Worldlog Week 38 – 2011

23 ספטמבר 2011

Last week hosted a number of annual democratic traditions in the Netherlands. The third Tuesday of September is what is known in the Netherlands as ‘Princes Day’. It is the day the queen delivers the speech from the throne: the government’s statement on the course it intends to take the country in the coming period. As always, this was followed by the presentation of the budget by the Minister of Finance, the annual statement of government revenue and expenditure. And, as always, the female parliamentary representatives (and female guests) donned hats on this special parliamentary day.

Keeping with tradition, Esther Ouwehand and I wore hats that made a statement. Esther wore a tiara that illustrated the worrisome decline of bee populations worldwide. Esther chose the bee since this animal symbolizes the current government´s attitude toward nature and biodiversity. I wore an admiral´s cap with the caption ´Save our seas´. This cap refers to the theme of the film ´Sea the Truth´ which was released by our scientific office a year ago. Sea the Truth ( argues for reduced fish consumption and an end to the plundering of the seas and oceans. If we continue harvesting and consuming fish at the current rate, the seas and oceans will be virtually emptied within the foreseeable future. For years scientists have been raising the alarm about this exhaustion of natural resources, but this government has become an expert in ignoring inconvenient reports. This cannot go on like this. We need to change course completely.

Unfortunately, tolerance and sustainability were themes barely if at all touched upon in the budget. The extensive cutbacks on all forms of tolerance and sustainability reveal the true nature of a government that does not seem to understand how much we are all responsible for society and, particularly, its weakest members. Furthermore, the government has failed to demonstrate clearly how it intends to deal with the issues of the climate, nature, the living conditions of animals and the distribution of food and raw materials in a manner that is honest to all concerned.

It is for this reason that we have submitted a total of six motions for the debate on the budget regarding the abolition of subsidies that harm the environment, a call to suspend the sale of nature areas until independent studies demonstrate that any such sale will not mean the loss of valuable natural assets and a motion calling for an end to the intensive stabling of animals. The position of animals, nature and the environment and our climate are issues that are of greater importance than the speech from the throne and we will continue to stand up for them.

Until next week!