Should We Be Having Kids In The Age Of Climate Change?

By Katie

 

melting-ice

Image from Bernhard Staehli / shutterstock

 

Jennifer Ludden has recently published an article asking the question: Should We Be Having Kids In The Age Of Climate Change?

My answer? No.

Read the scientific predictions for climate change. Consider what future your child will have. I’m scared about what the world will be like when I’m 40, but at least I will have had 39 years to live a ‘normal’ life, pre-climate change disaster.

My privileged Western kid will produce far more emissions than a kid in Burundi. (Yes, even if they are vegan and an amazing ethical eco person! Vegans and ethical people – you don’t get a free pass at breeding!) But ultimately who will suffer the most under climate change? The kid in Burundi. And my kid will help to add more suffering through their environmental impact.

 

kids-and-climate-change

Image from The Weather Channel on Youtube

 

So, no. No good reason to choose to bring a kid into this world. You do it for your own selfish reasons, to propagate your DNA and have a little version of you that you believe is a special snowflake and not something that cost you half a mil and shits on you (literally!).

That’s not even to mention what kind of world they would be living in if the climate doesn’t continue to go to hell. I’m not bringing a girl into this world. Knowing she has a 1/3 chance of experiencing violence? No. I will never have to come to the realisation that I could not protect my own child from family violence or sexual violence.

The worst part is being one of those childfree people that loves kids and fantasises about being able to have my own kids in a perfect world. So many childfree people hate kids. It’s so easy for them. But I have to watch others experience it, get all the adulation and recognition by our pro-breeding society, knowing that I am choosing to opt out and not experience being a parent. Because it’s in the best interest of the planet, the other animals we annihilate with our breeding, and that little kid in Burundi.

 

polar-bear

Image from globalaffairspress.com

The Greens and the Myth of “Green” Capitalism

By Nick Pendergrast

 

green capitalism

 

We recently did a podcast episode where we explained how we’re voting this election. We got some feedback questioning why we’re voting for far-left parties like the Socialist Alliance ahead of the Greens in the Senate. This has a lot to do with the limitations of “green” capitalism.

 

We are anti-capitalists, so feel we have more in common with an anti-capitalist party like the Socialist Alliance than pro-capitalist parties like the Greens (even though we’re not state socialists). More specifically though, while we like and respect the Greens and think they have a lot of positive, progressive policies, we also acknowledge that they support (and are one of the biggest proponents of) the idea of “green” growth and “green” capitalism. They do not fundamentally challenge Turnbull’s “jobs and growth” mantra but simply tweak it to “green jobs and green growth”.

 

green jobs

 

We have done a whole episode challenging this idea of “green” capitalism, featuring sociologist Dr Caleb Goods, who did his PhD on the topic of “green” jobs and “green” capitalism generally. I thought a graph from his book Greening Auto Jobs: A Critical Analysis of the Green Jobs Solution, which we discussed on that episode and is displayed below, is particular telling. It shows that fossil fuel emissions have only ever gone down in times of economic downturn and up in times of economic growth. So for those concerned about the environment, it makes sense to challenge this idea of growth, which is an inherent part of capitalism.

 

growth graph

 

While we hope that the Greens get more votes than the two major parties, we are preferencing parties like the Socialist Alliance ahead of the Greens, to encourage the Greens to challenge growth. On episode 136, we discuss preferential voting and why it makes sense to preference parties taking the climate emergency more seriously than the Greens, for example by challenging growth. This can send a message to the Greens – just as the Greens encourage people to vote for them to send a message to Labor.

 

 

prefential voting

 

I hope that more people voting for parties like the Socialist Alliance who challenge economic growth will encourage the Greens to embrace the idea of degrowth. I believe that to take the climate emergency seriously, a move towards a degrowth economy is essential.

(Animal Justice) Party Poopers: Why we’re Not Voting for the Animal Justice Party, even though we’re Vegans

By Nick and Katie

 

Animal-Justice-Party-600x300

 

Katie’s bit – the personalised, passionate part

For anyone assuming I would vote for the Animal “Justice” Party because I believe in animal rights and social justice, you’re wrong. This is the party that preferences the Liberal party. Their candidate attacked me and destroyed the animal rights group I was with, leaving me in a deep depression. One of their people said they would support homophobic legislation if it meant passing their animal welfare Bill. The worst kind of vegans are those who only care about animals and not any other social justice causes.

 

strange bedfellows

Image from getup.org.au – there were problems with the Animal Justice Party preferencing right-wing, racist, homophobic etc parties last election. Same again this time.

 

Nick’s bit – the impersonal, boring part

Preferencing the Liberal Party

The Animal Justice Party ‘supporting the re-election of Jason Wood [from the Liberal party] in the seat of La Trobe’ is a good example of their single issue, “it’s all about the animals” approach. They argue that they have done this because he supports a ban on the import of hunting trophies from hunting in Africa (hardly a controversial position in the West) and because he supported legislation to stop animal testing of cosmetics in Australia. This is despite the fact that Labor and the Greens also support this legislation along with the Liberal and National Coalition – it is going to get through anyway. Nevertheless, they ‘will preference him over his rivals’. This is because they argue that: ‘Any politician that supports decent treatment of animals, regardless of party, deserves our support’ (my italics).

 

This support is despite his atrocious voting record on human rights and social justice issues, which you’d expect from a Liberal party politician:

  • Voted very strongly against increasing scrutiny of asylum seeker management.
  • Voted very strongly against implementing refugee and protection conventions.
  • Voted very strongly against increasing protection of Australia’s fresh water.
  • Voted very strongly for privatising government assets.
  • Voted very strongly against increasing funding for university education.
  • Voted very strongly against extending government benefits to same-sex couples.
  • Voted very strongly for decreasing availability of welfare payments.

 

I guess all of this is beside the point for a party that solely focuses on (non-human) animals – humans are animals too! These issues are not even raised as concerns for the Animal Justice Party, who focus solely on his attitudes towards non-human animals. Interestingly, Wood’s voting record also shows a complete disregard for the environment:

  • Voted very strongly against a carbon price.
  • Voted very strongly against increasing marine conservation.
  • Voted very strongly for unconventional gas mining.

 

Crossovers between Different Issues

Wood’s voting record on these policies affects not just the environment as a whole but non-human animals specifically, who are harmed and killed as a result of environmental impacts such as climate change and loss of habitat. This demonstrates the crossover between environmental and animal rights issues. Indeed, there are strong links between all social justice issues, including human rights issues as well.

 

 

We care deeply about non-human animals but unlike the Animal Justice Party, that is not our single focus. We also see how the oppression of non-human animals shares similarities with and intersects with other forms of oppression, which we also view as important issues in their own right. For more on why we support an intersectional approach to animal advocacy, which views other issues such as human rights and environmental issues as also important, you can hear our talk ‘Intersectionality in Practice’ or listen to episode 93 of our podcast, which includes this talk and further discussion on intersectionality:

 

bobslide6

Cartoon by miriamdobson.wordpress.com

 

Policies Towards Non-Human Animals

Any party’s policies towards non-human animals are going to be limited within the current animal welfare framework, including the Animal Justice Party. They focus on ‘the phase out of factory farming’ and ‘the rapid phase out of live export and the slaughter of animals without pre-stunning for any reason; including religious beliefs’. So basically we’re left with the “humane” slaughter of animals, which we think is nowhere near enough to take the interests of non-human animals seriously – cutting their life short is a harm in itself. Their position on this is understandable, as no party will gain any traction calling for a complete end to animal slaughter. However, despite some important exceptions such as mentioning plant-based diets and opposing the kangaroo cull, their current policy for the vast majority of non-human animals who are killed by humans, which is for food, is the same as parties like the Greens – more “humane” slaughter.

 

The Animal Justice Party has (very slightly) better policies towards non-human animals than progressive parties like the Greens. However, it would only make sense for us to vote them if non-human animals were our singular focus. That is why we will be voting for progressive parties whose current policies towards non-human animals are inadequate (as are the Animal Justice Party’s), but who, unlike the Animal Justice Party, have strong positions on a wide range of other issues we care about, such as opposing the horrible treatment of refugees, addressing economic inequality and protecting the environment.

 

How We’re Voting This Election

Senate:
1. Socialist Alliance
2. Australian Progressives
3. The Greens
4. Australian Sex Party
5. Pirate Party
6. Drug Law Reform

 

House of Representatives:
1. HODGINS-MAY Steph – The Greens
2. McKENZIE-KIRKBRIGHT Levi – Drug Law Reform
3. VON DOUSSA Henry – Marriage Equality
4. DANBY Michael – Australian Labor Party
5. SMYTH Robert Millen – Animal Justice Party
6. HOLLAND Peter – Independent
7. GUEST Owen – Liberal
8. MYERS John B – Independent

 

Why We’re Voting This Way

We discuss why we’ve ordered the parties in this way on episode 138 of our podcast:

The Importance of Veganism: A Historical Perspective*

By Nick Pendergrast

*This article was originally published on the 17th of March 2012, on the site four-domains.net. This site is no longer active, which is why I’m adding the article here. If you’re new to veganism and would like to find out more, check out my articles on what is veganism? and why vegan for animals, the environment and health.

vegn

Image from zazzle.com

Lately “veg*nism” seems to be everywhere. I see people talk about “veg*n” food when all the food is vegan, people encouraging others to support “veg*n” restaurants or businesses, and people saying it is pointless to talk to “veg*ns” about animal rights because it is “preaching to the converted.”

I also see many groups and individuals saying that if you’re already “veg” or “vego”, then try to convince others – as if there is nothing to be gained for non-human animals by avoiding other animal products beyond flesh.

It also seems common for people to be vegan at home and vegetarian when they eat out. At a vegetarian restaurant where I live in Perth, Australia, they even give away a free dairy bubble tea with any meal on Monday to congratulate people for supporting Meat Free Mondays.

free dairy drink on meat free mondays

Leave out the meat and get a dairy drink instead?

Animal Flesh as the “Ultimate Evil”

The idea that flesh is the “ultimate evil” rather than just one of many products that involve the exploitation of other animals is very dominant in the animal advocacy movement. But is this idea a valid one?

I believe that Leah Leneman’s article ‘No Animal Food: The Road to Veganism in Britain, 1909-1944‘ sheds some light on this. Back in 1847, when The Vegetarian Society was set up, they justified the consumption of dairy and eggs on the basis that it was not necessary for animals to be killed to produce these products.

This idea was challenged in The Vegetarian Messenger and Health Review (The Vegetarian Society’s magazine) from 1909-1912, with many different people pointing out that dairy and egg products involve the slaughter of the males who cannot produce the desired product. Also explained was the slaughter inevitably waiting the females once they were no longer producing enough eggs or dairy to be profitable. Finally, others also pointed to the separation of the mother and her calf in the dairy industry – her calves will be stolen away and slaughtered for veal so she can be continually impregnated to produce dairy.

veg_mess

Image from happycow.net

In 1911 and 1912, there were a few vegetarians who attempted to challenge the idea that suffering and death were inherent to the dairy and egg industries in The Vegetarian Messenger and Health Review. However, after 1912, such arguments were not made in this magazine again.

Justifying Vegetarianism based on Practical Considerations

After this point, the Vegetarian Society justified the consumption of dairy and eggs based on practical, rather than ethical considerations. Veganism was seen as too difficult, so while the Vegetarian Society accepted that dairy and eggs could not be justified ethically, they argued that it was too difficult to give up all animal products and that vegetarianism was a transitional stage to a more humane, “pure vegetarian” diet that avoided dairy and eggs as well as flesh.

It has been about 100 years since the Vegetarian Society has attempted to justify consuming dairy and eggs ethically. So what about the argument that it is just too difficult to give up all animal products?

Referring back to Leneman’s article, the first vegan cookbook in Britain, No Animal Food, was written by C.W. Daniel and published in 1910. The review of this book by the editor of The Vegetarian Messenger and Health Review explained that these recipes showed that it was ‘not at all impossible to obtain a variety of palatable dishes without recourse to either eggs or milk.’

In 1964, Eva Batt explained that ‘veganism is by no means concerned only with food; vegans deplore the slaughter or exploitation of any creature for any reason.’ She also explained some of the forms of exploitation that vegans avoid, including those involved in food, clothing, entertainment and household products. Batt explained that: ‘This may seem a formidable list…However, for all the above there are humane alternatives.’

In the same article, Batt went on to say that: ‘Putting  veganism  into  practice  will  require  a  little  patience,  some  knowledge  of nutrition (which is easily learned and is a most rewarding study) and perhaps a bit of help from other vegans who have acquired local knowledge about the availability in the  area  of  pure  foods,  humane  clothing  and  household  products.’ Keep in mind, this was in 1964.

eva batt

Eva Batt – image from candidhominid.com

I recently published an article explaining the gains for veganism in 2011 alone, in terms of awareness of veganism and the reasons for becoming vegan, as well as increased vegan options in supermarkets and restaurants. Think of how far veganism has come since 1964.

The internet has made things so much easier now. Unlike in 1964, anyone with internet access can easily find numerous websites, podcasts and books on vegan nutrition. Humane clothingpersonal and household products are also easy to find. Vegan mentor programs and 30 day vegan challenge programs can provide support for people making the transition to veganism.

rise of veganism

Image from huffingtonpost.com

At What Point Will the “Transitional Phase” End?

In the early 1900s, the Vegetarian Society admitted the problems with dairy and eggs, however, saw vegetarianism as a practical step on the transition to a vegan diet. Unfortunately, this transition does not seem to have happened.

They continue to encourage people to give up flesh but not eggs and dairy, even speaking of the “virtues” of “free-range” eggs, which involve the slaughter of animals, while elsewhere on their website challenging the idea of “humane” slaughter.

chicks

Male chicks being killed in the egg industry, a standard practice because males do not lay eggs, so are not profitable to the industry. Image from Vegan Outreach.

But this prioritisation of flesh is quite arbitrary and unnecessary. Not only do dairy and eggs involve the slaughter of other animals, but dairy has the additional cruelty of the continual separation of mother and calf. In fact I’ve heard many people convincingly make the case that dairy actually involves more suffering than flesh.

mdi-grieving-mother

Image from peacefulprairie.org

When I was vegetarian, I obviously gave up flesh, but increased my intake of dairy and eggs. As a result, I was possibly contributing to more animal suffering and death than before.

I won’t assume every vegetarian was the same as me – some may not increase their intake of dairy and eggs. However, if we accept that products like dairy are just as bad as flesh, then are vegans still “preaching to the converted” when talking to vegetarians?

If someone totally gave up dairy but continued to eat flesh and eggs, as well as wearing animal products like leather, and using household products that contain animal products and testing, would we think it would be pointless talking to this person about animal rights as we’re “preaching to the converted”? Of course not – but this is much the same as someone who does not eat flesh but is otherwise engaged in animal exploitation.

Of course individual vegetarians may refuse to consume leather and may avoid household products that are tested on animals. However, there is nothing inherent to vegetarianism that requires avoiding such exploitation – vegetarianism is a diet. This is contrast to veganism, which goes beyond diet and is about considering non-human animals in all of the choices that we make.

veg vegan

In 2012, with more vegan options than ever before, it is important that we advocate for veganism, which means advocating for all non-human animals. Not just those raised and slaughtered for their flesh, not just those used for food – but all non-human animals that are exploited by humans – whether for clothing, entertainment, or whatever other purpose.

When I interviewed Patty Mark from Animal Liberation Victoria for my PhD thesis, she explained that in the 1980s, they were concerned about using the word “vegetarian” because it might put people off and marginalise the organisation as too radical.

Now vegetarian is such a mainstream term – but this is only because people used the word, promoted vegetarianism, and demanded vegetarian options. We can do the same with veganism, and it has never been easier to do so.

If The New York Times, Bloomberg Businessweek and the ABC are happy to talk about veganism – though they generally only focus on the dietary aspect – surely vegan animal advocates can also embrace the term, and encourage a fuller appreciation of it?

Let’s Promote Veganism, Not Veg*nism

The debate over whether animal products beyond flesh involve suffering and death to non-human animals was resolved by 1912. Vegans such as Donald Watson and Eva Batt also showed that it was very possible to live without animal products even decades and decades ago, meaning that there was never a need for the “transitional” phase of vegetarianism. With mainstream awareness of veganism and increasing vegan options, the argument that we are still in a “transitional” phase where animal products like dairy and eggs are not desirable ethically but are too difficult to avoid is even less convincing.

With all of this in mind, now has never been a better time to be vegan, and to promote veganism. This does not mean being hostile to vegetarians or anyone else who isn’t a vegan. Rather, veganism can be promoted in a positive way, highlighting the benefits of avoiding animal products, rather than dwelling on the animal products people are currently consuming – flesh or otherwise.

The problems with our relationship with other animals go well beyond the consumption of flesh. Being vegan, and promoting veganism rather than veg*nism, shows that avoiding animal products beyond flesh is a really important and positive step to take on behalf of non-human animals.

Opposing ALL Forms of Homophobia in Light of the Orlando Attack*

By Nick Pendergrast

It is horrible to hear what has happened in Orlando. This terrorist attack was inspired by homophobic outrage at seeing two men kissing. In order to address such extreme acts of violent homophobia, we have to tackle homophobia (and any form of queerphobia) all of the way along the spectrum of the ‘continuum  of violence’.

Continuum of violence (Hollomotz)

Image from Hollomotz (2013) in the book Disability, Hate Crime and Violence.

Whether it is homophobic language, attacks on important programs that support queer youth like Safe Schools, or mass acts of violence like occurred in Orlando, they are all based on the same homophobic thinking and all have the same effect in terms of keeping queer people marginalised.

I have been watching Malcolm Turnbull’s response to the attack and it is not enough to just condemn this violence at the extreme end of the spectrum, while supporting the attacks on Safe Schools that address issues such as social exclusion and stigma. To meaningfully stand against this attack you have to stand against all homophobia and queerphobia.

 

*This post has since been expanded into an article on New Matilda. Please check out the article there and share it around, thanks!

Katie Takes on Game of Thrones

*Content warning: discussion of sexual violence*

feminists are coming

So apparently they are going to “tone down” the sexual violence in Game of Thrones. So nice of them.

Personally, I get enough of it in my daily life that I don’t need it exploited in the name of ‘entertainment’.

Sex on TV? Yes. Violence on TV? Yes. Sexual violence of TV? Yes. But do not exploit sexual violence in a way that is “sexy” in order to increase ratings.* True Blood had all three without exploiting sexual violence for ratings, or making “blurred” consent sexy.

Porn use declined when GoT reaired this year. Research shows the popular pornography on the Internet involves violence and degradation of women. That tells you everything you need to know about this disgusting show.

sexism GoT

Image from xojane.com

NOTE: If you want to defend this show to me, don’t. Survivors get sick of being lectured to about how they need to deal with “reality”. Uh yeah, we do. Every fricking day. Which is why we want to avoid this horrible triggering shit as our entertainment.

 

*A number of scenes that were written as consensual sex in the books have been changed to sexual assaults in the TV show.

 

 

A Message for the Baby Boomers

By Katie

cigar

Image from: smh.com.au

Between 1975 and 2015, Sydney housing prices increased 30-fold. While housing costs 30 times more, wages only rose 10 times more during that period. Gen Y have to pay for university degrees which were free for Baby Boomers. Our Medicare system is being decimated. A working welfare system is a thing of the past. And the rate of insecure work more than doubled between 1984 and 2014 (thank you neoliberalism). Not to mention the risks our generation face in the next 15-20 years of societal collapse due to climate change.

real house prices

Image from: rba.gov.au

So how exactly are we the entitled generation???

Baby boomers who don’t support Labor’s negative gearing plan are locking their children and younger generations out of the property market.

Baby boomers who helped destroy this world before we were born, who voted for neoliberal reforms, who oppose Labor’s negative gearing plan, who did nothing to stop the decimation of unions and therefore the destruction of working conditions, YOU OWE US.

We deserve basic things like having a stable home, job and planet. Think about that next time you fill your car with petrol. Think about that next time there is a discussion about negative gearing or workers’ rights.

THINK ABOUT THAT AT THE POLLING STATION.

 

Sources:

http://www.news.com.au/finance/money/costs/40-years-of-change-what-were-paying-way-more-for/news-story/3a9cc7dbc1ec5394c3dbe8ba9365b064

https://www.nuw.org.au/noc2014/inequality-and-the-rise-of-insecure-work

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2014/mar/14/nasa-civilisation-irreversible-collapse-study-scientists