Chapter III - Animal Rights


Translated 5.10.2006
The Happy And The Sad Chickens


The relation to animals and natural elements was the central essence of the way of life and politics of primitive people. In our modern society, decision making tinkers almost hundred per cent within the man's own spheres. And even though almost all resolutions and legislations indirectly affect the conditions of other living beings, these influences and connections are left unexamined, and usually completely ignored.

Still, such opposing streams, like the movements of animal protection and environmentalism, trickle in the arms of the mainstream. Their common leading thought is to watch over for the rights of other living creatures than man in a narrowing world - narrowed by man. Organized into associations and leagues, they are the interest groups of animals, plants and mushrooms, comparable to the trade union movement. Also the school of Peter Singer, the most famed animal conservation philosopher of the time, searches for comparisons from the human culture when it stresses - unquestionably - how the species oppression that man practices is by far more ruthless a phenomenon than the race oppression practiced between people.

We arrive at very profound philosophical basic assumptions in these musings. The status of man in world is too high, but how much in excess is it? In fact, these questions receive more attention than ever under the surface; we can speak of the appearance of bioethics in just the recent years. Whole schools of science have been found in the United States to research the rights of animals and plants, as well as those of inorganic nature. Also in Finland, the philosophers Leena Vilkka, Juhani Pietarinen and Eero Paloheimo have delved into the questions of bioethics on a high theoretical level.

The biologist must always be careful, if he thinks he is seeing general development in the moral of a nation or mankind, to one way or another, towards compassion or cruelty. Sooner or later, they will anyway reveal to be transient waves of the ideological history, and the biologist's argument must be affirmed once again: basic human nature will not change, at least not in a hundred or thousand years. Besides, exceptional ethical choices - let us think of pacifism, for example, among nature- and animal conservation - usually touch only small minorities even during the idea's booming.

In the light of the majority's interests, and the interests of decision makers that run along them, it may feel paradoxically startling when legislations from a completely different world, the area of conservation or animal protection, pop among the bunch of investing benefits, housing allowances and province border changes in the agenda of the government and parliament. It is then suddenly being moved in issues of a wholly different scope than the mundane problems of man's own inbred culture. They are forced to touch very many citizens through rounds of statements, and in the best case - like in conjunction with the preparation of this year's hunting law - they coerce, having spread to panel conversations and opinion columns, the sated "ordinary citizen", who boils in his own mess, to focus on the rights of other organisms at least momentarily.

I may have already been too excessive in advising against the wisdom and emotionalism of the majority, "the people". It must not be underestimated, either. Average people aren't utter blockheads in regards to the creation's treatment, they won't swallow just anything. There are some favorites like dogs and horses, or swans on the side of wild nature, which have almost the position and rights of a human. And on the other hand, such special and appearing - and well informed - acts of cruelty like the bludgeoning of seal young on glaciers and whale hunting, have roused people's movements of compassion widely in the whole Western cultural circle, that certainly are not limited only to animal protector minorities. They tell good of man.

In respect of this, it is an unpleasant surprise that extremities of a never before seen mercilessness in the treatment of slaughter animals, fur animals and cultivated fish, have been born and are still allowed to go on in our time. I don't mean the extremes of an extreme; accelerating the growth of beef cattle with hormones or artificial light through day and night, synthetic inflating of goose liver and so on. They are too repulsive matters, they "blow the fuse", and I won't write more about them; they can be dealt with with a simple order: death sentence to such people! I am only talking about terribly cramped cage imprisonment, mentally and physically sick pigs and foxes, gradual death by congestion, deformed and finless rainbow trouts.

I myself have a memory from the 1970s, the initial period of caged henhouses. I then got into a presentation by the trade's pioneer while on a private visit to Itä-Uusimaa. I remember a packed large hall dusty with fodder, and barred coops, each housing three or four hens sitting side by side on bare grating, an assembly line onto which eggs gradually dropped - and I recall the master, who was full of contempt toward old-fashioned and foolish hen farmers, who know nothing about the structure of egg production's expenses. I also felt it to be somehow dismal that the man was a doctor by education, and still in that position as a secondary occupation. It is a part of the memory that his skin was strangely grey - or is it only an addition born afterwards because the memory of the experience follows along burdensome, grey with heaviness?

That memory is animated every time I get to observe the little packs of free yard chickens of some of my friends - those incomparably fresh, brisk and intelligent animals.

Compared to whale hunting - or any other form of hunting, even the worst -, there is a major principal difference in the cruelty of caged raising. Hunting concerns animals that have lived a full-blooded life on their own conditions, perhaps for decades, and then death arrives, sometimes painless, sometimes agonizing - like in nature. There, man is a predator in the food chain, one cause of death among others. Of course, the issue becomes very grave then - as with whales - when hunting isn't taxing only interests anymore, but striking the capital; reduces the animal population or even threatens with extinction. But that is not a problem of animal protection, but nature conservation.

Then again, the caged animal lives from birth to death in unnatural anguish, not as an animal but as an object. The essence, the pride of the animal has been utterly devastated, nothing remaining. There is no thing worse than that. Certainly, in keeping household animals it is always the question about the same rights; the right of an animal to its own nature, freedom and pride, and they have to be always restricted. Limitations can be seen as the price for that the animal is alive in the first place: most of the time an animal would not exist at all, at least here in the North, were it not domesticated by man. Most often the price feels decent. For example, the cow is linked up during the long winter season - not very tightly, though - in the old-fashioned cowhouse, and also the calf is taken from it right after giving birth. But it can romp about the pastures for half a year somewhat according to its nature, against the brief cost by milking tax. Still yard byres should be increased, as the rights and freedoms of animals yet improve in them.

It is more than stunning that the society even, not only allows the ultimate trampling on animal rights in animal nutrition and the performance cultivation of furs, but also supports the unscrupulous research- and experimenting operation that serves these forms of livelihood, all the way up to the academic level. We have a faculty of "applied zoology" in Kuopio, where biotechnology, gene transfers and the kind of realized horrors of futurologists are being developed, the mastering and forging of the basis of life. And methods of making animal raising more effective are being researched fully concretely there; for example the limits, where the frequency of deaths by stress and throngs as loss meets the savings achieved by the firm in building- and maintenance expenses. In plain language, the minimum area of cages is being searched for.

When dragged into publicity by horrified animal protectors, these scientists of Kuopio tell that a fox living in nature is a running suffering, doomed to a neverending stride in its despair, unquenchable hunger and fear of enemies, whereas the well-fed, satisfied caged fox has reached the eternal dream of foxes. So: man's most blissful state of existence is the detention cell of prison and enough of calories? How science and the university can go as low as in Kuopio?

Those zoologists, professional or amateur, who have both the gift of empathy and perception and who live long periods among animals, have to admit more and more that the distinctions between man and other animals fade out. The more precise observations they are able to make, the closer to man glides the creation, the more lucid becomes the guideline: do onto animals as you would wish them do onto you. The most sensitive of people are able to touch upon the soul of even plants. Many identify with the spirit of a living tree, some can see also other plants as their sisters and brothers. In Finland, Tapio Kaitaharju has touched in his books upon these extremely delicate matters, that are expressed in words only with difficulty. When one closes eyes and tries to imagine Kaitaharju and such thug of kuopio in one picture, it isn't successful. They are further away from each other than heaven and earth.

When I carefully and very warmly follow the actions of the animal protecting folk, I feel I witness some false emphases. A greater issue certainly does not justify forgetting about the smaller matters. But animal protectors pay too much attention to animals' death, slaughter; its suffering or painlessness. Sure, slaughtering or killing the animal in hunting or fishing must be as tender as possible. But in the continuity of the whole of life, the process of both animal's and man' death is exceedingly insignificant in regards to time and effect. Stressing that in animal protection surely must be connected to a cultural phenomenon characteristic to our time: the terror roused by death and physical hardship. There is something disproportionate and morbid in it, it must be detached from.

When animal protection organizations fight for the good life of the animal, instead of good death, they are on a thousand times more important cause. Their cause is simultaneously one of the most pivotal matters in the world, in our society. Even this summer, an address aiming at shutting down caged henhouses circles in the country. It must succeed. Switzerland and Sweden have already shown the way. All animals imprisoned to a confined prison cell throughout the year, regardless of whether they were on ground or in water, must be freed. They are impossible, only slipped into reality, they are utterly incompatible to the atmosphere of protecting seal cubs and whales in a civilized country; they battle against the moral understanding of the great majority of the people. There is no legislation as urgent as this.

1993
Translated 7.10.2006
The Animal Protector As The Apostle Of Doom


How can Veli-Risto Cajander come up with anything as insane as to defend the wild mink, a predator transported from a foreign continent, which stresses our avifauna as an addition to the burden by indigenous beasts? It is lucid to every friend of nature that these kinds of vermin (the mink, raccoon dog) should be vanquished until the last paw track. Also all those forgeries of fauna (the muskrat, Canada goose, white-tailed deer) that don't directly feast on domestic animals, but may shake the arrangements of competition, are suspicious enough.

What does Cajander himself know of minks in Finnish nature? Who is he to revoke the serious appeal of BirdLife, the common organization of all the country's ornithologists? Who is he to master Erkki Pulliainen's observations of goldeneyes? And what researcher is this doctor Jouko Pokki, who suddenly flitted to Tvärminne? No ornithologist has even heard of him, the list of bird ringers knows him not, the trade's publications show not a single bird observation by that name. And where in the world has Nigel Dunstone studied minks? Tell me that not in Canada, where the mink is a part of nature, and where there surely is some kind of balance between it and prey?

Since 1948, I myself have researched the changes in the nesting populations of water- and coastal birds, breeding biology and most importantly, production of fledglings all around Finland and on wide, repeated test areas in Tavastia - tens of thousands of terrain hours overall. The past May-July I spent about 1500 hours on the beaches and isles of my probing routes (nights on strands, as well, on some 60 different places overall). I know I am aware of these matters - and I know that the wild mink is the matter of life and death of the avifauna in Finland. It is fully comparable with the dingo in Australia and the alien predators imported to ocean islands, which have collapsed the original biocenose.

Only one word can be used nowadays to describe the brood production of water- and coastal birds, and that word is catastrophe. The ruin is devastating compared to the 1950s, when the population of wild minks was a few percents of what it is now.

The packs of black-headed gulls in Tavastia, of a ten thousand heads yet in the 1970s, have dwindled down to a few hundred and completely deserted the natural nesting habitat of the species: lush weeded ponds, so-called bird lakes, where minks learned to totally finish their young. Now the black-headed gulls have retreated to rock isles in the middle of large lakes, and still take flight every year to new spots - because the mink hears their screams from the main at strands, swims after them and kills the fledglings - not to eat, but to slay, and cram them in piles under rocks and cavities of sedge tufts.

The mink has learned to unerringly discover the fledglings of the common gulls, that nest sparsely in single couples, by running along the beach line: kilometers of strand and the territories of dozens of gull couples quickly desolate after the fledglings hatch. Rare blind spots are still left between mink territories. Perhaps every fifth common gull couple is yet able to get nestlings on wings on average.

The nesting population of the lesser black-backed gull of the incomparably best lake for them in the inland waters of Finland, Pälkänevesi, was approximately 215 couples in the 1970s; 64 remained in 1997. They laid some 180 eggs, of which the majority hatched happily. Then minks raided the little fledglings from island to island, rock to rock, and 16 grew up to take on wings. Eventually they bred at the age of four, when 4 or 5 of them can be estimated to be alive. Is the population enduring well, Cajander and Pokki?

The dreadfulness of the wild mink is underlined by that four other effective predators, all of which man has either imported from the ends of the world by transfer plantings or raised the numbers up tens of times with the gifts of junkyards, complement its work on strands and isles. Of them only the crow is an old pest. The raccoon dog and eagle owl were missing from Tavastia in the 1950s, herring gulls were a few percents of today's numbers like minks (for example, 3 couples on Vanajanselkä, now 190 couples). As the result of the cooperation between minks and herring gulls, the five hundred nests of the grand communities of terns produced a few dozens of flying fledglings the last summer: the worst outcome of birds' young I've heard of from anywhere in Finland.

The sum influence of these new beasts is nowadays by far the worst threat of the water- and coastal avifauna, much greater than the immediate effect of man, thickening settling and other weakening of the environment. There are also defenders for all these unnatural beasts, morons like Cajander; not many, but all the louder. They are of the same bunch as the guardians of cats are. When it is risen from beaches to lands, yards, gardens, fields and edges of villages, the crushing number one enemy of the avifauna is the army of domestic- and wild cats, swollen to millions in the boastful society, who leave a desert behind them.

What are these animal protectors aiming at by tending the mink imported from Canada, cat from Egypt, raccoon dog from China? Like their protegés, they are arch enemies of environmentalism, the friend of nature and nature itself.

1997


Translated 8.10.2006
Aspects Of Animal Protection


R. Halttunen criticized me of incoherence in Maaseudun Tulevaisuus [The Future Of Countryside], because I am opposed to fur farming and simultaneously myself create suffering for animals in my occupation as a net fisher. Halttunen is correct in regards to the suffering: fish's languishing in the nets and slow death is certainly more painful than the swift slaughter of the fox and mink.

But the question isn't about death, but life. There is a fervent desire in nature, and animal kingdom, towards the preservation of life and freedom, but nature is blind to temporary suffering. The starling and blackbird do everything possible and devise all their plans to avoid the sparrowhawk's claws. But when the hawk still succeeds sometimes, it holds the starling in a firm grip and surely doesn't care to "put it down", but plucks it and commences to eat starting with the best pieces, as the starling screams in agony for a long time until it perishes. And certainly there is no notable significance with the last few minutes (or hours or days) in the life of an animal, that spans years.

The difference between night and day is between net pike perch and caged mink. My fish have lived 5-15 years the life of a free animal, until a stronger predator, the net fisherman, intrudes. I am also consoled by being aware of that 99,9 % of fish end up as prey for other beasts than man, or die to diseases or old age. The pen fox's and mink's course of life from cradle to grave and certain slaughter is instead shiveringly dreadful. But I believe them to "suffer" all the time as little as Halttunen does; someone sentenced to life can't "suffer" every minute, either, but turns apathetic, and numb. So, the issue is about the respect for the life of an animal (and human).

Another entirely decisive disparity between fishing and fur farming is the difference between production of sustenance and output of needless luxury. An agonizing death in net fishing is no doubt grievous, but inevitable. Methods of fishing that reduce the pain of death (trawling and sport fishing with hooks) can reach only a meager share of the fish catch, which is an essential factor in the nutrition of the people.

In regards to production of food I take a completely different stance than the most fanatic of animal protectors do, who oppose all hunting and production of domestic animals. According to their doctrines, human life would be impossible on half the earth. Even in Finland, north from about Jyväskylä, in farming it can't be sustainably practiced anything other than grass cultivation, and through it, live by dairy products and meat. How would a vegan live in Inari and Utsjoki? If I came upon a animal protection activist burning a slaughterhouse's or meat shop's car, I'd take a sparrowhawk-ish hold from his neck and walk him to the police.

It is another thing that outside grazing of 3-5 months should be set obligatory for bovine animals and pigs, and that caged henhouses and overly large floor poultry farms should be absolutely banned. But here we arrive at the most pivotal question of all about the price of nutrition. The contemporary insane clearance sale of food and nonsensical performance agriculture are the politics of death. Before all other demands, production prices must be got at least three times as high; only then the requirements of animal protection, nature conservation and environmentalism can be realized.

1999


Translated 10.10.2006
Animal Rights In The Bible


The last years I've positioned in my mind the impressive battle for animal rights, which has awakened in European countries and also Finland, as a new link to that chain of ideological history, in which it has been risen in turns to abolish institutional slavery, to free oppressed women and to uphold the rights of children. This is ethically an obviously fine and beautiful line of progress. It is a peculiar positive ripple, against which the crushingly negative tidal wave of brutal market economy of the Western culture's economical history rumbles against.

I have rejoiced even of this little, fair thing in our own society of terror; grieved over only that the animal protection movement embraces only domestic animals (into which category also all caged and laboratory animals belong). In other words, its outlook is still human-centered, and it recklessly leaves a vast majority (99,999999... % of all animals) of the animal kingdom outside, to fend for themselves, Or perhaps I am just rushing in impatience? Maybe the time of conservation comes sometime.

I recognize my general education and knowledge of history to have failed at one aspect. I've had the idea that the movement for animal rights has been a somewhat new - and likewise all the more brilliant - ideological stream in our cultural sphere. (I have held the so-called primitive peoples' relation to nature and brotherliness towards certain animals as quite the separate phenomenon in a conceptual sense, built on different foundations.) And I've also had the kind of a flimsy idea that the cornerstone of the Western culture, Judaism, has been wholly human-centered (even urban) and negative and cold towards nature and animals. I've even assumed I've seen one partial reason here for the clash between natural romantic Nazism and chillingly rational Judaism.

Now I have received a small awakening - as I browsed the Jehova's Witnesses' Herätkää-magazine [Awaken], that splendid and exemplarily well edited general journal. Its article tells in the introduction of the most horrendous sports of animal abuse arranged for the amusement of man, and then discovers surprisingly many "modern" attitudes for animal protection and their rights in the Bible. Most of them are even in the side of the Old Testament. It appears we again encounter the phrase "nothing new under the sun".

In the second book of Moses (23:4-5), it is encouraged to rescue the lost ox or donkey of even one's enemy, and to return it to its owner. And also the donkey of the foe must be aided to get up on its feet, if it has fallen under its burden. The verse 23:12 advises to stay off work during the seventh day of the week, "that thine ox and thine ass may rest". Guidelines that demand good treatment of animals in the fifth book of Moses (22:10 and 25:4): "Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together" and "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn".

Clearly a practical outlook unites with taking care of animals in the mentioned instructions. The verse 4:11 of the book of Jonah expresses general compassion towards animals: "And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more then sixscore thousand persons, --; and also much cattle?"

In the verse 12:10 of the Proverbs it is said: "A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel."

And finally from the side of the New Testament, a beautiful sentence is found from the Bible, which contains the base philosophy of conservation, the professing of also nature's animals' absolute value: "Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?" (Luke 12:6)

Some of the citations I have taken from the New International Version of the Bible. Strange enough, the following fabulous vision of future in the book of Hosea, verse 2:18, is completely missing from the new translation by the Finnish Evangelic Lutheran church, which doesn't make it any less grand: "And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely." The eternal dreams of the pacifist, environmentalist and vegan condensed into a single sentence!

1999


Translated 15.10.2006
A Glance At Vegetarianism


So many passionate opinions float about vegetarianism, that tackling it may well equal to poking a bee hive. But the subject is too important to pass in ecological thinking. And besides, calculations of ecological balance and saving recommendations raise anger originating from bad conscience on whatever the area of life.

But let us examine vegetarianism first as a question of health. A perceptive expert on the field, Leena Vilkka, recently described an international vegetarist conference in Juha Rantala's small Elämänsuojelija-magazine [Guardian Of Life], and told that the health effects of vegetarianism were on the forefront there.

By his build, teeth and bowels man is certainly not a carnivorous predator, and not in any case a pure herbivore. Biologically man is an omnivore, like the bear, badger and rat are.

It is an equally simple truism that a doer of strenuous physical work (like the writer of this), whose life-lasting health problem is the battle against threatening thinning, cannot manage with "grass and salad", but more like has to strive to get enough high-calorie animal fats.

But, but... Man's ways of living change, change even so much that the natural biological essence of man becomes questionable. The doer of modern mental work is at its purest a so thoroughly different being from a ditch digger or saw-wielding lumberjack, that these can be seen as part of the same species only with difficulty. Light vegetables and fish fit the new human type without question better than heavy, nutritional warm-blooded animals.

A similar leap in mind has to be gone through by the generation that had experienced war and depression (60 years old or older at the moment), who couldn't comprehend in their early youth that any dab of meat or piece of fat could have been left uneaten, if one was just able to get hands on such - and who had never heard of vegetarians. Also we elders have to accept now that the new population must "play with food" for the sake of their health - unless they heal their living habits, which is then a much more complicated matter.

But first of all, the problem of man's sustenance is even still quantitative and not qualitative. One must be capable of eating not too little or too much. What one eats is less important, as long as one doesn't swallow sharp shards of glass or badly bent nails.

Leena Vilkka lists various vegetarian diets: 1) vegetables, milk products, eggs and fish, 2) the latter but no fish, 3) no products of animal origin in nutrition, 4) a diet of living food, no dead ingredients in it, 5) a diet of solely fruits, 6) veganism: nutrition as in the third entry, no animal-based materials in clothes, medicine and the like.

Reasons for these choices may base not only on health, but also animal protection and ecology. Those of animal protection represent high ethics that must always be valued: an animal must not be killed, suffering must not be brought upon it nor must it be imprisoned to an environment incompatible with the animal's value.

These factors are hard to shoot down, especially so that a vegan would be assured. Hunting and fishing are man's primeval livelihood, basic humanity. I, for example, fully agree with this. Yes yes, says the vegan: the slave institution was man's pristine culture and form of economy... It has been, or is, old tradition and custom in many cultures to burn too wise women in pyres as witches, to force little children to full-day work, to mutilate genitals... What about wars and tortures, then, they are fundamental humanity if anything? And so approved without objections?

I admit it is respectable and excellent in the vegan ideology that the animal's absolute value is generally noticed, that these great questions are contemplated upon. Even something positive new does shimmer in the atmosphere of our period of horrifying distress!

Nevertheless, there are many counter-arguments. For starters, I'd put my marginal note to that subsection of animal suffering. To me, cattle glows with satisfaction on pastures, and similarly I experience, seeing with eyes and hearing with ears, the happy chewing and mooing in a wintry, warm cowhouse. Besides, creamy full milk is the most divine of nature's gifts to me, the pinnacle of my life's pleasures.

Of course, a modern yard byre is even more of a paradise, and certainly the cowhouse is only a winter home. It is obvious that the long summer (here from the beginning of June to October) is spent outside on forest- and meadow pastures. The ban on keeping animals inside summertime should be one of the first articles in the animal protection law. And I certainly agree with every vegan and animal protector about the cage-growing of fur animals and poultry.

I think the taming of domestic animals was one of the most splendid inventions of mankind, if not the only brilliant one. I've gathered that the vegan generally accepts pets - even though they don't live a fully natural life. But I continue the list with the bovine, horse, pig, sheep and chicken, without which human life would be unspeakably poorer at least here in the arid North - poorer than without, say, music, art or books. I don't suppose even a vegan argues that domestic animals should be kept - with what resources? - without any compensation; meat, milk, eggs, wool, leather, work effort? A strict vegan does demand that these animals were not at all. Would cows, horses and sheep vote in the favor of this decision?

I'll yet put an interjection here for vegans. Many of them do not even attempt to persuade the whole population behind their ideology; do not strive towards rooting the economy of domestic animals. But the vegan has chosen his own way to protest against the cruel forms of performance economy. And surely there is a tremendous difference whether it is protested against the gigantic McDonald's- or beef cattles of the former virgin forests of Brazil, or against a Finnish small farm, which few cows are almost like family members and calves named after children - even though they will be slaughtered eventually, ending their rather comfortable life.

Vegetarians think that their strongest ecological argument is that when grain and such vegetable nutrition is changed to meat, man's food reserves drop down to a tenth. One truly encounters hopeful thinking that a multiple population could be provided for on the globe with grain, resigning from meat production.

That line of thought is anyhow altogether unsustainable ecologically. First it must be noted that large areas on earth are suitable only for the growing of cattle fodder, and through it for producing meat and dairy products. Even in Finland approximately the area north from Jyväskylä-Vaasa would be marked off from notable production of human sustenance - when also game and fish would be boycotted by vegans. Ecologically that case would outstanding in itself, when it was held to the ecological basic principle that the population of every major region have to produce their own food. It would be admittedly brilliant if Central and Northern Finland would be left without human settlement, for binding carbon and producing oxygen. Though, I've understood that vegans do not want this.

That whole vegetarian plan begins from a completely wrong end and grounds certain destruction. All powers must be focused, not on increasing food reserves, but for the suppression of the population explosion and - according to the deep ecologic principles of Naess - decreasing the number of people. If the globe's population is first grown with grain nutrition, we end up in a really wretched circle.

In the short run, hunger as such isn't the worst bottleneck in the battle for the preservation of man, even with the current level of food production. At least for now there are the elements of other ecocatastrophes to deal with, brought by the large amount of people and their way of life; disruptions, collapses and depletions, pollutions and emissions, desolations and pavements at earth, water and air. Hunger is seemingly in control perhaps for some time. But the horrid strain of rebuking hunger is that there are huge badly not self-sufficient populations here and overly self-sustaining peoples there. And the massive transportation of food even to the other side of the world means a terrifying increase in transfer equipment, route networks, construction of storages, harbors and airports, and energy usage.

Then, that overt self-sufficiency is based on effective agriculture strung to its tightest, which will unavoidably lead - and not so slowly, either - to the depletion of soil, field erosion and crashing of production. Maintaining the production capability of fields comes evermore desperate if cattle manure is left out of the equation. The advantage of increased field acreage, which is given by releasing them from growing feedstuff for meat animals, will be transient.

The worst thing is that population growth along with its all emissive and deserting effects, caused first by moving to breadstuffs production, will quicken the climate change. It leaves vast areas of cultivation out of order - both when coastal plains submerge in sea and the earth's drought zones move over the most lucrative of granaries, like climate prognoses tell.

Decimating or shrinking the huge masses of cattle would obviously help the ozone dissipation of the upper atmosphere in regards to methane gas. Destruction of the ozone layer is however the only grave problem of ecocatastrophe that is estimated to be surmountable anyway.

There are also other weaknesses in "the ecology of vegetarianism". Many very unproductive and poorly nutritional vegetables demand immoderate acreages for cultivation. In fact, only few vegetables are sufficient (peas, beans, cabbages), and few fair (grains) as main nourishment.

Some of the most witting vegans have noticed the severe error in the ecological balance of vegetarianism, that food imported from faraway countries and continents is eaten. They strive to either fully, or as domestic food as possible, and call themselves fennovegans. I have a funny memory about this subject from the last summer. I was conversing with a young farmer, Antti Ilola, at my home village, who began talking about vegetarianism. He was quite knowledgeable about vegetarianism, but was wondering what was the meaning of the term "fennovegan" he had snatched from somewhere. I explained the origins of the word "fennia", and the principle of nutrition's ecological nativity. Antti thought for a while and thought then that it too will lead to expensive carriages; shouldn't that food be wholly produced at one's own farm. And instantly came up with a name for these truly orthodox people: hemmavegans! So, in honor of Antti Ilola, I would like to complement the aforementioned list by Leena Vilkka: 7) fennovegans, 8) hemmavegans.

We have yet to touch another pivotal principle in addition to ecological balance: cherishing the diversity of nature. Lets take an example from own country's nature. A very large part of Finnish fauna and flora are part of a biocenose born during thousands of years, which prerequisite for life is the soil shaped and fertilized by domestic animals. Small-scale human settlement and agriculture based on home animals has hugely enriched nature at a time. Now all this falls into ruin as large domestic animals disappear.

A field of crops, a plain growing wheat or barley, even underdrained and doped with pesticides, is by far the poorest habitat of our plot of land. Its population is many times more indigent in regards to both species and quantity than even the centrum of a metropolis. A friend of nature is hardly ever a vegan, as fine and noble the principles of veganism are from one point of view.

And is anything else fitted into human life, other than eating? Is there room to consider man's aesthetic world of experiences? If there is, I shall ask, is there a sight more dreadful than a torn open grey-black crop field of September-November or April-May? And is there a cultural landscape more delightful than a green grass lawn and meadow pastures, on which motley bovine cattle, horses and sheep walk about and frolic? Or is there a more lively yard than one where smart and inventive chickens potter freely? At last: if the pig (undeniably the worst fellow by its ecological balance) is removed, sheep is kept for wool, chicken for eggs, cow for dairy products and the horse perhaps as a steed, what shall be done with an aging animal and all bull calves and rooster chickens? A natural death by old age or an injection by veterinarian, and then into a hole? What ecological balance or nation's economy could withstand such squander of nutrition? When all attempts to avert ecocatastrophes fall down, in the future, very soon in fact, we have to cancel the taboo of using human flesh - whether this destiny is arrived at by temporarily moving onto vegetable sustenance or through the traditional economy of mixed food, which prevails nowadays.

1999


Translated 19.10.2006
Human And Animal Nature


It isn't uncommon that a newspaper conversation hops from one paper to another. In Vihreä Lanka [The Green Thread], Anto Leikola took on bishop Voitto Huotari's column in Etelä-Saimaa and Kymen Sanomat. Now I shall continue the discussion on my turn in Elonkehä. Citations do bulge, but actually it would be good to cite the key parts of the latter writing even in the same paper, because the reader doesn't often recall it, not to speak of having.

So, Huotari writes:
"An animal has a value, but not the kind of an inviolable absolute value and right to a life, which we acknowledge all humans to have in all circumstances." And continuing: "To speak of animal rights with the same meaning as when talking about rights belonging to every human, is questionable."

Leikola gives recognition for the careful form: "we acknowledge", "is questionable", and resumes:

"This ethical principle seems to be quite generally accepted nowadays, and it partly forms the ground for the concept of "human rights". But nevertheless, it dwells - like all values - more in the mind of its adherent than in the object itself, unlike for example biological facts, and thus it is inevitably subjective: I think, we think. We cannot proceed past belief - or faith - here.

It is fully possible and justified to set a steep line between man and animal exactly at the point of absolute value, like the bishop does. It is in fact clearer than to give an absolute value, in addition to humans, also to manlike animals and then slid this animal value down, ever diluting, from mammals towards lower vertebrates, invertebrates and at last towards the paramecium and amoeba."

In conclusion, Leikola thanks churchmen for at least paying attention to the protection of animals and other nature, and also for stressing on human responsibility on nature. "They didn't yet do that in my youth."

For me, respecting life is a lucid - or let us say, clear enough - group of principles, that are in my opinion shared in many parts to friends of nature, people dedicated to the preservation of nature.

Like Leikola, I hold it evident that absolute respect (forbidding killing or damaging) stretched over all animals is a practical impossibility even far sooner than when we'd begin pondering the rights of parasites, borreliosis-mites, mosquitoes and dangerous bacteria and viruses: if we start to evade every ant on a forest trail, we soon will be hopping ourselves to near death. Certainly it is prohibited to needlessly kill all these little fellows (and we get the plant kingdom, as well, under the rule of unnecessary slaughter).

But animal value - and the degree of their inviolability - is called by their status, the position in the biosphere and biocenose. Firstly, the whole, the system, the maximum amount of species and diversity is the most sacred, and secondly the maximum number of individuals in regards to the species amount - over the whole earth and each of its areas. The most beautiful, greatest, most important value on earth is the richness of nature (and actually, to me, in the whole universe because truth be told, my interests, conscious, identification and caretaking do not reach over to other celestial bodies).

Thus "endangerment" is a wholly central concept, or the threat of extinction for a species, subspecies or a local population, the menace of nature's dramatic impoverishment. It is followed by a greater value of the "rare" animal compared to the "common" animal - and the amount of animal population is an absolute fact, where man works only as an counter. Also, some kind of a classification of value can be done according to the phylogenetic status of an animal: in the gradual process of life's birth and development; is it one of the earlier, "more primitive", or of the later, "more advanced" lifeforms. Evolution has sort of emphasised more on the latter. So an endangered tiger and the mountain gorilla would have a higher value than a species of shellfish under the threat of extinction.

It is noticed that phylogenetic classification is advantageous for the human species, but valuation based on amount and numbers is all the more crushing. Man is wholly his own class in the latter relation; it has broken all the way out of the system, the laws of the food chain, and vastly swollen its numbers. It is easily by far the most populous animal on the earth in proportion to body size and consumption need.

When man has even multiplied his burden by indulging on an unscrupulous amount of secondary needs, a massive superseding of other lifeforms, impoverishment of nature's affluence, alongside which the phylogenetic "merit" remains featherlight. Man indeed is the superior unfavorite species in the valuations of the friend of nature. A nature friend, to whom man in nature is a bully and most often a corruptor, shields biocenoses from human influence as far as possible. This assesses the attitude towards various animals. For him, the value and rights of a wild animal always drive ahead the rights of a domestic animal (which are like humans) in a conflict situation. Likewise the indigenous (remaining) fauna of each region is always before the human-planted "wrong" animal. In the harshest of cases planted animals are predators that fatally reduce the original, natural animals. They are then left without any rights (the mink, raccoon dog and cat in Finland).

Man practices active impoverishment of nature also when disproportionally increasing the amount of beasts of prey in the biocenose, through offering them an abundance of unnaturally good nesting places (owls nesting in birdhouses), or by feeding them over the winter, when their natural pruning by hunger is prevented and numbers expand destructively large (crow birds, the eagle owl, herring- and great black-backed gull, great spotted woodpecker and squirrel in Finland). The nature friend must mend all these mistakes and warpings to the last effort.

I shall return to human rights. In the way they are understood, without reservation, they make brutal war against both my ethics and logic. I always think of the definition I gave: "human rights = death sentence to mankind". And a few factors in the definition of human rights will probably remain incomprehensible until my death.

First of all, my reasoning says no to understanding that the value and rights of a human individual stand the same from the beginning of time, regardless of the amount. It is fully clear to me that the net increase of mankind is constantly lowering the value of existing individuals (and that it is very tiny on average at the level of six billion...).

Second of all, I can't begin to understand that human rights are seen as common and equal - like Anto Leikola interprets bishop Huotari: "man has a certain absolute value, that does not depend on good or evil or the quality of his reason".

I find that thinking truly worthless. I can never see two people as equal; the other one is always more valuable than the other. And the value of very many people is negative, sometimes hugely so. There are people, who exceed the "environmental allowance" calculated for one individual a thousand times, vastly decrease the richness of nature, squander nature's reserves, both in their own life and through indirect influence. And there are thoroughly venomous, living outside morality, criminal people in the most indisputable meaning of the word, who cause horrid amounts of grief to their species' fellows in extreme cases. What mysticism, black magic works behind it that these manner of creatures have full human rights? And what is the philosophy of death sentence's opposer?

Life, which is hierarchic by nature, demands that we "slid this animal value down, ever diluting, from mammals towards the paramecium and amoeba". But classification of people in descending order according to how much there is human in them should be as necessary. In other words: how much they have those abilities, in which the special quality of our own species crystallizes, where the role and justification of man in the spectrum of animal species appears: intelligence, wisdom, education, emotion, empathy. Physical deficiency means no fault in what is intrinsically human; in spiritual life, the region of mind. But retardation on the area of emotional life or intelligence is another matter. Some human individual is in these relations on the level of the chimpanzee, some to the beaver's, some to the meadow pipit's. Some totally deficit effigy of man is without even the most primitive point of comparison in a healthy animal kingdom. From what source do higher value and rights bubble to these people than to the chimpanzee, beaver or meadow pipit?

In my opinion the animal rights movement and thinking are on tenuous ground without knowledge about the workings and connections of nature, and again without simultaneous contemplation on human rights and their limits.

1999


Translated 20.10.2006
To Car And Motor-column


"A young male elk has died on Tampere motorway.

HS/Regional editors. A young male elk got mangled by a fairly large passenger car on Monday evening, at the Tampere-Hämeenlinna highway that had been opened a week ago, on the road segment by leafy saplings at the border of Kalvola-Sääksmäki. According to eyewitnesses, the road was being crossed by two elks, who were rapidly using a short pause in traffic to their advantage, but apparently misjudged the extremely high speeding of a car nearing from the north. The other elk barely escaped. The late one broke the other fore- and hind leg, and received a big open wound to its chest. Kalvola's conservation representative Inkeri Nurmela, who was alarmed to the place, arrived in about 15 minutes and an animal ambulance of Hämeenlinna came in some 25 minutes, but the elk, who was able to move only 30 meters away from the accident spot, had already lost so much blood that transfusion wasn't started with anymore, and the elk perished already in three minutes after the ambulance's arrival.

The departed, who was born in May 2011, was part of a community of seven elks, whose home estate was split by the new road for a length of 600 meters so that 3/5 were left on the west side and 2/5 on the east side of the road. Nurmela tells that the community had had great difficulties crossing the road daily and that the accident could be expected, even though the members of the community were known as very alert and careful persons. The companion saved from the accident of the deceased has likely been an older male cousin from its mother's side (born in 2009), who was noted to usually move with the late one.

As is well-known, environmentalists have demanded the construction of the country's highways' all forest sections as tunnels. The road segment in question between the bridges of Hämeenlinna and Vanaja was the first one in the tunnel solution plan, because already the previous motorway line of the area from year 2000 caused an intolerable rush of misfortunes even after lowering speed limits. Nurmela finds the voting decision, in which the earthly option won, revolting.

Let it be mentioned that also the father driving the car got killed in the accident along with his children. There may have been two or three of them."

1999