April 2012
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In this edition...

Earth Day Focus
  10 things we've learned about the Earth since last Earth Day
  UN: Meat consumption must be cut to reduce global warming
  Clean your plate, save the world?
  Planet's tug-of-war between carrying capacity and rising demand: Can we keep this up?
  Looking back on the limits of growth
  Vast tracts in Paraguay forest being replaced by ranches
  UN: New economic paradigm needed, including social and environmental progress

Animal Issues, Health, Lifestyle News
  Animal sentience: Baboons can learn to spot real words
  UN expert says Western 'obesogenic' diet being exported to poor countries
  Trade your milk and butter for plant-based versions
  Koreans switching back to traditional meat-free diet
  7 eats with more fat than a stick of butter

Films, Books and Perspectives
  Meet enchanting Oscar in Disney's new film 'Chimpanzee'
  Interview: Ecocide should be treated like a war crime, UK lawyer says
  Video: John Robbins assures us there are 'no happy cows'
 

Don't forget to visit:

(Excerpts are included from current news stories. Click on the "Full story" link to read the full article.)
  Earth Day Focus    

10 things we've learned about the Earth since last Earth Day
Full story: Smithsonian

2012 is the 42nd celebration of Earth Day, which was started in 1970 by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson to help educate people about environmental issues and demonstrate public support for a conservationist agenda. With that in mind, we decided it was the right time to recap the most surprising, awe-inspiring and alarming things that we have learned about the Earth and the environment since last year's holiday...   Read more...

Smithsonian - April 19

UN: Meat consumption must be cut to reduce global warming
Full story: ENN

According to the UN, the attitude towards meat consumption has to change, and people must cut back. This is a necessary step in reducing one of the most potent greenhouse gases, nitrous oxide (N2O). A recent study by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests that the developed world needs to cut its meat consumption by 50 per cent per person by the year 2050. Assessing the likelihood of such a drastic change in the diet is difficult. However, according to IPCC author Dr. Davidson, "If you had asked me 30 years ago if smoking would be banned in bars I would have laughed and said that would be impossible in my lifetime, and yet it has come true."   Read more...

ENN - April 16

Clean your plate, save the world?
Full story: Reuters

Cleaning your plate may not help feed starving children today, but the time-worn advice of mothers everywhere may help reduce food waste from the farm to the fork, help the environment and make it easier to feed the world's growing population. Hard data is still being collected, but experts at the Reuters Food and Agriculture Summit in Chicago said an estimated 30 per cent to 50 per cent of the food produced in the world goes uneaten. Experts say reducing waste is a simple way to cut stress on the environment while easing pressure on farmers, who will be called on to feed an expected 9 billion people around the world in 2050, versus nearly 7 billion today. "No matter how sustainable the farming is, if the food's not getting eaten, it's not sustainable and it's not a good use of our resources," Dana Gunders, a sustainable agriculture specialist, said at the Reuters Summit.   Read more...

Reuters - March 15

Planet's tug-of-war between carrying capacity and rising demand: Can we keep this up?
Full story: ENews Park Forest

The global economy continued to grow last year, world population surpassed 7 billion, and the use of energy and other natural resources generally rose. The Worldwatch Institute captures the impacts of this rising consumption and the increasingly risky state of humanity in Vital Signs 2012, the latest compilation of indicators from the Institute's Vital Signs project. "Commitments are needed to reverse a number of harmful trends," [said the] director of the Vital Signs project. Among the findings: Meat: Livestock are responsible for 40 per cent of the world's methane emissions and 65 per cent of nitrous oxide emissions. These greenhouse gases are 25 to 100 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Factory farming: Factory farming has contributed to a tripling in global meat production over the last four decades. It is associated with heavy use of chemical inputs, the spread of disease, antibiotic overuse and resistance, massive water consumption, and declines in human health. [See also Rising number of farm animals poses environmental and public health risks - ENN (March 23).]   Read more...

ENews Park Forest - March 27

Looking back on the limits of growth
Full story: Smithsonian


Forty years after the release of the groundbreaking study, were the concerns about overpopulation and the environment correct?

Recent research supports the conclusions of a controversial environmental study released 40 years ago: The world is on track for disaster. So says Australian physicist Graham Turner, who revisited perhaps the most groundbreaking academic work of the 1970s, The Limits to Growth [30-year updated version]. The MIT study used computers to model several possible future scenarios from the book. The business-as-usual scenario estimated global economic collapse and precipitous population decline could occur by 2030. Turner compared real-world data from 1970 to 2000 with the business-as-usual scenario. He found the predictions nearly matched the facts. "There is a very clear warning bell being rung here," he says. "We are not on a sustainable trajectory."   Read more...

Smithsonian - April

[Also of interest: Is it too late for sustainable development? Dennis Meadows thinks so. Forty years after his book "The Limits to Growth," he explains why. - Smithsonian (March 16)
]


Vast tracts in Paraguay forest being replaced by ranches
Full story: New York Times

The Chaco thorn forest, a domain with 118-degree temperatures so forbidding that Paraguayans call it their "green hell," covers an expanse about the size of Poland. Hunter-gatherers still live in its vast mazes of quebracho trees. But while the Chaco forest has remained hostile to most human endeavors for centuries, the region's defiance may finally be coming to an end. Huge tracts of the Chaco are being razed in a scramble into one of South America's most remote corners by cattle ranchers from Brazil, Paraguay's giant neighbor, and German-speaking Mennonites, descendants of colonists who arrived here nearly a century ago and work as farmers and ranchers. [Video at the link - 4:46]   Read more...

New York Times - March 24

UN: New economic paradigm needed, including social and environmental progress
Full story: UN News Centre

"Gross National Product (GDP) has long been the yardstick by which economies and politicians have been measured. Yet it fails to take into account the social and environmental costs of so-called progress," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his remarks at a high-level meeting at UN Headquarters in New York. Convened by the Government of Bhutan, the meeting - "Happiness and Well-being: Defining a New Economic Paradigm" - brought together hundreds of representatives from governments, religious organizations, academia and civil society to discuss the issue.   Read more...

UN News Centre - April 2
Related video:


UN examines interplay between happiness, development and economic progress (April 2) [1:50]

Also of interest:
There's more to happiness than GDP & there's a new report to prove it
Treehugger (April 3)
Why we'd all be happier in Bhutan
Guardian, UK (April 2)
World Happiness Report 2012
The Earth Institute, Columbia University (March 30)


More Environmental News:
The myth of sustainable meat
Opponents of industrialized agriculture have been declaring for over a decade that how humans produce animal products is one of the most important environmental questions we face. We need a bolder declaration. After all, itís not how we produce animal products that ultimately matters. Itís whether we produce them at all. - New York Times (April 12)
Got pollution? Study links dairies to bad air quality
EarthFix (March 8)
U.S. campaign for labelling of GM food gathers momentum - with worldwide implications
A California ballot initiative hopes to force labelling of genetically-modified ingredients in the important state Ė and could prompt a nationwide change in the U.S. - Guardian, UK (March 12)
8 ways vegetarian is good for the planet
Earth 911 (April 9)

 
  Animal Issues, Health, Lifestyle News    

Animal sentience: Baboons can learn to spot real words
Full story: Huffington Post

Dan the baboon sits in front of a computer screen. The letters BRRU pop up. With a quick and almost dismissive tap, the monkey signals it's not a word. Correct. Next comes, ITCS. Again, not a word. Finally KITE comes up. He pauses and hits a green oval to show it's a word. In the space of just a few seconds, Dan has demonstrated a mastery of what some experts say is a form of pre-reading and walks away rewarded with a treat of dried wheat.   Read more...

Huffington Post - April 12

UN expert says Western 'obesogenic' diet being exported to poor countries
Full story: The Ecologist

The West is exporting diabetes and heart disease to poor countries, along with the processed foods that line the shelves of global supermarkets warns UN food advisor Olivier De Schutter. While obesity is firmly embedded in countries like the U.S., UK and Europe, the rates are set to rise in poorer countries previously unaffected by the obesity epidemic. In these countries, traditional healthy diets, made up of grains, beans, vegetables, fresh fruit and animal products are being replaced by more processed and junk foods high in saturated fats, salt and sugar. The shift has reduced the opportunities for local farmers to sell their produce, who lose out to agribusiness giants dominating the global trade in unhealthy foods.   Read more...

The Ecologist - March 14

Trade your milk and butter for plant-based versions
Full story: Huffington Post

Why this switch? Well, for starters, a lot of milk has added hormones in it - and these additives are no good for our waistlines. In fact, they're not good for the cows that produce the milk, let alone the humans who drink it! These hormones are injected into cows to make them produce more milk (which creates more profit). But even organic, grass-fed, and chemical-free milk is full of naturally-occurring cow hormones that aren't necessarily good for people, whether the milk is whole, 2 percent, or skim. Cow's milk is the perfect nutrition for building a calf into a cow, but definitely not for a human - especially a human who would like to be slim. [Day 4 of the 7 days to health series from Kathy Freston, author of The Lean: A Revolutionary (and Simple!) 30-Day Plan for Healthy, Lasting Weight Loss.]   Read more...

Huffington Post - April 19

Koreans switching back to traditional meat-free diet
Full story: Yonhap News, Korea

Going vegetarian is a growing new trend in Korea, especially among the younger generations. By unofficial count, the number of vegetarians in Korea is around 1 per cent of the population. Whether for health concerns or religious and philosophical reasons, more and more are reversing their Westernized, meat-based dietary patterns back to a traditional plant-based one. In a country where values of unity and like-mindedness still prevail over individual choices in social life, many find strict vegetarianism is not as isolated and difficult a route as before, with vegetarian restaurants sprouting up across the country and many support groups within easy reach.   Read more...

Yonhap News, Korea - April 9

7 eats with more fat than a stick of butter
Full story: Huffington Post

You wouldn't sit down to dinner at your favorite restaurant and order a stick of butter a la carte. You're too smart for that. But some of the cheesy entrees and meaty meals on the menu are packed with just as much fat - or more, including the salad...   Read more...

Huffington Post - April 19

[At the other extreme: 5 supernutritious superfoods The more you tuck into these nutrient-dense, fiber-rich foods, the less you will have a hankering for burgers and fries. These superfoods act like medicine in your body, helping to detox years of bad choices... - Huffington Post (April 19)]


More Animal Issues and Advocacy News:


Undercover video exposes extreme cruelty at egg facility
HSUS (April 12) [2:37]


Is an egg for breakfast worth this?
Somehow, fried eggs donít taste so good if you imagine the fetid barn in which they were laid. - New York Times (April 11)
Help expose the truth
Mercy for Animals wants everyone's help exposing their powerful video "Farm to Fridge" narrated by Academy Award nominee James Cromwell. The film reveals the often-unseen journey that animals make from on the way to dinner plates. - Mercy for Animals


More Health News:
Life won't be the same without antibiotics
The over-prescription of these drugs to humans and animals spells the end of modern medicine as we know it. - The Telegraph, UK (April 6)
Video: Vegan nutrition 101 with Jack Norris
Good easy to follow advice - Vegan Break

 
  Films, Books and Perspectives    

Meet enchanting Oscar in Disney's new film 'Chimpanzee'
Full story: Disney

A wonderful testament to animal sentience. In Chimpanzee, Disneynature highlights the similarities we share with our fellow creatures by following the story of Oscar, a playful three-year-old whose life is turned upside-down when he's separated from his mother. A portion of proceeds from the opening week's ticket sales (April 20 - 26) will go towards helping protect chimpanzees and their habitat. See a preview, listen to the director talk about the making of the movie, and Jane Goodall explain its importance to conservation - all at the link.   Read more...

Disney - In theatres from April 20

Interview: Ecocide should be treated like a war crime, UK lawyer says
Full story: Toronto Star

Ecocide: The extensive destruction, damage to or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been severely diminished. International lawyer Polly Higgins, a Scottish-born environmental activist, has made eradicating ecocide her life's work. Eradicating Ecocide is also the title of her book. Ten years ago, she was a successful young barrister, representing corporations in pollution cases. Then she had an epiphany. She came to understand that the current corporate legal framework, which obligates executives and directors to maximize profits for shareholders, made it illegal for them to prioritize the environment in their business decisions.   Read more...

Toronto Star - March 30

Video: John Robbins assures us there are 'no happy cows'
Full story: Vimeo

Internationally known vegan and bestselling author John Robbins talks about his newest book No Happy Cows - a collection of his recent columns from the front lines of the food revolution along with new material. The book's provocative observations into the relationships between animals and the humans who raise them remind us of the importance of working for a more compassionate and environmentally responsible world.

[Editor's note: From his first book "Diet for a New America" to the present, John's thoughtful and inspirational writing has been life-changing for his readers. He and his son are hosting a unique event - The Food Revolution Summit April 28 - May 6. You can sign up for free to hear an amazing array of speakers.]   Read more...

Vimeo - April 17


Also of interest:
Top 10 green reads for earth month
from Care2

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