Midnight Oil

[Powderworks] Protesters chip (PG and public policy vs private morals)

Bruce Robertson the_oil_fish at yahoo.ca
Wed Sep 29 16:21:39 MDT 2004

Greetings Powdered Omnivores, Carnivores and Herbivores,
I must bite...
Eating vegetables exclusively is one thing, bringing down the beef industry is quite another, as I believe Julian was alluding to.
Q. How does your compassionate treatment of animals play out in the lives of the millions of parents and kids who would be driven off the farm and into cities - here and abroad - if we cripple the meat producing industry? 
Also, is somebody suggesting that you can alter 6 000+ years of agricultural evolution by not buying leather or beef? Let's not forget that beef producers are responding to centuries of societal demand. Bringing on the Change in such a sudden manner would appear heartless indeed, if we are not prepared to support farm families during another agricultural revolution...
I may be as dumb as a stump, and a prairie boy to boot, but isn't the natural human state one of omnivorous gluttony? (I feel more akin to the badger than the rabbit.) There are after all many of God's creatures (kind and gentle as they are) for whom I am just another menu item. And they would feel no guilt whatsoever about eating me alive - starting with the nether regions - as I screamed my bloody guts out. Some would even make sport of it with their young.
So how is it unethical - in some folks' eyes - for us to eat them? Would I be a more moral person if I went out and shot, skinned, gutted and dressed the beasts myself? Just curious to know how you veggans make sense of things, given what would appear to be our natural state of omnivory...
Call me anything you want, just don't call me late for dinner,
bruce on the great northern plains
"There is plenty of room for all Gods creatures - 
right next to the mashed potatoes."
- billboard for the Saskatoon Restaurant and Grill

Kate Parker Adams <kate at dnki.net> wrote:
Julian, and all ...

I don't think your moral issues surrounding animals are at all silly ...
they are what runs your life and your choices. I'm just an oddball
scientist with a head for policy who frequently moonlights for a
sustainability think tank, so I tend to think in terms of what can
reasonably be done to create a more precautionary and sustainable society
and reduce harm. I really don't disagree with your take on abortion either -
its not for me, but not for me to say that it's not for you either.

Therin lies the HUGE difference between practicing one's personal morality
and creating ethical public policy solutions. I think this is also a point
of confusion on the Peter Garrett as polician front and will remain so until
he clarifies things - and it sounds like he should do so right quick. In
the past, Pete has advanced initiatives aimed at creating a sustainable
Australia that balance the need for jobs and local economic development with
the fragility of the environment, all with the implied ethical mandate for
fair distribution of costs and benefits. Some of these programs and values
clearly conflict with Labor platform and policy positions and the "new" PG
stance seems to be quicksand. Pete has also led a personal life of devout
Christian conviction and maintained fairly conservative personal beliefs and
values. He's kept these moral mandates at home ... so far.

It remains to be seen how PG resolves this in the public governmental
sphere. I do hope, however, that Pete does not get lulled into thinking
that private moral values can be directly imposed as public policy. That's
Asscroft and W thinking - and it collides with important policy values and
documents like the constitution. Morality-as-policy does little to advance
larger social objectives, alleviate the root problems, or even accept basic
human nature (like the failed alcohol prohibition experiment). Much better
to say "what is the problem here and how can we effectively reduce the harm"
(e.g. reduce the rate of abortion by identifying reasons for termination and
creating more alternatives) than proclaim "thou shalt not our you will burn
in hell" as law.

-----Original Message-----
From: powderworks-bounces at cs-lists.cs.colorado.edu
[mailto:powderworks-bounces at cs-lists.cs.colorado.edu]On Behalf Of Julian
Shaw (Man Myth or Monkey?)
Sent: Tuesday, September 28, 2004 12:37 PM
To: Powderworks at Cs-Lists. Cs. Colorado. Edu; kate at dnki.net
Subject: RE: [Powderworks] Protesters chip away at Garrett's forests


I know you may think I live in a "dream world" but for me it is ethically
unacceptable to use animals as we please. So buying anything that is a
of their death or mistreatment is wrong. That's my view and I know I have
about zero chance of ever seeing the majority of people in this world see it
the same way, so I never try and force my view upon people. There is no
ground if you believe it's ethically wrong to harm animals - an animal isn't
any less dead if we eat less of that animal - we are just killing less

However I agree if you are trying to reduce environmental impact then
people to eat less beef is good...

So I think we are coming at this issue in different ways.


>===== Original Message From kate at dnki.net =====
>Ah Julian, we meet again ...
>In the US at least, beef is the reason for cattle, followed by dairy. The
>less beef eaten, the less grazing land, etc. and the less the environmental
>The cattle industry could not survive on the leather trade. Period. It is
>entirely argurable that it is more traditional than economically feasable,
>actually. Leather is essentially value-added trash, and the cattle
>doesn't see much of that added value. That's why the cattle industry
>subsidized tizzy fits when beef consumption drops, but doesn't launch huge
>"wear REAL leather" campaigns in the face of challenges from ultrasuede and
>Furthermore, why "bring and end" to it? Everything doesn't have to be so
>absolute - and there are sustainable and organic cattle operations as well
>as local suppliers to consider. Furthermore, if you are aware of organic
>farming techniques or read Guns, Germs, and Steel, the traditional farm is
>poop-based ecosystem and many farms have gotten into the business of
>ranching because they need all that crap to keep the veggies growing and
>land . Even devoted vegan/vegetarian producers either keep animals around,
>keep dairy animals, or use manure from other sources. Otherwise, farmers
>must use chemical fertilizers and that becomes unsustainable and damaging
>rather quickly.
>Of course, the dynamics of this are extremely skewed by large scale
>operations driven only by dollars in/dollars out. Those should be the real
>Modest reductions in beef consumption by a very large number of people are
>more likely to happen than convincing a select few to abstinence - and thus
>more likely to make an extensive dent in mainstream factory cattle
>production (and the attendent impacts)and skew the economics toward
>sustainable local production. People tune out moral judgments, but can be
>convinced to buy less of a better product.
>Yes, some people would like to bring an end to ranching, but it isn't going
>to happen. Let's not even go into the cows versus pigs either, given the
>extreme animal welfare and environmental disasters in factory farming of
>swine. I go for the impact, not a pure society or self. Not eating cows
>reduces the beef demand that drives the industry. Reduced demand means
>fewer cattle and less environmental impact. It goes to the dominant term
>the economic equations of unsustainable production. By comparison, wearing
>or not wearing leather is so economically trivial to the cattle industry as
>to be a matter of fashion or taste or ideology. Third-world sweatshops and
>the treatment of the humans who add value to that leather on the other hand
>are a far more compelling reason to forego the fancy jacket or the Nikes.
>-----Original Message-----
>From: powderworks-bounces at cs-lists.cs.colorado.edu
>[mailto:powderworks-bounces at cs-lists.cs.colorado.edu]On Behalf Of Julian
>Shaw (Man Myth or Monkey?)
>Sent: Tuesday, September 28, 2004 3:21 AM
>To: Powderworks at cs-lists.cs.colorado.edu; David; kate at dnki.net
>Subject: RE: [Powderworks] Protesters chip away at Garrett's forests
>I disagree Kate. If you are a veggie and want to bring an end to the meat
>trade you do that by making it unprofitable. The best way of doing this is
>stop eating meat and cut out all meat by-products (leather, dairy, etc)
>what you consume. What is the cow killed for exactly? Why do people assume
>it's the meat first? Many cows are killed just to keep milk production
>and leather just keeps the whole system more profitable.
>>===== Original Message From kate at dnki.net =====
>>Hey all,
>>Actually, it makes perfect sense to use the woodchips to protest if you
>>understand that woodchips are generally a byproduct, not a primary product
>>of forestry - at least with most old growth timber. Until other markets
>>were found, mills simply burned the stuff for heat. I remember giant
>>burners going day and night at the sawmill where my uncle worked, until
>>were shut down for emissions issues. When my mom was little, pacific
>>northwest residents bought truckloads of chips from the sawmills or had it
>>delivered for use in residential furnaces much the way coal was used on
>>eastern seaboard.
>>Plenty of vegetarians don't eat cows, but wear leather shoes because the
>>of leather does not drive the unsustainable aspects of the cattle industry
>>like the use of beef does. Traditionally, the relationship between
>>woodchips and lumbering is similar.
>>Then again, way too many trees are chipped for paper these days, at least
>>this side of the ocean. Most trees chipped for paper on the eastern US
>>what is called "pulp wood", or knotty, half-rotted, or otherwise unusable
>>for lumber. That does not justify clearcutting, however, nor the
>>erosion and habitat destruction that happens regardless of whether the
>>cut down had a lot of knots or are diseased or stunted. I don't know what
>>the practices are in Tasmania, but I suspect they aren't chipping this
>>but shipping it to the same asian lumber mills they rip out Pacific
>>Northwest old growth for - there are no mills left in the states that can
>>take the monster trees.
>>Kate Adams
>>Kate Parker Adams
>>University of Massachusetts - Lowell
>>Department of Work Environment
>>Kitson 202A
>>Kate_Adams at uml.edu
>>Practice Abstinence: No Bush, No Dick in 2004
>>-----Original Message-----
>>From: powderworks-bounces at cs-lists.cs.colorado.edu
>>[mailto:powderworks-bounces at cs-lists.cs.colorado.edu]On Behalf Of David
>>Sent: Monday, September 27, 2004 2:37 AM
>>To: Powderworks at cs-lists.cs.colorado.edu
>>Subject: RE: [Powderworks] Protesters chip away at Garrett's forests
>>Some protesters just don't get it.
>>They buy a tonne of woodchips to try and reduce woodchip production?
>>Next they'll be chaining themselves to buried combi vans to protest
>>against landfill.
>>Powderworks mailing list
>>Powderworks at cs-lists.cs.colorado.edu
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