Worldlog Semaine 15 – 2012
This Worldlog was written by one of Marianne Thieme's staff, as Marianne is away on maternal leave.
Last week the Lower House paid a lot of attention to foreign animal welfare and environmental problems. Esther Ouwehand asked the cabinet to do such things as halt the stimulation of palm oil production. It would be better if the government would focus on growing oil-producing crops such as flax, rapeseed and sunflowers organically in the Netherlands.
Palm oil is a cheap raw material for the foodstuff industry and it is found in numerous products such as biscuits, ice cream, chocolate, margarine and fat for deep frying. In order to create palm oil plantations, people turned to large scale felling of the tropical rainforest. Forests in Indonesia and Malaysia are disappearing at a frightening rate to be replaced with fields of oil palms, with disastrous results. The already seriously endangered orang-utan is losing the only place left it has to live, the local population are being pushed from their land and the highly toxic agricultural poison used on the plantations dirty the rivers to such an extent that both animals and people are becoming sick.
We can't believe the Dutch government still supports the production of palm oil through such actions as investing tax money in the Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). This is a voluntary initiative aimed at reducing the problems that palm oil creates. The RSPO keeps proving that it only appears to work on sustainability, and leaves the larger problems surrounding palm oil production untouched. The deforestation continues unabated, as does the pollution and the violation of human rights. Hopefully the Dutch government will see that the serious problem of palm oil production is a serious one for them too.
We also spent a lot of time on Antarctica last week. Increasing numbers of tourists and climate change and putting the South Pole under enormous pressure. We're pleased the Dutch government is listening to our call to step in and protect this area. The cabinet is using four new measures in the Protection of Antarctica Act to steer them towards protecting the South Pole's vulnerable ecosystem. Even though the measures need serious expansion and refining, it's still a step in the right direction!
Climate change makes Antarctica's ecosystem increasingly vulnerable, plus more and more people are visiting the area, thanks to increased tourism. The Party for the Animals wants the South Pole's wilderness to stay as untouched as possible. This means the number of ships that sail to Antarctica should be limited to only that which is strictly necessary. If you would like to see some incredible images to do with Antarctica's climate, click here.
Saturday 31 March was Earth Hour 2012. Many places in the Netherlands turned out their lights to call attention to the earth's future. An hour is actually far too little to show the consequences of how humans treat how liveable the earth is. The Big Picture by the Boston Globe shows what an enormous difference created between light and dark when big buildings kill their lights.
The European Football Championship to be held in Poland and the Ukraine is approaching and the Ukrainian government wants clean cities without any stray dogs. In 2011 and at the start of 2012, they undertook huge 'clean-up operations' in which they killed stray animals, sometimes in highly cruel ways. In order to call attention tot he stray animal problem, hundreds of people in Kiev took to the streets last week to protest against this cruel way of dealing with the issue. At the start of February, the international animal welfare organisation "Four Footers" signed an agreement with the Ukrainian Minister for the Environment. This organisation has gained permission to catch the stray animals, take care of them, vaccinate them and have them castrated in a mobile clinic. They will then be released in their original habitat. The Four Footers project can be found at www.facebook.com/fourpaws.org and they welcome any help you care to give!
See you next week.