Issue No. 4

Photo: Yuriy Garnaev/Unsplash

Photo: Yuriy Garnaev/Unsplash


Esther the Wonder Pig

The Ontario-based, social-media sensation is set to star in a major motion picture based on her best-selling books. Her “Dads”, Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter, have signed a deal with one of Hollywood’s largest production companies (X-men, Free Willy) and CBS Films, to bring her story to the big screen. Visit Esther at


How to eat sustainably

Scientists say that to save the planet we need to eat: no more than one hamburger, two portions of fish and 1 – 2 eggs per week; ½ of every meal to comprise fruits and veg; ⅓ of every meal to comprise whole grains; one glass of milk, some cheese every day; and, mostly pulses and nuts for protein.

Climate Change

No more excuses

Certainty that humans are responsible for climate change has reached a “gold-standard” level of proof. Put another way, there is now only a one-in-a-million chance that we are not causing global warming says a report published in Nature Climate Change , from scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

Issue 4 elephant

speaking words of wisdom

Regarding the destruction of biodiversity:

“If we were coal miners we’d be up to our waists in dead canaries.”

Michael Higgins, President of Ireland

“You cannot share your life with a dog and not know perfectly well that animals have personalities, minds and feelings.”

Dr. Jane Goodall

Photo: jdandco

on THE HORIZON: for lake erie at least

Modelled on “Rights to Nature” laws passed in countries such as India and Nepal, voters in Toledo, Ohio, approved the Lake Erie Bill of Rights in Feb 2019. Tired of warnings about the quality of their drinking water, residents will now be able to take legal action against suspected polluters on behalf of the Lake -- specifically, on the basis that the Lake’s rights to “flourish and naturally evolve” are being violated.




“Modified – a food lover’s journey into GMOs” (2017). Visit

A multi-award-winning, Canadian documentary about the right to know how our food is produced. Shot over 10 years, “the film explores the impacts of genetically engineering our food and exposes the cozy relationship between the agribusiness industry and our governments.”  

Issue 4 factory farm pigs

how smart are farm animals?

1. Pigs: one of the few species who can recognize themselves in a mirror (we can’t do this until we are two-years-old).
2. Cows: excellent memories for faces, are social and form strong friendships.
3. Chickens: like pigs, can do puzzles and play games. Five-day-old chicks understand an object exists even if it’s hidden (human babies don’t understand this until six-months-old).
4. Sheep: can recognize and remember up to 50 faces for over two years.

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur/We Animals

data points

Balloons Not So Beautiful

  • If ingested, balloons are 32 times more likely to kill seabirds than hard plastic, according to a recent study of 1,733 seabirds from 51 species. Balloons only made up 5% of the items ingested but they caused 40% of the deaths, mainly due to gastro-intestinal blockage.


“It’s Like Wildfires in the Sea”

  • A study from Britain’s Marine Biological Association published in Nature Climate Change, found intense heatwaves in the ocean have increased by 50% in the last 30 years. This results in the loss of “critical foundational species” in an intricate ecosystem that can trigger a cascading “die-off” that breaks the food chain and ultimately affects humans.

Good news

  • Over 100 companies are now selling plant-based meat and dairy product substitutes. And 55 funds are investing in animal product alternatives including a sovereign wealth fund, major venture capital firms and agribusiness giants: Danone, Cargill and Tyson. Farm Animal Welfare newsletter

  • Respected British think tank, Chatham House, is urging EU policy makers to promote rapid regulation and investment in the clean meat industry (uses animal cells to grow meat), as one way to move away from industrial agriculture to reduce our carbon footprint.

the deep dive

Climate Action Tracker Screenshot (11).png


Meeting the climate goals of the Paris Agreement

The 2015 Paris agreement signed by 195 countries is a global action plan to put us on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below an average of 2°C above pre-industrial levels (we are already at 1°C), and pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C or less. The agreement came into force in November 2016. How much progress have we made?

Three German research groups have produced an easy-to-understand report card. Climate Analytics, Ecofys, and the New Climate Initiative, track the progress of 38 nations against their Paris targets for reducing their Green House Gas (GHG) emissions. Visit  to see how individual countries are rated on their progress.


Not Good …

The reality is many countries are falling woefully short. For example, we can see from the chart below that Canada and China’s efforts are rated as “highly insufficient”, but with more data showing climate policy progress since 2015, Canada has a current status rating of “clear progress” and China shows “minor progress”. By contrast, the US and Russia are rated as “critically insufficient” with a current status rating of “no progress”. The EU are doing somewhat better with an “insufficient” rating and a current status rating of “clear progress”.

The report calls out Australia, the US, Russia, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia, among others, as “delaying global progress” to limit global warming. In fact, the report states that even if all of the countries achieve their Paris Agreement commitments, the world will still likely warm 3°C by 2100.

However, there are bright spots. Norway and Costa Rica are forging ahead with decarbonization of transport and renewable energy, Chile aims to decarbonize its energy system, India, already rated as “2°C compatible”, is adopting a national electricity plan and South Africa’s energy resource strategy aims to shift away from coal to renewables and gas.

Screenshot (10).png

Source: charts copyright of Climate Analytics, Ecofys, New Climate Initiative. The six columns above show projected global temperature increases by 2100


Mounting Pressure on Political Leaders to Tackle Climate Change

While 1.3 million children skipped school and took to the streets on March 15 in a bid to persuade political leaders to take action on climate change, there’s also a growing number of respected scientific studies and reports echoing the same message. One of the latest is the most comprehensive assessment on the state of the environment completed by the UN in the last five years. Released on March 13, it warns that damage to the planet is so dire that people’s health will be increasingly threatened unless urgent action is taken. “The Sixth Global Environmental Outlook” (GEO-6) calls on decision-makers at all levels to take immediate action.

The report says the world has the science, technology and finance to move towards a more sustainable development pathway, but there’s not enough support from the public, business and political leaders who are clinging to outdated production and development models.

“The science is clear. The health and prosperity of humanity is directly tied with the state of our environment,” said Joyce Msuya, Acting Executive Director of UN Environment. “We are at a crossroads. Do we continue on our current path, which will lead to a bleak future for humankind, or do we pivot to a more sustainable development pathway? That is the choice our political leaders must make, now.”

The report advises adopting less-meat intensive diets. “Reducing overall meat consumption as well as providing alternatives to conventional livestock production (e.g., through plant-based meat alternatives), would substantially reduce the agricultural land-use footprint,” says the report. Also, cutting down on food waste would reduce the need to increase food production by 50% to feed the projected 9-10 billion people expected to inhabit the planet by 2050. At present, 33% of global edible food is wasted, and 56% of waste happens in industrialized countries.

The report also calls for action to curb the flow of eight million tons of plastic pollution going into the ocean each year. Policy interventions that address entire systems – such as energy, food, and waste – rather than individual issues, such as water pollution, can be much more effective, say the authors. 

“The report shows that policies and technologies already exist to fashion new development pathways that will avoid these risks and lead to health and prosperity for all people,” said Joyeeta Gupta and Paul Ekins, co-chairs of the GEO-6 process. “What is currently lacking is the political will to implement policies and technologies at a sufficient speed and scale.”

*Editor’s Note: Visit us on Facebook, and for fresh blogs weekly on hot topics such as antibiotic resistance, little-talked-about problems with our food system and options for eating sustainably.

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