A World War on Cats


Australia will kill 2,000,000 cats in five years. New Zealand has announced that it will exterminate every community cat in the country. Hawaii officials want to wipe the state free of community cats. Washington, D.C., officials want to eradicate cats.  And now there is a call to exterminate cats throughout the continental U.S. “by any means necessary.”

As Dr. Marc Bekoff notes, “Cats are vilified and no attention is paid to the emotional lives of these sentient beings.” “[I]n addition to it being morally repugnant,” he writes, “it is not based on science and it won’t work.” And he’s right. It is to propose a vicious, medieval slaughter with no end in sight: a cruel and barbaric genocide against cats not unlike those from the darkest chapters in human history.

Not only does removing one species to allegedly help another not work as a metaanalysis of every published study concluded, but those calling for the removal of cats because they claim they are “non-native” are guilty of the most pernicious hypocrisy, for they, too, are “non-native” to North America.

They belong to a species that is the most “invasive” the planet has ever experienced, causing virtually all of the environmental destruction, including the tragic decline of birds.

And while they blame cats for harming birds, they kill or pay others to kill birds so they can eat them, supporting a viciously cruel industry that kills billions of birds annually.

And yet for reasons based entirely on narrow self-interest, they do not hold their own actions to the same standards which they impose upon cats: they do not force themselves to live exclusively indoors, they do not pack up and move back to the continent where humans first evolved, they do not stop eating birds, and they do not impose upon themselves or their fellow humans discriminatory standards which judge the worth of an individual based solely on the lineage of their ancestors.

It is time to reject such a cavalier call to human violence and such blatant forms of discrimination we have come to regard as intolerable in our treatment of one another.

We need a kinder, more tolerant and saner vision of environmentalism, a movement which at the beginning of the 21st century now promotes a philosophy of biological xenophobia which would be unrecognizable to its early founders such as John Muir and Rachel Carson, individuals who preached an environmentalism based on kindness, compassion and respect for the natural world and its inhabitants.

Above all else, we need an environmentalism that is guided by the principle that respect for sentient life is paramount, irrespective of species, irrespective of where members of that species may currently reside, and irrespective of any traits a particular species may have evolved that do not suit arbitrary or culturally inherited human prejudices.

What can you do to stop the nativist agenda?
It’s time to take the environmental movement back from the hateful bullies and thugs of the nativist movement. Here are some suggestions as to what you can do stop the momentum and proliferation of this cruel philosophy:

Stop Funding the Proliferation of the Nativist Agenda:
Stop supporting “environmental” organizations that are guided by a “native” and “non-native” philosophy and agenda and that actively promote killing, partner with corporate polluters like Monsanto and Dow, and call for mass extermination and clear cutting of forests. This includes groups such as the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society, the Nature Conservancy, and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Tell these groups you no longer recognize their agenda as that of environmentalism, that you oppose discrimination based on species, and that you will only support organizations that champion individual rights of animals over those, like them, that promote human bigotry.

Think Globally, Act Locally:
Organize and push back against the nativist agenda in your community, which, given the proliferation of this insidious philosophy among environmental organizations, local governments, city, county, state and federal land management agencies has probably declared war on plants and animals in your area, too.

In my community, I am fighting to stop the Sierra Club agenda to clear cut 450,000 healthy trees and spread thousands of gallons of herbicides in the Oakland and Berkeley hills (and other East Bay cities). If you live in the East Bay, please join me. Similar efforts to destroy thousands of healthy trees in San Francisco are also underway.

Break the Cycle of Violence:
If you are a parent like I am, do not allow your child to be indoctrinated into a philosophy of intolerance and hate. Refuse to allow your child to participate in school field trips or summer camps with “environmental education” programs that preach reverence for the “native” and fear and disdain for the foreign while instructing children to demonize animals and go into our natural places and rip up plants.

Preach Compassion and Tolerance:
In your communications with friends, family and coworkers, begin to push back against the language of intolerance and biological xenophobia whenever you hear it. Tell others you respect nature and therefore reject the narrow, arbitrary litmus test of worthiness of “native is good” “non-native is bad” and the incredible harm to animals and the environment that such irrelevant distinctions ultimately enable.

Because of climate change, one-third of all plant and animal species are on the move. Not only should we welcome this, as doing so is the only way they can survive, we should actively help them. For example, as tree lovers and environmentalists in Cambria are banding together to determine how, if at all, they can save their precious remaining Monterey Pines now dying from drought in record numbers, here in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Sierra Club is calling for willfully destroying them in record numbers. Instead, we should be planting more of them. Destroying them is not only ecologically irresponsible, for those of us who dearly love the stunning, even arresting, beauty of these trees, and for the animals who depend on them as “home,” it is also truly heartbreaking.

Educate Yourself:
A growing backlash against nativism is already brewing within the environmental movement and among scientists who reject it as a dangerous, harmful pseudo-science. Click here for suggestions for further reading.


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