called St. Guthlac “the great hero of our time.” He then describes the saint through a narration on how the animals related to him.
Triumphant came he [St. Guthlac] to the hill; And many living things did bless his coming. With bursting chorus and with other signs The wild birds of the hill made known their joy Because this well-loved friend had now returned. Oft had he given them food when they were hungry, even starving, they had come straight to his hand and from it they ate their fill. … The Song of Guthlac
Fyodor Doestoyevski (1821-1881), the great Russian novelist who was spiritually formed by the monks of Optina Pustyn monastery, teaches readers to look beyond the superficial appearance of things into the mystery of Christ hidden in all people and all things. In this view, he reflects the traditional Russian Christian attitude toward the land and the loving respect which is required of each person toward the earth and all its creatures.
Love the animals. God has given them the rudiments of thought and joy untroubled. Do not trouble their joy, do not harass them, do not deprive them of their happiness, do not work against God’s intent. Man, do not pride yourself on superiority to animals; they are without sin, and you, with your greatness, defile the earth by your appearance on it, and leave the traces of your foulness after you – Alas, it is true of almost everyone of us! The Brothers Karamazov
A simple conclusion from the foregoing is that the Scriptures and the Saints agree that care for animals is a Christian concern. Both sources point to a spiritual obligation to respect the animals. They remind us that Christians have a responsibility to treat animals with a holy regard because they are God’s creatures and because they have an appointed place in His creation.
The Conclusion of Biologists and Scientists
The studies of biologists and scientists indicate that we have not done a good job at preserving the world’s living endowment of creatures.
Even though God has bestowed a great abundance of animal and plant species on the world, that abundance is in fast decline. As a society we are causing a rapid drop in the diversity of creatures that is threatening extinction for a quarter of all mammals, a third of amphibians, and half of all coral reef species, according to a 2009 report from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
In assembling their report on endangered species, the IUCN found that many more species are now in peril of extinction than when a similar study was conducted five years ago. According to report editor Jean Christophe Vie, “Biodiversity continues to decline. It’s happening everywhere.” Mr. Vie said biodiversity threats need to be highlighted and combated, even at a time when world leaders are preoccupied with economic recession. Unlike financial markets and debts, extinction is irreversible. Once a species disappears, it is gone forever.
Mr. Vie urged that governments and citizens undertake a series of lifestyle changes to lessen the use of energy and reduce consumption, redesign cities, and reassess the environmental consequences of globalization – producing goods in poor countries where wages are low and transporting them thousands of miles for sale in places where wages are high, such as the United States and Europe. Vie added that the danger from global climate change will only make this situation worse.
In Europe, “about 50 percent of all animal species are vulnerable,” observes Barbara Helfferich, a European Union spokeswoman. “Habitats are shrinking and a lot needs to be done. We are not doing enough to halt biodiversity loss.” Part of the problem is that most people fail to see how their actions have consequences for the natural world.
To illustrate the interconnectedness between human actions and creatures, examine the story of a malaria epidemic in Borneo. The World Health Organization (WHO) tried to control the disease by eradicating mosquitoes by using DDT, a pesticide now banned in most countries. The DDT did its job and eradicated most of the mosquitoes. But then a series of unexpected consequences began to unfold. The pesticide also wiped out the wasps that had controlled the local thatch-eating insects. The result was that the straw roofs on the local huts began to collapse. At the same time the DDT poison accumulated in the lizard population because the lizards ate the dying mosquitoes. This caused the cats which dined on the lizards to bioaccumulate the DDT and die from pesticide poisoning. Without cats the rat population multiplied and unleashed a ferocious epidemic which infested fields and villages and decimated the food crops. To cure this larger problem, the WHO was forced to parachute in 14,000 new cats to control the rats in what officially became known as “Operation Cat Drop.”
The lesson from this situation is that by using a dangerous pesticide to remove a serious insect pest, nature’s balance was disrupted and the intended solution caused far more problems for the local population than the problem which originally existed. This sequence of unexpected consequences shows that solutions to problems must be in harmony with nature and they must not create additional new problems.
Why are we concerned about losing animal and plant species?
God gave the world such an abundance of different animals and plants, it might seem that if we lose a few, it wouldn’t make too much difference. In fact this is not true. Each creature is important and should be preserved. Here are several perspectives that should help to understand this situation.
When humans cause a species to go extinct, this demonstrates that we are living out of harmony with God’s commands and His creation.
The very existence of species that are threatened because of human impact tells us that we are living in a manner that is destructive to the life of the world. Endangered species are evidence of a failure to respect and have holy regard for what God has created on earth. If we disregard these species, retribution will likely come through a loss of the services which animal and plant species provide. For example, the island of Borneo possesses some of the world’s most amazing orchids. Estimates are that between 2,500 and 3,000 orchid species grow in its humid, but botanically unexplored rainforests. Many of these flowers are not yet catalogued by science. These orchids are highly valued for their exotic aromas and their amazing color combinations. But these orchids are endangered because of illegal logging, gold mining, and the clearing of forests to grow palm oil, and especially the illegal collecting and selling of wild orchids by orchid hunters who respond to high consumer demand for these beautiful flowers. Already these pressures in just the past decade have led to the extinction of hundreds of orchid species. According to a Global Forest Watch report, Indonesia is losing its forestlands so quickly that at the current rate of loss, Borneo’s forests could vanish entirely by 2015.
Our lifestyle is causing an accelerating rate of animal and plant extinctions
Presently the world is losing an estimated 8,500 species per year. These species are disappearing for a variety of reasons, including pollution, habitat destruction, the introduction of invasive species, the early impacts of climate change, hunting and over harvesting, and the sprawl of cities due to growing human populations. This represents the loss of roughly one unique species every hour, or about 2% of all animal and plant species over the year. When this total is added to new estimates of how global climate change will increase the extinction rate, scientists report that by the middle of this 21st century (by the year 2050), we will be faced with the extinction and disappearance forever of roughly 50% of all the world’s species! Imagine how the world would be if half of all the animal and plant species disappear?
The extinction of animal and plant species threatens the food supply
The world’s food supply is dependent upon the entire web of life for vigor, vitality and an ability to provide sustenance for a hungry human population. Every biological process has excess capacity built into its design to ensure strength and resilience. If one species disappears, there are sometimes others which can be substituted. However as we lose species, we remove components from a working biological system. For perspective, imagine you car. How would your car run if someone removed a few parts from your automobile each week? It would not take long before the car would no longer operate properly. The food chain is similar. If we lose the ability to pollinate crops, a service which insects, birds and small mammals provide, about one-third of all fruit and vegetable crops would no longer bear fruit.
Presently the U.S. is experiencing a steep decline in bee populations, mostly because of pesticides. Some top pollinating species are now down to only 4% of their historic numbers. As we lose pollinating insects, the food chain becomes at risk. This is a sobering situation because the world has a growing population, but a declining agricultural base. A declining food supply coupled with a growing population means future hunger and starvation in some parts of the world. Protection of endangered species becomes protection for a healthy food chain and a healthy population.
The human economy is dependent upon the right functioning of nature
Humans depend on ecosystems such as coastal waters, prairie grasslands, and ancient forests to purify their air, clean the water, and supply food. When species become endangered, this indicates that these ecosystems are degrading. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that losing just one plant species can trigger the loss of up to thirty other insect, plant and higher animal species. Some individuals who have not examined the issue declare that the economy is what is important, not these species. They forget that the economy rests upon the right functioning of the air, water, soils, plants and all of the other elements of the living environment. The fact is, the economy should be seen as a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment. Healthy human society rests upon clean air, clean water and a vigorous ecosystem. Without a healthy environment, healthy families or a healthy economy cannot exist.
Nature holds cures for diseases that have not yet been discovered
Public health advocates add another argument for protecting plant and microbial species. They observe that we scarcely know what valuable medicines many of these unexamined species contain. For perspective only a small percentage of the world’s plants have been examined for medicinal values. To elaborate on an example from the previous chapter, just twenty-five years ago, loggers considered the Pacific yew tree a “trash tree.” Pharmacologists then discovered that the bark of this thin, scraggily tree contained a unique compound, taxol. This bioactive chemical turned out to be a potent drug in the fight against lung and ovarian cancers. Because of the unique substances in the bark of the Pacific yew tree, tens of thousands of people now live who previously would have died. Like unread books in a library, species may have value that only becomes apparent after they are properly studied.
What Are the Solutions?
Solutions to save endangered animal and plant species take place at several levels: (1) in the home and local parish, (2) in the community by the shaping attitudes and influencing public policy on endangered species, and (3) in the halls of government.
Here are suggestions on what you can do in your home and parish:
— Develop respect and reverence for all life, including animals. Cultivate a consistent pro-life attitude. As you respect God’s life in creation through the creatures, you are respecting what God has created. Know that in a reduced and diminished manner, the animals also bear some portion of the image of God.
— Learn about the endangered species in your area. Before you can protect endangered species, you should identify them. Learn about their place in the local environment. Find out where they live and why they are endangered. Education and information are essential in protecting them. Make an effort to observe them and see them as God’s creation. Tell your friends and family about the birds, fish, and plants that live near you and your community.
— Minimize herbicide and pesticide use. Herbicides and pesticides may keep yards looking nice, but they are hazardous pollutants that harm wildlife at many levels. Many herbicides and pesticides take a long time to degrade; they build up in the soils and from there migrate into the food chain. Predators such as hawks, owls and coyotes are harmed if they eat tainted or poisonous animals. Amphibians, especially frogs and toads, are especially vulnerable.
— Recycle all wastes and buy sustainable products. Buy recycled paper, and other sustainable products like bamboo and certified Forest Stewardship Council wood products to protect forests and forest species. Never buy furniture made from rainforest wood. Recycle your cell phones because a mineral used in cell phones and other electronics is mined in gorilla habitat. Minimize the use of palm oil because forests where tigers live are being cut down to plant palm plantations.
— Plant native vegetation. Native plants provide food and shelter for native wildlife. Attracting native insects like bees and butterflies helps to pollinate your plants. Invasive species compete with native species for resources and habitat. They can even prey on native species directly, forcing native species towards extinction.
— Make your parish and home wildlife friendly. If you live in a rural area, secure garbage in shelters or cans with locking lids, feed pets indoors and lock pet doors at night to avoid attracting wild animals. Reduce the use of water in your home and garden so that animals that live nearby can have a better chance of survival. Disinfect bird baths to avoid disease transmission. Place decals on windows to deter bird collisions. Millions of birds die unnecessarily every year because of collisions with windows. You can help reduce the number of collisions simply by placing decals on the windows in your home and office.
— Never purchase products made from threatened or endangered species. Overseas trips can be exciting, but souvenirs are sometimes made from species nearing extinction. Avoid supporting the illegal wildlife market. Avoid items made from ivory, tortoise-shell, or coral. Be careful of products made from or including fur from lions, tigers, polar bears, sea otters, crocodile skin, live monkeys or apes, most live birds including parrots, macaws, cockatoos and finches, some snakes, turtles and lizards, some orchids and cacti, or medicinal products made from rhinos, tigers, Asiatic black bear, or any other endangered wildlife.
— Restrain harassment of threatened and endangered species. Harassing wildlife is cruel and illegal. Shooting, trapping, or forcing a threatened or endangered animal into captivity is also illegal and can lead to their extinction. Don’t participate in these activities, and report them as soon as you see an incident to your local, state, or federal wildlife enforcement office.
— Protect wildlife habitat. The greatest threat that many endangered species face is the destruction of their habitat (i.e., the places where they live). Scientists say that the best way to protect endangered species is to protect the places where they live. Wildlife, just like people, must have places to find food, shelter and raise their young. Logging, over-grazing, mining, oil and gas drilling, and development all cause habitat destruction. As you protect habitat, you also protect whole communities of animals and plants.
— Encourage parks and protected wild areas. Parks, wildlife refuges, and other open space should be protected near your community. Open space provides great places to visit and enjoy. Support wildlife habitat and open space protection in your community. When you are buying a house, consider your impact on wildlife habitat.
— Harmonize your lifestyle with God’s creation. As Orthodox Christians who submit to the Scriptures and Holy Tradition, we must face the seriousness of the extinction threat. We are to take the steps in attitude and lifestyle that will prevent the extinction of species and preserve the abundance and biodiversity which is essential to the flourishing of life.
Action must also take place by the larger community and by state and national government. Without government participation, individual action will not be sufficient.
— Preserve the Endangered Species Act. Legislation by Congress provides a first line of protection for most U.S. endangered species. This is our modern Noah’s Ark. Once designated as endangered or threatened, a species cannot be destroyed nor can its habitat be eliminated. Private landowners should be recognized and applauded who voluntarily protect rare plants and animals. All these efforts need to continue and expand to keep our natural heritage alive.
— Develop parish public policy advocacy. Orthodox parishes must become informed and active regarding the preservation of habitats and biodiversity. They must learn how to stand up for what God has created. This means that they should consider advocacy together with other community groups to ensure that development and industrialization do not impair the integrity of wetlands, streams, fields, and forests.
— Acknowledge and support positive actions. Parish creation care ministries should acknowledge and commend companies that have pledged to stop purchasing lumber from endangered forests. They should encourage Church and other purchasers of wood and paper products to make serious efforts to avoid purchasing products made from endangered forests.
— Cultivate civic responsibility for our nation’s laws and policies. Write the United States Congress and the White House, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Interior Department (especially its Fish and Wildlife Department), as well as state governments, and urge these departments to refrain from efforts to abolish or undercut established policies and initiatives to protect endangered species. Ask them to preserve wetlands, to minimize road building in national forests, and to preserve roadless wilderness areas.
— Urge local government to refrain from unnecessary development. The parish ministry of God’s creation should ask the President and the Congress to respect God’s creation. They should call upon our leaders to drop plans to explore for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This will have serious adverse effects on this unique but fragile ecosystem upon which many kinds of wildlife as well as indigenous people depend. We should urge government, industry, agriculture and individuals to face the urgency of energy conservation and to accelerate the transition from a fossil fuel base to a solar and alternative energy base for the economy.
— Teach young people respect for animals in parish schools. We should educate young people and encourage parish members to acknowledge the Orthodox vision of creation. This vision discerns Christ and the Holy Spirit as our “Heavenly King” who is “everywhere present and fills all things.” The implications of this vision should be taught to all children and emphasized to all adults. The statements of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and our other hierarchs on the care of God’s creation should be read and there should be opportunities to deepen faith through awareness that Orthodoxy implies a lifestyle of restraint, conservation and frugality in our use of the world’s resources.
Through the actions listed above, we extend the life of the Church into the life of the home and society. In the process we articulate an Orthodox way of life that is consistent with Jesus Christ, constructive, and earth healing. The more these guidelines are embraced, the more the consequences extend beyond endangered animal species into the larger society. These actions fortify the parish in virtue, strengthen families in the love of God, and teach children in a manner that provides stability into the future. For those who embrace these guidelines, the practice of respect for creation will strengthen spiritual vitality and bestow an ability to withstand the assaults of a coarsening culture upon those who strive to follow the Way and the Life of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Scientists emphasize that climate change has the potential to destroy the entire ecosystem which sustains not only the human species but also the wondrous world of animals and plants. The choices and actions of what is otherwise civilized modern man have led to this tragic situation, which in essence is a moral and spiritual problem which the divinely inspired Apostle Paul articulated with colorful imagery in underlining its ontological dimension. “For creation was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who subjected it… For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now” (Romans 8:20,22). – HAH Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew September 1, 2008
We in the Orthodox Church see Creation as the foundational concept by which we understand all environmental issues. When a creature is created, that creature has meaning, value and purpose. This is true whether that creature is a human person, an animal, an insect, a plant, a tree, a geological formation, or an astronomical body. It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of creation as a foundational concept. It means that we must accept the reality of every creature as meaningful. – HE Metropolitan +Nicholas of Amissos Antiochian Village, June 15, 2002
In affirming the sacred images, the Seventh Ecumenical Council (Nicaea, 787) was not primarily concerned with religious art, but with the presence of God in the heart, in others and in creation. For icons encourage us to seek the extraordinary in the ordinary, to be filled with the same wonder of the Genesis account, when: “God saw everything that He made, and indeed, it was very good” (Gen. 1.30-31)….
Icons are invitations to rise beyond trivial concerns and menial reductions. We must ask ourselves: Do we see beauty in others and in our world? The truth is that we refuse to behold God’s Word in the oceans of our planet, in the trees of our continents, and in the animals of our earth. In so doing, we deny our own nature, which demands that we stoop low enough to hear God’s Word in creation. We fail to perceive created nature as the extended Body of Christ. Eastern Christian theologians have always emphasized the cosmic proportions of divine incarnation. For them, the entire world is a prologue to St. John’s Gospel. And when the Church overlooks the broader, cosmic dimensions of God’s Word, it neglects its mission to implore God for the transformation of the whole polluted cosmos. On Easter Sunday, Orthodox Christians chant:
Now everything is filled with divine light: heaven and earth, and all things beneath the earth. So let all creation rejoice. – HAH Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Fordham University, October 27, 2009
It is unfortunate that we lead our life without noticing the environmental concert that is playing out before our eyes and ears. In this orchestra, each minute detail plays a critical role. Nothing can be removed without the entire symphony being affected. No tree, animal, or fish can be removed without the entire picture being distorted, if not destroyed. – HAH Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Moscow, Russia, May 26, 2010
Far too long have we limited our understanding of community, reducing it to include only human beings. It is time that we extend this notion also to include the living environment, to animals and to trees, to birds and to fishes. Embracing in compassion all people as well as all of animal and inanimate creation brings good news and fervent hope to the whole world. – HAH Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew June 30, 2004
A painstaking five-month long investigation by Crispin Dowler [@CrispinDowler] shows that a small group of wealthy families control huge swathes of the country’s fishing quota. Just five families on the Sunday Times Rich List hold or control 29% of the UK’s fishing quota. The finding comes from a new Unearthed investigation that traced the owners of more than 95% of UK quota holdings – including, for the first time, those of Scotland, the UK’s biggest fishing nation.
It reveals that more than two-thirds of the UK’s fishing quota is controlled by just 25 businesses – and more than half of those are linked to one of the biggest criminal overfishing scams ever to reach the British courts. Meanwhile, in England nearly 80% of fishing quota is held by foreign owners or domestic Rich List families, and more than half of Northern Ireland’s quota is hoarded onto a single trawler.
The news comes as the government is preparing to publish a new fisheries bill, which will set the legal foundations for the UK’s fishing industry after Brexit. Small scale fishermen told Unearthed that successive governments have mismanaged fishing rights, allowing quota to be consolidated on a handful of supertrawlers while smaller-scale, low impact fishermen had been progressively starved of access. Jerry Percy, director of the New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association, told Unearthed successive government in a situation where the smaller inshore vessels that make up 77% of the fleet had ended up with “less than 4% of the quota”.
“This is privatisation of a public resource,” added Mr Percy, who campaigns on behalf of fishermen with smaller, under-10m long, vessels.
But while the government is hoping it can net access to more fishing rights in the Brexit negotiations, it has said the new bill will not see any redistribution of the UK’s existing quota rights. As Unearthed’s investigation shows, this will leave the bulk of UK fishing rights in the hands of a small domestic elite and a handful of foreign multinationals. It reveals:
Most fishing rights in the UK are distributed by fixed quota allocations (FQAs). An FQA gives the holder the right to land a certain share of the UK’s “total allowable catch” (TAC) of a particular stock. The TAC for each stock varies from year to year, based on scientific advice and negotiations in Brussels. There is an active market in the trading and leasing of FQAs. The latest revelations follow Unearthed’s 2016 investigation into English quota holdings which revealed that a tiny fiberglass dinghy apparently “held” more than a fifth of the fishing quota for the entire South-West.
Now, Unearthed’s first UK-wide dive into the opaque world of fishing rights has uncovered further striking statistics. Those with the biggest hoards of quota can earn millions leasing it to others without casting a net. In one recent case a company got rid of its boat and – while waiting for a new one – carried on earning millions from its quota alone. That boat, the Voyager, holds more than half (55%) of Northern Ireland’s fishing quota. In late 2015 the owners disposed of their old, 76m trawler and ordered a replacement . Company accounts show that the new Voyager was not delivered until September 2017, and in the meantime, the company made money by leasing out the quota. In 2016-17 the company made an income of nearly £7m from its quota – reporting an operating profit of £2.5m – despite having no vessel for the full financial year. Despite holding more than half of the country’s quota, the new 86m-long Voyager has not landed its catches in Northern Ireland, because it is too big for Kilkeel Harbour. Instead the vessel operates out of the Republic of Ireland port of Killybegs. Unearthed approached Voyager Fishing Company and its owners, but they were unavailable for comment.
The black fish millionaires
In Scotland – the biggest fishing nation in the UK, with two-thirds of the quota – the domination of the fishing industry by Rich List families is most pronounced. Five Rich List families control a third of Scottish quota and have minority investments in companies that hold a further 11%. This means, in total, companies holding close to half (45%) of all Scottish fishing quotas are wholly or partly owned by five wealthy families. But the investigation also reveals how many of those at the centre of one of Scottish fishing’s most infamous episodes – the black fish scandal – continue to dominate the industry. The scandal came to light in 2005, when Scottish officials raided fish factories to uncover “serious and organised” schemes to systematically evade quota restrictions for mackerel and herring, using underground pipes, secret weighing machines, and extra conveyor belts to land 170,000 tonnes of over-quota fish over several years.
A multi-year police investigation followed, resulting in a series of court cases over 2011 and 2012 in which three fish factories and more than two dozen skippers were hit with fines and confiscation orders for “black landings” of undeclared fish. Unearthed’s investigation found that of the 20 biggest holders of Scottish quota, 13 have directors, shareholders, or vessel partners who were convicted of sea fishing offences in the black fish scandal. Among those prosecuted were four members of the Tait family – worth £115m according to the Rich List – whose Klondyke Fishing Company is the second-largest quota holder in Scotland. The four men – all skippers on its vessels – were hit with fines and confiscation orders of more than £800,000 for their part in the scam. Two years later, one of those skippers, Peter Tait, 50, reportedly bought the most expensive house sold in Scotland that year. Over the past five years Klondyke has paid out shareholder dividends totalling £56m. Unearthed has reached out to Klondyke but the company declined to comment.
The Scottish top 10 also includes the vessel partnership that runs the trawler Christina S. In 2012, two men involved in that partnership – Ernest Simpson, 71, and his son Allan Simpson, 49, both of Aberdeenshire – were handed fines and confiscation orders totalling more than £800,000 for their involvement in the black fish scam. Four years later, the Christina S was among the flotilla of vessels that sailed up the Thames with Nigel Farage, to protest EU fisheries policy weeks before the Brexit referendum. John Anderson is chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Organisation, a huge fish producer organisation which has several members – including the Christina S – that were involved in the black fish scandal. He told Unearthed: “The pelagic fishermen and processors involved will be the first to acknowledge that, in the past, mistakes were made.” As a result, he continued, the sector had founded the Scottish Pelagic Sustainability Group to oversee the certification of its main fisheries to Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standards. Since that time, he added, “98% of the group’s stocks have been certified as sustainable and well managed by the MSC.”
In England, the UK’s second largest fishing nation, three Rich List families control around 30% of the quota. A further 49% is ultimately held by Dutch, Spanish and Icelandic interests who have bought up English vessels and quota. The most significant of these interests is Cornelis Vrolijk Holding, a Dutch multinational whose UK subsidiary alone holds 24% of English quota, making it the biggest quota-holder in England, and one of the five biggest in the UK.
Matthew Cox, chief executive of North Atlantic Fishing Company, Cornelis Vroljik’s UK subsidiary, said the company had been established in the UK since 1984, employed around 60 UK fishermen, had two UK offices, and had launched a UK apprenticeship scheme. He also suggested that the type of fishing his company does is not well suited for small-scale fishermen. He added: “North Atlantic does not operate at the expense of small-scale fishermen. Pelagic [midwater fish such as mackerel and herring] and whitefish fishing are very different and a simple comparison/substitution between each is not possible.
“The deep sea nature of the environment make pelagic fishing difficult, dangerous and not very attractive for artisanal fishermen who tend to focus on low volume, high value fish such as cod or monkfish.”
The bulk of the company’s quota is for pelagic fish – which swim at midwater – and it has always emphasised the fact that its nets do not damage the sea bed. However, after the Brexit vote in 2016 the company bought a beam trawler – with nets attached to a heavy beam designed to trawl for “demersal fish” that are found close to the sea bed – and bought up quotas for plaice and sole. Mr Cox said: “Following the 2016 decision for the UK to leave the EU it was very clear early on, to the directors of North Atlantic Fishing, that there would be changes to the UK fishing industry. North Atlantic had always focused on pelagic fishing and it was therefore decided that the company should spread its risk in the interests of the company and its workforce and enter the demersal fishing industry in a very limited manner.”
Large scale fishing interests consistently argue that their businesses generated hundreds of direct and indirect jobs, and that it was misleading to rank businesses by quota holdings alone, when the amount and value of fish that can be landed against those holdings varies between species, and area, and from year to year. Several also pointed out that many of the biggest quota holders identified by Unearthed were trawlers focused on midwater pelagic stocks, like mackerel and herring. These fisheries, they claimed, were environmentally friendly – with a low carbon footprint and no impact on the seabed – but the fish were too low-value and far from the coast to be attractive to small-scale fishermen.
John Anderson is chief executive of the Scottish Fishermen’s Organisation – a huge fish producer organisation with several of the top 25 in its membership. He told Unearthed: “While it is true that there has been considerable consolidation within the pelagic catching sector over the past 20 years, with a trend towards fewer, more efficient vessels each with a greater concentration of fishing opportunity, the economic reality is that small-scale, inshore fishermen, many of whom are also members of the SFO, do not have the necessary capacity or markets needed to fully utilise the pelagic quotas that are already available to them.”
Mr Percy retorted: “If you go back years ago, there was any number of smaller inshore boats that were reliant on mackerel and especially herring in the North Sea before the inshore herring fisheries were decimated by overfishing by larger-scale interests.”
Nick Underdown, of the Scottish campaign group Open Seas, said it was hard for smaller boats to take up mackerel quota without investment in onshore facilities to support them. “At the moment, the supply chain infrastructure favours bigger boats,” he told Unearthed. “But if we invest in processing with the strategic intention to help the smaller-scale fleet, then inshore fishery could bounce back. “This would be a lifeline for those harbours where fishing has declined due to consolidation.”
A spokeswoman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “We are clear fishing communities and our wider economy should benefit as much as possible from those fishing the UK’s quota, and we are working closely with fishermen to review and reform the rules around the economic link condition.”
Please see our latest Mini-Post for details.
WORLD WILD ANIMAL DAY AND GLOBAL WARMING
I have just received an email outlining the latest research on global warming. It is indeed harrowing but those of us who have followed the science know that this only confirms what some scientists have been discussing these past decades. Attached to that email is the following statement from American Bishops in 2007 and unusually they include scientific statistics from that time (2007). Today the situation is far worse, yet we as individuals and as societies stumble towards the abyss in some sort of collective psychosis, seemingly incapable of altering our ways. As today is World Wild Animal Day (4th Oct) I thought I would pull together some strands in the hope of highlighting the interconnectedness of our creation and how we as individuals may take an important step in both reducing climate change and the suffering of animals. I present the Bishop’s Statement, followed by a short piece on extinction. I continue with some comments and science from my forthcoming book on how we as individuals can make an immediate difference to the situation, followed by an article outlining the latest research.
GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE: A Moral and Spiritual Challenge (May 23, 2007).
The following statement, “Global Climate Change: A Moral and Spiritual Challenge,” was adopted by the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA) at their May 23, 2007 session at St. Vladimir’s Seminary in Crestwood, NY. The document conveys a theological understanding of the role of the human person and the environment, with particular emphasis on climate change.
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
“For favorable weather, an abundance of the fruits of the earth, and temperate seasons, Let us pray to the Lord.” At every Divine Liturgy the Orthodox Church repeats this petition.
The Book of Prayers (Euchologion) contains numerous prayers for gardens, animals, crops, water and weather conditions. In her wisdom, then, the Church has always known that human beings are dependent upon the grace of God through the world around us to nurture and sustain civilized society. Indeed, “God has worked our salvation through the material world” (St. John Damascene, “On the Divine Images,” 1, 16). While God is the Source of all that we have, and His presence fills the entire world (see Acts 17.28), we humans share a God-given responsibility to care for His creation and offer it back to Him in thanksgiving for all that we have and are. “Thine own of thine own, we offer unto thee, in behalf of all and for all.”
The action of returning creation back to God in gratitude and praise summarizes the commands that God gave humanity in the first chapters of Genesis. These commandments are intended to guide us into a fullness of the spiritual and material goods that we need. God tells us to “have dominion over the earth” (Genesis 1.28), which means that we are to care for the earth as the Lord would care for it. In the original Hebrew, the word for dominion (radah) means to rule in the place of the Lord. In the Greek Septuagint, the word for full dominion (katakyrieuo) contains the root word kyrios, the same word that we use for Christ as Lord Ruler over all. From this, it follows that our responsibility as human beings is to enter into His will and to rule as the Lord would rule.
“We are all personally responsible to identify and adopt appropriate moral and ethical approaches to the changing conditions of the world.”
God also tells us that we are “to cultivate and keep the Garden of Eden” (Genesis 2.15, LXX). The literal meaning of this passage is that humans are required to serve the earth as well as to protect it from desecration or exploitation. We are responsible to God for how we use and care for the earth in order that all people may have a sufficiency of all that is needful. It is through our proper use of the material and natural world that God is worshipped:
“Through heaven and earth and sea, through wood and stone… through all of creation visible and invisible, we offer veneration and honor to the Creator” (Leontius of Cyprus, Sermon 3 on Icons).
What is further implied in the same commandment is thanksgiving to God for all that we have received through the physical world. Thus, each person has a “priestly” responsibility before God (1 Peter 2.5) to offer back to God that which belongs to Him. All this is implied in the Divine Liturgy, when the presbyter offers back to God what He has placed into human care. Indeed, the commandment “to cultivate and keep” the Garden implies an expectation that we are to share the things of the world with those who are suffering, with those in need, and to have concern for the good of humanity and the entire creation. Even though our first parents fell away through disobedience, our Lord restored this priestly responsibility to humanity through His life-giving Death and Resurrection.
“Immediate measures must be taken to reduce the impact of these changes to the world’s climate. If we fail to act now, the changes that are already underway will intensify and create catastrophic conditions.”
In our day, however, society has failed to remember these holy mandates about the right conduct of human beings. In our pride, gratitude has often been replaced with greed. As a people, we have forgotten God and foregone our mandated responsibilities. We no longer strive for sufficiency and moderation in all things. Too often, instead of receiving the gifts of God as He would bestow them, we heedlessly take from the earth and needlessly waste its resources, disregarding the impact at our greed exerts upon the life of our neighbors and the life of the world. There is no doubt that the pollution and degradation of the world is directly related to the pollution and the degradation of our hearts. “Look within yourself,” writes St. Nilus of Ancyra, “and there you will see the entire world.” (Epistles 2,119)
As Church leaders, our concern is service to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who’s Gospel of love teaches us that our response to the welfare of our neighbor and respect for the creation are expressions of our love for God. This means that we are all personally responsible to identify and adopt appropriate moral and ethical approaches to the changing conditions of the world.
Faithful to the responsibility that we have been given within God’s good creation, it is prudent for us to listen to the world’s scientific leaders as they describe changes occurring in the world’s climate, changes that are already being experienced by many people throughout the world. Global climate change assumes many different shapes and appearances within our own country. In Alaska, for instance, the average temperature has risen by 7º, causing glaciers to retreat and the Arctic Ocean to lose its summer ice. In Florida, Hawaii and the islands of the Caribbean, coral reefs are dying. In ocean waters such as those off the coast of San Francisco, higher temperatures now result in lower concentrations of plankton, reducing a primary food source for fish and bird life, and ultimately, for humans. Across the western states, a modest increase in temperature has contributed to a six-fold increase in forest fires over the past two decades. In many parts of America, previously distant tropical diseases, such as West Nile virus, are appearing as a direct result of rising temperatures.
These are all clear signs of a rapidly changing climate. It cannot be predicted in precise detail how climate change is going to unfold, but the seriousness of this situation is widely accepted. And, while it is true that the world’s climate has also undergone changes in past centuries, three crucial considerations make the current changes serious and unprecedented:
The rapid extent of temperature increase is historically unparalleled. Past changes in climate occurred over extended periods of time and were considerably less severe.
The human role in changing the climate is unique today. In earlier centuries, people did not have the technological capability to make such radical changes to the planet as are now taking place.
The impact that climate change will exert upon society is great and diverse, inevitably including conditions which deeply disrupt the lives and livelihoods of people on an unprecedented scale.
Climatologists label these changes as the result of measurable increases of carbon dioxide and other so-called “greenhouse gases” in the atmosphere. These gases are produced primarily by the burning or combustion of gasoline, coal and other fossil fuels. Among the many consequences, the atmosphere and the oceans are warming; wind and rainfall patterns are changing; and sea levels are rising. Forces of climate change also increase the acidity of the oceans; they raise the ferocity of storms, especially hurricanes; they cause droughts and heat waves to become more intense; and, in some areas, they disrupt normal agriculture. Furthermore, the changes are not occurring evenly: some parts of the world experience drought and others greater rainfall, even flooding. Importantly, the conditions that we observe now are only the early alterations to our climate. Much larger and far more disruptive changes will result unless we reduce the forces causing climate change.
It should be clear to all of us that immediate measures must be taken to reduce the impact of these changes to the world’s climate. If we fail to act now, the changes that are already underway will intensify and create catastrophic conditions. A contributing root cause of these changes to our climate is a lifestyle that contains unintended, but nevertheless destructive side effects. It may be that no person intends to harm the environment, but the excessive use of fossil fuels is degrading and destroying the life of creation.
“We wish to emphasize the seriousness and the urgency of the situation. To persist in a path of excess and waste, at the expense of our neighbors and beyond the capability of the planet to support the lifestyle responsible for these changes, is not only folly; it jeopardizes the survival of God’s creation…. In the end, this is not only is it sinful; it is no less than suicidal.”
Moreover, the impact of our thoughtless actions is felt disproportionately by the poorest and most vulnerable, those most likely to live in marginal areas. By our lack of awareness, then, we risk incurring the condemnation of those who “grind the face of the poor” (Isaiah 3.15). As Church leaders, it is our responsibility to speak to this condition inasmuch as it represents a grave moral and spiritual problem.
Therefore, we wish to emphasize the urgency of the situation. To persist in a path of excess and waste, at the expense of our neighbors and beyond the capability of the planet to support the lifestyle directly responsible for these changes, is not only folly; it jeopardizes the survival of God’s creation, the planet that we all share. In the end, not only is it sinful; it is no less than suicidal.
But there is hope. Society can alter its behavior and avoid the more serious consequences of climate change. To do this, however, we must work together to reduce the way that we have exploited the earth’s resources, especially its fossil fuels. As Americans, we comprise barely 4% of the world’s people; yet we consume over 25% of its resources and energy. Justice and charity for our neighbors demand a more frugal, simple way of living in order to conserve the fruits of creation.
In order to make the required changes, we are called to pray first and foremost for a change in our personal attitudes and habits, in spite of any accompanying inconvenience. Such is the depth of metanoia or repentance. The issue is not merely our response to climate change, but our failure to obey God. We must live in a manner that is consistent with what we believe and pray. Our heart must be “merciful, burning with love for the whole of creation” (Abba Isaac the Syrian, Mystic Treatises, Homily 48). At minimum, this means caring about the effect of our lives upon our neighbors, respecting the natural environment, and demonstrating a willingness to live within the means of our planet. Such a change will invariably require reduction in our consumption of fossil fuels as well as acceptance of alternative energy sources such as solar or wind power, and other such methods that minimize our impact upon the world. We can do these things, but it will require intentional effort from each of us.
Nevertheless, we cannot stop there. We must also learn all that we can about the emerging situation of climate change. We must set an example in the way that we choose to live, reaching out and informing others about this threat. We must discuss with parishioners and – since climate change is not only an issue for Orthodox Christians –– we must raise the issue before public officials and elected representatives at the city, state and national levels. We are all responsible for this situation, and each one of us can do something to address the problem.
In each generation, God sends some great tests that challenge the life and future of society. One of the tests for our time is whether we will be obedient to the commands that God has given to us by exercising self-restraint in our use of energy, or whether we will ignore those commands and continue to seek the comforts and excesses that over-reliance on fossil fuels involves.
At every Divine Liturgy, we pray for seasonable weather. Let us enter into this prayer and amend our lives in whatever ways may be necessary to meet the divine command that we care for the earth as the Lord’s. If we can do this, if we can render our lives as a blessing rather than a curse for our neighbors and for the whole creation, then, God willing, we may live and flourish. This is not an optional matter. We will be judged by the choices we make. The Scriptures bluntly tell us that if we destroy the earth, then God will destroy us (see Revelation 11:18).
Let us all recall the commands of God regarding our use of the earth. Let us respond to the divine commandments so that the blessings of God may be abundantly upon us. And let us responsibly discern the right, holy and proper way to live in this time of change and challenge. Then we shall “perceive everything in the light of the Creator God” (St. John Climacus, Ladder of Divine Ascent, Step 4, 58).
As previously stated, this was 2007 and yet despite our Patriarchs and Bishops continuing to highlight the problems of global warming, little effective action is being taken by our governments. I now present extracts from a short article on extinction in the non-human animal world to focus attention of the loss of Wild Animal species.
ANIMALS THAT HAVE GONE EXTINCT IN THE LAST 100 YEARS
The following article by Laura Goldman in September 2018 informs us that nearly 500 species have gone extinct during the last century–and that in most cases, we humans are to blame. Of course this is an underestimate, for we cannot tell how many unknown species have disappeared due to the destruction of native rainforests across the globe. Nonetheless it is a reminder that when we speak of climate change and human actions we tend to forget the devastation to non-human animal species that also comes from our selfish indulgences.
According to a 2015 study by the National Autonomous University (UNAM), 477 species have disappeared since 1900 due to our degradation and destruction of their natural habitats. The researchers said it was the largest mass extinction of species in history. Last year, Stanford University biologists discovered declining populations for more than 30 percent of all vertebrates. On average, two vertebrate species go extinct every year. One of the researchers referred to this as “a biological annihilation occurring globally.”
These are just some of the animals that have gone extinct in the past 100 years. To help prevent more species from meeting the same fate, the Stanford biologists recommend curbing human overpopulation and consumption. Humans must stop believing “the fiction that perpetual growth can occur on a finite planet,” the researchers urged. For a photograph see Wikimedia Commons
Once the only parrot species native to the eastern United States, Carolina parakeets had the heartfelt but dangerous habit of remaining beside injured or dead flock members, making them easy targets for hunters.Bottom of Form Although flocks were still occasionally being observed from New York to the Rocky Mountains in the early 1900s, they had disappeared by 1918, when the last captive Carolina parakeet died at the Cincinnati Zoo – in the same cage where the last passenger pigeon had died four years earlier. For a photograph see Wikimedia Commons
These hens, native to the northeast U.S., were once known as a source for “poor man’s food.” Although the state of New York passed legislation back in 1791 protecting this species, they continued to be hunted. By the mid-1800s, they could only be found on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. Within 50 years, poaching, disease and feral cats led to their near demise. Thanks to a 1908 hunting ban and the creation of a preserve, the heath hen population rebounded to over 2,000. Tragically, a fire six years later killed most of the hens. The last surviving heath hen, Booming Ben, died in 1932.
Looking more like a dog than a tiger, the Tasmanian tiger was the largest modern carnivorous marsupial. It roamed Australia and Tasmania until its extinction due to hunting, disease, human encroachment and the introduction of dogs. The last known survivor died in captivity at Tasmania’s Hobart Zoo in 1936. For a photograph see Wikimedia Commons
These freshwater whitefish were once plentiful in Lake Geneva, between France and Switzerland. In fact, over two-thirds of the fish caught in the lake were these bottom feeders, and that’s what led to their demise. The last Gravenche was seen back in 1950. For a photographs see Wikimedia Commons
These sea lions used to make their homes in the Sea of Japan, where they were hunted for their skins, bones, fat and even their whiskers. By the early 20th century, over 3,000 of them were being killed every year, and their natural habitat was pretty much destroyed during the sea battles of World War II. The last unofficial sighting of a Japanese sea lion was about 30 years later, in 1974. For a photograph see: Wikimedia Commons
This subspecies of the Spanish ibex made the Pyrenees Mountains its home. It’s not known what caused them to start disappearing in the 19th and 20th centuries. By 2000, they were extinct. A 2009 attempt to clone a Pyrenean ibex failed when the female died shortly after she was born. For a photograph see: Wikimedia Commons
Hunted since the late 1600s for their meat, fur and oil, the final nail in the coffin for this species was coastal development that led to the destruction of their habitat in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. The Caribbean monk seal was declared extinct in 2008. It has the sad distinction of being the first type of seal to go extinct because of humans.
10. Pinta Island Tortoise (2012)
While these tortoises were once plentiful on this small island, the last survivor—Lonesome George, who was believed to be around 100 years old—died six years ago. The causes of their extinction were being hunted by sailors and fishermen, as well as the introduction of goats to the island, which destroyed the vegetation the tortoises ate to survive. For a photographs see: Wikimedia Commons
In light of the above I present some arguments from my book where I argue that we as individual can make a difference and that our Church can play an important part in effecting change.
A WAY FORWARD FOR ALL CREATED BEINGS
If our governments cannot provide meaningful legislation to curb our excesses, and of course they cannot do so in democratic societies, is there a way forward for us as individuals and leaders of our Church? I have already written on how St Cyril of Jerusalem defines hunting as the “pomp of the devil” and a “soul-subverting exercise” and we have a recent statement from Bishop Isaias of Tamasou in Cyprus, that hunting for fun is a sin. I argue that it is time for our leaders to make a statement that killing animals for fun, ‘sport’ or ‘recreation’ is against the teachings of Christianity and should be banned from Church land. Here, I focus on how we as individuals can make a difference and if our Church made a similar declaration the effect would be considerable. Whilst it might seem a radical suggestion I propose that if we chose/advocated the non-violent diet of veganism, God’s original choice for us, this would not only reduce the number of animals who suffer in the ‘animal industries’ but in so doing would quickly reduce the many environmental problems associated with animal food production. Most people are unaware of the impact of our diet on global warming and so it is important to highlight some points here. Our increasing desire to consume animal products has resulted in the breeding of such vast numbers of animals that serious negative impacts have arisen for our environments. Knight (2013) provides us with the following important scientific information.
These are some of the important facts for us to consider. Despite these facts, the impact of the animal-based diet on global warming continues to be underestimated and underreported. I have fluctuated between being a vegan or vegetarian, depending on the country I lived in, these past 50 years and until recently have never sought to influence others for I believed that my own ethical choices should not be imposed on others (husband, children, society in general). Today the situation is different – it is vital for us to understand the ramifications of our dietary choices and that we can make a difference if we change them. It is not at all easy to give up animal products but Christianity informs us that we are to sacrifice and repent if our actions cause harm to others.
In addition to this argument, we may use the argument of self-interest as a motivating factor, for there is significant scientific evidence of how our abstinence from an animal-based diet could have immediate beneficial results for our water sources, climate change and thus our future survival. We do not need to wait for world/government agreements in order to effect change.
This brief extract from the book partially outlines the human and environmental aspect of this theme but what about the animals, what do we know of their suffering in these industries? If we as individuals or as leaders of our Church are to engage with the subject of the suffering creation, we need to acquaint ourselves with the available knowledge not only on the environmental impact of an animal-based diet but also on the suffering involved for the animals in the systems used for there are clear soteriological implications resulting from our choices. There is a huge amount of research in this area and here I condense some of that research whilst referencing others:
There is no other reason for these practices other than the desire for increased profit; the “evil profit” that Met. Kallistos describes in Chapter Six of my forthcoming book. From this arises the challenging question that once we know of the suffering involved in the production of our food and we continue to consume those products are we guilty of being indifferent to the suffering of a large portion of God’s creation? The subsequent question is whether the required “spiritual revolution” so often called for by our Patriarchs and Bishops should apply to our treatment of the animals within these industries? If the answer is no, we ought to examine why we have made the choice to exclude billions of animals from receiving compassion, mercy and justice. If we conclude that they are simply for that use, then I believe we are in danger of continuing the mind-set of domination rather than dominion spoken of above, which in turn, indicates that only human suffering is relevant to God. I submit that this mind-set is against the teachings of the Eastern Orthodox Church and tantamount to the type of heresy the early Fathers fought so hard to overthrow. …………………………………………………………………………………….
To conclude this piece, I present an edited version of the article by Dahr Jamail, 1st Oct 2018, who introduces the dangers of runaway climate change and the existential threat that this represents for all of us.
How Feedback Loops Are Driving Runaway Climate Change
IF you think this summer has been intense as far as record warm temperatures, wildfires, drought, and flooding events around the Northern Hemisphere, you haven’t seen anything yet — unless you happen to live in the Arctic.
According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), air temperatures there are increasing at an “unprecedented rate” — twice as fast as they are around the rest of the globe. NOAA’s 2017 Arctic Report Card states unequivocally that the Arctic “shows no sign of returning to reliably frozen region of recent past decades.” The Executive Summary of the report also adds, “Arctic paleo-reconstructions, which extend back millions of years, indicate that the magnitude and pace of the 21st century sea-ice decline and surface ocean warming is unprecedented in at least the last 1,500 years and likely much longer.”
A recent report from National Geographic revealed that some of the ground in the Arctic is no longer freezing, even during the winter. Along with causing other problems, this will become yet another feedback loop in the Arctic, causing yet more greenhouse gasses to be released from permafrost than are already being released and impacting the entire planet.
The simplest explanation for a positive climate feedback loop is this: The more something happens, the more it happens. One of the most well-known examples is the melting of sea ice in the Arctic during the summer, which is accelerating. As greater amounts of Arctic summer sea ice melt away, less sunlight is reflected back into space. Hence, more light is absorbed into the ocean, which warms it and causes more ice to melt, and on and on.
Dr. Ira Leifer is an academic researcher who specializes in bubble-related oceanographic processes (such as subsea bubble plumes emanating from the ocean floor), satellite remote sensing, and air pollution. Working closely with NASA on some of his projects, Leifer uses the agency’s satellite data to study methane in the Arctic and its role in climate disruption. One of his concerns about a feedback loop already at play in the Arctic is how the heating of that region is already being amplified by ocean currents that transport warmer, more southerly waters northwards into Arctic seabed waters where it can affect methane deposits in submerged permafrost and sub-seabed methane hydrates.
“The release of this methane contributes powerfully to overall warming – methane is a very potent greenhouse gas, which actually has a bigger effect [on] the atmosphere’s radiative balance than carbon dioxide on decadal timescales” (Dr. Leifer).
Although climate is generally thought to occur on century timescales, human timescales and ecological adaptation timescales are measured in decades instead of centuries, and this is now how many climate processes are being monitored given the rapidity of human-forced planetary warming.
Dr. Peter Wadhams is a world-renowned expert who has been studying Arctic sea ice for decades. His prognosis for the Arctic sea ice is grim: He says it is in its “death spiral.”
“Multi-year ice is now much less than 10 percent of the area of the ice cover; it was 60 percent or more before 2000,” Dr. Wadhams states that “[Sea ice] extent in summer is down to 50 percent of its value in the 1980s.”
Dr. Wadhams, who is also the President of the International Association for the Physical Sciences of the Ocean (IAPSO), noted that this primary feedback loop is much further along than most of us realize.
“I see the summer sea ice disappearing by the early 2020s,” Wadhams said. He noted that the change of albedo (a measure of reflection of solar radiation) due to the loss of sea ice and snowline retreat across the Arctic “is sufficient to add 50 percent to the warming effect of CO2 emissions alone.”
Alarmingly, on August 21, Arctic scientists told The Guardian that the oldest and strongest sea ice in the Arctic had broken up for the first time in recorded history. One of them described the event as “scary,” in part because it occurred off the north coast of Greenland, which is normally frozen year-round. The region has long been believed to be “the last ice area”: It was thought, at least until now, to be the final place that would hold out against the melting impacts from an increasingly warmer planet.
Temperatures are rising most strongly in the Arctic, with some areas already showing an increase of as much as 5.7 degrees Celsius (10.26 degrees Fahrenheit). Dr. Michael MacCracken, Chief Scientist for Climate Change Programs with the Climate Institute in Washington, DC, explained how, now that the Arctic is warmer, the temperature gradient between the tropics and the traditionally cold Arctic is reduced. With a reduced gradient, the movement of warmth from low to high latitudes is slowed. As Earth rotates, this leads to a wavier jet stream that can carry low latitude warmth up to Alaska and elsewhere in the Arctic, and the southward reach of cold air in the Arctic to lower latitudes. This explains why New Orleans, for example, has recently experienced unusual freezing winter weather.
“In addition, the waves in the jet stream that result are shifting to the east less rapidly, which means the unusual weather patterns that are more frequently occurring are moving eastward less rapidly,” Dr. MacCracken explained. “So both wet and dry periods are lasting longer, contributing to both excessively wet (e.g., flooding) and excessively dry (e.g., wildfire) conditions.”
Dr. Wadhams is concerned about this as well.
“The jet stream effect is because Arctic air is warming faster than tropical air, so the temperature difference is decreasing,” he explained. “This reduces the driving force on the jet stream, so it then meanders, which brings hot air to the higher latitudes (and cold air to some low latitudes).”
Summer weather patterns are now increasingly likely to become stalled out over places like North America, portions of Asia, and Europe, according to a recent climate study that showed how a warming Arctic is causing heatwaves in other places to become more intense and persistent due to a slowing of the jet stream. Dr. Leifer warned that as these processes continue and the Arctic continues to heat up faster than the tropics, the pole-equator temperature difference that controls our weather and causes three major weather circulation “cells” — tropical, mid-latitude, and arctic — will merge into a single weather cell. A similar merging of weather cells occurred during the time of the dinosaurs.
“The jet stream, which controls seasonal storms in the midlatitudes, is a result of these three cells, and would disappear in a single weather cell planet, dramatically altering rain patterns and almost certainly heralding an ecosystem catastrophe,” Leifer explained. “The plants that underlie the food chain would be replaced by others that the local animals (insects to apex predators) could not utilize — in short, an abrupt acceleration of the current Great Anthropocene Extinction event.”
The diminishment of the jet stream also contributes to another potentially catastrophic feedback loop within the Arctic seabed: Changes to the jet stream are causing longer and more intense heat waves to occur across the Arctic, which of course causes the Arctic Ocean to warm further. Kevin Lister, an associate with the Climate Restoration Foundation in Washington, DC, co-authored a paper with Dr. MacCracken for the United Nations that addressed the crisis in the Arctic, among other climate disruption-related issues. Unlike the most commonly accepted idea that global temperatures should not be allowed to increase by more than 1.5°C, Lister stated that the planet reaching 1.5°C above baseline “is fundamentally dangerous and that the rate of change we are seeing today means we will not even be able to stop the temperature at this level.”
Lister said this conclusion was reached, in part, due to initial observations from Dr. Wadhams regarding how the loss of sea ice was amplifying rates of change in the Arctic. Lister states that “methane emissions [in the Arctic] are already a severe risk,” and that he and Dr. MacCracken’s UN paper shows that once temperatures started rising they would be largely unstoppable due to the interacting nature of the feedback mechanisms.
“Thus, one feedback mechanism, such as sea ice melting, can trigger another, such as methane releases, which then accelerates the first in a tightening spiral,” he explained. “In reality, there are many critical feedback mechanisms and the interlocking effects between them means that the climate is far more unstable and irreversible than we are led to believe, and the climate’s change is likely to follow a super exponential progression once the temperature rises above a certain level.”
Dr. Leifer, who has been studying Arctic methane for years, shares the same concern.
“There is the potential for seabed methane deposits off Greenland to be destabilized by the input of warm melt water and also heat transport,” he said, in addition to having pointed out that this process has been occurring in other areas around the Arctic for many years.
As I have written in the past, we are currently facing the very real possibility of a major methane release in the Arctic. Such a release would be a catastrophe for the global climate — and the survival of humans and other species.
Could a Dire Situation Lead to a “War for Survival”?
Lister and Dr. MacCracken both believe that the global focus on a maximum allowable temperature increase target of 1.5°C above baseline is both dangerous and unachievable. Most media and governmental attention has centered on keeping the Earth from warming 2°C over pre-industrial revolution baseline temperatures, and ideally limiting warming to 1.5°C. This is based on a politically agreed upon goal set forth during the 2015 Paris Climate talks, which were nonbinding.
“It reflects the way that intergovernmental climate change policy has been managed which has been to arbitrarily set a temperature target, which was firstly 2°C and then latterly 1.5°C, and then to see if economic and political policy can deliver an appropriate carbon budget,” Lister explained. “This is clearly not a rational way to develop climate change policy.”
Lister and Dr. MacCracken both believe that, in an ideal world, the process would be the other way round; governments would decide a safe temperature rise based on the best science and then set an appropriate climate change policy. But this is not the world we live in.
Mark Serreze, the director of the US National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder, recently pointed out how the Arctic climate system has entered uncharted territory, so that even computer models are “no longer providing a reliable guide to the future.”
Dr. Leifer said that even if we prepare for the inevitable sea level rise from Greenland melting alone, accelerated melting there is “very bad,” as it reduces the time to implement plans. However, he noted, most countries are not in preparation mode to begin with.
“For example, a forward-looking society would encourage relocation through, say, tax incentives and disincentives from, say, most of Florida, to higher ground — even purely on a hurricane insurance basis,” he said. “Sadly, forward-looking is incompatible with our political system’s biannual money festival, aka elections. Still, very few other countries are doing better — excepting some northern European countries, like Holland — despite differences.”
The impacts of climate disruption aren’t waiting for our preparations, or lack thereof. Dr. Leifer believes that, sooner or later, the sea levels will rise dramatically. Once this happens, he believes coastal cities will have to be abandoned due to sea level rise and increasingly destructive hurricanes. He believes that the sooner that departure happens, the less destruction and loss of human lives we will experience.
The Slowing and Potential Failure of the Gulf Current (AMOC)
Dr. Leifer also expressed concern about the changes to the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), which is currently weakening and already at its weakest in at least the last 1,600 years. Dr. MacCracken states that his greatest concern about Arctic feedback loops is that of the melting of the plateau of the Greenland Ice Sheet. He explained that the meltwater and warmth at the surface is penetrating down into the ice sheet, softening it enough that the glacial ice has started flowing outward, and as this happens, the surface of the ice sinks to lower altitudes. This kicks in a feedback loop that ultimately causes warming to accelerate, which causes the ice to flow faster, which further accelerates the melting.
“The ice making up the Greenland Ice Sheet holds about the equivalent of 6-7 meters (~20 feet) of global sea level rise, and glaciological evidence makes clear that an order of approximately half of that melted during the last interglacial about 125,000 years ago, contributing significantly to the 4-8 meter rise in sea level at that time,” Dr. MacCracken said. He pointed out that this rise was caused by a 1°C temperature increase, similar to the temperature increase Earth is experiencing right now (1.16°C above baseline).
“At that time, the atmospheric CO2 concentration was near 300 ppm and the warming was due to differences in the Earth’s orbit around the Sun. Today, the orbital parameters are less favorable to significant warming, but the CO2 concentration is a good bit higher and growing,” Dr. MacCracken said. “And its warming influence acts all year long, making it not surprising that the loss of mass of ice from the Greenland Ice Sheet is going up rapidly with a stronger and stronger influence on sea level around the world.”
The rapidly melting Greenland Ice Sheet is precisely what is causing the AMOC to slow. Moreover, an Arctic that is continuing to warm could lead to the failure of the Gulf Current, Dr. Leifer said.
“The resultant deep freeze that would hit Europe would destroy European agriculture and likely lead to a massive war for survival,” he warned.
Full article available at : https://truthout.org/articles/how-feedback-loops-are-driving-runaway-climate-change/ …………………………………………………………………………………..
We may now better understand the urgency in the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s recent 1st September declaration. This World Wild Animal Day focuses our attention, or should do, that is time for us all to take stock and make changes in the choices we make and the way we live.
 Knight, A, “Animal Agriculture and Climate Change,” in The Global Guide to Animal Protection, ed. A. Linzey, 254-256. Urbana, Chicago and Springfield: University of Illinois Press, 2013.
 The carbon footprint produced by animals is as follows: cow 16Kg CO2 per 1Kg of meat; sheep 13Kg CO2; pig 5Kg CO2; chicken 4.4Kg CO2 as compared to mussels, which hardly register on the scale, Horizon, “Should I Eat Meat?” Also, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s Report (2006) “Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues & Options.” UNFA Report (2013) “Tackling Climate Change Through Livestock.” European Commission, (2010) “Roadmap for Moving to a Low-Carbon Economy in 2050.” International Food Policy Research Institute, (2009) “Climate Change: Impact on Agriculture and Costs of Adaptation.” Organic Centre State of Science Review, “Impacts of Organic Farming on the Efficiency of Energy Use in Agriculture.” The Royal Society, (2010) “Energy and the Food System.” United Nations Environmental Programme Convention on Biodiversity (2007) “Biodiversity and Climate Change.” World Bank Agriculture & Rural Development Department, Report (2009) “Minding The Stock: Bringing Public Policy to Bear on Livestock Sector Development.” International Panel on Climate Change “Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change.”
 Aaltola, Animal Suffering, 34-45. Aaltola provides many other reports and scientific studies, which outline numerous examples of suffering. Also, Broom & Nimon, 1999, 2001; European Commission, 1995, 2001, 2012; Mench, 2002, 2008; Sanotra, Berg and Lund, 2003; Julain, 2004; Appleby 2007. For other references to misuse and cruelty, see the European Commission Reports (1995, 2001, and 2012) and the Compassion in World Farming website: http://www.ciwf.org.
The Icon depicts archangel Michael entrusting a herd of horses to Saints Flores and Laurus who were protectors of domestic animals.
Because of the veneration they received in the early church, Russian icons depict them in the company of Elijah, Nicholas and James, Bishop of Jerusalem and patron saint of Novgorod.
Today is a good day for pheasants, a bad day for shooters and a memorable day for all of us – that includes you – who have campaigned so hard for so long.
Today, in a landmark move, Natural Resources Wales agreed to end pheasant shooting on Welsh public land. The announcement comes off the back of a three-year-long campaign by Animal Aid and the League Against Cruel Sports, which included over 12,500 people signing a petition to the government agency.
We couldn’t have done it without you.
This outcome reflects strong opposition to the practice from the Welsh Government, the 74% of the public who oppose shooting birds for sport, and an urgent need to reverse damage to wildlife and the environment on the public estate.
The life of a pheasant reared for sport is horrific. They live for months crammed inside small wire mesh cages that often don’t even meet the welfare standards of intensively farmed chickens. That is until one day, the pheasant is suddenly released into Welsh government woodland, along with thousands of other birds – only to be gunned down by shooting parties for ‘sport’. Many pheasants are not killed instantly and hit the ground suffering from painful wounds and injuries. They are pitifully killed by having their necks broken or being hit over the head with a beater’s stick.
But this cruelty is coming close to an end in Wales, as the leases for shooting estates will not be renewed when they come to an close in March 2019. This means that pheasants living on public land owned by Natural Resources Wales can live without fear of being shot.
We thank those who have relentlessly pursued an end to pheasant shooting in the Welsh national forest, including Environment Minister Hannah Blythyn AM and you; our supporters. This is as much a victory for you as it is for the wildlife which has now been spared the gun.
But this is only the beginning of the end of ‘game’ bird shooting in the UK. There has never been a better time than now to push for a nation-wide policy against shooting covering not only Wales, but England, Scotland and Northern Ireland too.
To make this happen we must keep this momentum up. Talking with MPs. Rallying even more people like you against shooting. And making the national parties take note that a majority of the public want to see an end to shooting birds for sport.
Thank you for your support.
Prot. No. 738
By God’s Mercy Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch
To the Plenitude of the Church: Grace, peace and mercy
From the Creator of All, our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ
Beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord,
Twenty-nine years have now passed since the Mother Church established the Feast of Indiction as the “Day of Protection of the Environment.” Throughout this time, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has inspired and pioneered various activities, which have borne much fruit and highlighted the spiritual and ecological resources of our Orthodox tradition.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate’s ecological initiatives provided a stimulus for theology to showcase the environmentally-friendly principles of Christian anthropology and cosmology as well as to promote the truth that no vision for humanity’s journey through history has any value if it does not also include the expectation of a world that functions as a real “home” (oikos) for humanity, particularly at a time when the ongoing and increasing threat against the natural environment is fraught with the possibility of worldwide ecological destruction. This evolution is a consequence of a specific choice of economic, technological and social development that respects neither the value of the human being nor the sanctity of nature. It is impossible to truly care for human beings while at the same time destroying the natural environment as the very foundation of life, essentially undermining the future of humanity.
Although we do not consider it appropriate to judge modern civilization on the grounds of criteria related to sin, we wish to underscore that the destruction of the natural environment in our age is associated with human arrogance against nature and our domineering relationship toward the environment, as well as with the model of eudemonism or disposition of greed as a general attitude in life. As incorrect as it is to believe that things were better in the past, it is equally unfitting to shut eyes to what is happening today. The future does not belong to humanity, when it persistently pursues artificial pleasure and novel satisfaction—living in selfish and provocative wastefulness while ignoring others, or unjustly exploiting the vulnerable. The future belongs to righteous justice and compassionate love, to a culture of solidarity and respect for the integrity of creation.
This ethos and culture are preserved in Orthodoxy’s divine and human ecclesial tradition. The sacramental and devotional life of the Church experiences and expresses a Eucharistic vision, approach and use of creation. Such a relationship with the world is incompatible with every form of introversion and indifference to creation—with every form of dualism that separates matter from spirit and undermines material creation. On the contrary, the Eucharistic experience sensitizes and mobilizes the believer toward environmentally-friendly action in the world. In this spirit, the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church emphasized that “in the sacraments of the Church, creation is affirmed and human beings are encouraged to act as stewards, protectors and ‘priests’ of creation, offering it in doxology to the Creator” (Encyclical, par. 14). Every form of abuse and destruction of creation, along with its transformation into an object of exploitation, constitutes a distortion of the spirit of the Christian gospel. It is hardly coincidental that the Orthodox Church has been characterized as the ecological expression of Christianity inasmuch as it is the Church that has preserved the Holy Eucharist at the core of its being.
Consequently, the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s ecological initiatives were not simply developed in response or in reaction to the modern unprecedented ecological crisis, but as an expression of the Church’s life, an extension of the Eucharistic ethos in the believer’s relationship to nature. This innate ecological conscience of the Church was boldly and successfully declared in the face of the contemporary threat to the natural environment. The life of the Orthodox Church is applied ecology, a tangible and inviolable respect for the natural environment. The Church is an event of communion, a victory over sin and death, as well as over self-righteousness and self-centeredness—all of which constitute the very cause of ecological devastation. The Orthodox believer cannot remain indifferent to the ecological crisis. Creation care and environmental protection are the ramification and articulation of our Orthodox faith and Eucharistic ethos.
It is clear, then, that in order to contribute and respond effectively to the ecological challenge that we face, the Church recognize and research the relevant issues. We all know that the greatest threat to our world today is climate change and its destructive consequences even for our survival on the planet. This topic was paramount in the 9th Ecological Symposium, entitled “Toward a Greener Attica: Preserving the planet and protecting its people,” organized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate last June on the Saronic Islands of Spetses and Hydra. Unfortunately, the recent devastating fires in Attica and the impending consequences of this immense environmental destruction constitute tragic proof of the views shared by the symposium participants on the severity of the ecological threat.
Venerable hierarchs and beloved children in the Lord,
The ecological culture of the Orthodox faith is the realization of its Eucharistic vision of creation, summarized and expressed in its church life and practice. This is the Orthodox Church’s eternal message on the issue of ecology. The Church preaches and proclaims “the same things” “at all times” in accordance with the unassailable words of its Founder and Leader, that “heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Lk. 21:33). Adhering to this tradition, the Mother Church calls upon its Archdioceses and Metropolises, as well as its parishes and monasteries throughout the world, to develop initiatives, coordinate projects, organize conferences and activities that foster environmental awareness and sensitivity, so that our faithful may realize that the protection of the natural environment is the spiritual responsibility of each and every one of us.
The burning issue of climate change, along with its causes and consequences for our planet and everyday life, offer an opportunity to engage in dialogue based on principles of theological ecology, but also an occasion for specific practical endeavours. It is vitally important that you emphasize action at the local level. The parish constitutes the cell of church life as the place of personal presence and witness, communication and collaboration—a living community of worship and service.
Special attention must also be directed to the organization of Christ-centered educational programs for our youth in order to cultivate an ecological ethos. Ecclesiastical instruction must instil in their souls a respect for creation as “very good” (Gen. 1:26), encouraging them to advocate and advance creation care and protection, the liberating truth of simplicity and frugality, as well as the Eucharistic and ascetic ethos of sharing and sacrifice. It is imperative that young men and women recognize their responsibility for the practical implementation of the ecological consequences of our faith, while at the same time becoming acquainted with and promulgating the definitive contribution of the Ecumenical Throne in the preservation of the natural environment.
In conclusion, we wish you all a blessed ecclesiastical year and abundant benefit in your spiritual struggles, invoking upon you the life-giving grace and boundless mercy of the Giver of all good things, our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ, the Pioneer and Perfecter of our faith, through the intercessions of Panaghia Pammakaristos, whose honourable icon, the sacred heirloom of all Orthodox people, we reverently and humbly venerate today.
September 1, 2018
✝ Bartholomew of Constantinople
Your fervent supplicant before God
Whilst we welcome this report, the reduction needs to be much quicker than 2050. If we each decided to change our diet rather than wait for governments to stand against vested interests, it could easily be achieved.
Europe’s meat and dairy production must halve by 2050, expert warns
Policymakers, farmers and consumers face ‘deeply uncomfortable choices’, says author of report advising urgent reduction of unsustainable livestock sector
Study advises that the livestock industry needs to achieve a 74% drop in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Europe’s animal farming sector has exceeded safe bounds for greenhouse gas emissions, nutrient flows and biodiversity loss, and urgently needs to be scaled back, according to a major report. Pressure on livestock farmers is set to intensify this century as global population and income growth raises demand for meat-based products beyond the planet’s capacity to supply it.
The paper’s co-author, Professor Allan Buckwell, endorses a Greenpeace call for halving meat and dairy production by 2050, and his report’s broadside is squarely aimed at the heart of the EU’s policy establishment. Launching the report, the EU’s former environment commissioner Janez Potocnik said: “Unless policymakers face up to this now, livestock farmers will pay the price of their inactivity. ‘Protecting the status quo’ is providing a disservice to the sector.” The study calls for the European commission to urgently set up a formal inquiry mandated to propose measures – including taxes and subsidies – that “discourage livestock products harmful to health, climate or the environment”.
Livestock has the world’s largest land footprint and is growing fast, with close to 80% of the planet’s agricultural land now used for grazing and animal feed production, even though meat delivers just 18% of our calories. Europeans already eat more than twice as much meat as national dietary authorities recommend – far beyond a “safe operating space” within environmental limits, says the Rise foundation study. As a result, huge sectoral “adjustments” will be needed by 2050 to rebalance the sector, including a 74% drop in greenhouse gas emissions and a 60% cut in nitrate-based fertiliser use, it finds.
Long before then, policymakers, farmers and society as a whole face “deeply uncomfortable choices”, according to Buckwell.
“We’re talking about fewer meat meals, less meat portions and moving to flexitarian diets without being dogmatic about it,” he said. “There is a role for softer public health messaging but harder messages are necessary too.” Such a transformation “won’t happen spontaneously”, he added. “It requires strong signals from government so the policy proposal must include measures to discourage consumption of livestock products harmful to public health and the environment.”
Buckwell called for targeted taxes on harmful practices, with subsidised meat for low-income consumers, and a realignment of funding regimes to advise, retrain and hire more farmers for work in rural landscape management and animal welfare. The hope is that consumers will eventually pay more for high quality meat produced in environmentally safe conditions, where countryside protection and animal welfare have been guaranteed.
Translated from the Russian.
On Saturday, August 18, a prayer service for the preservation of God’s creation dedicated to homeless animals was held in the village of Lemeshovo near Ilyinsk near Podolsk near Moscow.
“We pray for people who, by their mercy, are ready to share their love with unfortunate homeless dogs and cats and participate in their salvation,” said the abbot of the church, Protopriest Peter Dynnikov.
Believers came to worship together with their cats. At the end of the moleben Fr. Peter sprinkled the animals with holy water.
In the moleben, the following words were heard: “Look down from Heaven, God, and see, as the earth mourns, and the trees and the past disappear and the beasts and the birds of heaven perish for the wickedness of those who dwell on it. For this reason, in repentance, we fall and cry out to Thee, so do not destroy your peace and us with our iniquities, but grant treatment to the insane son of man and save them and their creatures conquered. ”
At the Church in Lemeshovo, there is a shelter-hospice for dogs and cats and everyone can donate food to them.
One of the most important sites for birds in Cyprus is the Akrotiri Peninsula-Episkopi Cliffs Important Bird Area (IBA), at the southern tip of the island and within the UK Overseas Territory. This extensive site comprises the largest complex of wetlands on the island, as well as a mosaic of coastal scrub, dunes, agricultural areas and impressive coastal cliffs that mesh together to form a unique and complex landscape. It is, in fact, one of the most species-rich and important areas of the island for birds and other wildlife and a top destination for any nature lover. But how many of us have truly explored this site, its natural, cultural and traditional aspects? And why are we now worried about its preservation?
What is at stake at the Akrotiri Peninsula-Episkopi Cliffs IBA?
This IBA site is a mosaic of habitats. The seasonal Akrotiri Salt Lake occupies the centre of the peninsula and is part of a wider aquatic system with a number of saline and freshwater habitats such as the Zakaki and Akrotiri marshes, Akrotiri merras (gravel pits area) and Bishop’s pool. This habitat type is the rarest of wetland habitats, comprising only approx. 0.5% of the global wetland surface area. Subsequently, the Akrotiri wetland complex is a Ramsar Wetland site since 2003, recognising it as a wetland of international importance.
This area is the most important wetland IBA in Cyprus with 300 recorded bird species. Its diversity and extent support great congregations of waterbirds in winter and spring and it supports important populations of many of the island’s key breeding species. Up to 20,000 birds may gather at Akrotiri Salt Lake at any one time, and can include globally important numbers of Greater Flamingos Phoenicopterus roseus and Eurasian Curlews Numenius arquata. Furthermore, it is the best site in Europe to catch sight of the Demoiselle Cranes Grus virgo, in late August, as they come to roost overnight at the main salt lake before soaring with the thermal currents to continue their migratory journey early the next day. Moreover, one cannot miss the White Storks Ciconia ciconia, that pass through the site from March to May and August to October; in 2012, one of the largest flocks ever seen in Cyprus was recorded, consisting of around 2.600 birds!
Needless to say, the peninsula is important for breeding species, resident and migrant alike, including the Globally Threatened Ferruginous Duck Aythya nyroca, while Episkopi and Akrotiri Cliffs support breeding Eleonora’s Falcons Falco eleonorae and Peregrine Falcons Falco peregrinus. Episkopi Cliffs are also home to the most important breeding colony of the Griffon Vulture Gyps fulvus on the island. The site is also a bottleneck for migrating raptors in autumn, when more than 3,000 raptors pass through, including small but globally important numbers of Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus, Pallid Harrier Circus macrourus and Saker Falcon Falco cherrug, plus larger congregations of Red-footed Falcon Falco Vespertinus.
Of course, the importance of this site is not only restricted to birds. Priority habitats such as the Posidonia beds – meadows formed by the seagrass Posidonia oceanica – are found here, a major food source for marine turtles. The western part of the peninsula provides important nesting grounds for two marine turtle species: the Vulnerable Loggerhead Caretta caretta and Endangered Green Τurtle Chelonia mydas. The partly submerged sea caves at Akrotiri cliffs provide one of the last remaining breeding refuges of the Εndangered Mediterranean Monk Seal Monachus monachus on the island, as well as important roosting sites for bat species. And in terms of flora, as one would expect in such a mosaic of habitats, the IBA supports one of the largest, most pristine and ecologically complex coastal ecosystems in Cyprus. The site is pre-eminent in Cyprus for threatened plants with more than 800 indigenous plants occuring on the peninsula, which amounts to around 40% of the all plant species found on the island!
This IBA is not only rich in natural beauty, but also in history, tradition and culture. The numerous archaeological sites such as the Ancient Kourion city and Kolossi Castle, the various chapels and churches, as well as the tradition of basketry, still practiced at Akrotiri village, provide a plethora of options for any culture enthusiast exploring the area.
Why is this unique area under threat then?
This IBA is one the best sites in Cyprus for birdwatchers and nature lovers, rivalling Akamas Peninsula and Karpasia Peninsula IBAs. So one would logically expect that it would be strictly protected and properly managed to preserve its rich biodiversity, as well as promoted as a go-to nature destination for tourists and locals. Sadly, not only it lacks proper management, it is now at risk of serious degradation.
The greatest threats are habitat loss and fragmentation, as a result of pressures for development, both military and civilian, including tourist developments, roads, renewable energy infrastructure and many others. The latest threat for this site is the huge Zakaki casino development that is to be built to the north east of the peninsula. Sadly, this development is going ahead, fast tracked with the ‘blessings’ of the Cyprus government, without any proper assessment being done on the impacts on the environment and the wildlife.
This frantic race for development is very worrying. A golf resort next to the casino has been given the green light. South of that, proposals from the Electricity Authority of Cyprus for the construction of the largest 20MW photovoltaic park in Cyprus are already on the table. To the east, restaurants along the Lady’s Mile beachfront are constantly expanding their parking spaces by illegally destroying the coastal sand dunes. Additional threats include the disturbance by visitors (walking, dog walkers, vehicles), off-road driving and opportunistic rallying, predation by feral cats, stray dogs and natural predators, illegal shooting and trapping, the extensive antenna installations and supporting guy wires (serious collision risk for migrating and breeding birds) and the illegal dumping of rubbish.
On top of all this, there is the Non-Military Development agreement, signed between the Republic of Cyprus and the UK Government in January 2014, which is also of great concern. The political discussion for the finalisation of this agreement concerning changes in the planning regulations within the Sovereign Base Areas, is still ongoing. Hence, it is not an overstatement to say that the protection and preservation or the destruction and degradation of the Akrotiri Peninsula is directly dependent on the outcome of this agreement and the likely planning zones and uses to be proposed.
For us, the protection and proper management of this IBA is a top priority and we are following closely any developments, lobbying the competent authorities and politicians to safeguard and conserve this treasured natural area not just for now, but for generations to come.