We humans must end animal cruelty now

By Dr David Cliff, Managing Director of Gedanken

Animal cruelty is not an easy subject to talk about. You probably want to read something different, fashion, sport, a gossip column, but sorry, we must accept that the abuse of animals is an everyday factor of life.

More and more I read in publications like this newspaper about people who have been arrested, and eventually handed down lenient punishments, for inflicting cruelty on a pet. It now seems to be a common occurrence, which is an unpleasant prospect to behold.

Arrogant creatures that we are, we believe that we can submit animal species to all kinds of hardships. We have an obesity crisis, yet we eat more meat than ever before, and this increase in demand and requirement to cheapness has its impact on the supply chain. A supply chain of flesh and blood.

Sustainability for the planet revolves around decent animal husbandry and a reduction in meat consumption.

Then there’s the perennial issue of animal skins for our adornment. It has recently been reported that many fashion firms have been using real fur on their clothing instead of faux fur as advertised. It is disgraceful that this has been allowed to happen, and that so many high street firms have willingly participated in this practice.

I recently provided a donation to a charity that was raising issues about animal welfare in China, particularly the skin trade, where animals are often skinned alive to make everything from leather coats to pet toys. It is important, however, to recognise the cruelty does not necessarily lie so much with China, but the more evolved Western world, with its insatiable desire for cheap goods, where a low price results in not too many questions being asked.

Let’s face it, it is a preposterous situation, where six billion of us populate the planet, but the attraction for the ivory trade is such that we are in a situation where other creatures we share the planet with are in danger of extinction. If indeed we as animals are to be judged by the sensible and ecological use of the planet’s resources, impact upon climate, minimisation of waste, and exploitation of other species, humans are by far the most wasteful on the planet.

The land-use required to sustain high levels of meat production is 10 times that of a production of crop vegetables, meaning we have a real problem of sustainability going forward. We must start to accept that if we do not wish to see the loss of so many creatures and the avoidable suffering of other animals, we must take action now.

We dictate the markets and instruct our politicians, and it is important that we do so in an ethical, honourable way that has respect for the earth that we live on. The absurdity of children dying of starvation abroad, whilst people in the UK plead for gastric bands creates an irony that is every bit as absurd as an animal suffering unnecessarily to provide cheap goods, when it might have enriched our lives as, for example, a domestic pet.

People and governments everywhere, need to encourage the notion that we are all citizens of the world, and responsible for a planet drawn from our discerning taste as consumers. For without market forces, these tragic trades would probably not exist or have to be radically reformed to the benefit of all, including the silent whimpers of those creatures who cannot speak for themselves.

To take radical action now, or to simply allow the status quo, is arguably the moral measure of whether we ourselves are truly evolved.