Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Communication


“If an animal does something, we call it instinct; if we do the same thing for the same reason, we call it intelligence”—Will Cuppy
 

“We are intelligent, that is an assumption. We have defined circumstances, we've defined behaviour as exhibited by humans versus other animals. We have defined that to be intelligent but would some other species make the same assessment.” The opening words of Dr deGrasse in the above video.  And it’s true.  

I have always been fascinated by ‘alien life’, to the point where I believe it is logically unacceptable to discount their existence. If I have the ‘Do Alien’s Exist?’ conversation with anyone and they say ‘no’ they will receive a lengthy ear-bashing. Some may rightfully say that’s ‘my opinon and I am wrong’, but if you really think about there is no possible way we are the only planet sustaining life in our universe. According to scientists out of all the stars 10% have planets, meaning there are roughly 20 billion solar systems. Of course this is all guess work. We are not technologically advanced enough to count the number of stars let alone planets and some of the stars we see in the sky have already died.

 But back to intelligence. There are people who dedicate their lives to communicating with ‘outer-space’. NASA being the big one. A group of highly intelligent beings seeking information about ‘the wonders of the universe.’ What I find slightly amusing and yet annoying is that they are more concerned about contacting a whole different life form when we can’t even communicate with our own. (As Dr G said).

We live amongst animals. In our homes, gardens, forests and oceans. Yet we have not had a (Again wise old Dr G said) meaningful conversation with any of them. Take my dog for example. I can order her to sit, come back and stop barking through words. However this is all one sided. Me giving orders. Not once has she even ‘spoken’ back. Another example is dolphins in captivity. They can understand hand signals and perform parlour tricks to entertain us as they are one of the most intelligent beings on this planet yet we, who deem our self the highest beings on earth, cannot understand them. At least there are some people attempting to,the Wild Dolphin Project are trying to decipher dolphin clicks in the hope that one day we will understand what they are saying. Fascinating stuff. and if it works that will be the end of The Taiji Cove Slaughter for sure. 

We need to be grateful for our planet. Its an amazing hub of life and incredibly mysterious. Rather than thinking animals as stupid we should try and understand them.

"We call them dumb animals, and so they are, for they cannot tell us how they feel, but they do not suffer less because they have no words"  Anna Sewell,

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The Concept of Nothing


When researching about the Big Bang a few years ago I started to think about existence of ‘nothing’. As stated in the BB theory the universe appeared from nothing. BOOM, some intense heat, and forces such as gravity appeared. Years later (apparently 13.7 billion but how they figured that out I’ll never know) planets formed and through evolution we arrived in all our glory. But how did it start?  Even religious people who can vouch our personal existence on the hand of God are lost when asked ‘Where did God come from?’  He/She/It came from somewhere, or should I say nowhere. But people, like myself cannot seem to comprehend the idea of ‘nothing’.

As after all once you start thinking about nothing, it becomes something. We humans have a strangely strong desire to name everything. It makes logical sense as one cannot talk about the existence of an unnamed entity, or ‘thing’. We would forever be explaining long drawn out descriptions if everything was nameless. But why can’t we accept the existence of ‘nothing’. The existence of the nameless. 

If you believe in the Big Bang you will be fully aware that the universe is constantly expanding. I was talking to a friend about this and asked her
‘What is it expanding into?’
Her immediate response was ‘space’.
‘Define space’ I said.
And she came out with the typical ‘black’ never-ending’ etc.
 I simply replied ‘I believe it is expanding into ‘nothing’.

A few hours later she returned after speaking to her boyfriend and said ‘But ‘nothing’ can’t exist, it must be something’.

Proving that people cannot begin to understand our universe. I believe in the existence of nothing but cannot begin to explain it to people. When I asked a science teacher the same original question; ‘What is the universe expanding into?’ He said that he personally believes ‘space’ is like an optical illusion. Intertwining and never ending. But was stumped when I asked ‘What lies outside of the illusion?.

Another friend managed to interpret my meaning and cleverly said ‘It’s like a box Imagine space as a box' What lies outside of the box?’ That’s what I want to know.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Beliefs

This post requires the definition of three words; Belief, Fact and Fallacy.

 

Be·lief

1. An acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists.

Fact 

1. A thing that is indisputably the case.

Fal·la·cy

1.      A mistaken belief, esp. one based on unsound argument.

We all have beliefs. Whether it be in an unproven God, unseen Ghosts or simply word of mouth stories yet to be confirmed, we all have something to believe in. The classic one being the origin of our existence.   Did man really tread in the Garden of Eden? Or did two atoms collide and boom the universe appeared?  Deep theological questions that will never be proven in my lifetime but nonetheless, everyone has a opinion about it.


I want to focus on smaller yet still profound beliefs. Superstitions, and they fall into the more ‘irrational’ category. How many of us scout the room for a piece of wood before saying something that might ‘jinx’ us, or refuse to go somewhere on Friday the 13th for fear of something unlucky happening? As a child I used to jump around like a lunatic when walking for fear of stepping on ‘pavement lines’ which I had been told bought bad luck. And if someone broke a mirror then my world fell apart. They were intense, yet entirely unreasonable fears installed at a young age. I am now glad to say if I can walk down a path normally but many people don’t grow out of this phase.

I learnt a very interesting fact today. In China, parents feed their children Shark fin as they believe it stimulates brain growth and ultimately increases intelligence. At first I could see no connection whatsoever but after really thinking about it, I realised something. Sharks are a fish. A big one, but still, they are a fish. Fish contain omega 3, which is widely known for health benefits. Our brains after all are made from fatty acids, and require certain oils to work efficiently and it just so happens that the oil in fish is perfect. However there is no proof that it stimulates brain growth, that is a lie. What these parents don’t realise is that big marine life that consume smaller fish (aka Sharks, Dolphins, Whales etc) contain very high levels of mercury. An incredibly toxic substance that causes a number of health problems such as male impotence. So lets add the ‘stimulates brain growth’ with the ‘Manta Ray gills aid blood circulation and boosts the bodies immune system’ to my Fallacy list. 
 
In Japan there is a coastal town called Minamata and it was in 1956 that the first case of Minamata disease was discovered. The town’s people relied on two things to survive; their jobs at the local chemical factory and fish. The horrendous yet ironic thing is that the factory disposed so much toxic chemicals into the sea that the fish became poisonous. The people ate the fish and poisoned themselves. This illness is a neurological disorder caused by severe mercury poisoning and it had devastating effects. Women who consumed the fish gave birth to severely disabled children, some who are still alive today. And it also controlled epileptic type fits in those that ate it.


Now they didn’t eat the fish due to beliefs but simply for survival. What I want to know is why are Asian parent’s  voluntarily feeding themselves and their children a harmful substance ,when there is so much proof that it's dangerous, simply because of a belief?  And more importantly, Why are the Chinese, Singaporean, Japanese, Korean and Thai governments allowing their own people to consume a deadly chemical. As echoed in many of my other posts there is, and will always be one answer. Money It is said that the shark fin business is the third richest in the world, coming just under trafficking and drugs. However unlike the involuntary passing of people from one place to another and growing plants to get high off, sharks are unsustainable. We can’t simply ‘grow more’, ‘find more’.  They are dying. And we will be left without a crucial member of the oceans ecosystem and mercury ridden humans.

Stop eating Sharks. They will become extinct at the rate they are being fished. That is a Fact.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Appearance.


Every female I know is unhappy with some part of her body. I’ve heard them complain about big noses, small boobs, flat bums, ‘pot’ bellies the lot. Some girls use flattering make-up, or clothes to hide their undesired features. Others take a more drastic approach and opt for life changing surgery.  I am certainly not innocent of these types of thoughts but rather than spending hours dwelling on my flaws I’ve learnt to get over them. 
 
Why is it that people would willingly spend so much money on something they don’t need?

The Average British:
 
Breast Enlargement - £4240 - £5045
Breast Uplift- £3,250 - £5,500
Face lift- £5650- £7235
Liposuction- £1,550 - £5,000
Rhinoplasty (Nose job)- £3,000 - £4,000
Tummy tuck- £4960 - £5350

These are small fortunes and totally unnecessary. And I completely blame magazines and the media. Young girls, and men, are bombarded with images of stunning, flawless models on a daily basis. Its no wonder our perception of beauty is so distorted.


We can’t seem to help but judge people within seconds of meeting them. Everything from their hair, teeth to the way they talk is scrutinized. If someone’s looks unwashed we presume them to be unhygienic, if they have tattoos, piercings, too much make-up, too little then they are immediately placed into a ‘category’.  A stereotype of what we perceive them to be. But the world is not so black and white. That greasy haired person might have spent the last three days watching over a friend in hospital and not had time to wash…. That person with tattoos may have suffered a great loss or over-come a particularly difficult phase in their life and want to be reminded of it. We are too quick to judge others.  And of course this affects the way we present ourselves.

Some people are obsessed with perfecting their ‘image’. Wanting to show the world that they fit into the ‘right category’. I have to question why. I expect the answers will range from ‘It makes me happy’ to ‘Trying to attract the opposite sex’. 
The fact that we are willing to spend so much money on own appearance when some people can’t even afford to feed themselves shocks me.

According the Daily Mail (not the most respected newspaper in the world but it does have a huge female following so in this case is worthy) the average woman spends £9000 on makeup in their life, roughly £130 a year. That’s insane.  The same article said 70% of the women questioned would never leave the house without applying some form of makeup and stated  'Women use make-up as a tool to boost their confidence and as a way to make themselves feel fashionable and youthful’.

I think our priorities are wrong.

Not forgetting the impact most make-up has on animals.

I imagine everyone’s heard of-

  • Maybelline
  •  Clairol
  • Cover girl
  • Dove
  • Garnier
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Lancome
  • L’OREAL USA
  • Maxfactor
  • Neutrogena,
  • Even Vaseline…

They all test on animals.

But there are good brands out there! Lush my personal favourite. Most of their products are vegan as well. Others include MAC, Barry M, Hard Candy, Body Shop and Original source (another Vegan brand).

Of course animal testing in incredibly controversial. Some will argue its necessary when being done for curing an illness.. I disagree (but thats a matter for another day) Animal’s biological make-up is very different to ours. Testing on a dog is not the same as testing on a human. Therefore shouldn’t be done at all.  Especially for things as trivial as makeup.

We need to stop abusing animals for trivial matters. Make up is not important.
Learn to love yourselves for who you are.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Recycling and MRF


 How many of us actually recycle? We go out shopping, buy a bottle of coke/water/whatever takes you fancy then once finished dump it into the nearest bin without a second thought. I work in a big chain coffee shop and we use paper napkins and plastic cups like there’s no tomorrow. People don’t hesitate to take a wad of napkins, barely use one before screwing the rest up making them unusable. They don’t seem to process that these seemingly disposable objects came from somewhere, maybe the Amazonian rainforest where trees are disappearing at a phenomenal rate, or from some recycling plant where they were once a much loved book. They just take take take. 

I finally had enough, and yesterday went to work and told my colleagues to put all plastic and paper that didn’t have food on into my magical recycling bag. At first they laughed, jokingly called me a hippy but some actually did it. However I soon realised this wasn’t going to be a daily occurrence. I couldn’t come in and dispose of the recycling unless I was working. My plan failed before it really began.

So I went and spoke to the Manager of the shopping centre about the possibility of getting plastic & paper recycling bins but he told me about something amazing. MRF (pronounced murf) or should I say Materials Recovering Facility. He kindly informed me that all waste from the centre went to one of these MRF’s whereby they are processed and the waste is separated from the recyclable products. The waste is then sent to a incinerator and burnt to produce power, however this burning creates a small amount of ash. So from the total rubbish in the bins only 1% is actual waste. This is great news. However this is not the case in our own homes. Only green bins waste is sent to MRF. All the rubbish you put into your black bins is sent to landfills sites.

All of it. 

Here is a list of what can and cannot be recycled-

Yes please

Cannot be recyled:
  • Cold ashes
  • Pet waste
  • Disposable nappies
  • Broken glass
  • Plastic film
  • Polystyrene 

No thank you

  • Anything that can be recycled
  • Food waste
  • Garden waste
  • Stones, rubble, soil or building materials
  • Car parts or batteries
  • Oil, paint or chemical
  • Textiles/clothing
  • Tree branches
  • Asbestos-based materials
  • Hot ashes
  • Anything too large to fit comfortably into the bin
  • Clinical waste or hypodermic needles
  • Large glass objects
  • Anything hazardous
Landfill sites are the most common form of waste disposal in the world. We alone in England create 170 million tonnes of waste annually. Some is recycled but the majority isn’t.  When I lived in Egypt it was crucial to drink 3-4 litres a day to not become dehydrated. I alone was using 2-3 plastic bottles daily. There was no recycling in Sharm. Rumours said that every once in a while a yellow truck would take some plastic away. But I never heard anyone mention recycling, never saw a bin…what I did see was huge piles of plastic bottles in the desert. For a country that relies on plastic bottles for tourists to consume (the tap water isn’t suitable for the delicate stomachs of Europeans and Americans alike) they simply don’t do anything to monitor and control the waste.

Some interesting facts from Recycling Guide:
Recycling is an excellent way of saving energy and conserving the environment. Did you know that:
  • 1 recycled tin can would save enough energy to power a television for 3 hours.
  • 1 recycled glass bottle would save enough energy to power a computer for 25 minutes.
  • 1 recycled plastic bottle would save enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for 3 hours.
  • 70% less energy is required to recycle paper compared with making it from raw materials.
  • Up to 60% of the rubbish that ends up in the dustbin could be recycled.
  • The unreleased energy contained in the average dustbin each year could power a television for 5,000 hours.
  • The largest lake in the Britain could be filled with rubbish from the UK in 8 months.
  • On average, 16% of the money you spend on a product pays for the packaging, which ultimately ends up as rubbish.
  • As much as 50% of waste in the average dustbin could be composted.
  • Up to 80% of a vehicle can be recycled.
  • 9 out of 10 people would recycle more if it were made easier.
I want to focus on the last one. How is recycling not easy? Rather than putting an object into bin A put it into bin B. If you have to take 5 seconds out of your day to wash the inside of the tin so be it. Just spend a few minutes less watching television, or playing on the internet.

Finally the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard- Why can't we launch garbage into space?

We all have the power to recycle. There is no excuse.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Change


“Money has never made man happy, nor will it, there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness. The more of it one has the more one wants.” Benjamin Franklin


As my first post stated ‘We all need money’.  I resent that. I resent the fact that everything from our food, shelter and even our water costs money. I understand that money is a logical step in the path to becoming an advanced civilisation but I can’t help hating everything about it. People are controlled by it, they drift around their un-fulfilled lives earning, spending, earning, saving, and occasionally loosing. Gambling is a classic example of this. I always say if I ever gambled I would set a limit, once I’ve made that limit I would ‘leave the table’.  But doesn’t everyone say that? think that…hope that. I imagine most people walk into a casino with the same wish of self –control but how many actually follow it through. We are all greedy. We all have that selfish desire for more. More food, more clothes, more ‘happiness’. I will be the first to admit I eat when I want, what and want and will far surpass my body’s physical need for food. But eating makes me happy. It seems most people dedicate their lives to the famous saying ‘Money doesn’t buy happiness but it sure helps’.

I have to question happiness. Though I truly believe everyone is entitled to it, and should dedicate their lives to being happy I can’t help but wonder.  Should we allow people like Hatem Yavuz to be happy?  People that gain happiness from the death and suffering of other living beings. Should we allow people to make money from the exploitation of their fellow man or from the manipulation and corruption so many perform nowadays. I say no.

And this brings me to my title ‘Change’. As an aspiring marine conservationist many windows have been opened to me, in the sense that I can now see what’s going on. But far more doors have been closed. After all When one argues against the origins of another mans money, they rarely receive a welcome and people are reluctant to change. Take Sea World for example. I have already given my views on captivity especially relating to this main perpetrator. However as with everything there is a reason why these places are open. Money.  According to a brief Google search Sea World makes a revenue of 181 million dollars a year. With environmentalists and conservationists alike arguing ‘Animals shouldn’t be kept in captivity it’s cruel’ versus a huge wad of cash it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why these places are still open. And they will fight to keep the average person na├»ve. Freedom of speech disappears when you are questioning the moralities of huge company like this. Today myself and a number of like minded people commented on the above photo, informing sea world of our disgust at training sea lions to be ‘human playthings’. It took a matter of minutes before our comments where deleted. 

The 'allowed' comments consisted of people saying 'WOW Can't wait too go!!!' and the harsher- "Why dont u stop being a hippy and grow up Andrew.... Sea wold does alot for the animals they have and thay have rescued and released hundreds of animals." in reply to one of our commentors. People need to stop confusing conservationlists with Hippies. They are not the same. I for one despise a huge majority of people. Therefore by simple definition I don't love enough to be a hippy.  And by simply existing Sea World is hurting animals. 
  


 I will face many closed doors in my life, no one likes being told to stop what they are doing. But if I make more people aware then I consider it a well spent existence. And through Education we will prevail.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Fur


*Warning- This post contains frank information; and the Video at the bottom contains scenes of a highly distressing nature.*

Something I’ve noticed recently is the increase in fake fur products sold in high-street shops. For fashion-conscious people this may be brilliant news as real fur is expensive. But for me it only means one thing. That the top-end fashion designers are using real fur in their current lines. After all fashion trickles down the ladder from runway to retail.

Before I started on this ‘eco’ path I was unbelievably blind to my surroundings. A few years ago when shopping (I should clarify it was the window kind) in Harrods there were fur protestors outside the main doors, doing the ‘throwing red paint’ charade. I remember thinking ‘Stupid hippies’ and then went directly to the fur department and lovingly stroked the expensive purchases hoping one day I may own one. I never once thought about where the fur came from. I knew that real fur clothing existed; I knew that the fur came from animals but that was the extent of my knowledge. I didn’t realise that China has huge fur farms where animals are kept in cages so small they can barely turn around. They spend all day treading on their own filth when finally after a few years of a horrendous existence then are anally electrocuted and in some cases skinned alive. The reason for doing this is so that the fur isn’t damaged in any way.  All this for a coat.

Every year roughly 130,000 Seals are hunted and clubbed to death around the world, in Canada, Namibia, Greenland, Norway and Russia. And there is one main man behind this, Hatem Yavuz. A Turkish business man living a life of luxury in Sydney, Australia. His fur empire funding his expensive lifestyle and he has even been quoted saying ‘He loves what he is doing’. I have to question what his parents did to him as a child. Because ordering people to a club baby seal to death is not what most would consider enjoyable.

As with Shark fin Soup, Fur is a sad example of the curse of the wealthy. Shark fin is tasteless and it’s the broth that makes it have any flavour. But because sharks were rarely caught they were held in high-esteem and only royalty used to eat them.  People that wear real mink coats and arctic fox hats are showing their wealth to the world because these items are expensive.  It’s the same as wearing a Rolex or driving a posh car. Except this time a living being has had to die. However as with most things it has become accessible to the lower strains of society. We have been able to manufacture fake fur, and fake leather through clever technology. But rather than people graciously excepting these, they have given them a further push down the ladder. Fake products like these don’t equal animal friendly in the minds of the average persons. It equals cheap.

These video is a clip from Earthlings and I will never get these images out of my head. But I think to truly understand something you have to learn about it as much as possible. Therefore I watch these videos, find pictures and read the information in some vain hope that I might make just one person re-consider the world around them.


When researching the Seal Slaughtering I came across a quote from the legendary Jacques Cousteau himself-

"We have to be logical. We have to aim our activity first to the endangered species. Those who are moved by the plight of the harp seal could also be moved by the plight of the pig - the way they are slaughtered is horrible."

I completely agree. Again it comes back to the ‘cute factor’. A baby seal is adorable, a pig. Not so much.
But right now I am focusing on the fur trade. So please sign the petition at the bottom of this page!

We have got to stop putting priorities on one species over another. And its time the fur industry disappeared.

Some interesting Links- Natures Sound- Voice of the Seals

Petition time- End Namibia's Seal Cull 


Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Ignorance


We are all ignorant. I am ignorant about basic things many of which are in my own home. How do radio’s really work? How do cameras catch a specific moment in time? (Which I find fascinating but that’s for another day) and Lightbulbs, how have we managed to recreate light and control it?! These we use on a daily basis but most people don’t have a clue how they work.  Therefore we are ignorant by choice because the information is out there. It’s accessible on the same object that I am using to write this, that many use to chat on social media sites and some even rely on to make a living from. So why do we not seek to be informed? 


Ig-no-rant- (gnr-nt)

  1. Lacking Education or Knowledge
  2. Showing or arising from the lack of education or knowledge
  3. Unaware or uninformed

Is it because we ‘lack the education or knowledge’ to find out the answers? No, for many this is not the answer. Is it ‘showing or arising from the lack of education or knowledge’? Again for many no. And finally is it from being ‘unaware or uninformed’. A harder one to answer. Ignorance is by defition being unaware and uninformed but is that through choice or the lack of wanting to know. I personally believe that it is the latter.  

People don’t care. 

They sit there watching their night time TV and don’t even question how a) the subjects were caught in that moment and b) how the pretty picture is now being shown on a screen barely thicker than 2 inches. They just want to be entertained. Sadly this makes up probably 99% of the worlds ‘advanced’ population. I say advanced because the 1.7 billion people who live in poverty have far more pressing issues to think about. Surviving, feeding their children and wondering if they’ll make it through another year. Us lucky ‘first-worlders’ can not play the ‘busy mind card’. Our biggest problems range from ‘Does he/she like me?’ ‘What brand of cereal should I buy this week?’ and ‘Should I spend 30 quid on that t-shirt?’. Half of the world’s population live on less than $2.50 a day. But in my country we have no problem spending £2.50 on a coffee that we drink walking around a shopping mall with the plans to spend twenty times that. We are too comfortable. We are too ignorant.

The fact that I don’t know the ins and outs of how a light bulb works is trivial. I am ignorant on many far more important things, I know they’re out there but due to being unaware I don’t know what they are. In the last 3 months I have become more aware on what is happening on our planet that in the previous 18 years. So no doubt there is more information to shock me. There is one type of person that I cannot stand. That is those that are ignorant to the worlds problems by choice. They turn a blind eye, and as the well known saying goes ‘That which we do not know cannot hurt us’. They know it;  but they just don’t want to confront it. This can relate to my previous post Home & the Meat Industry . There are people that will refuse to watch the videos posted here as they want to be ignorant for a happy, easier life. A classic example of this ignorance is the Oxfam adverts. I used to sit watching TV at school and one of these adverts would come on. Every time it did someone would shout ‘Argh change the channel these are horrible’. Changing the channel does not make these problems go away for the people suffering. It might make your life a little easier by pretending that its no happening but it is. Its real. And it’s a huge problem.

There are two quotes which fit this post perfectly:

"The world is a dangerous place.... not just because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing" - Albert Einstein

“He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr

We need to stop accepting evil. We need to stop changing our channels over and pretending that the burger we eat in McDonalds was not from a once living, breathing animal who felt pain the same way we do. 

We need to stop choosing to be ignorant.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Captivity


Most of us visited zoos as a child. My all time favourite was going to see the tiger ‘exhibition’ and it spurred years of love for this animal. But this memory has changed over the years. At the time I just saw a giant furry cat but now I remember the size of the enclosure was far too small for such a powerful animal. The Tiger was also alone, in captivity away from its own natural environment and species and above all it looked unhealthy and skinny.  I have since learnt that zoos are cruel and that no animal should be kept ‘behind bar’s. Like aquariums these animals are not free. But the subject is controversial.

The Shark Tank in the London Aquarium is far too small, the ray tank, far too accessible for people to touch them. Every one of those animals is undeniably unhappy. But some part of me admits that they serve a good purpose. It was a visit to the London Aquarium that made me want to become a Marine biologist. It was the same visit that partly got me into diving, and after a few years that diving has made me decide that I want to conserve marine life. A chain that may never have occurred if these places didn’t exist. 

Zoos and aquariums allow children to see animals that they would never get to see otherwise. How many people are fortunate enough to trek into the Indian jungles to see Tigers in their natural habitat? How many people are given the opportunity to dive with sharks…Its places like this that can start life long passions in people. Though cruel on the individual creatures stuck in captivity they can help their own kind in the long run. The question this begs to ask is ‘Is it right to keep animals in captivity for our own enjoyment?’. I say no. But I think in some small way its right to keep them for education. Of course I would prefer that aquariums didn’t exist, I would prefer it if humans completely left animals alone but that is never going to happen.

There are places that should never be allowed to exist though. Like Sea World. Keeping Dolphins in tiny tanks is downright cruel. Dolphins are amazing. They can swim 5-12 km’s an hour, and often swim 20/30 kilometres a day.  According to the Animal Welfare act an Orca tank must be a minimum of 14 metres wide with a straight line down the middle. Males typically range from 6-8 metres long and females 5-7. Their tanks are barely twice the size of them. That’s like a human being stuck in a 4 metre box for their whole life. Many of the dolphinariums get their dolphins from the same cove run in Taiji where the 23,000 dolphins are slaughtered annually. So by visiting Sea World and similar places you are actively funding and condoning the deaths of thousands of dolphins a year. As Ric O’barry famously said:

‘A dolphins smile is natures greatest deception’.

Dolphins don’t control their facial expressions. They may appear to be ‘smiling’ but they’re not.

Animals shouldn’t be kept in boxes, but if they have to be it should be for education not entertainment. It also sparks up the debate of keeping fish as pets. There are fish in my house, they're not mine and I would prefer not to be associated with keeping marine life locked up. People are always mistaken in thinking fish are boring. 'They do nothing' is the common complaint. What do you want from them?! They're not going to prance around the tank balancing balls and jumping through hoops, they simply want to survive. But they are amazingly interactive. I placed the end of my one of my fingers into the tank last night to see their reaction and they were  fascinated. First the big one came and 'puckered' my finger then the others courage grew and the little minows were dancing around it, tapping it with their mouths, fins and bodies. They were curious. Fish do think, they are intelligent and their memories are longer than 3 seconds. 

At the end of the day we have to stop abusing animals for our own gain.  They were not put on this planet to entertain us.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Blue Fin Tuna


 Fish, the number one source of Omega 3 and they makes lovely pies. I used to eat fish every day of the week with tuna toasties, salmon en croute and cod being staple parts of my diet. And I will be the first to admit Fish tastes good. But this was before I saw the film The End of the Line and discovered the sheer unsustainability of the fishing industry.
 Tuna stocks in particular are at an unbelievable low, with blue fin tuna being predicted to be extinct by as early as next year. Question time- What does Mitsubushi mean to you? I used to hear that word and immediately think car. Now I think differently, the first word that comes to mind is tuna. This Japanese company is stocking twenty thousand tonnes of blue fin tuna a year, so that when it does become extinct they can sell it at extortionate prices and makes some serious money. This logic is insane. Companies like this should be doing all they can to ensure the survival of our fellow beings, not driving them into extinction for some quick cash.

Of course there are a multitude of problems that occur when fishing. 100,000,000 sharks are killed a year.  And 50% of these are caught in by-catch when fishing for the likes of cod and tuna.  Not to mention the thousands of dolphins, turtles and other animals killed by accident. Its by-catch that is destroying our oceans. And according to studies it is said that anywhere between 6.8- 27 millions tonnes of fish and marine animals are discarded every year. These animals are dying for no reason.

Above long line and net fishing I hate trawlers the most. These are giant nets attached to huge metal beams which are then dragged along the ocean floor destroying everything in their path.  I see people eating Shrimp Sushi and Prawn salads and wonder if they have any idea of the impact that their lunch had on the ocean. The environmental damage these have is crazy and they causes large scale deconstruction. The coral on the sea bed is killed and the marine life stolen. Trawlers even impact Whales. Blue whales breed and give birth in warm, tropical waters then after their calf is born they migrate north to where the sea is cooler.  With trawlers destroying the sea bed the whales have less food. Not only do they have natures stuggles to deal with by travelling thousands of miles but now ours.

The next time you see a fish and chip shop and feel tempted to go in. Just think of the damage done to the ocean for five minutes of taste. 

Check out these guys- How to Save the Blue Fin Tuna



Saturday, 10 September 2011

Water

The ultimate element. In the most basic sense we need fire for warmth, earth to live and feed off and air to breathe, but waters different. The other three can easily coexist but water is the key to life. You only have to look at parts of the desert for proof of this. Baron lands, impossible for our species and many others to live on. 

I used to sit in the bath as a kid and just stare at the water, yes I was a freaky child but I found it fascinating. Have you ever really looked at water? It’s incredibly strange. At a first glance seems colourless but you only have to visit the ocean to realise it can easily reflect any colour it desires. No smell and very little taste but it is the essence of life. It can be contained, controlled and manipulated into any shape but it also has immense strength. Like all elements it has the power to wipe out our existence.

People don’t appreciate its true value. We fill up our bathtubs daily and leave taps running, wash clothes and chuck our rubbish in rivers. The water we drink, bathe in and waste is a finite resource*. Freshwater is being hugely exploited to meet the needs of the ever growing population. With almost 500,000 births a day and only 300,000 deaths our population is increasing at an astronomical rate. We have already outgrown our planet. On the subject of resources if we all consumed the same as Americans we would need 5 earths to sustain us. We don’t have five, we have one. And she is dying
 
The planet is 70% water, 3% is freshwater and only a third of that is actually available to us, the rest tied up in glaciers and ice-caps. Over a billion people on the planet are consuming dirty, contaminated water and we only have ourselves to blame. *Let me elaborate more on the term ‘finite’. The water we use in our daily lives is the same water that the ancient Greeks drank and the same water that the dinosaurs drank. There is the same amount of water on the planet now than when life as we know it came into existence. But it’s finite because the planet is finite. We are also contaminating it with human waste and rubbish. So the water cycle is being broken.

I’ve heard scientists say that in my lifetime water will be the most sort after commodity. Forget Oil and Gold, it will be freshwater that will be fought after.  As for the argument of Desalination ‘the conversion of saltwater into freshwater’ this is not a long term solution. Large-scale desalination typically uses extremely large amounts of energy as well as specialized, expensive infrastructure, making it very costly. Again energy that is created from more finite resources in the form of oil and coal.

There is only one solution. Cutting down the number of people. I’m not saying get the nuclear weapons out and press the big red button. But if we don’t cut down our population soon, and I’m talking in the next century there won’t be a planet to live on.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Death

We are born into this world with nothing, and we leave it with nothing. The wealth we accumulate and possessions we buy become meaningless on our deathbeds. However there is one thing that gains more power than ever in this brief moment of final existence, and that is love. The love of our friends, family and the people we have encountered during our short time on this planet.

When questioned, most people would admit that they would want to attend their own funeral. To see the face’s of all the people that cared about them one last time. We’ve all lost someone, whether it be a childhood pet or the love of our lives. We’ve all felt that pain to know that you’ll never hear them laugh again, see them smile, or simply be in their presence. Death itself seems so conclusive and final. But it isn’t. Those that are lost still live amongst the living. Whether it be through a fond memory, a photograph or a particularly meaningful yet seamlessly random object, they still live on.

We are all afraid of death some more so than others. I have seen the last decade of my life flash by in an instance and can sense that the next few will go by as equally fast. Some of us ignore this inescapable eventuality and dedicate our lives to ‘living for the moment’. Others dwell on it daily and end up spending more time contemplating their last breathe than actually living. This is one of the reasons that I personally have come to the decision to enjoy every moment I have and encourage others to do the same. If you hear something funny laugh until your sides hurt and you’re gasping for breath! After all that’s the only proper way to laugh. If you have an opportunity to do something you wouldn’t normally consider, take it. Enjoy it. And if there are people in your life that make you miserable cut them out. Why suffer for them?

Some people feel the need to leave their mark, a little piece of them to be remembered before they go. I see graffiti on the walls of our cities and wonder if its not just mindless vandalism, but a way of that individual making their presence known to society. Their way of continuing after death. Others make a more profound example and try to change things. Whether it be through charity like Mother Teresa or through Politics like Winston Churchill, both who will forever be remembered as their legacies live on in the history books. 

Theres only one thing I want before I leave on this planet. And that is peace. Undeniably cheesy, but true. I want peace between our fellow beings, peace between us and animals and peace in ourselves. As after all the greatest battles we fight are the daily struggles in oneself.

Angels of the Sea

I will never forget the first time I saw a Manta Ray diving. It was breath-taking, memorising and easily the most beautiful creature i've ever seen. She swam past the group of us quickly and once she reached the front slowed into a gradual glide. Fins flapping like a bird, her enourmous body dominated the entire screen of my mask. And I'll happily admit, i've never felt such an emotional rush of love for something. The overwhelming desire to protect it  and the need to see more.

                                       The Actual Manta - Image Courtesy of Jonathon Anderson

In the last few years there has been an alarming increase in Manta hunting around the world, due to Chinese Practioners believing that the consumption of gills reduce toxins in the blood by purifying and cooling it. This in turn reduces body temperature and aids blood circulation. They also believe that these gills boost the body's immune system, and with the recent outbreaks of swine and bird flu creating world wide panic over the last couple of year, these to have further boosted demand.


In Ecuador it is illegal to catch Sharks and Mantas, however if they're accidentally caught in by-catch then their fins and gills can be sold. Over 35% of Ecuadorians live under the poverty line, but for every shark fin sold they get 5$ in return.  They 'accidentally' fish for Sharks and Mantas twice a week. 


Manta's are one of the most mysterious creatures on our planet and also one of the most susceptible to over-fishing. The little we do know about them  is that they only have 1 pup every one to three years even though they have an annual ovulation cycle.  They also have limited migration routes and they reach sexual maturity by size not age. If we keep slaughtering them at the current rate, like sharks they will soon become extinct. 

However these are some people who want this to stop. Check out this amazing organisation- Manta Ray of Hope



Wednesday, 7 September 2011

California

DELIGHTED TO ANNOUNCE that a new bill in California has made it unlawful for any person to possess, sell, offer for sale, trade, or distribute shark fins! California joins with Hawaii, Washington and Oregon - states that already have shark fin bans in place. Today’s news effectively closes down all remaining ports and markets on the west coast of USA from participating in the shark fin trade.
Brilliant News!! No more shark fin soup in Cali!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Fear


What is fear? We’ve all felt it, seen it in the eyes of others and at times created it yet what is it? The factual definition is its ‘an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.’ We all fear things, whether it be through perceived or true threats.

Big bugs such as spiders terrify me. I only have to hear that ones in the house and I go into a frenzy of sheer panic. But why do I fear them? They’re not dangerous; likely to cause pain or harm me in any way nor are they a threat, so is the factual definition of fear wrong? For me fear is an almost indescribable feeling, the classic ‘hairs stand up’ on the back of my neck, I feel ‘ice cold’ and my heart pounds. All natural defence mechanisms given to us to survive but the actual emotional feeling is very difficult to describe.

And of course there’s the greatest fear of all. The fear of the unknown.

The universal question that we all ask some point in our lives is ‘Why are we here? Why do I exist?...What is the meaning of life.’  A biologist will tell you that your meaning in life is to procreate, a religious person will tell you that it’s to worship your creator, but I personally think we have to make our own meaning.

We are born meaningless.

Of course this will bring up the Fate & Destiny arguments. Do we chose the path we live or do we simply walk down the road created for us? I’d like to believe that every thing I've done in my life was down to choice, personal decisions that have made me who I am today. But a ‘Fate-ist’ can always and rightfully argue that I have never made a choice in my life. Everything was laid out for me the moment I came into existence and will continue to until I die.

And this is why we fear the unknown. Humans have the huge desire to understand everything around them, yet we can not even answer the most important question of all. The question of our existence.

Our planet has been perfectly created. Yes there’s horrendous suffering; people living without food and water, children being abused…but the planet itself is perfect. Every species play a hugely important role in maintaining the delicate balance of the earth’s ecosystem. Plants grow and produce oxygen which without it there would be no life; we then return the favour and produce carbon dioxide to feed them. Not even a single drop of water is wasted in the natural world as it is returned to us in the form of clouds. But there is one creature on earth that though from a biological standpoint is a perfect creation, is far from faultless. People.

What we fear we kill. Senselessly and without hesitation. we fight over religion as we fear our Gods, we kill animals that attack us when we invade their homes and we kill without even understanding why. Next time you see a spider on your wall rathering than mindlessly stomping on it stop for a moment and think of its reason for existence.