December 3, 2009

Late night links

Too good not to share.

Dr. Lucy H. Spelman is a veterinarian and all 'round amazing and remarkable person, currently working with giant otters in Guyana. That's one of her charges on the left. Dr. Spelman's blog: Saving Otters.


Storms are lining up and rain's on the way! Also: pretty maps! See Ken Clark's Western U.S. Weather Blog for all the deets. H/T: the awesome, essential Aquafornia.


Wildfire in Yellowstone: NASA astronauts are there.


What does it take to save a species? Sometimes, high-voltage power wires
. From Green Lines, by Beth Daley of the Boston Globe:
Transmission corridors have long been considered symbols of environmental degradation, with their enormous steel skeletons and high-voltage lines slicing through forests, wetlands, and salt marshes; they divide the landscapes that thousands of species need to survive. Yet now they are gaining a new reputation: As critical homes for faltering species of birds, bees, butterflies, plants, and a host of other species.
“It’s hard to explain to conservation groups that [species] are being saved in the most unpopular and disturbed kinds of landscapes,” said Robert Askins, a biology professor at Connecticut College who has studied birds in transmission corridors. “I was shocked originally to be working in them myself.”
H/T: 3 Quarks Daily.


"How is Jo, a former fighting pit bull, different from other dogs?" A Rotta Love Plus spells it out. Good read.


"[R]esearch out of Purdue University is suggesting that female dogs and, interestingly, female humans, live longer if they keep their ovaries," posts Christie at Pet Connection. A good discussion follows, with terrific comments from the most excellent Heather Houlahan. I mean, comments #34 and #35? Perfect.

In somewhat related news: Nature's Harmony Farm no longer castrates their pigs.
The controversy surrounding castration [of piglets] is one of humane treatment. In North American swine production, castration is essentially universal, although in the UK and Ireland, for welfare reasons pigs are not castrated. Additionally, legislation passed in Norway and Switzerland that banned castration of pigs starting in 2009. The majority of male pigs in Spain and Portugal are not castrated. McDonald’s & Burger King in the Netherlands both announced that they will no longer sell products containing pork from castrated pigs. According to The Pig Site, "There is substantial evidence that castration is painful and highly aversive to pigs and so is a significant welfare concern. The most painful part of castration appears to be the severing of the cords and vessels supplying testis. An assumption is often made that the procedure is less traumatic to younger piglets although the contrary maybe true."


Finally, via The Ethicurean: "When a recent UC Santa Cruz study asked grocery shoppers on California's Central Coast to rank their concerns about the food system, respondents prioritized animal welfare above the treatment of human workers on the farms." Bay Guardian reporter Caitlin Donohue reports on the irony of it all in Out of reach: How the sustainable local food movement neglects poor workers and eaters.
The average salary of the estimated 900,000 farm workers in California — the birthplace of the organic and farm labor movements in the U.S. — is around $8,500, more than $2,000 below the federal poverty line.
[Jon] Hall’s customers [at the University of San Francisco food court], college students who may eat three meals a day here, often approach him with questions about their food. Queries range from where to how the food was grown, but in no instances that Hall has been aware of, about the workers who grew it.

Labor issues are not the popular cause these days, at least in the sustainable food movement. Unlike the “eat local” and organic food movements, equitable treatment of farm workers has yet to spawn trendy slogans for tote bags or a book on the best-seller list.

One UC Santa Cruz study found that, when asked to rank their concern about food system related topics, Central Coast grocery shoppers assigned higher concern levels to animal treatment on farms than that of humans. But Hall is confident this will change as Bon Appetit and others continue to bring attention to the economically disadvantaged on the front lines of our local and organic food systems.

“This is the next frontier,” he said. “I can see it brewing.”
Somewhere, Edward R. Murrow is shaking his head in despair.

1 comment:

Bill Fosher said...

I spent two summers grazing sheep on power transmission lines, and it's no surprise to me that these swaths would be teeming with life. I certainly saw it every day. It makes perfect sense: the largest biodiversity is usually found where two habitats meet -- around the edges. Power transmission lines are essentially edges, at least in New England, where they are usually fields cut through the woods.

They are also not visited by humans very often, so they are become known as safe havens. Sure, the pylons aren't pretty, but tell that to the raptors that use them for hunting and nesting platforms.