Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Why vegetarians are evil, and a look into Watson's World

Years and years ago, Bloom County did a series in which the characters got so worried about harming any living thing that they ended up hanging from trees, ensuring that they wouldn't even step on a bug.

I guess the Swiss like Bloom County. Marine Corps Vet linked to Ace of Spades, who linked to the Weekly Standard's "The Silent Scream of the Asparagus".

At the request of the Swiss government, an ethics panel has weighed in on the "dignity" of plants and opined that the arbitrary killing of flora is morally wrong. This is no hoax. The concept of what could be called "plant rights" is being seriously debated.

A few years ago the Swiss added to their national constitution a provision requiring "account to be taken of the dignity of creation when handling animals, plants and other organisms." No one knew exactly what it meant, so they asked the Swiss Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology to figure it out. The resulting report, "The Dignity of Living Beings with Regard to Plants," is enough to short circuit the brain.

A "clear majority" of the panel adopted what it called a "biocentric" moral view, meaning that "living organisms should be considered morally for their own sake because they are alive." Thus, the panel determined that we cannot claim "absolute ownership" over plants and, moreover, that "individual plants have an inherent worth." This means that "we may not use them just as we please, even if the plant community is not in danger, or if our actions do not endanger the species, or if we are not acting arbitrarily."

So if one follows that line of thinking, vegetarians who refrain from eating meat for moral reasons are hypocrites. So perhaps they should eat rocks instead.

But this quote was more disturbing:

Eschewing humans as the pinnacle of "creation" (to borrow the term used in the Swiss constitution) has caused environmentalism to mutate from conservationism--a concern to properly steward resources and protect pristine environs and endangered species--into a willingness to thwart human flourishing to "save the planet." Indeed, the most radical "deep ecologists" have grown so virulently misanthropic that Paul Watson, the head of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, called humans "the AIDS of the earth," requiring "radical invasive therapy" in order to reduce the population of the earth to under a billion.

Watson, the self-styled "Captain" of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, started his environmental career at a young age:

In 1960, Paul was a member of the Kindness Club, founded by Aida Flemming in New Brunswick. After trappers killed one of his beaver friends, Paul set out, at the age of nine, to confiscate and destroy leg-hold traps. He was also known to disrupted deer and duck hunters, and to prevent other boys from shooting birds.

He eventually joined Greenpeace, until that organization became too conservative for him:

In June 1977, Paul Watson resigned from the Greenpeace Foundation because of disagreements with the emerging bureaucratic structure of the organization. Patrick Moore had replaced Robert Hunter and was opposed to direct action campaigns. Moore had informed Watson that he would not be allowed to lead another seal campaign.

Paul left Greenpeace because he felt the original goals of the organization were being compromised, and because he saw a global need to continue direct action conservation activities on the high seas by an organization that would enforce laws protecting marine wildlife.

To answer that need, that same year, Paul founded the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society - dedicated to research, investigation and enforcement of laws, treaties, resolutions and regulations established to protect marine wildlife worldwide.

This biography didn't mention Watson's statement on radical invasive therapy, but that statement can be found elsewhere on the Sea Shepherd website:

Today, escalating human populations have vastly exceeded global carrying capacity and now produce massive quantities of solid, liquid, and gaseous waste. Biological diversity is being threatened by over-exploitation, toxic pollution, agricultural mono-culture, invasive species, competition, habitat destruction, urban sprawl, oceanic acidification, ozone depletion, global warming, and climate change. It’s a runaway train of ecological calamities.

And we're killing Gaia:

The planet’s ecosystem is a collective living organism and operates very much like the human body. Water is the blood of the earth. It provides the same function in the body as it does for the earth. Water transports nutrients to the land and transports waste to the sea or more specifically the estuaries and salt marshes that function as the liver for the earth, cleansing the water of the toxins. Water circulates through the ecosystem from the sea into the clouds falling back onto the land and returning to the sea again. It is pumped by the energy of the sun, the heart of the earth. It’s a continuous cyclic movement of nutrient bearing, waste removing action that keeps the land fertile.

A river is an artery and a vein, and streams and brooks are capillaries. Put a dam on a river and you cut off an artery preventing nutrients from moving downstream and you cut off the vein preventing the waste from the land from being removed and cleansed.

Plankton, plants, and especially forests are the lungs of the earth, removing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. Overfishing, plankton harvesting, and deforestation is literally diminishing global lung capacity.

So what is Watson's solution?

I was once severely criticized for describing human beings as being the “AIDS of the Earth.” I make no apologies for that statement. Our viral like behaviour can be terminal both to the present biosphere and ourselves. We are both the pathogen and the vector. But we also have the capability of being the anti-virus if only we can recognize the symptoms and address the disease with effective measures of control....

There is only one cure, only one way of stopping this rising epidemic of extinctions. The solution requires an extraordinarily immense effort by all of human society but it is achievable.

We need to re-wild the planet. We need to “get ourselves back to the garden” as Joni Mitchell once so poetically framed it.

This is a process that will require a complete overhaul of all of humanities economic, cultural, and life style systems....


We should not be living in human communities that enclose tiny preserved ecosystems within them. Human communities should be maintained in small population enclaves within linked wilderness ecosystems. No human community should be larger than 20,000 people and separated from other communities by wilderness areas. Communication systems can link the communities.

But what type of communication system? Modern communications systems pollute the environment, smoke signals are just as bad, and we don't want to exploit carrier pigeons.

We need to radically and intelligently reduce human populations to fewer than one billion. We need to eliminate nationalism and tribalism and become Earthlings. And as Earthlings, we need to recognize that all the other species that live on this planet are also fellow citizens and also Earthlings....

We need to stop burning fossil fuels and utilize only wind, water, and solar power with all generation of power coming from individual or small community units like windmills, waterwheels, and solar panels.

Sea transportation should be by sail. The big clippers were the finest ships ever built and sufficient to our needs. Air transportation should be by solar powered blimps when air transportation is necessary.

All consumption should be local. No food products need to be transported over hundreds of miles to market. All commercial fishing should be abolished. If local communities need to fish the fish should be caught individually by hand.

Preferably vegan and vegetarian diets can be adopted.

What? And kill the plankton?

We need to eliminate herds of ungulates like cows and sheep...

Bessie, we have The Final Solution for you. (Although I must admit that our current slaughtering processes aren't a walk in the park.)

...and replace them with wild ungulates like bison and caribou and allow those species to fulfill the proper roles in nature. We need to restore the prey predator relationship and bring back the wolf and the bear.

Yes, and let one Earthling kill another Earthling. So I guess it's OK if I kill you to reduce the population down to a billion. It's for your own good.

And, of course, once you've reduced the population to a billion, you need to keep it low.

Who should have children? Those who are responsible and completely dedicated to the responsibility which is actually a very small percentage of humans. Being a parent should be a career. Whereas some people are engineers, musicians, or lawyers, others with the desire and the skills can be fathers and mothers. Schools can be eliminated if the professional parent is also the educator of the child.

This approach to parenting is radical but it is preferable to a system where everyone is expected to have children in order to keep the population of consumers up to keep the wheels of production moving. An economic and political system dependent on continuous growth cannot survive the ecological law of finite resources.

So how do you discourage people from becoming parents? Form a Junior Anti-Sex League, of course. That should do the trick.

But I probably shouldn't be re-reading 1984, or even Animal Farm, to prepare for Watson's World. Perhaps Lord of the Flies would be a better choice.

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