True, this list only has four stories in it, but they are as bad as it gets. As Planet Experts packs its bags for COP21, we’re reflecting on the top stories of the month, which were environmental victories and which were environmental disasters. The articles below are unequivocal disasters, crossing the spectrum from gross to cruel to illogical and downwards into tragedy. We didn’t like reporting these stories any more than you liked reading them, but that’s precisely why we keep reporting them.
There’s no way to gussy up a slaughterhouse. It’s a place for killing animals. And yet there are laws in place that prohibit cruelty in performing this act, as well as laws that prohibit the processing of animals that are sick or diseased. In mid-November, Compassion Over Killing, an animal rights nonprofit, released an undercover video of a factory that violates these laws in graphic, shocking ways. Pigs beaten, pigs boiled alive, pigs covered in feces and pus-filled abscesses, all are on display in this horrific video, which COK alleges to have shot inside Quality Pork Processors, a main supplier for Hormel.
The video has since gone viral, with actors Paul Wesley and Liam Hemsworth calling on Americans to sign a petition to put an end to the high-speed, reduced-inspection slaughter program that allows these violations to occur. The US Department of Agriculture is current investigating QPP.
In early November, a group of leading independent scientists voiced their opposition to a measure that would remove Endangered Species protections from Oregon’s gray wolves. Under the state’s law, once the wolf population reaches four breeding pairs for three consecutive years, a status review is immediately triggered. However, there are only 83 gray wolves in the state, a fraction of their original numbers. Scientists called the plan to remove the protections “logically indefensible, and contrary to the notion of recovery.”
“There’s simply no science to support the conclusion that 80 wolves is a recovered population,” said Amaroq Weiss, the West Coast wolf organizer for the Center for Biological Diversity. Despite the protests of Weiss and many others, Oregon voted to strip the wolves of their protection on November 9.
What else is there to say? In 1960, there were more than 2,000 northern white rhinos on the planet. In 1984, there were 15. By the time Planet Experts was founded, there were six. And now there are just three.
We were super excited. Starting on November 13, Al Gore was going to host a major event in anticipation of COP21, the biggest climate change conference in history. Broadcasting live from the Champ de Mars in Paris, 24 Hours of Reality was to feature celebrity guests; social media interaction; recorded segments from locations across the USA, Australia, Brazil, India, Canada, China, South Africa and the Philippines; and such politicians and scientists as French President François Hollande and glaciologist Claude Lorius.
But it didn’t work out that way, did it? On that day, one of the most devastating terrorist attacks since 9/11 occurred in Paris, with over 100 dead and the city reeling from the tragedy. Without a doubt, the Paris Attacks were the worst thing to happen to the planet this year, let alone this month. Understandably, 24 Hours of Reality was called off and the world is still mourning.
Yet all is not lost. Though Paris has significantly upgraded its security and many COP21-related events have also been canceled, the conference has not been deterred. In fact, it’s possible that this attack will only strengthen the chances for a binding international treaty as nations come together in unity. You can read more about it in Planet Experts’ reflection on the tragedy.
For more of the top stories of November 2015, check out these lists: