Westerns Whales and Oceans blog

The Rights of Nature Movement is Growing!

Despite our obsession with the slaughter and captivity of whales and dolphins, there are some growing bright spots on the horizon! Here at Moonlight Mesa Associates we’ve agreed to stop obsessing about captive whales and focus on the bigger picture. Plenty of other people are focusing on whales and dolphins. The four of us aren’t going to be missed. The Rights of Nature movement needs support and obsessing over too.

rights of nature poster    Essentially, the idea of the Rights of Nature arose in the “western” world around 1972, although indigenous citizens in many countries have pretty much always recognized and respected the rights of nature. However, in 1989 Professor Roderick Nash published the Rights of Nature: A History of Environmental Ethics which really began the ball slowly rolling.

The fact is, and it’s a happy fact, the Rights of Nature is being increasingly recognized worldwide. Just this past week, Sweden introduced a Rights of Nature Constitutional Amendment in their parliament.

Parliament member Le Moine succinctly made it clear when he said,  “The underlying value in our society is that we are the dominators of this world and Nature is just a resource for us to use. Economic growth has been the real goal, not a healthy environment. I’m tired of this era, where our arrogant worldview has driven us far beyond the planetary boundaries. Now, when we’re in the beginning of an ecological and climate collapse, I hope we can re-think our relationship with Nature. And for me, it starts with admitting that Nature has rights.”

Mari Margil of CELDF (Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund) stated: “We need to quickly make a fundamental shift in our relationship with the natural world. Advancing the Rights of Nature in Sweden’s constitution is an important step forward.”

These exact words could/should have been said in the United States Congress, the British Parliament, and any number of countries. Unfortunately, it will likely be decades before words of this kind are uttered in the U.S. Congress, but there’s always hope!

rights of nature campaignSweden will be joining Ecuador, Columbia, Bolivia, India, New Zealand and a host of other countries who have come to their senses and realized that some things (nature) are just more important than amassing untold amounts of money and multiple private estates.

Citizens of the United States are taking action even if the federal government here isn’t. I think I already mentioned about the citizens in Lincoln County, Oregon, who adopted a first-in-nation ban of aerial pesticide spraying. Despite a staggering campaign war chest of $300,000 raised by timber and chemical corporations, Lincoln County fought back with $16,000 and won their measure.

 Pennsylvania  is introducing a constitutional amendment called the “local Self-Government Amendment” which places the rights of people over the interests of private corporations and empowers communities to heighten state protections for civil, human, and ecosystem rights. This is in an effort to protect themselves from environmental and personal harm. Pittsburgh has already waded into this swamp and defended themselves against sludge, fracking, and a host of harmful corporate projects.

In Florida laws are being proposed in each county through the citizens’ ballot initiative process. In addition to protecting the Rights of Nature, the laws would recognize rights of local residents to a healthy environment and clean water.

Photo by NRDC.ORG

    Toledo, Ohio, however, passed a ballot initiative that gave Lake Erie and those who rely on the lake’s ecosystem a bill of rights. The intent is to protect and preserve “the ecosystem so that the life that depends on it – humans included – can have access to safe, fresh drinking water.” This certainly seems like a reasonable initiative, yet big business (in this case the Farm Bureau) had a stop put to this. The State of Iowa is supporting the farmers in a lawsuit against the city. Toledoans for Safer Water were told, by a judge no less, that they “cannot defend the voter-passed initiative in a lawsuit brought by a factory farm against the city over the initiative.”

Gig Harbor, Washington, formed a movement, Legal Rights for the Salish Sea,  to help protect endangered orcas and the Salish Sea.

Overall, small movements in this country are arising. Many have the backing and assistance of CELDF and are becoming victorious. Check CELDF out on the web, please!

For a full account of the timeline of Rights of Nature, visit https://celdf.org/advancing-community-rights/rights-of-nature/rights-nature-timeline/.

david boyd bookI can also recommend The Rights of Nature, by David R. Boyd. This is an excellent book and clearly explains what this movement entails and is all about.

Basically, we’ve come to the conclusion that we need to do much more than fret about the beloved Southern Resident Pod and the Humpbacks dying around the globe. The planet itself is at stake. And yes, small efforts add up!

What can  YOU do to help this movement? Stay tuned. We’re going to get to that.

 

Whale Captivity is Criminal

PHOTO-Type-D-killer-whales-showing-their-blunt-heads-and-tiny-eyepatches-in-2011-Credit-J.P.-Sylvestre-South-Georgia-1125x534-Landscape-1000x477    There is simply one reason why the United States of America permits orcas to be treated in the most inhumane, cruel, despicable way. Of course, money is the reason.

For starters, it’s important to remember that whales are mammals. They are like us in that respect. Whales, chimpanzees and humans are placental carriers – that is each carries its unborn young in a placental sack.  It’s believed that whales, sloths, bats and humans share a common ancestor, which is a topic for a blog from a geneticist, I suppose. My concern is why we allow mammals, whales in particular, to be treated worse than the criminally insane.

No other nation, with possibly the exception of China, now allows orcas and belugas to be captured in the wild and held in swimming pools solely for personal enrichment and human entertainment. Only the United States allows this criminal behavior of imprisonment to continue – specifically Sea World and their “Shamu” shows.

Finally, word recently escaped about how cruelly the whales are treated in captivity, often being deprived of food if they fail to do as ordered. Almost every whale in captivity has died decades before its time. Out of sheer frustration and boredom, the orcas bang their heads against the sides of the pool. Their teeth are ground to nubs from grinding and chewing on cement. They deeply mourn the loss of their pod. But the show goes on.

Orcas are extremely intelligent. They have language skills and communicate with each other. They have very strong familial ties and are highly social animals. They also have a sense of self. They mentally KNOW they exist. Fortunately, the capture of whales has been outlawed in most all countries – with the exception of renegades in Russia who illegally imprisoned orcas and beluga whales last winter for sale to China. Under Putin’s direction the whales were released. Orcas also are no longer allowed to be bred in captivity since the offspring die. When the babies die, the mothers grieve for long periods of time.

Orcas are designed by nature to swim a hundred miles a day, give or take, and dive to deep depths in pursuit of food. Yet knowing this and all the inhumane treatment the whales endure in captivity, Sea World continues to hold them as prisoners in swimming pools not much bigger than the whales themselves. There’s absolutely no heart, humanity, or morality here – it’s clearly about the money earned by the captivity.

Unfortunately, we have a president who is not particularly environmentally friendly. With a stroke of his pen I think he could end the captivity of orcas and order  them to be released to ocean sanctuaries now ready to help them return to their natural habitat, just as Putin did. Perhaps Sea World executives are big supporters of Trump?

Sea World says it will stop their whale shows by the end of 2019. That remains to be seen. Perhaps they plan on imprisoning more dolphins (perhaps the smartest animal in the ocean and possibly smarter than humans) and porpoises to display. Or how about another walrus?

The captivity and imprisonment of any wild animal is cruel beyond measure. It must be stopped, just as the imprisonment and captivity of people in this country was stopped.

Whales, dolphins, chimpanzees, people – we are all mammals. We share DNA and a common ancestor. Possibly humans are the smartest living “creature” on the planet, but that’s debatable as the dolphin is a contender for first place when it comes to intelligence, and orcas are members of the dolphin family. Unfortunately, we have the dishonor of being the cruelest creature on the planet.

Enacting a Rights of Nature would put an end to this wild animal captivity nonsense. We don’t own these animals – we share the world with them.

To read more about the exploitation and massacre of whales and orcas read Saving Our Oceans, by R.L. Coffield.

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From Toilet to Tap – Are you Ready?

 

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Photo by redcharlie on Unsplash

Large portions of this country experienced severe flooding this past year, while other parts remained bone dry. Regardless of the drenching rains in some areas, however, America’s aquifers are in serious trouble. It takes literally decades to refill an aquifer.

The United Nations predicts at least 30 nations will have water shortages by 2025. And by 2030, “47% of the world’s population will be living in areas of high water stress.” That is nearly half of the world’s population. Why? Aquifers are failing world-wide, including those in the United States.

Rapid population growth, increased industrial demand, and water withdrawals have tripled over the last 50 years. Water wars could well be the future. Mark Twain once commented, “Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over.” If not water war skirmishes, then mass migration of millions of people from drought stricken countries will likely ensue which will cause total political and social upheaval.

Agriculture in general uses about 70 per cent of water withdrawn from aquifers. The Ogallala aquifer, one of the world’s largest aquifers located in the mid-west, lost a third of its water in just 30 years due to farmers withdrawing water at an unsustainable rate. California’s Central Valley aquifer is showing signs of depletion and could drop below reach by 2050. Because of the overuse of groundwater by farmers, many resident’s wells are going dry.

Of the 37 major aquifers on the planet, 21 are on the verge of collapse. Cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Mexico City are sinking. Indeed, sections of California’s Central Valley have dropped a foot, and in some areas 28 feet. The facts regarding water shortage are dismal, but action can be taken.

Water catchment systems are one of the simplest solutions to water scarcity in any given area. Many dry areas, like Texas and Arizona, are now allowing rainwater-catchment installations on homes and other buildings. In addition, desalination has become well known in recent times. Desalination can work not just for salt water, but for water considered “brackish,” which is water that is too salty for human consumption. There is up to 10 times more brackish water than freshwater in any aquifer. And changing from highly thirsty, water intensive crops, like corn , cotton, rice, and wheat to less water consuming products might also be a consideration.

But the most extreme measure, in most people’s minds, is the concept of “Toilet to Tap.” Namibia, a very arid country has been purifying wastewater into drinking water for almost 50 years. No one has ever become ill from this “reused water.” In 2003 Singapore began treating sewage water to drinking-water standards, and now El Paso, Texas, is preparing to provide potable reuse water for drinking. This is because El Paso’s Hueco Bolson aquifer that has supplied El Paso with water for decades could run dry which, at its rate of drop, could happen by 2025.

Unfortunately, much of the water currently available for consumption is contaminated. nrdc.orgThe drinking water of 233 million Americans is dangerously compromised.

As deadly serious as the prospect of water shortage and contamination is, it’s surprising that this issue is not front and center. There’s much more to this story, however, and it’s covered in Saving Our Oceans by R.L. Coffield.

Saving Our Oceans is available from Amazon and from the publisher at Moonlight Mesa Associates. Material for this particular blog is from Saving Our Oceans, chapters 5 and 6.

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Net proceeds from the sale of this book are earmarked for the Save Our Wild Salmon Coaltion and the Friday Harbor Whale Museum.

 

Publisher Has Good News!

Muley cover    It’s always a pleasure to have some good news! Here it is:

Moonlight Mesa Associates received notification today that A Beginner’s Guide to Owning a Mule  is a finalist in the New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards! The book was entered in the Pets/Animals Division. The title was Moonlight Mesa’s overall best-selling nonfiction book in 2018.

Awards will be announced November 9 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

MEANWHILE, work has begun on Lee Anderson’s The View From My Saddle.  “This book is absolutely amazing,” editor Renee Witty commented. “I learned so much from Lee’s first book (Developing the Art of Equine Communication), but this new book is even more incredible. It’s extremely reader-friendly but also extremely informative.”

The View From My Saddle  discusses training techniques as well as the ins and outs of horse equipment with a lot of emphasis on bridle bits. “People will think twice before they stick a bit in a horse’s mouth and jerk on those reins,” Witty said. Anderson also covers the various disciplines as well as the competitive show ring/racing/trail parts of the horse world.

                                Lee and his rescued horse Concho checking things out

“Lee has been there, done that, and studied these things for decades. Having been an engineer, he is very attuned to how and why things work. This book is a must-read for every equestrian out there!” Renee said.

The publisher, Moonlight Mesa Associates, Inc. hopes to have the book in print and available by January  of 2020. Vin Libassi will again do the cover design even though he’s now living in Ecuador. Happily they have internet!

FINALLY,  after a lot of delay, procrastination, and postponement, Memoir Writing  is now available on Amazon as an ebook;  priced at $4.95.  Looking to write a memoir? You’ll appreciate the many tips and ideas in this short book.

Rights of Nature Gaining Ground

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     It appears that the Rights of Nature movement is finally, ever-so-slowly making progress in this country. There are a number of countries such as Ecuador, Bolivia, New Zealand, India, and some European countries who embrace the concept of the Rights of Nature and have enacted laws establishing those rights. Ecuador went so far as to add the Rights of Nature to their constitution. Not the U.S.

 

Periodically one can find an article (usually well hidden) about the success of communities enforcing the Rights of Nature, often with the help of the Community Environment Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). Now before signing off, CELDF simply believes that nature should not be polluted, despoiled or ransacked, and that people have the right to clean air, water and a healthy environment. Is this too much to ask? Citizens should have more say about their communities than corporations.

 

 Lincoln County, Oregon, successfully adopted the first-in-nation ban on aerial pesticides, elevating “community rights” over “corporate rights.” The community’s win took place “despite campaign contributions from timber and chemical corporations who spent nearly $300,000 to defeat the measure.” Residents fought back with $16,000. CELDF is preparing for a lawsuit expecting that industry will want to overturn the will of the citizens.

 

Five counties in Florida have filed to preserve nature and drinking water by granting legal rights to their rivers. Florida is following the lead of the Lake Erie Bill of Rights passed in February 2019.

 

The Rights of Nature movement is slowly growing in this country even though this idea is well established elsewhere. For example, “Bangladesh became the first country to grant all of its rivers the same legal status as humans.” The Bangladesh Supreme Court ruled that the rule is meant “to protect the world’s largest delta from further degradation from pollution, illegal dredging and human intrusion.”

 

oiled bird   The Rights of Nature basically asks that we (all nations) treat our environment and its inhabitants (which includes mammals, fish, fowl and any other kind of critters) respectfully and stop raping, pillaging and destroying the environment. A growing number of people are fed up with a “corporate-run American that focuses on profiteering at the expense of the environment and its citizens.

 

To learn more about the Rights of Nature, I urge you to read The Rights of Nature by David R. Boyd.

 

Slaughtering whales is a “cultural” activity the Faroe Islanders claim. (Photo by Blue Planet Society)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Piracy – Every Author’s Nightmare

SGA CoverEvery author’s nightmare (one of the nightmares anyway) is to discover that his/her book has been pirated. This is far more common than people realize. And it’s not just authors who feel the pain – publishers also share in the “victimhood” of piracy.

Some countries are quite blatant about the theft of someone’s work – and I think we all have a good idea who these countries are (think India for one). And increasingly it seems that pirated books are appearing on Amazon.

When it comes to a foreign country doing the thievery, there’s really not much anyone can do about it. And when it comes to piracy on Amazon, one often feels like one is dealing with a foreign country, and not just because most of people on the other end of the line sound very “Indian”. Maybe Amazon doesn’t care because they’re too big to have to care. I doubt it’s because the company is inept – but perhaps it’s grown so unwieldy that there’s no accountability.

Case in point – many months ago J.R. Sanders, author of the outstanding Some Gave All, Forgotten Old West Lawmen Who Died With Their Boots On,  contacted me about his book being sold by an Amazon seller who marketed the book as a Mass Market paperback. This book was never issued as a Mass Market paperback – it was only issued as a Trade Paperback. I ought to know – my company (Moonlight Mesa Associates) published it.

The seller (Bless R) also failed to include the book’s REGISTERED ISBN number when they advertised it on Amazon. Instead, Amazon issued the company its own ASIN number for the book. ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number. Every book that is published and wants to be sold commercially receives its very own ISBN that identifies only that book. The publisher pays for the ISBNs. An ASIN number is Amazon’s identification number. Put it this way, an ISBN allows the book to be sold in any bookstore throughout the world. An ASIN is good only for Amazon sales.

So the seller, this Bless R, failed to post the book’s registered ISBN number. They posted the book’s cover that the author designed, advertised it incorrectly as a mass market publication, and jacked the price to $26.95 instead of the printed price of $19.95. They also listed the “paperback” as $26.95. This inability to know the difference between a trade paperback and a mass market paperback highly suggests piracy by a sham company.

Did the smarty-smurfs at Amazon notice this? Hmm? Not at all. And now that it’s been called to their attention TWICE, they said they will “look into it.”

Statistically only 35% of the population in this country reads books. Since self-publishing raised its head, there are likely millions, if not billions, of books on the market. Traditionally published authors are suffering enough already from the plethora of tripe being sold. To have their hard-earned work pirated is too much. Publishers lose money – and authors lose any royalties they might otherwise have earned from the “legitimate” sale of their work.

This is thievery, and it’s no different than any other kind of theft – stealing people’s writings, songs, artwork, photos, and ideas is as painful as having your house broken into and everything you treasure stolen. What good is it to be gifted with talent and creativity if your work is misrepresented and even ripped-off?

Beware.

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What’s Wrong with These People?

There are many Japanese citizens who disapprove of Japan’s whaling industry and the brutal slaying and sale of dolphins that is sanctioned by their government, but when it comes to oceanic mammal slaughter and abuse, few countries can outdo Japan. Their inhumane, barbaric slaughtering and treatment of whales and dolphins is a stunning, murderous orgy. It’s bad enough that this nation continued whale hunts for years after signing the International Whaling Commission’s agreement not to do so. They killed thousands of whales under the guise of “scientific research.” Australians frequently accused the Japanese of hunting in whale preserves in Antarctica. Of course, the “scientifically researched” slaughtered whales appeared on restaurant menus in Japan.

In December of 2018, the Japanese announced they would no longer remain members of the IWC (were they ever?) and would resume commercial whaling in July 2019. The London based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) estimates that the Japanese have killed over 1,000,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises in the last 70 years. One million.

The dolphin hunts in Taigi Bay are equally as disgraceful, cruel, and vicious as harpooning whales. The Japanese fishermen conduct huge roundups of schools of dolphin, driving them into Taigi Bay where they are brutally and painfully slaughtered or set aside for sale to aquariums. The bay literally turns red with blood. This behavior is simply aberrant and abnormal. According to the EIA, “The hunts in Japan’s coastal waters specifically target nine small cetacean species, eight of them with government-set catch limits which are clearly unsustainable.”

Most ocean advocates know that dolphins (and likely orcas) are the most intelligent mammals in the world – second only to humans, but obviously well beyond the intelligence of the people who hunt, murder, and sell them.

Despite international disapproval, I suspect that Japanese pride and ego keep them from bowing to world condemnation and pressure to desist in these moribund activities.

They slaughter whales because it’s a “cultural heritage” activity, so they say.                                     (Photo by Blue Planet Society)

The Japanese are not the only ones with a penchant for murdering non-aggressive mammals. This year the Faroe Islanders have also been on a rampage. 2019 is proving to be a bloody year. The Faroe Islanders have killed over 688 whales, with 50 whales being slaughtered yesterday alone. The reason? They claim it’s part of their history and culture. When will this madness end?

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So what can be done about this? Boycotting products from those countries is a good start. Support the efforts of groups working to combat these atrocities. Stop visiting and supporting aquariums, especially those (like SeaWorld) who hold orcas and dolphins in swimming pools for people’s entertainment and owners’ profit. Their abusive training methods have finally been exposed, so they should absolutely not be allowed to keep ANY whale or dolphin in captivity. Yet they do. Demand that orcas, dolphins and porpoises be set free. Swimming pools are not an appropriate place for these ocean traveling mammals.

Saving Our Oceans covers in detail the topic discussed here. Get free shipping with your order, and know that the proceeds from the sale of Saving Our Oceans is earmarked for the Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition and the Friday Harbor Whale Museum. Click here to contact us to place your order.

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