Over the last 20 years there has been increasing scientific evidence of the reality that “animals” vary little from homo sapiens in terms of their capacity to feel, to have cognition and to be aware of their circumstances. That very ‘useful’ set of historical assumptions of the lack of true ‘awareness’ of other species compared to homo sapiens, which has enabled those of us who wish to kill or hurt other species on the grounds of their implicit inferiority to humans, has now been fully discredited.
It is therefore inevitable that, over the next few decades, a global ethical and moral shift to the full valuing of other sentient life on our little planet will occur. This will in turn translate into a massive reduction in meat eating by homo sapiens and the need for environments where other species are respected and protected. While this world-wide ethical and moral shift and its translation into alternative action to value other species as we would our own, may currently appear absurd to my dear readers, it is worthwhile to consider how rapid the global moral and ethical shifts against issues such as slavery or the rights of women have occurred in the last 200 years.
It is therefore vital that both states and individuals start to explore both the implications of that shift in attitude towards species other than our own, and to assist in driving that change towards a better world for all of us who inhabit this little blue world.
While the challenges to the economic environment of those state entities whose economies are predominantly reliant on the export of meat are undoubtedly immense if we are to shift to a no-kill economy; the opportunities as a world leader in environmental and species ethics and practice are also enormous.
The evidence for the greater efficiency and sustainability of a non-meat based agrarian economy is out there now; we can start to plan for this inevitable change or be sidelined by other more ethical and forward looking economies. No-kill agricultural produce that is produced in a fully environmentally sustainable way, will be in huge and ever-increasing demand as the ethical and moral framework of our species shifts its awareness in the decades to come.
Given the indisputable evidence that other animals than homo sapiens have the same value and senses as ourselves, it is imperative that all laws regarding the management of animals ensure that no cruelty or suffering is permitted under government regulation.
In just one of many examples of research into animal behaviour that explores the real capacities of other species, the recent Guardian article on the work of Tetsuro Matsuzawa at the Primate Research Institute of Kyoto University exposes how chimpanzees on a number of cognitive fronts are superior to homo sapiens .
It is important to note that all research by homo sapiens is naturally slanted to place positive attributes on those skills that are traditionally deemed “human”, and to either ignore , minimise, ridicule or even simply not observe those skills and attributes of other species that are less familiar to us or deemed by humans to be not important or irrelevant. In addition, our sensory range as humans limits our capacity to even understand at a basic level , th edepth of awareness of many other species.
One revealing comment by Prof. Matsuzawa in the Guardian article is his statement that “As humans evolved and acquired new skills – notably the ability to use language to communicate and collaborate – they lost others they once shared with their common simian ancestors. “Our ancestors may have also had photographic memories, but we lost that during evolution so that we could acquire new skills,” he says. “To get something, we had to lose something.” As the supremely arrogant and species-centric organisms that humans are; we have glorified our skills, while ignoring our sensory and cognitive deficits in comparison to other species on the planet.
Perhaps our most unique skill, is our capacity to manipulate our environment to suit our own ends. It is likely to also be our, and the rest of the species on this planet’s , undoing.
A recent article in The Guardian entitled “The American lawyer seeking human rights for chimpanzees” examines with some incredulity and implied mirth at the idea-that a US lawyer is campaigning for chimpanzees to have the same legal rights as human beings. The article references the NonHumanRights Project ; one of the first of many human organisations devoted to rights and equality for all sentient beings on this planet.