Has economic growth become the inconvenient truth for animal welfare?

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Jacquelyn Kirkland

Nov 18, 2014, 10:56:39 AM11/18/14
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In his latest article, Brian Czech explains that we have to face up to the big-picture, systematic erosion of wild animal welfare.

Ishi Crew

Nov 18, 2014, 4:40:46 PM11/18/14
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Off and on I have dabbled in a local EF!  (earth first) environmental group.  (I realized pretty quickly that I had misread it; I thought they were focused on the earth, first; but instead they were into stuff like playing with walkie-talkies and running around the woods planning 'direct actions', and admired people who jumped out of planes to stop wolf hunts.     I am more into 'indirect actions', which actually nowadays has alot of support from fields such as behavioral economics. Rather than try to stop people from doing something you disagree with, rather than getting in their face in a hostile way, you instead try to develop alternatives, set an example, walk the talk, and 'nudge' them (e.g. Thaler and Cass Sunnstein). 

Some of the people loosely linked to EF! were hard core animal rights types---eg 'meat is murder'.  They would always go and picket various drug companies which experimented on animals, rescued chickens from their coops, and raise money for a farm where the rescued chickens could roost happily until the end of their days. (I think the new chicken roost had large screen TV, a sauna, room service and an open vegan bar).  They got in trouble with some other 'activists' (a kind of job or identity) because they were against uasing tanimals to test AIDS drugs (and said it wasnt neccesary, and the drugs dont work anyway, and some I think also had the view 'who cares anyway?'---animals are way more important than gays).  They also got in trouble with some 'indigenous' people and activists whoargued, for example, that eskimos could hunt seals, and amazonian indians could hunt for food.  The animal rights types seemed to have the view that this was a cruel and unnececesary way of life and there are alternatives.  All you have to do is hop in your BMW and drive to Whole Foods Market. 

Most of them lived in suburban sprawl, so to  save the Aminals they had to commute long distances.  I pointed out driving around encouraged more sprawl and road building, and they were totally offended.  I was persona non gratis----'we ain't want no elephants in the room, just some chickens and mouses we saved, plus alot of cash'.  

Extremist types like this I guess have 'some' effect---how much I can't quantify.  The slavery abolotionists often were somewhat lunatic type fanatics----John Brown supposedly was, but some give him credit in that struggle.  The Tunisian Arab spring certainly was started by a case of self-immolation, though I the verdict may still be out on how succesful that was. (I heard on NPR today for example that one Kurd has built himself a gigantic manasion modeled on the White House because he so admires and loves the US and its brilliant and altruistic foreign policies in liberating Iraq from tyranny. He perhaps will live happily ever after, and its conceivable to me that everyone else will too---some will die as martyrs due to US or Syrian air attacks and get some virgins, others will lose their heads in joy and go to heaven (or hell, according to personal preference). 

I admit however, that extremists I find exceedingly simplistic and simpleminded.  (My philosophy group is discussing Occam's razor this week---but I'm getting tio be a bit persona non grata there too (one dude there actually called the police on me when i accidently walked into a meeting of some other group he was in; he seems to be a sort of macho man type, but of course he still needed to call the police to avoid the possibility that he's end up crying like a baby and very embarassed and humiliated. "Small packages sometimes contain big surprises, since in the will it says the meek inherited the earth'). .    I actually prefer 'voluntary complexity' (eg mathematical logic, physics, etc.).  Slogans, brands, sermons,  religioons, etc. turjn me off.   (The philo group I find so simplistic for example, so to an extent I may be intentionally making myself unnaceptable.  (This was a sort of EF! 'direct action' tactic---you try to make people you disagree with as miserable as you are. (I think some Palestianians are sort of using this strategy).  (I really only go to these things because sometimes I have nothing else to do and I can get a nice walk on the way before the nitemare (discussion) begins.  I guess i dont like philosophy much).

I used to live off the land for awhile in Alaska (had 30 odd 6 which i got as a trade for cutting some wood and catching some salmon, which I shot 2 times because I couldnt handle the recoil. Also because it got burned up when by mistake I burned down the abandoned cabin I was staying in --- i had insulated it with dried lichen and when I got hypothermia due to a cold snap of about - 30 F and forgot to wear a jacket when cutting wood.  I didnt have a door for my stove   (made out of some metal thing) and I woke up to find it had spreasd through the entire place-----there was no water, it was all ice, my ammunition was going off, so I decided I would go and visit some friends.  (Had to run a mile with no shoes).

So i got a 22 and  learned unlike in the Appalachians, shooting a grouse was exceedingly simple---you just look for when they fly, go under the branch they are on,  blow em away, make a fire, and eat them. You can also have some cranberries found under the snow.

When I hear malignant platitudes about animals it makes me wish I had that 22 with me so I could shoot a squirrel in front of these people.   When I hear 'health nuts' who say 'take care of yourself, like me, commute to a nice rural area, drive tyo the cou8ntry each weekend for a hike, buy food from Whole P ay Check Market, I feel like lighting up a cigarette and blowing it in their face. If you pick up a snake in the wild it will sh-t on you.  Unhappy children will often become pests.

Essays like Czech's leave me Cold.    Makes me want to go throw some bottles and cans all over the neighborhood and park.  (Interestingly alot of the dog walkers make a big show of 'scooping the poop' of their dogs, but when noone's looking they throw the bag opmn tbhe gropund, so they're all over.  Maybe thats called 'recycling' (something people in my building don't do; mostly they just work or commute starting at 4am on the bus---standing room only too).

I'm not sure the HuffPo is really a great place for anti-growth propoganda. But, I guess everyone has their own opinion and strategy---I dought John Brown asked anyone whether going to Harper's ferry was a great idea.  (I do hear HuffPo also features anti-vaccine propoganda.  Maybe CASSE could join up with the antivaccine types, some of whom are against the ebola vaccine campaign (because they know it doesnt work  and also is unnecesary, and besides, who cares about those people and we need to reduce population anyway).  Creating vaccines is part of economic growth. .  

John deC.

Nov 19, 2014, 1:22:54 PM11/19/14
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Ishi, I'm not sure you're focusing on the most important aspect of Czech's article. On the surface he appears to be saying we should all take better care of our little furry friends because they're cute and fun to watch. But the real point about economic growth - and the disappearance of animal and plant species is only one aspect of this - is that it is destructive, unproductive, and unsustainable. There are many ways to make this point and Czech has, for this article, chosen to use the plight of animals.

Daly and others have made a strong case for the argument that we have entered a period when further growth is un-economic, in the sense that it causes more destruction than the value it adds. It has always been the case that some corporations will bolster their bottom lines by externalizing environmental damage, health problems, and the social effects of paying workers inadequate wages. This is now systemic in global capitalism, and those of us who are not the beneficiaries of this unjust system are forced to bear the costs.

The data on climate change alone demonstrates that even if cute, furry animals were not being harmed, it would make no sense to go on trying to grow the global economy. If you haven't looked at the graphs showing the required rates of carbon emissions related to different years for peak emissions, you might want to take a look. If we wait until 2025 to begin actually reducing emissions so as to avoid global average temperature increases of more than two degrees, the required rate of reduction will be something that might only be achievable through the complete collapse of industrial civilization.

I think that's the underlying point of Czech's article. He is using the situation of animals to engage the reader in the subject, since scaring the shit out of people doesn't always work.

biz modl

Nov 19, 2014, 2:16:19 PM11/19/14
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it might be helpful to keep in mind that the human species is engaged in environmental succession:




per the harris model, our production system and the population system are the cultural elements that have the most direct effect on the environment.  its clear an industrial production system has an important effect on the environment, but all species have 'production systems' that convert elements of the environment into sustenance, changing the environment and creating conditions for succession.  as far as we know, our species is the first one to be able to alter the biosphere itself.


one of the characteristics of succession is shifts in species diversity within an ecology.  we are moving the biosphere to climax but we don’t know exactly what type of climax it will be.  in forest succession, for example, species diversity actually declines at the system moves to climax (yet the tree huggers 'love' old, climax stands of trees J).  falling diversity at this time could be an indication we are moving the biosphere toward a climax state.


we don’t appear to be able to limit our population or restrain our production system, so nature will take its course.  but please, lets not have any nonsense about 'saving' nature; nature doesn’t have a preferred state - only we do.  people trying to 'save' nature from climate change seldom see their inherently selfish motives.  what we are really trying to do is 'save' ourselves from nature, as it changes states in accordance with the 'experiment' it is conducting with our species.  regardless of what happens with climate change, nature will be just fine - and will move on to its next experiment J


one has to ask what the response would be if climate change couldn’t be 'pinned' on industrialism J  would we fall out of love with nature? or do what every other species does - adapt or die.


have fun,    biz  

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Ishi Crew

Nov 19, 2014, 2:55:02 PM11/19/14
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actually, you didn't get my point----i am rather a bit jaded.  

that was also the motivation for EF! people at times or in theory. Many original people were former sierra club people who noticed what was happening to the 'environmental movement' was that they were less interested in saving the environment than in having a career with a nice income essentially being a professional lobbyist, PR person etc. This is very much like religion commonly which claims to be for 'ethics' or  'morality' but really is just a guilt and control trip to get people to give money in the name of a 'good cause'. (I note czech seems to travel quite a bit to give speeches which are probably similar to the article---'did you know airplane travel is very destructive and wasteful? now you do. please donate so i can fly to australia and spread the word'. 

   In the article czech says  'spiritual groups' don't cause animal suffering or habitat destruction; well, in my area there is a protected agricultural preserve zoned to stay relatively undeveloped, and some megachurches went in there and said 'because of our deeply spiritual religious beliefs, we need to turn this area into a parking lot for our big church.'  Another church was deeded some land with old growth forest and told to mostly preserve it except for some small housing for elder people, and they later tried to change the terms (after the person was dead) and cut down the forest and turn it into a condo development. 

My real issue may be with HuffPo (where the article was written), and also the article.   my computer name is ishi----look it up on wikipedia. (I like it because its not a real name.   I am tired of being preached to about say 'economic growth' when i know about it---even before i heard of EF! as a kid i used to sabotoge logging roads when i realized they were going to cut down the forest i was often in ----though i certainly have been a beneficiary of growth---that was all indian land at one time, and others..    

Czech's stuff to me is like asking Einstein to come to a lecture on elementary algebra and then expecting him to cheer you on, ask for your autograph, sit at and kiss your feet etc. Meanwhile, the elementary algebra teacher when talking with Einstein about his 'theory of relativity' will say a) all you are is a lowly patent clerk while i am a credentialed math teacher and b) your theory doesnt make any sense and is irrelevant.  

   And also, c) my stuff will get published in HuffPo because like religion, john stewart, rush limbaugh, etc. many people find it interesting, stimulating and attractive whereas 'the theory of relativity' is obscure and difficult, and if we read it we might miss 'the game' and the 'sale' at walmart'.

   (I once considered a grad program in math education at U Md where H Daly worked---they told me basically they didn't want anything new, they just had this standard cookie-cutter curriculum to teach math so they could go to school, put the curriculum on automatic pilot, drive home, watch a movie and go to a restaurant, etc.   They had zero interest in math.The Feynman lectures in physics had the same fate, even if Feynman wrote it. 'i wonder why i wonder why i wonder why...' 

   Long ago i talked to Hermann daly about grad school---his basic view was 'there are really very few grad positions or jobs.  He referred me to Constanza of Ecological Economics (which when i read it was about 50% total publish/perish garbage nonsense) so I mentioned my background (essentially a form of chaos theory) and his view was 'we don't do that'---now he does actually (but not really).  He just didnt want any new ideas or competition.  Daly also said more or less since there are no jobs in that field, welll, i know they are building a new commuter highway to my university of Md. so maybe you can do that, or else continue activism and spend half of your life 'in the good fight'---alternating between picket lines and jail. (I actually got arrested for an EF! event and ended up in the 'scopes monkey trial' courthouse in tennessee).  

sortuh like adam smith---division of labor----i fly around the world giving speeches, and you  go to jail. but we are in the same cause, brother..

Huffpo was created by a millionaire in LA area.  Maybe I would be happier if I just read the ads instead or maybe joined the antivaccination cause instead of steady state. change my religion----maybe join ISIS. (the only thing i liked on there is stuff by biologist D S Wilson----i had a good chance to study under him  (even stayed at his house) , but I decided to spend the $50 application fee (I had completed it except for that part) in other ways and headed back out to the woods.

www.env-econ.net may be more my style.    (I also sortuh decided i am not actually an environmental activist; rather i am part of the environment, so its up to other people to save the environment if you want to.)
   i actually met a grizzly bear face to face in alaska---i was coming up one side of the ridge, it was coming up the other, and i got up there and it got up there at the same time. i told it to get the f-k out of my face and it ran away (i was carrying a guitar, so i played it a song----that always seems to work).  then i had to go and see if i could find any food (i was above treeline, and i like to travel light, so i often dont carry any food.  saw some grayling (trout) i figured i could never catch them, but it turned out they were easy----i had a hook and line and i caught the biggest one on the first cast (about 15 inches). 

Ishi Crew

Nov 19, 2014, 3:27:54 PM11/19/14
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a group i basically don't deal with is lesswrong  is into 'superintelligence'    (

 or something at the 'martin institute at oxford'.

 their view is we should be thinking about computers/AI are going to take over the world (its on amazon).

   (I wrote a review of lesswrong on my blog www.axiomsandchoices.blogspot.com   'watch yourself'

so thats the next ecological succession, in their view. 

(I guess my view would be 'just pull the plug' . shut it down. 
if AI, MIRI, etc want to rule the world, they better get organized to pay the bills, keep the power flowing etc.  Of course there is a possibility they can---plenty of lackeys are willing to keep the power lines up in exchange for HDTV, even if their computers rule them).

     my impression, like many others, was its totally shallow---supposedly bergstrom studied theoretical physics, but if you look at his CV its all garbage. but garbage sells.

 there are more models than the harris model, but you have a right to your religion. i actually prefer the 'r bryan ferguson'  model (rutgers, vs chagnon on the yananamo of brazil).  He has a town named after him, in the news, in Missouri. I was born in arkansas, and we share the ozarks and some other mtns.     

'no fun' (iggy pop); also iggy 'i got a right' (got thrown out out of that show in boston much later---doing the 'idiot ' album with david bowie, dum dum boys'----we later gave em a message.

    'baby, dont u cry, baby, i'll sing u a lullaby,
    we're walking down the streets of chance and the chances are always slim or next to none'
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