Post #10 Placing Animals

April 5, 2017

Placing Animals:

I don’t know if I necessarily liked this book overall, but Urbanik did do a great job of opening my eyes up to different things that I would of never thought of. Certain points that really made me think were how differently humans view animals throughout the world, as well as, why people eat the animals they do. It was interesting to see how different places around the world eat animals that are domesticated in other parts of the world. I already knew different places around the world eat guinea pigs, but it made me really think about how different people think. To many times Americans get angry at what others do around the world, but at the end of the day it is usually how those people are raised or the culture they live in. From day one, animals have been a source of food, so it is not that hard to believe that different places around the world eat and view certain animals differently than Americans do. This also goes hand in hand with why people eat the food they do. Of course, people try different animals that they would of never thought in a million years they’d eat, just because they are curious about the taste. In most cases though, people are born into the norm of their culture and the food they eat while not thinking anything of it because that is what they have been surrounded by their whole life. I am glad we read this book because it definitely opened my eyes up to different ways of looking at how people (not just Americans) view animals and eating them.

Current Event: 

MELTING ARCTIC ICE COULD WIPE OUT THE BELOVED BELUGA WHALE 

With the arctic climate being at such high risk, the beluga whale could be the next victim of climate change. The issue with climate change in the Arctic is that it is causing the sea ice to shrink. Without sea ice, there can be no sea algae, and with no sea algae means the fish and crustaceans that eat that algae will have no food. This is a problem for belugas because the fish and crustaceans that eat the sea ice algae are then eaten by the whales, and if there isn’t any sea ice algae there aren’t any fish for the belugas to eat. The other problem climate change has towards belugas is that it is warming the arctic water. This makes for new predators for the beluga whales, such as Orcas, who could not live in the cold arctic waters but can now, due to warmer temperatures, which places a new threat to beluga whales. The article concludes with the following statement, “As the food supply dwindles and habitats are threatened, reproduction is increasingly difficult. These animals are forced to relocate and change their migratory patterns. They are subject to disease and chemical pathogens from pollution. Their survival, the Arctic’s survival, and ultimately the global ecosystem’s survival depends on addressing climate change.”

MELTING ARCTIC ICE COULD WIPE OUT THE BELOVED BELUGA WHALE


Placing Animals

April 5, 2017

I found the notion of place and animal geography very interesting. It really is true that the way you treat animals, and the way you treat different types of animals, is hugely based on the culture you grew up in and the place that surrounds you. It also, obviously, has to do with what animals are around, and what animals come from other places: I think of the hamster or guinea pig, common, ubiquitous pets that tons of Americans have, that have originated in the deserts of the middle east or in south America. We imported these animals and started raising them here, even though guinea pigs are a food source where they’re endemic to, and they’ve become beloved pets. The pet aspect of this book is interesting to me: I noted the quote about how cruelty is an inherent part of human nature, but we love and cherish our pets. I still see this cruelty in the way some people treat their pets: people put hamsters in those flimsy plastic cages (I’m guilty of that as a kid), they keep fish in bowls, they try to feed their dogs and cats vegan diets- all in the name of love. It can be explained by a lack of education, but this disinterest pet owners have in learning about their pets before they get them almost seems to stem from a deep desire to hold dominion over the animal by not keeping it in idea conditions. I let that get away from me, whoops. Anyways, I liked that this book does not have a solid idea of animal rights, because animal rights are different all around the world and for different people. Because truly, animal rights is a human invention- not because animal cruelty is a human invention, because animals are cruel to each other all the time, but because we ascribe our emotions and ideas to animals that have completely different brains and worldviews than us. It goes back to the quote at the beginning of the book: animals are a seperate nation, something none of us will ever quite understand. Compassion for animals requires the ability to see this difference, and to treat animals based on their reactions and behavior, not on what we think they feel.

Current Event

I chose an article about the Great Smoky Mountains because I went there recently and it was AMAZING. In November, a huge fire burned 11,000 acres of the park. Tons of researchers flooded to the area to study how the forest would recover. One researcher is looking at two species of fungi, a small orange one that is only seen after fires, and a small brown mushroom. The Smokies are one of the most biodiverse places in the world, and there is evidence that the orange fungus is unique to the area. She (the researcher) has also seen recovery in the area, noticing trilliums growing as well as the fungi. I love that forests can recover so well from catastrophic events like this: the tenacity of life amazes me every day.

An image of the fungus Pyronema which UT mycologist

The little orange fungus, pyronema

http://www.knoxnews.com/story/news/local/tennessee/gatlinburg/2017/04/04/more-than-75-want-do-post-fire-research-great-smoky-mountains-national-park/99972750/


Placing Animals

April 5, 2017

Placing Animals: I enjoyed this book more than I thought, it brought up points I hadn’t considered before. I’ve read/heard perspectives on “speciesism” and how people relate to animals before but never as in-depth and concentrated as this book. The author’s point about the pet industry being driven by corporations was something brand-new to me, but in hindsight makes sense. Does my dog really need the many different brands and types of toys we’ve got her over the years, or is that mostly an idea that’s been sort of socialized into us? (There’s only one brand of dog toy she can’t destroy anyway so the answer is no). Her chapter on farms was like a more analytical side (or at least less visceral) of the Eating Animals book we read. I enjoyed reading about how/why people eat the animals they do, which we’ve talked about in class too. There was something in there about a lion-meat taco which most people would shudder and get angry about, but really it’s not much different from eating farmed pig or cow (I’d absolutely eat lion meat if it was offered). Every once in a while I even found myself answering the discussion questions at the end of the chapters, which isn’t so much a testament to the questions but a testament to Urbanik’s ability to make me think about something I don’t often think hard about.

 

Current Event:

Red garter snakes are known for having really large mating rituals that involve thousands of individuals in huge “mating balls” that last for days. It’s kind of creepy to watch and it also seems to be making males die faster than if they mate separately. The males sometimes don’t eat for weeks at a time. They can also suffocate under the weight of thousands of snakes, or be easily picked off by predators. Overall it seems like this is a super inefficient way to mate.

https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/super-snake-orgies-are-causing-male-snakes-to-die-youngerCalifornia-Red-Sided-Garter-Snake.jpg

(i’m not scared of snakes, this guy is really cute)


Week 12: Placing Animals

April 5, 2017

Placing Animals:

This book had some really interesting points about how people think about animals. The discussion on pets was interesting to me, and how people view their companions and what they’re willing to pay to have companionship. Taking a step back, especially from a pet owner like myself, animals do not give anything to humans except companionship and animals are expensive to keep alive and healthy. Especially going to different countries the view on animals varies from place to place, animals have different categories of “pet” versus “livestock”/animal (for food) such as guinea pigs in most first world countries are cute classroom pets, but are a delicacy in Colombia Ecuador and Peru. Or how we view animals with cultural versus economic significance such as the cow: in countries like the United States, beef is one of the top consumed meats whereas in India cows are views as the vessel that all the gods reside in the bodies of Kamadhenu (the name for the generic cow). Then derives the question to how people expect to give animals equal rights when animals are treated differently in varying countries. Its weird to think about this issue because there are so many people on our Earth and we have different belief systems and we do not take into account the rights of the animals, which if anything is the good of what the humans think are right.

Current Event:

A new method could push research into developmental brain disorders an important step forward. This is shown by a recent study in which the researchers investigated the development of a rare congenital brain defect, Miller-Dieker syndrome. This hereditary disorder is attributed to a chromosome defect. As a consequence, patients present malformations of important parts of their brain. To do so, they converted skin cells from patients into so called induced pluripotent stem cells. From these ‘jack-of-all-trades’ cells, they generated brain organoids – small three-dimensional tissues which resemble the structure and organization of the developing human brain.

Read more here:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170404124406.htm


Placing Animals

April 5, 2017

“Where, how, and why do we have the relationships that we do with different animals? Why are some animals food and some animals pets? Why are some animals both? Do we have obligations to other species? Do some animals matter more than others?”

She begins the book with asking these questions. In some situations we have these relationships simply because it’s “natural” it’s apart of our history. As a child I ate the food which my parents provided and that always included meat. Now that I’m older and have more of a choice of what I eat, I chose to reframe from eating red meat as I work my way towards becoming a vegetarian. Most people choose to ignore the suffering animals go through for our consumption. Those people believe some animals matter more than others. It’s extremely difficult to change peoples views on this topic specifically, it doesn’t happen over night, but it is possible.

“Animals that are used for biomedical research are seen as enough like humans to be experimented upon yet different enough from humans that they are outside of research constructs that claim it is unethical to experiment on humans.”

This is a really good point that I have never really thought about. This makes for a good argument against animal experimentation.

“man advances materially and ultimately in his civilization by breaking into the stores wealth of the world’s natural ecological climaxes.”

This quote relates heavily to the idea that humans take advantage tremendously because we are at the top of the food chain.

Current Event

Scientists engineer sugarcane to produce biodiesel, more sugar for ethanol.

A multi-institutional team led by the University of Illinois have proven sugarcane can be genetically engineered to produce oil in its leaves and stems for biodiesel production. Surprisingly, the modified sugarcane plants also produced more sugar, which could be used for ethanol production.


Placing Animals

April 5, 2017

It never occurred to me that people might have their own definition of what constitutes an animal. Personally, I’ve always considered anything that is categorized under the kingdom Animalia to be an animal. That means all vertebrates and invertebrates (yes, even sponges) that are heterotrophs are animals. Maybe I’ve been taking the “Animalia” word too literally, but I think it’s called that for a reason and its scientifically accurate. Animals are not plants, bacteria, fungi, or protista. So, that means anything outside of those—insects, mussels, octopi—fit the profile of ‘animal’. I’ve always just assumed all people thought this way, and after reading this book I was surprised to learn otherwise. For example, when we read Eating Animals there was a section where Foer was talking about the consumption of animals and he nonchalantly excluded fish because “fish are not animals”. I just remember being confused and slightly annoyed at the fact that he didn’t think fish were animals, and I didn’t realize then that there is no universal definition for the word. This book showed me that in the U.S. alone, a lot of states exclude fish and, more than that, a lot of states exclude livestock. To think that some people believe a cow or pig isn’t an animal seems outlandish to me, but I guess after reading this I can be more conscious of other people’s opinions of what constitutes an animal and consider their perspectives. However, I also think that the lack of a universal definition facilitates conflict between parties who have different belief systems and goals, and will hinder cooperation.


 

neural

Stretching the boundaries of neural implants

Researchers have developed a rubber-like fiber that can flex and stretch while simultaneously delivering both optical impulses and electrical connections. Unlike brittle implantable fibers in the brain that allow scientists to monitor electrical responses, these new fibers are stretchable and very flexible to better complement the movements of the spinal cord. Because of their flexibility, these new fibers may open new avenues for neuroscience research and act as an intermediate to helping doctors combat spinal cord injury.   

To learn more visit MIT’s website!


Current Event and Placing Animals

April 4, 2017

Ridding the oceans of plastics by turning the waste into valuable fuel

Organic chemist and sailboat captain, James Holm, reported that him and Swaminathan Ramesh are developing a process to reuse certain plastics, transforming worthless trash into diesel fuel with a small mobile reactor. They envision the technology places on boats to convert waste into fuel to power the vessels.

Holm and Ramesh had the same goal, to rid the world of plastic waste by creating a market for it. Pyrolysis technologies were used to break down/depolymerize unwanted polymers (plastic), leaving a hydrocarbon-based fuel. The only problem is that the process had complex and costly refining steps to make the fuel usable.

They were able to change the game and develop a metallocene catalyst deposited on a porous support material that when coupled with a controlled pyrolysis reaction, yields diesel fuels directly without further refining.

“The catalyst system also allows us to perform the pyrolysis as a continuous-feed process and shrink the footprint of the whole system,” Ramesh says. “We can scale the capacity to handle anywhere from 200 pounds per 10-hour day to 10,000 or more pounds per 10-hour day. Because of its small size, we also can take the technological process to where the plastic wastes are.”

The whole system can fit in a 20-foot container, Holm says.

“If we can get people around the world to pick this up and use it to shift waste plastics to fuel and make money, we are winning,” Holm says. “We can even eliminate plastic waste before it gets to the oceans by creating value for it locally on a global basis.”

 

The researchers are presenting their results at the 253rd National Meeting and Expositions of the American Chemical Society.

 

Placing Animals

The whole concept of pets seems normal but this book expresses it in a way I never thought of. Humans love and are obsessed with their pets but they don’t do anything for us besides give us happiness. I believe they help us mentally but obviously not physical. We have to pay for their food, healthcare, and grooming, we pick up/clean their waste, etc. We feel as though we need pets to be content.

Animal geography was interesting to read about. It was an eye opener to me when the book mentioned the value of animals changes wherever you go. We may value a pet here in America but in another country that pet is just food. Animal testing does bother me. I feel like animals should had equal rights like humans. It’s unfair, it would be like another species probing and inserting humans with chemicals. Just because we can’t understand animals’ languages doesn’t mean they’re any less than we, humans, are.

I plan to be more conscious of my purchases now, not to get anything that is made from or tested on animals. I never realized how much stupid stuff is tested on animals and how many animals die from us just trying to have a more convenient life.