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By Sharon St Joan

 

So far, the history of the human race on this planet has not been a happy story.

 

In recent days, something surprising has happened. We have all seen the photos of clear skies and waterways. Towns near the Himalayas can now see the face of these mountains for the first time. In Los Angeles and New Delhi the pollution has lifted, and it’s possible to see clearly. In Venice, in unclouded waters, fish can be seen swimming.

 

Leatherback turtles, almost gone in recent years from the world’s beaches, are now returning to nest on beaches in Florida and Thailand.

 

With an absence of humans who are mostly on lockdown because of the coronavirus, the world of nature is experiencing a spell of relief.

 

An overbearing presence

 

In a May 21, 2018 article in the Guardian, the Environmental Editor, Daminan Carrington, wrote, “Of all the mammals on Earth, 96% are livestock and humans, only 4% are wild mammals.”

 

The presence of humans on the planet is overbearing and has been catastrophic for the other creatures of the earth – both animals and plants. We have occupied the whole earth and are squeezing everything else out of the way.

 

Really, the universe would not mind if we, as humans, took a little something for ourselves – some food to eat, and some shelter. But that is not what we do – instead we dominate all of life – driving much of earth’s life completely out of existence all together. As human beings, we take far more than our fair share. We are, as most of us now realize, destroying the planet.

 

Let’s look at our current world situation. The human race is suffering from the coronavirus pandemic. Scientists come to different views as to the possible origins of this disease. Did it come from wildlife markets or from an accident in a lab where experiments where being carried out on bats? Or maybe from huge pig farms? What does seem clear is that the disease came originally from animals and was then transferred to humans.

 

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So, some people have blamed animals; there have even been a number of bats killed by irrational humans. Yet, the problem, of course, does not lie with the bats, but rather with the disruption and disturbance of nature caused by human beings. Everywhere on earth, the world of nature is under extreme stress caused by human beings. It is not surprising that diseases emerge in such a situation – and then are carried, again by human beings, all across the globe.

 

Those who are brave

 

As we know, in countless countries, there are many very brave and self-sacrificing human beings who risk their lives daily, both in their jobs in service industries, and, especially those in the medical profession, to care for those who are sick, who confront first-hand the tragedy of so many ill and dying people.

 

There is no doubt that many courageous and kind individuals have arisen in this crisis to act nobly, to put the interests of others above themselves.

 

Individuals can and do act with great courage and kindness, and they are heroes. However, though we do not wish to see it, there is a darker side to the human story – and that is the way we as a species behave towards our fellow beings of other species on this planet.

 

Where do we look for help?

 

There is no doubt that this pandemic was caused by cruelty to animals – whether it was cruelty to bats or other animals in markets or laboratories, or perhaps cruelty on giant industrial pig farms – it is in the horrible conditions in these places that the virus arose and was transmitted to humans.

 

Cities, hospitals, nursing homes, even rural areas are overwhelmed with this disease that is suddenly upon us. Where does our attention go in this crisis?  Where do we look for an answer, a resolution, something that will alleviate all this suffering?

 

Understandably, we look for a cure, or for prevention – especially for a vaccine – a vaccine that will put an end to human suffering.

 

Nearly every doctor and every anchor we see on TV speculates on when, where, and how a vaccine may be created. All express hope that this will be soon and that this vaccine will put an end to the enormous death toll and suffering that is being experienced all over the world. Doctors and researchers devote their careers – and billionaires spend their fortunes – to find this elusive vaccine.

 

The unmentionable reality

 

But how is a vaccine developed? A vaccine is developed first by testing on animals, and then as a later step by testing on human beings. In the U.S., the FDA requires that animal testing be carried out when developing new drugs or a vaccine, and that animal testing precede testing on humans. Most countries have similar laws. The reasoning behind this is that, in case a potential vaccine is dangerous, this will be discovered while it is being tested on animals, and only a vaccine that is believed to be safe will then be tested on humans.

 

The underlying rationale for this is that human beings are worth more than animals, and the suffering and death of animals does not matter in comparison to harm that might be caused to human beings.

 

Apparently, most human beings do not question this reasoning. Yet animals in laboratories suffer far more than do humans who volunteer for testing.

 

Animals are deprived of their freedom and their lives in their natural habitats; they are usually killed to obtain the results of the experiments, and they suffer greatly, unlike human beings who are given only an already tested product, believed to be harmless. A little imagination will suffice to see that this is true, even for those who have read very little about animal experiments.

 

Make no mistake, every authority on television, talking about a vaccine, who mentions “animal models” or who talks about getting ready to do “testing on humans” is acknowledging that large-scale testing is already being carried out on animals.

 

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On CNN Newsroom with Rosemary Church, on April 28, Dr. Fauchi mentioned testing being done on rhesus monkeys.

 

In short, what are we doing really?  We are subjecting innocent animals – mice, monkeys and other animals who should be free to live out their lives – to extreme suffering and death because we, as a species, feel that we are much more important, more significant, and more worthy of protection from pain.

 

We sacrifice the innocent lives of beings who have no power to defend themselves or to understand what is happening or why.

 

In this way, once again, we are exploiting the world of nature, as if we had a right to do that – causing pain to all those beings who we feel are less than ourselves. And this is just a further step in the very, very long destruction and desecration of the earth and her children by the human race.

 

This is not the right road to be on, and it will lead not only to the destruction of the earth and all creatures, but also to the destruction of ourselves as well.

 

Yet blame will not help. It is not for us to blame others, those who work towards a vaccine, who are doing their best, in an imperfect world, to follow what our society of today deems to be right and correct. We are all, in one way or another, following the norms of society. That is what we do as human beings. But we do need to find a different path.

 

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How do we see nature?

 

This is not written to change anyone’s view, which is not likely to happen. Most human beings really do believe that we are superior to animals – and that it is far more important to protect human beings than it is actually to consider the fate, the feelings, or the experiences of animals. And so, we hide the truth from ourselves – we minimize reality — saying to ourselves that animals in labs don’t suffer, that of course they are well treated, that they are lesser creatures and so don’t really feel pain. We close our eyes. As a society, we choose to ignore and not recognize the reality of pain, suffering, and death that is experienced by beings who cannot speak for themselves – and who have absolutely nothing at all to do with causing a disease that is contracted by humans.

 

And we go on, as we always have, subjecting and abusing the creatures of the earth, the world of nature, and all the species who live on the earth – all the individuals who ought to be left free to live out their own lives in peace.

 

Although most may agree that animals should be sacrificed for humans, not everyone agrees. There are those who definitely do not agree. That false view is not built into the nature of human beings, and it has not always been there.

 

For some people, myself included, it makes no sense at all to sacrifice innocent animals and to cause them pain and suffering. We need to look for another way to heal ourselves. As humans we have been on the earth for something like 200,000 or 300,000 years, and it is only in the last few centuries that we have turned to experimenting on animals.

 

Where to look for an answer?

 

Not all human beings have always seen nature in this upside-down, mistaken way. If we look to the traditions and beliefs of the earlier societies on the earth, we see that they did not make a distinction between the lives of animals and the lives of humans. We can see this still today in the traditions of some countries. In India, for example, in the concept of ahimsa – a word that means, “Do no harm.” Ahimsa is an ancient philosophy which honors the essential oneness of all existence. Many peoples in many countries – indigenous and tribal peoples, island peoples, hill peoples – often those left behind by the pervasive modern worldview – do still feel an affinity with animals and nature. Also, just regular people on every continent who love animals – whose hearts have not been turned astray and taught a strange modern worldview – often do simply care about animals as conscious, sentient beings whose lives have an intrinsic value. There is no need for us to continue down a mistaken path – of cruelty, of indifference, of blindness.

 

Whether we are talking about developing a vaccine or about renewing the earth so it can once again become a planet habitable by wild creatures and humans alike – we, as a race, need to go back to seeing ourselves as part of nature – as one with the earth and all her children. Only in that way can we and the earth return to a pathway of light and justice.

 

That will be a beginning – setting out on a path of kindness – and from there we can find a way toward solutions and ways of being that benefit all of life – ourselves included.

 

We will never be able to save ourselves through cruelty.  We need to leave behind a worldview that mistakenly places ourselves above all other living beings – because that view is neither correct, nor just. That worldview leads only to death, not life.

 

Instead, we can turn back from the wrong road we are on and once again walk on a road that is a path of beauty, of truth, of kindness, of respect for all that lives.

 

We need to learn again to see all life as connected, as one, as worthy of protection and caring. Only that worldview will lead us along a life-giving course.

 

With us or without us, one day the earth will be released from oppression and renewed – if not in this age, then in an age to come.

 

© Sharon St Joan, 2020

 

Photos

Annapurna Mountain in the Himalayas   ID 130437718 © Jose Miguel Moya Gonzalez | Dreamstime.com  

Giant fruit bats  ID 92575638 © Satit Srihin | Dreamstime.com     

 Rhesus monkeys  ID 65811519 © Robiehi | Dreamstime.com

 Southern lapwing in Brazil.  ID 75947167 © Ondřej Prosický | Dreamstime.com

 

The views expressed are the personal views of the writer. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Natural History Wanderings

ScienceDailyreports

While sifting through fossil soils in the Catskill region near Cairo, New York, researchers uncovered the extensive root system of 385-million-year-old trees that already appeared to have leaves and wood. The finding is the first piece of evidence that the transition toward forests as we know them today began earlier in the Devonian Period than typically believed.

Read full story at 385-million-year-old forest discovered — ScienceDaily

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Well worth watching again, even if you’ve already seen it…

Dear Kitty. Some blog

This July 2017 video from the USA says about itself:

How wolves saved Yellowstone national park

Truly remarkable story of why wolves are so important to an ecosystem.

From Oregon State University in the USA:

Reintroduction of wolves tied to return of tall willows in Yellowstone National Park

May 28, 2020

The reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park is tied to the recovery of tall willows in the park, according to a new Oregon State University-led study.

Wolves were reintroduced to the park in 1995. The new study shows their predation on elk is a major reason for an increase in the height of willows in northern Yellowstone, said Luke Painter, a wildlife ecologist at Oregon State University and lead author on the study.

There’s been a debate among scientists over the degree to which willows may have recovered from decades of suppression by elk following the restoration…

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Juvenile Crimson Rosella~

This red head,

blue cheek,

friendly baby,

will grow into,

a pure scarlet beauty.

Cheers to you from the baby rosella in Oz~

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I know these dates sound very imaginative, but I found it interesting anyway…

Nilesh Nilkanth Oak

From school days we have been taught that the Vedic period of Indian history starts at somewhere around 1500BC. This information is so drilled in our heads that its difficult to think of indian civilization beyond this timeframe.

I was recently reading(I am still reading) the book “Historic Rama” by Nilesh Nilkanth Oak and towards the end of the book is an extremely interesting note on Agasti and Lopamudra – key contributors to the Rigveda. The hypothesis was to estimate the phenomenon widely known, shared and read as “Agasti Crossing Vindhya and going south”.

This may correspond to either
a. The star itself moving in a southern direction.
b. A person named Agasti(in this case Rishi Agastya) moving south of the Vindhyas to stumble on one of the brightest stars not visible north of the VIndhyas and thereby the star getting the name of the person.

I highly encourage everyone…

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BHARATA BHARATI

B.B. Lal

Divya A.“Archaeological investigations at Ayodhya had clearly established that there was a temple at the site before the construction of the mosque, and we were happy that the Supreme Court took due notice of this fact in pronouncing its judgment.” – B.B. Lal

On May 2, India’s senior-most archaeologist and Padma Bhushan awardee B.B. Lal entered his 100th year. Lal, who is actively involved in archaeological research and writing even at 99, was trained by Sir Mortimer Wheeler at Taxila in 1944, after which he joined the Archaeological Survey of India and served as its Director-General from 1968 to 1972. Delhi-based Lal also served on various UNESCO committees. In a career spanning over five decades, Lal excavated several important landmark sites, including Hastinapura (Utttar Pradesh), Sisupalgarh (Odisha), Purana Qila (Delhi) and Kalibangan (Rajasthan). From 1975-76 onwards, Lal investigated sites like Ayodhya, Bharadvaja Ashrama, Sringaverapura, Nandigrama and Chitrakoota under his Archaeology of…

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Natural History Wanderings

Doug Tallamy is an ecologist who is currently the hot speaker in the world of native plants, birding and habitat gardening. He talks about that we don’t have enough natural vegetation in protected areas and the way to compensate is through home/urban garden plantings. He says that using strategic plants that are native to our areas is critical. These are plants, especially trees and shrubs, that are magnets for insects. They will help support insect life, provide needed food for birds, plants and carbon sequestration. For example a native Oak provides habitat for a few hundred insects while an alien ginkgo for maybe one or two.

Even thought we have mainly been using native plants in the garden this has us rethinking our plant choice for future selections.

How (and Why) to Use Native Plants – The New York Times  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/15/realestate/how-and-why-to-use-native-plants.html?action=click&module=Top Stories&pgtype=Homepage&contentCollection=AtHome&package_index=1

Author and research scientist Doug Tallamy presents…

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The Extinction Protocol

00000000 SunIt’s been 100 days since the last recorded sunspot, which one expert says is evidence that we are entering a phase called solar minimum, reports said. There have been whispers on social media about an impending Ice Age (Just What We Need!), but NASA scientists have said we should not be overly worried, according to PennLive.com. “So far this year, the Sun has been blank 76 percent of the time, a rate surpassed only once before in the Space Age,” SpaceWeather.com reported, according to Forbes. “Last year, 2019, the Sun was blank 77 percent of the time. Two consecutive years of record-setting spotlessness adds up to a very deep solar minimum, indeed.”

NASA says that about every 11 years, “sunspots fade away, bringing a period of relative calm. “This is called a solar minimum,” Dean Pesnell of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said on NASA.gov. “And it’s a regular part…

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Dear Kitty. Some blog

This 16 May 2020 video is about a thrush nightingale singing in Belarus.

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Dear Kitty. Some blog

This April 2020 video says about itself:

The Rufous Hummingbird is a priority species for us at American Bird Conservancy due to significant population declines. In spite of its small size, it’s the most aggressive of the North American hummingbirds, often attacking birds many times its size in defense of its territory. It reigns supreme at feeders and choice flower patches.

Video by Don DesJardin.

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Dear Kitty. Some blog

This June 2019 video says about itself:

Singing Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis) in Heemskerk, the Netherlands.

This is a common and widespread typical warbler which breeds throughout Europe and across much of temperate western Asia. This small passerine bird is strongly migratory, and winters in tropical Africa, Arabia, and Pakistan.

After yesterday, again to the coastal sand dunes nature reserve on 18 May 2020.

A cuckoo calls. A nightingale sings.

A common whitethroat on a treetop.

A great spotted woodpecker.

Lakelet, 18 May 2020

We arrive at the lakelet.

At the lakelet, a willow warbler sings.

Lakelet, on 18 May 2020

The white water-crowfoot flowers are still there.

White water-crowfoot, 18 May 2020

A bit further, a great tit.

A stonechat on top of a bush.

Two meadow pipits flying.

A great cormorant flying.

A common blue butterfly on a wild pansy flower.

Wild pansies, 18 May 2020

Unfortunately, when this photo was taken, the butterfly was gone.

Wild pansies, on 18 May 2020

A small heath butterfly.

A barn…

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