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Circus And Show Animals Denied Their Right To A Worthwhile Life

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“All five of the ‘freedoms'” are claimed to be compromised in expert review, urging for a ban on wild animal acts.

Animal Defenders International (ADI) has called for immediate action to end the suffering of wild animals in circuses in Britain after a comprehensive and expert analysis of scientific evidence found “all five of the ‘freedoms’” are compromised in travelling animal shows. Experts said that circus life for animals is one not “worth living”.

Jan Creamer, President of Animal Defenders International said, “This new report supports decades of evidence that the welfare of wild animals is seriously compromised in circuses. Having time and again exposed the suffering and brutality of animals in circuses, Animal Defenders International is calling on the Government to act on the Harris report now.”

‘The Welfare of Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses’ report was commissioned by the Welsh government and undertaken by Professor Steven Harris, the 2nd Lord Dulverton Memorial Professor of Environmental Sciences at Bristol University. The report summarises: “The available scientific evidence indicates that captive wild animals in circuses and other travelling animal shows do not achieve their optimal welfare requirements, as set out under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, and the evidence would therefore support a ban on using wild animals in travelling circuses and mobile zoos on animal welfare grounds.”

The Harris team consulted 658 experts and organisations around the world including 138 animal trainers and circuses, 206 lawyers and veterinarians with expertise in wild animal welfare, 107 people working for NGOs, 144 biologists, researchers, behavioural and species experts, 58 zoo and wild animal sanctuary staff, and relevant government officials and wildlife experts.

The views of the animal trainers and circuses were “very different to the other groups of experts” on several issues. The group “did not believe that frequent training is stressful for animals” and the “frequency and duration of transport should be minimised to avoid unnecessary stress.” They “disagreed that the portable enclosures required for regular travel cannot meet the preconditions for good welfare,” contrasting all reports from the expert groups.

Findings of the 178 page report include:

  • All five of the ‘freedoms’ are compromised in travelling circuses and mobile zoos”
  • “Most if not all of the twelve ‘welfare criteria’ used in the [European] ‘Welfare Quality project are compromised”
  • “Life for wild animals in travelling circuses and mobile zoos does not appear to constitute either a ‘good life’ or a ‘life worth living’”
  • There is “No scientific evidence to suggest that some species of wild animals (vertebrates or invertebrates) are more suited to life in a travelling circus or mobile zoo”
  • Most animal performances “focus on tricks that do not reflect natural behaviours”
  • “Traditional animal training methods are coercive and based on force and aggression”. Circus trainers“have few or not recognised qualifications or formal training”.
  • “Minimum recommended enclosure sizes for animals in circuses are on average 26.3% of the recommended enclosure size for animals in zoos”
  • There is “No scientific evidence that wild animals fully adapt to frequent transport”

The study included a review of 764 scientific reports and articles that had been peer-reviewed since 2007, following publication of the last UK Government report on the subject. The report noted that there had been “a substantial increase in the amount of information available” since the Government’s last report.

Lesley Griffiths, Cabinet Secretary of Environment and Rural Affairs has stated that the Wales Animal Health and Welfare Framework Group would be drawing up “detailed options on the next steps regarding the use of wild animals in circuses, as well as further considerations on the use of all animals in MAEs”.

The issue of animal circuses has become an embarrassing parliamentary saga, with various governments promising to take action since 2006. In 2009, ADI exposed the abuse of elephants with the Great British Circus. The ensuing outrage led to a Defra consultation in 2010 which saw almost 95% of respondents back a ban on wild animal acts. In 2011, ADI exposed how Anne, an elderly elephant with Bobby Roberts Super Circus, was kept permanently chained and physically abused, resulting in a cruelty conviction for her owner. Backbench MPs responded with a unanimous vote for a wild animal ban, and a year later the Government agreed to pass legislation. A Government bill was drafted in 2013, but has been left to gather dust. In an unprecedented political and parliamentary commitment, for the 2015 General Election the Labour, Conservative, DUP and Green parties all included manifesto commitments to ban wild animals in circuses – 98% of MPs are committed to action.

Wales and Scotland have both pledged to take action on the issue.

Changing attitudes and awareness of animal suffering have seen the number of wild animal circuses in Britain plummet, with opinion polls commissioned by ADI consistently supporting a ban for over a decade.

Only two circuses are currently performing in England with wild animals, Circus Mondao and Peter Jolly’s Circus, but with no bar to wild animal circuses in place, the door is open to others joining them.

In April 2016, ADI exposed the miserable lives of the animals at Peter Jolly’s Circus when they are not on the road: appalling overcrowding, fighting between animals, a worker spitting in the face of and tormenting a camel, ponies tangled in short tethers, animals crammed in a run-down building for 14 hours a day, some animals shut in the dilapidated building for days on end, and on one occasion animals tethered for up to 40 hours ignoring government regulations.

The continued use of wild animals in circuses is opposed by animal welfare experts, animal protection groups, politicians and a huge majority of the public. The Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE) has concluded “there is by no means the possibility that their [wild mammals in travelling circuses] physiological, mental and social requirements can adequately be met.”  and the British Veterinary Association that “The welfare needs of non-domesticated, wild animals cannot be met within a travelling circus – in terms of housing or being able to express normal behaviour.” A 2009 research paper co-authored by Professor Harris concluded “the species of non-domesticated animals commonly kept in circuses appear the least suited to a circus life”.

32 nations around the world have now restricted either wild animals, or all animals, from travelling shows. It is time for the UK to become top of this list.

Once a ban is in place, ADI has offered to assist with the relocation of circus animals, should the need arise. ADI has just this year concluded an operation to enforce similar legislation in Peru, rescuing and relocating over 100 animals, with 33 lions airlifted to a sanctuary in South Africa.

Energy

Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?

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sustainable wood burning ideas

Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?

Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.

Is Biofuel Green?

One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.

Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?

Homegrown Technology

Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.

Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.

Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.

Benefits Of Biomass

The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.

Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.

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Environment

New Climate Change Report Emphasizes Urgent Need for Airline Emission Regulations

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In less than two months, the United States has grappled with some of the worst natural disasters in its history. Hurricanes battered the south central United States. Fires destroyed homes throughout Northern California. Puerto Rico experienced some of the worst storms ever. A massive windstorm caused more damage to the northeastern United States then any other storm on record before winter even struck.

These recent incidents have spurred discussion on the dangers of climate change. A recent report from the University of London has shed some light on the discussion. The new report suggests that new regulations are needed, including stricter EPA regulations on Airlines.

Review of the new report

The new report was published in the British medical Journal, Lancet. The report concluded that climate change is a “threat multiplier” for a variety of social problems, including diseases and natural disasters. While numerous studies have processed the risk that climate change plays with creating natural disasters, University of London report is among the first to explore the relationship between climate change and disease.

The authors warned that the problems are becoming irreversible. They will continue to get worse if risk factors are not adequately addressed.

The most concerning part of the report is that these problems are having the most serious impact on the most vulnerable communities in the world. Countries that depend on agriculture and other issues will suffer the most if climate change escalates.

“The answer is, most of our indicators are headed in the wrong direction,”said Nick Watts, a fellow at University College London’s Institute for Global Health and executive director of the Lancet Countdown, one of the lead researchers of the paper. “Broadly, the world has not responded to climate change, and that lack of response has put lives at risk. … The impacts we’re experiencing today are already pretty bad. The things we’re talking about in the future are potentially catastrophic.”

Airline industry discovers climate change is a two-way Street

The airline industry is coping with the problems of climate change, while also coming to terms with the fact that it has helped accelerate the problem. Earlier this year, American Airlines was forced to cancel four dozen flights near Phoenix. Cancellations were called due to excessive temperatures. The air was over 120 degrees, which is too hot for some smaller jet planes to get off the ground.

One anonymous airline executive privately admitted that their business model has facilitated climate change. They warned that the problem may become twice as bad in the next few years if proper safeguards aren’t implemented. Representatives from Goindigo have echoed these concerns.

The EPA has stated that airplanes account for 11% of all emissions. They are expected to increase over 50% within the next 30 years. This could have serious repurcussions if newer, greener airplane models don’t become the new standard in the very near future.

This is driving discussion about the need for new policies.The EPA has been discussing the need for new airline regulations for nearly two years. An EPA ruling made in July 2016 set the tone for new regulations, which could be introduced in the next year.

The new policies may be delayed, due to the new president’s position on climate change. He hired an EPA chief that has sued the organization about a dozen times. However, the Trump Administration may not be able to oppose climate change indefinitely, because a growing number of people are pressing for reforms. Even younger conservatives primarily believe climate change is a threat and are demanding answers. This may force the EPA to follow through on its plans to introduce new solutions.

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