Showing posts with label sustainability. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sustainability. Show all posts

Tuesday 7 May 2024

Zoos make people likelier to behave sustainably?

Researchers at the University of Sheffield and Chester Zoo found that visits to 38 zoos and aquariums around the world made people more likely to behave more sustainably. The kind of behaviour they hope might happen is that people check products for the inclusion of palm oil. Many products are made with the assistance of palm oil as an ingredient. It is found in everything from biscuits to shampoo.

But palm oil production is unsustainable. It is linked to the destruction of orangutan habitat. And this is where zoos can change things ostensibly. It is Sir David Attenborough who once said:
"No one will protect what they don't care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced."
In other words, it is about education. And zoos can be educational. It depends on the quality of the zoo, however. There are some horrendous zoos in developing countries which are simply torture chambers for the animals contained therein. They serve no educational purpose other than to decide that zoos are horrendous places and should be closed.

That isn't the case with many zoos in developed countries and the Sheffield and Chester research team found that interventions had "positive impacts on outcomes in zoo visitors."

The question, though, is whether anything learned at zoos can be translated into behavioural traits in the people who learnt the lessons. So, for instance, there was a "medium effect on knowledge and intentions, a small to medium one on attitudes and a small effect on behaviour" in respect of the impact on the behavioural patterns of people who had gone to a zoo.

I take from that to mean that people left zoos feeling more inspired to have a more sustainable lifestyle and one which is more conducive to conservation but this feeling dissipated and their attitudes dissipated somewhat and so the effect on their behaviour in making tangible changes to the environment was small or perhaps on occasions minimal.

The lesson, there, is that it takes more than pure education the change attitudes. It takes commitment and zoos alone are unlikely to change attitudes sufficiently to boost sustainability and protect nature as far as I am concerned.

Infographic on making zoos better places for big cats

Xavier McNally of the University of Sheffield one of the authors of the study published in the journal Conservation Biology said: 
"Millions of people visit zoos and aquariums globally, and this creates an opportunity to shape people's beliefs about conservation and empower them to help protect the environment by making small changes in their lives."
The University said that the findings showed how zoos and aquariums can help almost 200 countries meet the nature goals they signed up to in 2022. There is a desire to make 30% of the world's oceans and land a protected area by 2030.

Comment: these are laudable objectives but, for me, I don't think that zoos no matter how well-run they are can substantially change attitudes in terms of sustainability and wildlife conservation. My first impression when I see a really good zoo is that the animals should be free, in the wild, living natural lives. I see zoos as places where there are anti-conservation attitudes although zoos defend themselves by saying that their research fosters and encourages and improves conservation.

But there are many negatives which are often undiscussed such as where do zoos get their wild animals from? Do they get them from other zoos? Do they get them through a breeding programme? Or do they get them from the wild; stealing young animals from their mothers? That kind of illegal activity might occur in countries where wildlife protection and animal protection laws are not enforced properly or don't even exist. And that's kind of illegal activity is very anti-conservation.

And I know a bit about the small wild cat species at zoos. Some small wild cat species simply cannot sustain themselves in zoos because the conditions are simply not conducive to their lifestyle (see link above). Some small wild cat species develop diseases quite quickly and die quite quickly. 

Their lifespans are severely curtailed. And these are in good zoos. Think about the bad ones where the environment inside is barren and hopeless. Many zoos are simply cruel places indicative of humankind's very poor attitude towards animals in many parts of the world. I cannot be optimistic about zoos despite the fact that some good goes on in them concerning conservation.

P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Thursday 29 February 2024

British power plant burns old growth Canadian forest destroying wildlife habitat

The Drax power plant near Selby, North Yorkshire, UK has been receiving a couple of sets of government subsidies worth £6bn because it is claimed that the electricity produced by this powerplant comes from burning plant biomass - trees from ecologically unimportant areas in Canada. 

In this instance, biomass is renewable organic material from trees. It should also be carbon neutral with the carbon produced from burning wood being cancelled out by the carbon absorbed by trees growing.

But the problem with this process is that Drax is receiving subsidies in order to burn wood from old-growth forests which provide a unique habitat for ecosystems in Canada. It's probable, that these forests provide a habitat for the Canada lynx which is my connection to the cat in this article.

In the UK, in 2017, in a sustainability report, Drax promised not to take timber from no-go areas which means protected forests, primary forests, old-growth forests and forests classified as having a high biodiversity value.

Government support for Drax can only be justified because the wood that they use for their power stations has been sourced sustainably and I presume in compliance with good carbon neutral policies. And in compliance with wildlife conservation. That's not mentioned in The Times article: Power plant burns rare forest wood.

The wood comes from primary forests as mentioned and therefore Drax should not receive government subsidies which have amounted to £6 billion as I understand it in the past.

In a letter to The Times British Members of Parliament have said the following: 
"Continued wood burning biomass harms forests, communities and contributes huge amounts of carbon emissions to the atmosphere."
In response, Drax did not deny clearing old-growth forests for its power stations. However Drax said that its 2017 report was "not a policy and is now obsolete." It's been superseded by 2019 document they say. A spokesperson for Drax said: "We are confident our biomass is sustainable and legally harvest and meet the requirement of our 2019 sourcing policy."

Comment: the company is wriggling out of their responsibilities. Sorry by entirely typical of big business.

Secondly, it seems extraordinary to me that Drax and the UK government can even contemplate chopping down forests and burning them in power stations in the UK. How can that be a good policy? 

That would seem to go totally against the fundamental principles of being carbon neutral. In preserving nature. In preserving habitat for wildlife. In doing the right thing. In protecting the planet. How does this Drax policy in partnership with the UK possibly enhance sustainability, nature, and protect the planet?

The UK government should be as ashamed as Drax. Typical of double talking big business in league with unethical British politicians. I hate them all.


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Sunday 16 October 2022

Wood-eating yeast in cat food is okay

If you are concerned about sustainability and the environment and most people aren't in my judgement you might be interested to know that a wood-eating yeast in cat food has been found to be highly palatable and digestible. 

Torula yeast
Torula yeast. Picture believed to be in the public domain.

It's a fungus and it can be used as a pet food ingredient. The yeast is called torula yeast (Cyberlindnera jadinii). It feeds on woody biomass and that's useful because there's a lot of forests being cut down and therefore a lot of biomasses lying around facilities which can be used to grow this yeast.

Apparently, it is easy to manipulate and extrude and therefore it can be converted into a pet food ingredient conveniently. It doesn't contain allergens or heavy metals, but it does provide amino acids. Unbeknown to many cat owners some cat foods contain heavy metals.

Torula yeast is approved as an ingredient by the AAFCO in America. It has a safe history of use. A Kansas State University study compared cat food made with torula yeast and others made with chicken meal, soybean meal and pea protein extract. 

It came out of the tests well on my reading of a summary of the study. Crude protein digestibility is similar to the other three ingredients. Chicken meal had a higher gross energy digestibility than the yeast, but the fungus was similar to the other diets.

When torula yeast is deactivated and dried it looks like a powder. It adds a smoky flavour to foods. It has a meat-like taste. It's been added to dog food, cat food and human food. And therefore, cat food manufacturers who claim that they only use human grade ingredients can add torula yeast without lying!

In human food the yeast sometimes substitutes monosodium glutamate as a flavour enhancer. It can improve the texture and flavour of many foods. As I understand it torula yeast is sprayed onto dry cat and dog food as a flavour enhancer.

For those people who do actually read the label for the ingredients of cat food, if they bump into torula yeast as an ingredient they should not be concerned on my understanding and having carried out some research. But this advice is provided without liability! Please do your own research ✔️😎.

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