Animal welfare activism or anti-Western, misanthropic impulse?

The following post is a critique of this recent column from Huffington Post Canada :

How Our Cultural Narcissism Is Killing The Planet

Posted: 03/28/2016 3:10 pm EDT Updated: 03/28/2016 5:59 pm EDT


Like most reasonable people, I saw the killing of a dolphin by “selfie” seeking beach goers in Argentina as an ugly act of stupidity. Other than a general agreement on that basic premise, I found the rest of this recent column  from Huffington Post Canada contributor Laura Bridgeman to be riddled with contradictions and inconsistencies.

For instance, the author condemns humans for “anthropocentrism” while insisting we recognize ourselves as “part of nature”. Let’s set aside the fact that if humans are “part of nature”, then anything they do must also be “part of nature”. Regardless, it is hard to think of a more “natural” instinct than privileging your own species. Is there an example of “other-than-human animals” that put the interests of different species ahead of their own?

Perhaps some would be tempted to defend the author’s position by arguing that the human capacity for choosing between right and wrong, for conscience, reason, moral and ethical evaluation etc. puts a unique onus on humans to consider more than merely their natural impulse for self-interest. But wait… would that not indicate that humans are in fact ‘superior’ to other animals in certain very significant ways?

These qualities are hard to reconcile with the unambiguous belief of the author that animals are in fact superior to humans – a belief that is made clear by her deft substitution of the clumsy phrase “other-than-human animals” in the first half of her piece with the clumsy and misanthropic expression “more-than human” animals in the second half.

Weirdly, she sets up two distinct categories: humans who privilege their own interests on one side, and indigenous communities, cetaceans and the rest of the non-human animal world on the other. Exactly what species does she include indigenous people among?

Misanthropy and a fashionable loathing of Western civilization is embedded throughout this column. Anyone who is even mildly motivated by objectivity and common sense realizes that the only societies that places any emphasis on animal welfare whatsoever are those of the European-based, Western world.

Why do ‘progressives’ refuse to acknowledge that there are problems with the premise of catastrophic man-made climate change?

In Sight, 36 X 48 inches - Copy
A recent column in the Ottawa Citizen posed the question, “Conservatives and climate change just don’t mix. But why not?” The author of the piece, Mohammed Adam, was at pains to fathom the great mystery of why this peculiar sub-category of the human species don’t simply accept the premise of catastrophic man-made climate change like he and his friends… you know, normal people – have all done. Adam prefaced his argument by stressing that this was definitely “not an attempt to pass judgement“. Heaven forbid! He then offered a statement of his true intentions which expressed no passing of judgement whatsoever: “It is really an effort to understand why conservatives often park themselves on the wrong side of this compelling issue”.
In other words, there are two sides: People who agree with him, and people who are predisposed to being wrong. But just to be clear, he’s not passing judgement.
Adam’s support for his premise amounted to random quotes from conservative politicians expressing varying degrees of uncertainty about the conclusiveness of the anthropogenic climate change theory. Tellingly, he felt no obligation to provide any specific evidence or argument to justify his assertion that this automatically situated these people on the “wrong side” of the issue. Actual reasons for embracing or not embracing the definitiveness of the theory are apparently irrelevant as far as Adam is concerned. You are simply obliged to embrace it – otherwise he is entitled to ‘not judge’ you as being unwilling or unable to comprehend what he deems the only acceptable opinion.
Of course, the question Adam poses could easily be turned around to ask: “Why do ‘progressives’ refuse to acknowledge that there are problems with the premise of catastrophic man-made climate change?”
Part of the answer to that compelling question could be the tendency to take for granted that concepts which appeal to them automatically equate with pure, unqualified truth. Could the unexamined conviction that their own perspective is immune to bias or error account for this habit of seeing dissenting views as symptoms of pathology?
Could this be the explanation for progressive’s commitment to an exclusively uncritical embrace of the man-made climate change premise? Is it plausible that their ultimate motivation has more to do with a desire to identify with ego-enhancing narratives than pursuing objective reality?
It is worthwhile noting that within the past month the journal Nature Climate Change issued a report confirming that there has been a “pause” or “hiatus” in global warming since 1998. It also says that the widely reported efforts by major scientific institutions to discredit science that contradicted their narrative was unfounded. The paper states:
“It has been claimed that the early-2000s global warming slowdown or hiatus, characterized by a reduced rate of global surface warming, has been overstated, lacks sound scientific basis, or is unsupported by observations. The evidence presented here contradicts these claims.”
This is but the most recent in a long list of challenges to the catastrophic man-made climate change narrative. No doubt those who define the “right side” of the issue as uncritical, reflexive acceptance of that narrative will steadfastly deny the implications of this one as they have all of the others.