The Water Carriers of Central Malawi and the Trócaire Campaign 0

The video clip above, of villagers in Central Malawi gathering the day’s water, is part of an extraordinary interactive story published recently on the Irish Times site by Trócaire, a Catholic charity in Kildare, Ireland that works in over 20 countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.

The story invites the reader to make the difficult choices the villagers must make due to the “extreme poverty,  . . .  drought and poor access to water [that] are having a detrimental effect on their daily lives.”

Below is an excerpt followed by a link to the site, where you can scroll down to participate in the story and join the Trócaire campaign:

It’s 5am in a small village in Central Malawi and the first thing on everyone’s mind is water. As with many duties, the responsibility lies solely with the female members of the community. Women and girls, young and old must walk to the nearest river, buckets in tow to queue for water.

The shallow river, which in reality is just a stream dries up when the dry season begins, leaving the entire village reliant on one small trickle of water.

People can wait up to 3 hours for their turn. When it comes, they hunker down barefoot on the muddy riverbed and scoop water into their buckets. Then they must make the long walk home, often balancing up to 20 litres on their head. It’s now 7.30 am and the sun is already beating down on them. The daily struggle for water has begun.

Now decide how you’d like to see the villagers’ day proceed

Pace Clinic Students Parse School Food, By the Letter 0

CAFO: A Four-Letter Word Found in School Cafeterias

By The Food Justice Team
Pace Environmental Policy Clinic

Note: Students from the Pace Environmental Policy Clinic launched their ePolicy blog with features spanning circus animal abuse, microgrid development, invasive plants and more.  The article below, by the Clinic’s Food Justice Team, reposted from ePolicy, walks you through the grisly alphabet soup of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. — John Cronin

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Drawing by Mallory Butlin

What is the quality of treatment of the livestock and poultry that are the source of meat served on a college campus? We three freshman enrolled in the new Environmental Policy Clinic course at Pace University decided to find out. This led us immediately to the acronym CAFO.

Honestly, like many students, we had never heard this term before we began researching our food supply. We know now, and what we learned has made us determined to do what we can to limit the purchase of food from this kind of operation. So what does Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) really mean? Let us take you behind each letter:

oncentrated: According to various dictionaries, concentrated means to be closely gathered together, compressed and thrown together in a pile. Right off the bat this doesn’t make CAFO sound too great. Are they trying to tell us that all of their animals are piled together in a tight location? No wonder people often call it “Confined Animal Feeding Operations!” About 100 or more cows are placed in a pen on a CAFO, all standing and sleeping in their own manure. Guess there’s not a lot of room for the animals to walk around, not that the CAFO operators mind…

nimal: Almost all farms have animals. But a CAFO designation, according to the EPA, is all about numbers: 700 dairy cows, 30,000 ducks, 10,000 swine, 10,000 sheep…. Well, you get the idea. A large chicken CAFO can have 125,000 or more birds! Seems a little packed, don’t you think?

eeding: is the action of consuming and supplying food for nourishment. It is the process of fattening and feeding an animal. Pasturelands are a form of providing food for the animals; however, on a CAFO animals are not given much time to graze. Rather, animals are fed corn and antibiotics. Feeding them corn makes caring for them easier and cheaper while the antibiotics make the animals grow faster and fatter. Who needs to go to a doctor when there are so many antibiotics in the meat coming from CAFOs?

peration: is a business or industry run on a large scale, often thought of as a practical or mechanical process that involves a particular form of work. CAFOs place a large amount of animals in a small space for maximum efficiency. So, in case you did not realize, CAFOs are not farms.

Hopefully this will help clarify what CAFOs really are.

Personally we feel that CAFOs should stand for Confined Animals Fighting Oppression. What do you think?

Comment or join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #saynocafo.

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Climate Change Affects the Poor by Patrick Chappatte 0

Climate Change Affects the Poor by Patrick Chappatte. Cagle Cartoons. Used with Permission.

Climate Change Affects the Poor by Patrick Chappatte. Cagle Cartoons. Used with Permission.

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chappatte-headshot-articleInlinePatrick Chappatte is an editorial cartoonist for The International New York Times, formerly known as the International Herald Tribune, which has published his work since 2001. His cartoons have been featured in five books published by the newspaper. The latest collection, “Stress Test,” was released in 2012.He is also a regular contributor to the European newspapers Neue Zürcher Zeitung and Le Temps. Earlier in his career, he contributed to The New York Times Book Review and created a comic strip for Newsweek International called “Rob the Cybernaut.”

Mr. Chappatte has collaborated with editorial cartoonists in conflict-ridden countries with the goal of promoting dialogue through cartooning. These projects focused on Serbia, Ivory Coast, Lebanon, Kenya and Guatemala. He described the work in a TED talk in 2010.

Patrick’s full bio at The International New York Times.

Student Environmental Policy Clinic: New York Law Could End Elephant Torture in Circuses 0

By the Circus Animal Team
Pace Environmental Policy Clinic

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Note: This week, our students from the Pace Environmental Policy Clinic launched their ePolicy blog, featuring news and updates on their docket of cases. The article below, by the Clinic’s Circus Animal Team, is reposted from ePolicy. It pulls aside the curtain on the ethical and political dimensions of the circus business in New York State: the torture necessary to make exotic animals entertaining and the law that could end it. — John Cronin

In 1805, Hachaliah Bailey, a farmer from Somers, New York, acquired an elephant, one of the first elephants to enter the United States. He named her Old Bet, and visitors flocked from all around to see the remarkable animal.

Eventually, a distant relative of Bailey teamed up with New York City showman P.T. Barnum. The modern-day ring-and-whip American circus was born.

Today New Yorkers can play a role in retaining the magic of the circus while keeping exotic animals out of the ring. Two bills have been introduced — Assembly A5407 and Senate S5971 — that would effectively ban traveling circuses that use exotic animals from entering the state.

The rationale? There is simply no way to train a wild animal for life in a traveling circus without cruelty, often from time the animal is a juvenile. In essence, the only tamed elephant is a tortured elephant.

Michelle Land, a Pace environmental law and policy professor and director of the Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies, laid out the case for concern in detail in a compelling 2012 brief, “The Elephant in the Room.” We encourage you to read the full essay, but here’s a particularly compelling point:

Circuses force animals to perform acts that have nothing to do with how they behave in the wild. For example, the difficult tricks that elephants must perform, such as standing on two legs, sitting on tubs, or waving their trunks, place a great deal of stress on their muscles and joints. Elephant experts and veterinarians agree that elephants will not voluntarily perform these physically taxing and painful maneuvers on command, over and over, hundreds of times a year without the constant threat of punishment. No form of positive reinforcement alone will elicit such unnatural behaviors.

A baby elephant in the circus is bound and beaten; a wild baby elephant plays happily in the mud (credit: PETA.org)

Exotic animals, including elephants, cannot live safe and healthy lives if they are forced to travel in small train cars for months out of the year. These are large, beautiful and dangerous animals held in check with the threat of pain from bullhooks used by trainers in all circuses.

Pace Law School Professor David Cassuto posted recently on the legal context:

Asian elephants are endangered. Elephants in circuses are brutally mistreated. In 2000, a lawsuit was brought under the Endangered Species Act, claiming that the elephants’ treatment by Feld Entertainment (parent of Ringling Brothers) violated the “No Take” provision of the ESA and should be enjoined. In late 2009, following a lengthy litigation, a judge threw out the case after deciding that the former circus worker who was the lead plaintiff lacked credibility, was paid for his testimony, and that there was therefore no standing for the plaintiffs to sue. The decision was a travesty on many levels (some of which I’ve blogged about elsewhere). Perhaps most disturbing was the fact that the treatment of the elephants became wholly ancillary to a ridiculous debate about people.

The circus industry sometimes shows photos of elephants doing circus-like movements in the wild, but that does not make the training acceptable. There are no bullhooks, whips, and cages in the wild. The abuse must stop.

On its website, Ringling Brothers says it opposes local legislation banning animal acts:

We believe that these bans are unnecessary and take away a treasured part of the circus experience that patrons tell us they support and love. (Fortunately, such communities are the exception, not the rule.) By banning performing animals, the town is effectively saying that our experts are not fit to handle the animals they have devoted their lives to caring for. We can’t say it enough: Ringling Bros. loves animals as much as you do!

We respectfully disagree.

The traditional American circus started in New York. Now, New York must work to create an even grander circus: One not tarnished by suffering but instead uplifted with wonder.

There are plenty of examples, including the Cirque de Soleil and Big Apple Circus that have found ways to draw big audiences without exotic animals.

Make New York a safer, kinder place. End the movement of exotic animals within our borders and reward those circuses that amaze us with cruelty-free shows. Let’s truly make it the Greatest Show on Earth.

Please contact your representative in the New York State Assembly (locator) and Senate (locator) and say you care about this issue and these bills.

A goal of the Circus Animal Team is to help advance this legislation and maintain the integrity of circuses in New York.

Please track our Twitter account for updates!

Students Enter Public Arena Through Pace Academy’s Environmental Policy Clinic 0

Undergraduates Tackle Energy, Food Justice, Invasive Species and Animal Torture

Only seven weeks into the inaugural semester of the Pace Environmental Policy Clinic, an intensive program of professional advocacy training, twelve Pace University students are already affecting change in the public arena.

Last week, the Board of Trustees of the Village of Ossining, NY unanimously adopted an energy resiliency policy authored by clinic students. The policy lays the groundwork for creating a community microgrid, and competing for some of the $40 million that will be available under the NYPrize program Governor Andrew Cuomo announced in his 2014 State of the State Address.

Top, L – R: Carlos Villamayor Ledesma (sophomore, communications), Sara Moriarty (junior, communications), Laura Sorrentino (senior, environmental studies), Conor Strong (senior, environmental studies), Theresa Tumminia (junior, communications). Bottom, L – R: Maricielo Gomez (freshman, communications), Nadya Hall (junior, psychology), James Ward (senior, environmental studies), Jaclyn Barbato (sophomore, environmental studies), Christina Correia (senior, criminal justice), Alexandra Catalano (freshman, political science), Alyssa Boas Vilas (freshman, political science).

Top, L – R: Carlos Villamayor Ledesma (sophomore, communications), Sara Moriarty (junior, communications), Laura Sorrentino (senior, environmental studies), Conor Strong (senior, environmental studies), Theresa Tumminia (junior, communications). Bottom, L – R: Maricielo Gomez (freshman, communications), Nadya Hall (junior, psychology), James Ward (senior, environmental studies), Jaclyn Barbato (sophomore, environmental studies), Christina Correia (senior, criminal justice), Alexandra Catalano (freshman, political science), Alyssa Boas Vilas (freshman, political science).

“Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene awakened communities up and down the Atlantic coast that they must be energy self-sufficient in order to protect key services that assure public safety,” said Michelle Land, director of the Pace Academy for Applied Environmental Studies, which launched the Clinic in late January. “A microgrid is a locally-based energy supply and distribution system that uses cutting-edge technologies to produce reliable power even when the rest of the grid goes down.”  More on the Ossining action here.

In addition to energy resiliency, the Clinic’s docket of issues includes invasive plants and wildlife, circus animal torture, and food justice on campus. The students have created a blog to document the progress of their cases. The ePolicy blog can be found here.

According to Professor Land, the Environmental Policy Clinic is a groundbreaking program of applied studies where student clinicians, in a team setting, work as professional environmental policy practitioners under the supervision of faculty from Pace Academy, and in consultation with faculty from across Pace schools and colleges. Their primary responsibility is to design and implement new policies and policy reforms that address real world environmental issues by representing “client,” non-profit and governmental organizations from the community and region.

In addition to the Village of Ossining, the Clinic’s clients include Westchester Land Trust on the issue of invasive plants, and the Pace Center for Community Action and Research on food justice.

More on the Clinic, its students and faculty here.

More on Pace Academy here.

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There Was Once a Time: Shad, Fishermen & the Hudson 0

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It is shad season on the Hudson River, but there are no shad fishermen. In 2010, New York State halted commercial fishing of American shad because of a crashing population, bringing to an end a centuries-old tradition, and the reputation of the Hudson River as an environmental success story.

There was once a time when every river town was home to commercial shad fishermen. The appearance of their boats and nets along the Hudson shore was a certain sign spring was here to stay. Tradition taught that the first run of American shad left the Atlantic to spawn in the river’s fresh water reaches when the forsythia were in bloom, and the final run just after the lilac flowered.

Appropriately, the image above was one of hundreds of news photos, presumably from the disposed archives of the former Evening Star, rescued from a dumpster in Peekskill, New York by photographer Howard Goodman.

More on shad and shad fishing here.

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