Category Archives: Biodiversity

KNAW commissie Planetary Health

Vereerd lid te zijn van de KNAW commissie Planetary Health die gaat inventariseren welke wetenschappelijke kennis er nodig is op het gebied van planetary health en welke prioriteiten voor kennisontwikkeling er liggen voor Nederland.

Planetary health is de interdisciplinaire benadering van het verband tussen de gezondheid en welzijn van mens en dier en de ‘gezondheid’ van de aarde. Het gaat daarbij om klimaatverandering en verlies van biodiversiteit maar bijvoorbeeld ook om grootschalige milieuvervuiling, ontbossing, erosie en andere door de mens veroorzaakte veranderingen die gezondheidsrisico’s met zich meebrengen. Die risico’s zijn onder meer infectieziekten, problemen met voedsel- en drinkwatervoorziening, migratie en conflict en mentale gezondheid.

Voor meer informatie zie KNAW website

English

Honored to be a member of the KNAW (The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences) Planetary Health committee, which will inventorize the scientific knowledge needed in the field of planetary health and the priorities for knowledge development for the Netherlands.

Planetary health is the interdisciplinary approach to the link between the health and well-being of human and non-human animals and the ‘health’ of the earth. This concerns climate change and loss of biodiversity, but also, for example, large-scale environmental pollution, deforestation, erosion and other man-made changes that entail health risks. Those risks include infectious diseases, problems with food and drinking water supplies, migration and conflict, and mental health.

For more information see KNAW website

Conflicts between wolves and humans are unnecessary

Conflicts with wolves arise because wolves kill farm animals, especially sheep, or approach humans. It is expected that young wolves learn from their parent pack (PP) what their prey is and if it is safe to be near humans. To confirm this, we researched whether the behavior of young migrating wolves (loners), after they leave the pack, resembles PP behavior. Fourteen loners entering the Netherlands between 2015 and 2019 could be identified and genetically linked to their PPs. Loner and PP behavior was similar in 10 out of 14 cases. Like their PPs, some young wolves killed sheep and were near humans, others killed sheep and did not approach humans, while two loners were unproblematic, they did not kill sheep nor were they in proximity to humans. Thus, the PP behavior did predict loner’s behavior and conflicts may be similar between young wolves and their PPs. However, conflicts need not arise. To achieve that, new prevention methods are proposed to teach wolves in the PP not to approach sheep and humans. As a result, new generations may not be problematic when leaving the PP.

Read the full paper here: Van Liere, D.; Siard, N.; Martens, P.; Jordan, D. Conflicts with Wolves Can Originate from Their Parent Packs. Animals 2021, 11, 1801.

What do Chinese think about offshore oil and gas drilling?

Offshore oil and gas drilling provides societies with billions of dollars in profit, employs millions of people, and offers substantial tax income for governments. However, the sector simultaneously poses substantial risks of polluting the marine environment and threatening marine biodiversity. Given the competing interests in offshore drilling, knowledge of citizens’ attitudes is of vital importance .

In our research we found that Chinese coastal residents have low levels of support, high risk-perception, and moderate trust in offshore oil and gas drilling. They are concerned about the frequency of large-scale oil spills, threats to human life (including the risks of getting cancer) and threats to marine life. NIMBY mentality is apparent in coastal residents’ support toward offshore drilling and they tend to trust scientific statements from environmental groups more than from the oil industry.

It is not difficult to comprehend why coastal residents are reluctant to support offshore oil and gas drilling in China. On one hand, traditional Chinese culture favors the harmonious coexistence of human beings and the environment. Confucianism promotes the concept of “tianren heyi,” which refers to harmony between human society and nature. Taoism promotes a “wuwei” philosophy, which has no tolerance for human action that is against the laws of nature. As two cornerstones of traditional Chinese culture, Confucianism and Taoism deeply ingrain an environmental-friendly belief in the Chinese mindset. Offshore drilling will alter the appearance of nature and jeopardize the balance of the marine ecosystem, therefore contradicting the Chinese ideal of harmonious coexistence.

Read the full paper here: Mo Chen & Pim Martens, (2021). Coastal residents’ attitudes toward offshore oil and gas drilling in China. The Extractive Industries and Society.

Indigenous Views on Climate Change

Indigenous worldviews can be an alternative approach to thinking about climate change. Since the system of ethics in Western thought is largely anthropocentric and therefore not as useful in addressing complex, natural situations, indigenous ethics could provide a valuable alternative.

In this movie I talk about this with Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq from Kalaallit Nunaat, Greenland shaman, Chief Phil Lane Jr. of the Ihanktonwan Dakota and Chickasaw Nations, and Adam Kuleit Mwarabu, Parakuiyo Maasai leader.

Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq
Chief Phil Lane Jr.
Adam Kuleit Mwarabu

Report on The Green Deal: What are its Implications for Animals and Nature?

Download the Working paper of the RELAY Workshop on The Green Deal: What are its Implications for Animals and Nature?

In 2019, the European Commission presented a policy document entitled ‘The European Green Deal’. The plan provides the basis for action plans for sustainable development in the policy areas of biodiversity, food systems, agriculture, energy, industry, building and renovating, mobility, eliminating pollution and climate action.

However, ‘animals’, ‘nature’ and ‘sustainability’ are not often mentioned together in this European Green Deal. The reason is likely to be found in the fact that the sustainability debate has been hijacked in recent years by industry and governments. Their view regarding sustainable development significantly has been subordinate to the dogma of economic growth with little regard for animal welfare and concerns for nature.

In the tradition of United Nations reports such as Our Common Future, the European Green Deal puts human wellbeing at its center. The European Commission speaks about protecting Europe’s natural capital and resources. However, we also need to acknowledge the value of nature for its own sake, instead as a mere means for human flourishing. Although we as humans may be privileged in our capacity to respect autonomy and flourishing, the autonomy and flourishing that we must respect is not limited to humans. Moreover, protecting Europe’s nature and its animals for its own sake is perfectly compatible with, and even necessary for human flourishing. Perhaps it is even true that in the long term we will show incapable of protecting nature as a resource for human wellbeing, without at the same time recognizing nature’s intrinsic value. The European Green Deal needs to include a just transition for nature and the animals within as well.

To tackle this issue, in January 2021 a workshop The Green Deal: what are its implications for animals and nature? was organized by an Erasmus+ Jean Monnet project RELAY. The policies behind the European Green Deal in relation to the role of Nature and Animals in our society were central to the discussions, as well as the Green Deal’s shortcomings with regard to the “voiceless” members of the European society and of the regions beyond the EU that might be affected by Green Deal-related policies. By doing so, the central question of the webinar was formulated as follows: “What are the current issues with regard to the ‘true’ sustainability goals the Green Deal should pursue and what actions are required to give animals and nature a more prominent role in the Green Deal debates?”

In the Working paper of the RELAY Workshop on The Green Deal: What are its Implications for Animals and Nature? several key observations, statements and questions concerning the narrative and the discourse are addressed. In part two of this working paper, the workshop presentations and interactive debate have been summarized for further reference.

Webinar: Indigenous and Religious Views on Animals and Nature

Webinar Wednesday April 14 6.30-8.30 pm CET

Our relationship with the natural environment and animals has changed dramatically over time. In this webinar, we will discuss past patterns and future pathways with representatives of various indigenous cultures and religious beliefs. Learning from them about our relationship with animals may be a way we can begin to address the sustainability challenges we see today.

This webinar is free of charge, but you need to register by sending an email before 10th April to marjolijn.staarink@vu.nl. The link for the webinar will then be sent to you in due time.

Program

18.30-19.15 Introduction and movie ‘Animals Are Running Away From Us’ by Pim Martens

19.15-19.30 Ruth Valerio – Canon Theologian Rochester Cathedral

19.30-19.45 Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq – Kalaallit Shaman from Greenland

19.45-20.00 Jayasinhji Jhala  – Hindu Prince

20.00-20.30 Discussion and Q&A

Animals Are Running Away From Us – Indigenous & Religious Views on Animals

New Documentary!

Our relationship with the natural environment and animals has changed dramatically over time. In this documentary, I discuss past patterns and future pathways with representatives of various indigenous cultures and religious beliefs. Learning from them about our relationship with animals may be a way we can begin to address the sustainability challenges we see today.

The Green Deal: what are its implications for animals and nature?

Workshop summary: The Green Deal: what are its implications for animals and nature?

In January 2021 a workshop The Green Deal: what are its implications for animals and nature? was organized by  an Erasmus+ Jean Monnet project RELAY. The workshop examined the policies behind the Green Deal in relation to the role of Nature and Animals in our Society and discuss the Green Deal’s shortcomings with regard to the “voiceless” members of the European society and of the regions beyond the EU that might be affected by Green Deal-related policies. By doing so, the central question of the webinar was: “What are the current issues with regard to the ‘true’ sustainability goals the Green Deal should pursue and what actions are required to give animals and nature a more prominent role in the Green Deal debates?”

Workshop “The Green Deal: What are its implications for animals and nature?”

This is the first thematic workshop within RELAY project.

Introduction workshop by Pim Martens & Ceren Pekdimir

‘The atmosphere is warming and the climate is changing with each passing year. One million of the eight million species on the planet are at risk of being lost. Forests and oceans are being polluted and destroyed. The European Green Deal is a response to these challenges. It is a new growth strategy that aims to transform the EU into a fair and prosperous society, with a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy where there are no net emissions of greenhouse gases in 2050 and where economic growth is decoupled from resource use. It also aims to protect, conserve and enhance the EU’s natural capital, and protect the health and well-being of citizens from environment-related risks and impacts. At the same time, this transition must be just and inclusive. It must put people first, and pay attention to the regions, industries and workers who will face the greatest challenges.’ (The Green Deal).

This workshop will discuss how ‘The Green Deal’ is tackling this issue and give a ‘voice’ to the voiceless. It will examine the policies behind the Green Deal in relation to the role of Nature and Animals in our Society and discuss the Green Deal’s shortcomings with regard to the ‘voiceless’ members of the European society and of the regions beyond the EU that might be affected by Green Deal-related policies. The central question of the webinar will be: ‘What are the current issues with regard to the ‘true’ sustainability goals the Green Deal should pursue and what actions are required to give animals and nature a more prominent role in the Green Deal debates?’

Venue: This workshop will take place online via Zoom. Please make sure to register for updates and information on how to connect. 

Registration:  Please follow this link to register. The deadline for registration is 18 January.