About Lee Hall

A commitment to a great cause is a solid foundation to build our inner lives upon, and also one virtually guaranteed to bring turbulence into the course of our lives. This is an experimental diary. If things go well, it'll help myself and others on a parallel course. See you at veganplace.wordpress.com

How Vegan-Friendly Is Tesla? Part III: Teslaspreading

Teslaspreading. Has anyone coined that word? It seems apt, as Tesla-related undertakings encompass ever more space in the tech world, the popular imagination, and in space itself. 

Steering Tesla, SpaceX and other projects in the U.S. and beyond, Elon Musk is both a business leader and an engaged engineer — and, since March 2021, a self-crowned Technoking

While Bill Gates is the subject of conspiracy theories about microchips in vaccines, Elon Musk’s brain-chipping project isn’t a mere disinformation narrative. Musk really wants to put computer chips in our brains. Rest assured they’ll fit quite nicely in our skulls

Brain-Machine Connection: Neuralink

Musk co-founded Neuralink in 2016. Since then, the company has put coin-sized chips called Links into the brains of pigs. A live pig demo appears in this August 2020 video. Look out for Musk’s “three little pigs” quip and other wisecracks.

Here’s how Inverse describes the scene:

On August 28, Musk and his team unveiled the latest updates from secretive firm Neuralink with a demo featuring pigs implanted with their brain chip device. These chips are called Links, and they measure 0.9 inches wide by 0.3 inches tall. They connect to the brain via wires, and provide a battery life of 12 hours per charge, after which the user would need to wirelessly charge again. During the demo, a screen showed the real-time spikes of neurons firing in the brain of one pig, Gertrude, as she snuffed around her pen during the event.

Musk thinks brain-machine connections could be life-changing for people with disabilities. Would this technology connect with demand for Tesla cars, too? Seems so. During the pig spectacle a Twitter user submitted a question on the possibility of chipped car owners summoning their Teslas telepathically. Musk’s reply? “Of course.” Teslaspread strikes again. 

When Things Get Unstable or Weird

Elon Musk predicts artificial intelligence will be ahead of humans before 2025. In the hands of the wrong company, AI will become a menace. That, says Musk, will be when “things get unstable or weird.”  

Yet Musk’s company is the one wiring monkeys’ brains.

Musk says:

The primates “look totally happy.”

A USDA inspector called Neuralink “the nicest monkey facilities” around.

The Teslasplaining continues: “We went the extra mile for the monkeys.” 

And another thing:

One of the things we’re trying to figure out: can we have the monkeys playing mind Pong with each other? That would be pretty cool.”

Do we need artificial intelligence to tell us it’s uncool to toy with the brains of other aware beings? 

Do we need AI to tell us it’s uncool to toy with the brains of other aware beings?

And what’s the nicest monkey facility? A Thai seacoast. A mangrove forest… It would be really cool to leave primates in the spaces where they’ve evolved, rather than catching them, purpose-breeding them, confining them in prison for life.

EV Charging as Entertainment: The Tesla Restaurant Chain

The Tesla T logo appears in a recent patent filing for use in restaurant services. Why would Tesla get into food services? Perhaps to turn a battery charging wait into an entertaining experience, and another profit channel. Charging station restaurants would be open to other electric vehicle drivers — marketing Tesla cars to the curious.

With guidance from Kitchen Restaurant Group founder Kimbal Musk, Elon’s younger sibling, the new restaurants might be more nutrition-focused than standard convenience stores — but probably not vegan. Elon Musk has said veganism won’t solve global warming, because the greenhouse gas problem is chiefly about “moving billions of tons of hydrocarbons from deep underground into the atmosphere and oceans.”

So, Elon Musk evidently believes oil-extracting industries must be replaced, yet animal breeding for human consumption should be free to continue.

Both forms of divestment matter: divestment from hydrocarbon energy, and divestment from animal-derived protein. Animal agribusiness is a massive source of greenhouse gases. Musk’s restaurants ought to reject animal products or face urgent criticism. Those of us with the privilege to make the shift must divest from animal agribusiness.

Those of us with the privilege to make the shift must divest from animal agribusiness.

Habitat Busters: Sustainable Residential Communities

Tesla Energy is collaborating with Brookfield Asset Management and Dacra to create SunHouse in Austin, Texas. The developers call it “the nation’s most sustainable residential community” and an “energy-neutral” model for “sustainable large-scale housing projects around the world.” 

Can the widespread development of land to house a burgeoning human population accurately be called “sustainable”? In any case, we can assume the homes will be lucrative, especially if buyers sign up for Tesla energy subscriptions. As Elon Musk said:

The feedback we get from the solar and battery products used in this community will impact how we develop and launch new products.

Alset EHome International also works with Tesla. Home buyers at its Northpark development in Texas get Tesla battery storage and car charging equipment — and Tesla cars. Remember when we wanted the cereal with the toy in the box?

The point of the prizes is “to promote the use of electric vehicles for a sustainable lifestyle.” Teslaspread strikes again.

Tesla’s solar residential developments could supply electricity to surrounding areas. In some sense, this is about breaking through the utility companies’ hold on practices and pricing. It’s deregulation. It’s also development. It’s mining for electronic components. It’s the despoiling of habitat, and it will continue (as long as everyone’s using something other than coal or petroleum). 

Then There’s the Boring Company

Musk’s Boring Company is all about Teslas in tunnels. Tunnel-making means bulldozing the subterranean Earth, exposing carbon to oxygen and sending CO₂ into the atmosphere. Studies of tunnels note their heavy use of materials, equipment, and energy. And, of course, the soil is full of living beings. 

Florida groundnesting communities include native bees and birds already threatened by existing land use, floods and rising sea levels. Yet Fort Lauderdale sees the Boring Company as an answer to heavy coastal traffic. Building alternative traffic conduits will need road-building resources and places to park all the more cars.

Sure, underground trains use tunnels, too. But they carry a lot of people per car, reducing vehicle numbers rather than increasing them.

Is Any Car Culture a “Sustainable Lifestyle”?

For years, I’ve kept my driving below 1,000 miles (1600 km) each year. Not only for the sake of cutting emissions, but also because I’m just not keen on driving any more. Too much Earth is paved over for human convenience. In the era of remote work, I rarely need to drive, but a few good friends live in areas only a car can reach. 

Tesla will roll out $25,000 (€21,000) cars in a few years. They already sell used ones. Tesla’s driver-assist technology could enable me to drive at night, say, if one of the cats has a medical emergency, or if I do, or if I leave a friend’s home after sunset. I’d buy a Tesla for the reason I get prescription glasses: to better handle elements of living that matter to me. 

And yet, as Neuralink takes my sense of human “need” to its logical conclusion, I feel queasier than ever about my relationship with cars. I’m just one of many night-vision-challenged people who will drive after dark if technology allows it. Surely more 16-year-olds and partygoers will do the same, thanks to high-tech accident-prevention features. That’s a lot more driving, right?

Tesla’s slowly rolling out computer vision-based full-self-driving (FSD) subscriptions. Sometime in the future, cars will drive, so people can pay attention to other things. Yet another selling point for driving. Imagine a family taking a bucket-list national park trip every month. As Tesla encourages more people to drive more of the time, its sustainability credentials will become increasingly absurd.

As Tesla encourages more people to drive more of the time, its sustainability credentials will become increasingly absurd.

Morgan Stanley expects Tesla to produce flying cars by blending Tesla and SpaceX technology. It’s one reason an analyst at the investment firm speculates that Tesla stock will reach $1000 a share. Never mind asking why we might need cars that fly. Teslaspreading means consumer culture stays, whatever the climate does. Along with groups such as Virgin Orbit and Rocket Lab, it’s extending that culture through space commerce. (Heaven help any extraterrestrial beings out there. Musk might try to go the extra mile for them.)

Solar power and software subscriptions create income streams for Tesla. In business terms, that’s a successful turnaround of the climate narrative. Yet factories have to be built and materials have to be dug up for it all. Already, humans together with our domesticated animals consume more resources by summer than the can replenish in an entire year. Meanwhile, Earth’s untamed living communities are pushed aside and fading fast.

Writing this series is changing me. I wouldn’t say it’s unforgivable for any of us to buy a Tesla. But the uneasiness is gaining on me. What are we doing to cut resource use, create walkable towns, improve public transportation, and protect habitat? Innovation, without deep restorative principles, encourages humanity to take up ever more resources, and ever more space. That’s unsustainable.


Notes

Part I of this series (Tesla cars overview) is here. Part II of this series (SpaceX) is here.

Thanks to: Bill Drelles, Janine Bandcroft, Pam Page, Lydia and Mauro, Chris Kelly, and Charlotte Cressey. Each provided essential support, comments that improved this series, or both.

This blog generally benefits from the support of Jack McMillan, Justin and Rosemary, Aurora Cooney, Amanda Crow, Van Luong, Kay Connacher, Nancy Kogel, Lois Baum, Mary Ann Baron, Deb Thompson, Curtis Hinkle, Project Animal Freedom, the Vegan Justice League, Mary Jo Wenckus, Allen Eckert, Cecilia Eckert, Vance Lehmkuhl, Jesse Farrell, Michael Harren, Maureen Schiener, LouAnne and Michael, Sandie Sajner, Patricia Fairey, Laura Reese, Ellie Moffat, Catherine Burt, Catherine Podojil, Paula Franklin, Nelli Johnson, Meg Graney, and Jaime, Steve, and Jackson Mazurek.

Neuralink pig pen photo: LeijurvCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

 

How Vegan-Friendly Is Tesla? Part II: SpaceX

With Part I, I posted an overview of Tesla as a car company, from a vegan perspective. Here, in Part II, let me share what I’ve found while exploring one of Musk’s other holdings and perhaps the most ambitious one: SpaceX. Tesla cars and SpaceX spacecraft companies are both owned by Elon Musk and their R&D personnel overlap at least informally as they create materials for electric vehicles, renewable energy products, spacecraft and rockets.

This series of articles is meant to go deeper than the question of whether Tesla cars (or SpaceX spaceships) have non-leather seats. Because there’s a lot more to veganism than that. The way we think about Earth as habitat, and humans as actors in a bio-community, brings us to a more expansive view of veganism. 

Ten, Nine, Eight…

SpaceX is designed to advance Elon Musk’s concept of a multi-planetary humanity.

There’s an interesting video clip of Jack Ma speaking to Elon Musk (embedded in this article), suggesting that Musk’s talents and brand would be better applied to the needs of life on Earth than to staking out real estate in the great beyond. With “great respect” Ma tells Musk:

We need heroes like you, but we need more heroes like us working hard on the Earth, improving things every day. That’s what I want.

To be fair, I believe Musk earnestly seeks to improve human life here on Earth. Still, Musk is engaged in the billionaires’ anti-social habit of paying a pittance in income taxes. And in any case, good intentions do not obviate the consequences of redirecting humanity’s future and I do believe Musk’s imprint is going to be profound. That’s why I’m taking some time with this. I hope you’re with me so far.   

Rocket Projects and Mining Rights 

Humanity is fragmented. We have yet to take the necessary steps to treat each other kindly as a global norm on Earth. How, then, could we possibly act in concert for a supposedly greater collective future beyond Earth?  

And while Musk’s work transcends borders (Musk appears more focused on advancing companies than countries), competitive national aspects are evident in some of the projects SpaceX has taken on. The proposed 2022 budget for the U.S. Air Force includes millions for SpaceX reusable Starship rockets. The Pentagon thinks they could bring people or gear from one side of the Earth to the other within an hour, a CNBC article suggests. And for what purposes does the U.S. military usually bring things and people from one side of the Earth to the other?

Meanwhile, the government of China is developing competing space travel. India and Russia have their own space stations in the works. Israel is planning lunar experiments. NASA’s Artemis Accords allow for extraterrestrial mining. The European Space Administration has been talking about creating a lunar village, and the Japanese carmaker Toyota is working on Lunar Cruisers.

These projects are not only reaching extraterrestrial destinations; they are also prospecting for energy and resources. And as Dr. Namrata Goswami writes in Trans-Asia Inc.’s The Diplomat, “space capacity is a surrogate indicator of military power.” 

Internet for All… At What Cost?

SpaceX is also establishing Starlink broadband by sending hundreds and potentially tens of thousands of satellites up into space. The point of crowding space with the dizzying array of orbiting objects? To supply internet to the areas of Earth the telecoms, fibre and 5G cannot reach. Under the header Governing Law, Starlink states that its service will be controlled by the laws of California, USA. Additionally (I’m adding the bold here):

For Services provided on Mars, or in transit to Mars via Starship or other colonization spacecraft, the parties recognize Mars as a free planet and that no Earth-based government has authority or sovereignty over Martian activities. Accordingly, Disputes will be settled through self-governing principles, established in good faith, at the time of Martian settlement.

SpaceX thus acknowledges that it’s engaged in the colonization of Mars by a U.S. entity. Surely, designating California as the legal jurisdiction does put an “earth-based government” in authority!

Is There Any Limit to This Extraterrestrial Acquisitiveness?

In the 1967 Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (the “Outer Space Treaty”), the United States, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland meant to prevent the spread of a global arms race into space. The UN-sponsored treaty declares that space and extraterrestrial scientific findings are not subject to national appropriation. Yet there’s no language that bars private ownership. Apparently, grabs by companies registered with certain nations was not how the parties anticipated dominance in 1967.

In 1979, the Outer Space Treaty was augmented by an Agreement Governing the Activities of States on the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (the “Moon Agreement”). The agreement regards the moon as the “common heritage of mankind” (Article 11).

Should a “common heritage” be the subject of corporate takings? The question seems already obsolete. Elon Musk is defying the spirit of the treaties, while paying lip service to a “free planet” concept.

Innovation Paradox

Overall, Tesla’s founder aims to transcend environmentally harmful human tendencies with innovative technology. Yet these tendencies stand to be greatly intensified by the goal of a multi-planetary humanity. Isn’t it likely that a post-Earth afterlife is the ultimate escape from responsibility to our own native habitat and our greater biological community?

SpaceX could allow a new jet set to nuture a fantasy of escaping a beaten-down planet. A fantasy starring Musk as the one who can save those able and willing to be saved. Nonhuman life, alas, does not count for much in this fantasy. This is its ultimate flaw.

Coming Next…

In the third and final post of this series I’ll explore Elon Musk’s underground tunnel company, solar power and sustainable town concepts, Neuralink, and plans for a restaurant chain (spoiler: it won’t be vegan). 

Love and liberation,

Lee.

Photo credit: SpaceX, via Pexels.

“Why Love One Animal and Eat the Other?” Is an Incomplete Question

Many advocates point out the unfairness in loving some animals and eating or wearing others. Who, though, is highlighting the unfairness in insisting on having other animals—whether to love them or to eat or wear them?

And yet we must recognize dominion in all of its forms: an imposed vulnerability to human control, no matter how adorable the dependent animal might appear to us.

Most of us have a hard time looking beyond “cute” and perceiving vulnerability and how our kind has systematically created it. We were so often taught that having animals meant learning to appreciate life, to take responsibility, even to love.

But questioning the existence of pets is not uncaring, cold, or unloving. Striving for a society that seeks, as far as possible, to respect other animals’ own ways of being on Earth is to care and love profoundly.

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Excerpt from On Their Own Terms: Animal Liberation for the 21st Century (Ch. 1, RIGHTS AND CARE: HITS AND MISSES).

Photo by Nishant Aneja via Pexels.

Interdependence Day

As we war amongst ourselves, our artificially created groups, deploying hazards across constructed borders, impeding the natural movement of humanity and nonhumanity alike, 

We also war on others 

In our great biological communities.

Industry celebrates our independence from nature 

Or dominance over it.

This is our decision. We could, instead, celebrate interdependence with our world. 

I write, just before noon, attuned to the distant calls of mourning doves.

Those who stalk mourning doves in the United States and Canada often use the singular term “hunting dove” thereby erasing the individuality of these birds. They know the birds will come for seeds. To get more targets to shoot, the hunters plant wheat, sorghum, corn and poppies, millet and sunflowers.

Is there anything sweeter than the thought of a dove eating sunflower seeds?

I heard fireworks last night, the 3rd of July. I heard the resident geese call out when the noise started.

There will be more explosions tonight.  

Photo by John Duncan, via Unsplash.

Harold’s Journey Home

They say “free range” and “pasture raised” is better. Try telling that to Harold Brown.

Harold grew up on a spacious family farm in Michigan, raising cows, pigs, goats and rabbits for their flesh. Like any farm kid, Harold learned to relate to farm animals in the expected way. Parents and family, church, Future Farmers of America, the local 4-H Club, ag courses at land-grant colleges and TV commercials all told kids the same thing. Eating animals and animal products is normal. Animal flesh, dairy and eggs are basic human wants and needs.

Yet as a child, Harold knew cow herds as communities, and cows as individuals who mourned when one of the group was shot by a deer hunter, or when cows were separated from their calves. Harold also saw them play.

“And I watched a lot of kids cry when they auctioned off their animals at the county fairs,” says Harold. Growing up involved putting away childish feelings. In adulthood, Harold went on occasional hunting trips and took a three-year job at a dairy.

At 18, Harold had a heart attack. A few years later, after an injury at the dairy, a connection clicked. The union doctor went over Harold’s blood work and predicted bypass surgery.

A Low-Key Advocate and Long-Term Friend

After studying the literature on diet and disease, Harold resolved to stop eating animal flesh and ice cream by the tub. And that’s when a form of post-traumatic stress seeped into the ex-farmer’s mind—a sudden horror at having driven and castrated and dehorned and butchered bulls and cows. Switching to plants for protein and nutrients had tripped a new switch—from a health quest to a journey of awareness, of caring, of love cut short in childhood. 

It’s painful to begin the vegan journey, and perhaps that’s why many don’t. To become aware of having done harm is to take a difficult step. Harm to other animals. Harm to human beings who were forced to repress their empathy and inflict such harm.

I think of the activism that aims to punish slaughter workers. Harold could have been interchangeable with the killing floor worker dismissed from a job, or possibly subjected to criminal charges or deportation. Punishment is not an epiphany. Those who think slaughterers and stalkers of animals are beyond redemption must not know Harold Brown.

Now, as a vegan, Harold makes connections by telling others what the younger Harold had needed to hear. It starts with taking a walk with another person. Befriending another person. Planting seeds, and cultivating them. Harold is a low-key advocate and a long-term friend.

“What Do You Have to Lose?” 

Some say they could never become vegan. “What do you have to lose?” Harold asks. “Try eating this way for one year. Let me help.” Harold bets their bodies will flourish and they’ll stick with it.  

But Harold adds: “We cannot expect these things from other people or society unless we sow the seeds and nurture them.” I like this a lot. The point of vegan advocacy, I think, is neither to shame nor intimidate others, nor to manipulate emotions, but to learn and to inform, to be open and receptive and trustworthy. We’re all in this together.

Harold thinks the animal protection movement (Harold now wryly refers to it as the animal husbandry reform movement) is too focused on scoring minor victories in the world of animal ag, and not enough on nurturing people and helping them change their lives. As for those so-called victories, Harold flatly states: “There is no such thing as a humane animal product or farming practice, humane transport or humane slaughter.” Those are marketing taglines.

Wherever animal products are made, what needs to be reformed is the farmer, not the farm.

The Kingdom Within

Harold appeared in Tribe of Heart’s film Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home. It’s about Harold and other farmers and rescue workers who came to share an understanding. And Harold has found that we create the peaceable kingdom in our inner lives.

Veganism is an ethic of unlimited empathy, Harold says, an ethic of unconditional caring and love. It encompasses our health and our mental being. It leads to respect for all elements of Earth’s intricate biological community. It is our journey home. Read further.

A very happy birthday to Harold on June 28th, and many more.

Banner photo: Harold Brown (L) with Vinnie Straub and the Self Love Vegan food truck at the American Vegan Society in Malaga, New Jersey. 

Vaccine-Hesitant: My Vegan Version

Though I’m vaccinated, I freely admit to vaccine hesitance. I’m not very interested in the conflicting Covid vaccine theories. But I am concerned about the trafficking of primates, mice, and other nonhuman animals to be used in vaccine testing.

Seems we’re using dogs to detect Covid now, too. Researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Durham University worked with a business called Medical Detection Dogs to learn whether dogs can sniff out Covid-19 infections. According to media sources, the preliminary results of “using dogs as a tool” for diagnosis are encouraging. Labrador, Golden Retriever and Cocker Spaniel breeds have been selected to detect Covid and might be used to dissuade infected people from going into in high-traffic spaces.

Unless new vaccines are approved and marketed for dogs, the virus endangers the sniffing dogs, too.

Remember what Tom Regan said? Other animals are not our tasters; we are not their kings.

We use dogs to perform a lot of work; I object to all of it. So the dog issue isn’t really a vaccine-specific thing. But canine Covid-sniffing is an example of exploitation of animals to address a disease we got from… exploiting animals. Our interference with other animals created the virus. This is so, whether Covid developed in lab bats, bat soup, or animals confined at food markets. 

Do we really think vaccines will free us from the infections that perennially plague us? I’m not saying the vaccine doesn’t work; it does. But it only deals with one group of viruses: Covid-19 and some variants. There will be others.

Infections change with the climate. Zoonotic diseases arise as we invade and exploit untamed areas of the Earth. Knowing the habits of human apes, the next catastrophe awaits us any day now. Fights over where the virus emerged or who is using it for political gain are not as important as the root cause: our incessant refusal to live as respectful Homo sapiens within an interconnected biological community.

Let me be clear. We need to stop invading nature. We need to let the oceans and forests be. We need to end the “habituation” of nonhuman animals to attract eco-tourists. We need to stop nosing into the lives and spaces of other living communities. We as vegans need to be communicating from this principle.

I had a two-way conversation with my doctor about vaccination ethics.

I explained that I oppose animal experimentation; this is part of my vegan ethic. The doctor pointed out that vaccination, as a public health matter, cannot be understood as strictly individual. Vaccinated people can protect others who might be more vulnerable to the worst ravages of the illness.

The decision, for me, was hard. I told the doctor that as vegans we must abstain from animal use as far as possible and practicable. This public health crisis would be one of the rare instances when I’d need to accept my failure to apply the principle. 

I felt a little better because my first jab was a leftover dose. (A nurse who had extra vaccines at the end of a Saturday came out of a medical building and pulled me off a running trail.) But I’d have taken the vaccine ultimately, in any case.

I carried out a duty to other human beings. On another level I ignored the mice and monkeys. Knowingly, I acted for self-protection and the protection of my tribe. After my second jab, I felt relieved and disoriented. Lucky and privileged. Ambivalent. I was glad my friends and I could be safe. A part of me was lonelier than usual. 

My conviction is high that pharmaceutical interventions would be less central to our lives if we’d just let other animals be. 

Given the way we act now, I suppose we’ll keep needing vaccines until diseases learn to beat us. And one day they might, if our unhinged climate doesn’t beat us first. And to be deep-down honest maybe they ought to, because we can’t seem to get our act together and treat our Earth and its living beings with r-e-s-p-e-c-t. 

I’ll keep striving, asking: Can we ever transcend our sense of human superiority and entitlement? Do we want to learn how?

Because lasting resilience in the face of health and environmental crises must involve asking deep questions, ethical questions among them, about why these crises emerge.

Love and liberation,

Lee.

Photo by Corinne Sleeking on Unsplash. This piece is dedicated to Chris Kelly, Lois Baum and Deb Thompson.

This Fancy Fence Is One More Peril for Deer

Every time I see one of these spear-style fences, I remember Mary Ann Baron first telling me how treacherous they can be.

Deer on the run can, and sometimes do, get stuck on fences when trying to clear them or pass through them. Often, several deer run together into the danger, and the harm befalls them all.

Some time ago, I joined Mary Ann and our friend Bridget of Philadelphia Advocates for the Deer to try to prevent a local deer shoot. Of course, we opposed it because the ethical thing to do is to simply let deer be. One of the many other reasons shooting deer is a bad idea, we explained, is that the deer would be running in fear, across roads and into unfamiliar territory.

Startled deer can run into unexpected perils. Photo of running White-tailed deer by Jeff Houdret.

And when they do run from unusual dangers, deer can run into unexpected perils. A Radnor Township police official mentioned that being called to the scene of a deer impaled on a fence is an unforgettable horror. Why would Radnor Township allow these fences, then? And how many of us really need a fence — let alone one with spikes, or posts that deer can be caught between? 

We Can Take Action.

Some animal advocates have worked on physical remedies. One of my Patreon subscribers remembers doing this at a cemetery in Williamsville, near Buffalo, New York. The protective action was to top individual fence spikes so the deer wouldn’t be impaled. The advocates raised money for the new metalwork. Check out the story and picture here.

Small actions can prevent tragic accidents and spare lives. We can ask our town governments, churchyards and botanical gardens, clubs and multi-unit properties to rule out dangerous fences.

An online search for local fencing companies typically brings up these types of fences for sale. We can address the companies on social media, engage them in discussion, and ask if they’d consider discontinuing fences that pose dangers to deer. 

Thanks to Maureen Schiener and Mary Ann Baron for contributing to my awareness. I hope this article helps other readers explain the issue for property managers. No one wants to wake up and find an impaled deer on a fence; so please, ask people to prevent it in the first place.

Thanks for Going Out of Your Way to Care.

If you have any reports on engagement in your community, kindly share! Readers beyond the eastern U.S. region: Do you know of other animals in your area who are similarly at risk? Please post a note in the comment section below.



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Banner photo: Melisa Valentin, via Pexels.

Beefmongers

I couldn’t help making a biting comment about National Beef Burger Day, which this Friday supposedly is. 

How long will the USDA tout animal products that contribute heavily to climate crisis and mess up our health? 

How long can the extinction of the untamed, ancestral cows be ignored, as we “celebrate” the “iconic foods” we take from the purpose-bred ones? 

Published today, at CounterPunch: National Beef Burger Day Is a Shame.

How Vegan-Friendly Is Tesla?

Tesla. So far, only a few can afford it, but that may change. Elon Musk says the Model Y will become the biggest-selling car in the world (overtaking the Toyota Corolla) by 2023. And Tesla aims to produce $25K cars within a few years. 

This is all good news for many working folks who have wistfully admired Tesla’s cars from afar. Is it good news for vegans? 

You can get a Tesla with a non-leather interior. In the past, Tesla has made the explicit connection from its seat material selection to cows. The Model Y has seats made of synthetic leather.

Based on these facts, some vegans consider Tesla cars vegan. But veganism has to be environmentally aware. The reason is crystal-clear. Without habitat, animal liberation is meaningless. So we have to consider Tesla from the whole ecological standpoint.

At This Time, Tesla Is an Ecological Tossup.

Why?

Maybe There’s Some Relief for Deer. 

Tesla’s cars come with pedestrian detection. This should be helpful for deer, squirrels, owls, and the occasional lost cat—as well as distracted human beings—on or beside roads. Tesla’s vision tech could prevent drivers from running over other living beings. 

Still, it’s better to focus on mass transit, which reduces our overall reliance on roadbuilding. 

I mean, just imagine all the boomers and the 16-year-olds getting excited about cars they can use without worrying about accidents. Imagine all the pleasure trips to be taken in Teslas because it’s so easy to let the car do the driving. Full self-driving sounds great, until we consider all the extra car making and car use. Isn’t this a major countereffect to the emissions savings of (even a solar-powered) Tesla?

If Tesla Isn’t Vegan, Is It “Vegan-Friendly”?

Vegan-friendly is an imprecise term, and I have no precise answer. I started exploring this question because I’m considering getting a used Tesla in a few years, after wearing out my 2013 Nissan. I could use Tesla vision tech for night driving. But I must be honest with myself. Driving is a concession to our car-centric consumer culture. Arguably, the best I can do is keep a strict cap on my mileage.

At the end of the day, we must focus on simplicity in response to climate crisis. On low-tech answers like walkable towns, reductions in discretionary travel, and divestment from animal agribusiness.

Follow-up coming… Stay tuned.

Tesla photo: David Nuescheler, via Unsplash.

The Whole Hog

Earlier this month, an artist I met in a Patreon Zoom call checked out my work and then asked:

Do you have a plan for how you speak to nonvegans? Are you welcoming to everyone? I’m sure many potential supporters are interested in the vegan idea but maybe they don’t want to go the whole hog.

My intent is inclusive, I said. And many members of the audiences I meet (at congregations, schools, conferences and fairs) are not vegan.

Most of the people I meet do know something about habitat loss, rainforest devastation, and climate disruption. And I explain how these issues are directly connected to veganism. 

I make my best effort to relate to people straightforwardly, explaining what I know, what’s connected to their concerns, my own thought process. But I never sugar-coat the subjugation. I can’t speak about it in a clinical way. I can’t distance myself from oppression in order to feel welcoming to everyone.

It’s always up to people to change themselves. They can take what they need from me, and leave the rest. And I do hope they might be moved, either at the moment or down the road, to become vegan.

I never suggest half-measures. I think it’s only fair to liberate the whole hog! So I tell them.