The new Covering Climate Now project will help media “tell the story so people get it.”
This is how the speech by Bill Moyers is introduced in this issue of The Nation:
The following is an abridged version of the speech by the iconic TV newsman Bill Moyers, as prepared for delivery at a conference at the Columbia Journalism School on April 30. A video of the speech can be seen at TheNation.com/moyers-speech.
Well, we have the advantage of going straight to the video.
“What is journalism for, if not to awaken the world to looming catastrophes?“
Sean Coughlan wrote a most delightful piece on the BBC News website the other day.
No matter how many times dogs are referred to it always cheers me up to read about them, especially on a major news website.
Dogs ‘prevent stressed students dropping out’
By Sean Coughlan, BBC News family and education correspondent
July 2nd, 2019
Stress among students really can be reduced by spending time with animals, according to research from the US.
It has become increasingly common for universities to bring “therapy dogs” on to campus – but claims about their benefits have often been anecdotal.
Now, scientists say they have objective evidence to support the use of dogs.
Patricia Pendry, from Washington State University, said her study showed “soothing” sessions with dogs could lessen the negative impact of stress.
The study of more than 300 undergraduates had found weekly hour-long sessions with dogs brought to the university by professional handlers had made stressed students at “high risk of academic failure” or dropping out “feel relaxed and accepted”, helping them to concentrate, learn and remember information, she said.
“Students most at risk, such as those with mental health issues, showed the most benefit,” said Dr Pendry.
It has also become more common in the UK, with Buckingham, University College London, Cambridge, Nottingham Trent, London Metropolitan and Swansea among those deploying dogs.
The University of Middlesex has even put “canine teaching assistants” on to the staff, to stop lonely students dropping out.
We are home and settled in for the holiday week, but in some ways, I feel like I’m still in Tennessee. The pull is so strong. The stories down there break my heart but they also fire up my desire to fix this situation.
It is SO fixable. It does not need to be happening. There are more than enough of us to help the women struggling to help the dogs in western Tennessee. Once more, there are more than enough homes for those dogs, too.
From Kim Kavin’s excellent, well-researched book, The Dog Merchants:
“The notion that America’s homeless dogs face an ‘overpopulation problem’ does not match up against the available statistics. Supply is not exceeding demand. Americans want about 8 million dogs a year as new pets, while only about 4 million dogs are entering shelters….If just half the Americans already getting a dog went the shelter route, then statistically speaking, every cage in US animal control facilities could be emptied. Right now.”
And Tabi and Amber and Kim and Anne and Laura wouldn’t spend their every waking moment fighting to keep animals alive.
I’m not trying to guilt those of you who chose to buy your dog, particularly if you bought that dog from a reputable breeder and/or intend to show your dog. What I am saying is that if the next time you decide you’d like another pet (especially a cat), you’d consider looking at your local shelter or rescue.
And the next time a friend of yours or just an acquaintance tells you they adopted a dog from a shelter or rescue, thank that person for choosing to save a dog.
I’ve been home for five days now and already I’ve heard of more heartbreaking stories landing in the lap of both Karin’ 4 Kritters and Red Fern. Puppies abandoned and struggling, three dogs rescued by a woman who has them kenneled on her front porch to keep neighbors from poisoning them, dogs and puppies simply dumped. I can’t keep count of how many are in desperate need of rescue, so I asked for a summary from Laura (who handles transports from the area for OPH and many other rescues across our country).
The list here of calls for help in one day is:
– 3 pups dumped at Red Fern (that may go to Greenfield pound) – the picture of the ear with ticks is one of these puppies.
– 2 choc pups dumped in the country that they put at the city pound for now
– 2 pittie teens they’re being asked to take. (Crockett and Tyke)
– 3 strays in Sharon, TN that a lady caught because the neighbors were threatening to poison them because they’ve been running loose for months.
– pittie pup in Greenfield that the owner wants to surrender because it’s getting to be “too much”
– 2 three month old pups someone is asking her to take
– a 6 month injured beagle. The owner was going to “put it on the street” so her brother went and picked it up but he thinks it has a broken rib and it’s in pain and he doesn’t have money to treat it so he wants to dump it on Tabi.
That’s just in a day. Multiply that times all the little towns and counties all over western Tennessee that rely on rescues like Red Fern and Karin’ 4 Kritters and their minimalist dog pounds. Places where there is no safety net and dogs are suffering and dying daily. Places where there is no real, reasonable, low-cost access to spay/neuter. Places where dogs (and cats) are not valued or loved, and where their local government will not spend money because it’s ‘just a dog’ or ‘just a cat.’
We seem to have ‘solved’ the problem in the northeast and many metropolitan areas, but we are far from a solution in the rural south and Midwest. We cannot forget them.
The need is so real. Something has got to change. Someone has got to let these dogs out.
Thanks for reading and for caring.
If you’d like to help, page back through these posts for contact information, but if you’d really like to help, TELL someone. Spread the word – I remain convinced, that the problem is not that people don’t care, it’s that they don’t know. Please help us tell them.
Bear in mind that the above list is for One Day!
Is it true that people don’t know about this?
When the Associated Press published Julia Le Duc’s photograph of a drowned Salvadoran man, Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, and his 23-month old daughter Valeria, it sparked outrage on social media. According to Le Duc, Ramírez had attempted to cross the Rio Grande after realizing he couldn’t present himself to U.S. authorities to request asylum.
But beyond raising awareness via Twitter and Facebook feeds, does an image like this one have the power to sway public opinion or spur politicians to take action?
As journalism and psychology scholars interested in the effects of imagery, we study the ability of jarring photos and videos to move people from complacency to action. While graphic imagery can have an immediate impact, the window of action – and caring – is smaller than you’d think.
A political catalyst?
Photographs and videos – through their perceived authenticity – can have an effect on people.
But not all scholars agree. A recent article argued that it was a “myth” that the iconic “napalm girl” photo swayed public opinion and hastened the end of the Vietnam War.
We must also look to psychology to understand the impacts of emotional news content. Research demonstrates that audiences need an emotional connection – and not merely a “just-the-facts” reporting approach – as “prerequisite for political action” when it comes to appreciating the importance of distant mass suffering. And imagery can trigger this emotional connection by overcoming the psychic numbing that occurs when casualties mount, images blur and lost lives become merely dry statistics.
Images from Syria
In April 2017, gut-wrenching images seem to have awakened the world to the human atrocities happening in Syria. Following a chemical bomb attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, graphic photos and videos documented the horrific effects of the banned nerve agent sarin. Millions bore witness to excruciating human suffering: gasping, choking, writhing and dying. More than 500 people were injured, with at least 86 deaths, including 28 children.
The vivid, closeup images of sarin attack victims were resonant enough to break through the complacency of people and politicians accustomed to bad news emerging from the war-torn nation. In President Trump’s response – which included a retaliatory missile strike – he seemed to recognize the value of the Syrian lives depicted in the horrific photos and videos.
“When you kill innocent children,” he said during a news conference, “that crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line – many, many lines.”
The limits of an image
Nonetheless, even though the attacks may have briefly heightened U.S. concerns over the wars in Syria, the photographic documentation of the suffering in Syria wasn’t new.
But the emotional and compassionate responses to both photographs were short-lived. The bombing of civilians in Syria continued. Refugees continued risking their lives to escape the war zone.
Since the publication of Le Duc’s photo of the dead migrants, supportive politicians may feel emboldened to sound the alarm on the plight of Central American migrants. Donations to immigrant aid organizations might briefly spike.
But it seems that a photograph, no matter how emotionally devastating, can only do so much.
Images can alert us to the horrors of violence, mass migration and poverty. But as we have seen time and again, photographs and news footage of human suffering generally precipitate a short-term emotional reaction, rather than a sustained humanitarian response.
As one reads the article it is much more than a comment on a single image despite how terrible that photograph may be.
The two scientists set out to show that the period that we are alarmed or terrified or just plain sad at the state of nations is rather short.
Maybe it’s the self-protective nature of our species that does this.
But it still doesn’t diminish the horror of that top photograph.
This is the post (and I trust I can share it with you!)
If you have ever wondered what it must be like to be a bird flying alongside them is about as close as you can come.
Christian Moullec takes us some amazing flights with his birds in this wonderful video. He has been helping birds migrate from Germany to Sweden since 1995. His efforts have raised awareness about the disappearance of migratory birds in Europe. I hope you enjoy this beautiful video as much as I did!
I first received notice of this story from a news release put by Uppsala University. That news release is what I publish as it is a short-form of the full scientific report. But I will also include an extract of the report as there may be some of you that will want to go further into this.
Owning a dog is influenced by our genetic make-up
A team of Swedish and British scientists have studied the heritability of dog ownership using information from 35,035 twin pairs from the Swedish Twin Registry. The new study suggests that genetic variation explains more than half of the variation in dog ownership, implying that the choice of getting a dog is heavily influenced by an individual’s genetic make-up.
Dogs were the first domesticated animal and have had a close relationship with humans for at least 15,000 years. Today, dogs are common pets in our society and are considered to increase the well-being and health of their owners. The team compared the genetic make-up of twins (using the Swedish Twin Registry – the largest of its kind in the world) with dog ownership. The results are published for the first time in Scientific Reports. The goal was to determine whether dog ownership has a heritable component.
“We were surprised to see that a person’s genetic make-up appears to be a significant influence in whether they own a dog. As such, these findings have major implications in several different fields related to understanding dog-human interaction throughout history and in modern times. Although dogs and other pets are common household members across the globe, little is known how they impact our daily life and health. Perhaps some people have a higher innate propensity to care for a pet than others.” says Tove Fall, lead author of the study, and Professor in Molecular Epidemiology at the Department of Medical Sciences and the Science for Life Laboratory, Uppsala University.
Carri Westgarth, Lecturer in Human-Animal interaction at the University of Liverpool and co-author of the study, adds: “These findings are important as they suggest that supposed health benefits of owning a dog reported in some studies may be partly explained by different genetics of the people studied”.
Studying twins is a well-known method for disentangling the influences of environment and genes on our biology and behaviour. Because identical twins share their entire genome, and non-identical twins on average share only half of the genetic variation, comparisons of the within-pair concordance of dog ownership between groups can reveal whether genetics play a role in owning a dog. The researchers found concordance rates of dog ownership to be much larger in identical twins than in non-identical ones – supporting the view that genetics indeed plays a major role in the choice of owning a dog.
“These kind of twin studies cannot tell us exactly which genes are involved, but at least demonstrate for the first time that genetics and environment play about equal roles in determining dog ownership. The next obvious step is to try to identify which genetic variants affect this choice and how they relate to personality traits and other factors such as allergy” says Patrik Magnusson, senior author of the study and Associate Professor in Epidemiology at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Karolinska Insitutet, Sweden and Head of the Swedish Twin Registry.
“The study has major implications for understanding the deep and enigmatic history of dog domestication” says zooarchaeologist and co-author of the study Keith Dobney, Chair of Human Palaeoecology in the Department of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology at the University of Liverpool. “Decades of archaeological research have helped us construct a better picture of where and when dogs entered into the human world, but modern and ancient genetic data are now allowing us to directly explore why and how?”
The relationship between humans and dogs is the longest of all the domestic animals, yet the origin and history of perhaps our most iconic companion animal remains an enigma, and a topic of much ongoing scientific debate1. Decades of archaeological and more recent genetic investigations across the world have so far failed to resolve the fundamental questions of where, when and why wolves formed the transformational partnership with humans that finally resulted in the first domestic dog.
Although recent claims for the existence of so-called “Palaeolithic dogs”2,3,4,5 as early as 30,000 years ago remain controversial6,7, there is incontrovertible evidence for the existence of domestic dogs in pre-farming hunter-gatherer societies in Europe at least 15,000 years ago, the Far East 12,500, and the Americas 10,000 years ago8,9,10.
Over the subsequent millennia this ‘special relationship’ developed apace throughout most cultures of the world and is as strong and complex today as it has ever been. Dogs have long been important as an extension to the human ‘toolkit’, assisting with various tasks such as hunting, herding, and protection, as well as for more social activities such as ritual and companionship. The diverse roles that dogs fulfilled most likely introduced a range of selective advantages to those human groups with domesticated dogs. The anthropologist Dr. Pat Shipman went so far as to suggest that the close connection between dogs, other animals and their domesticators had a significant and tangible influence on our bio-cultural history – the animal connection hypothesis11. A number of experimental studies demonstrate that the view of dogs and other animal stimuli influence human behavior and interest from early childhood onward implicating innate mechanisms12,13, whilst others conversely highlight innate adverse responses to spiders and snakes in humans, indicating the evolutionary benefits of avoiding snakes and spiders14.
Inspired by assumed physical and psychosocial benefits of dog ownership, pet dogs are now increasingly being used in interventions for the rehabilitation of prisoners15, in-patient care16 and during pediatric post-surgical care17. A large number of studies have shown dog owners to be more physically active18,19,20, leading to acquisition of a dog being recommended as an intervention to improve health. There is also evidence that dog-owners feel less lonely21 and have an improved perception of wellbeing, particularly with regard to single people and the elderly22,23,24. We have previously shown that dog ownership is associated with longevity25 and lower risk of childhood asthma26. However, there are studies showing no relation (or even an inverse one) between dog ownership and these health outcomes27,28,29. One of the important limitations of the available evidence regarding health effects of dog ownership is that it is uncertain whether health differences between dog owners and non-dog owners reflect effects of dog ownership itself, or underlying pre-existing differences in personality, health and genetics. Such factors may impact the choice to acquire a dog in adult life as well as health outcomes – although these factors are difficult to disentangle.
Previous research has indicated that exposure to pets during childhood is positively associated with more positive attitudes towards pets30 and ownership in adulthood31,32, but it is unclear if genetic differences between families contribute to this association. The heritability of a trait can be estimated from studies comparing concordance of the trait in monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic twins (DZ) using structural equation modeling. These estimations rely on the underlying assumptions that MZ and DZ twin pairs share environment to a similar degree, that MZ twins share their entire genome, and that DZ twins on average share 50% of their segregating alleles33. A previous study of twin pairs aged 51–60 indicated that genetic factors account for up to 37% of the variation in the frequency of pet play and that less than 10% is attributable to the shared childhood environment34 indicating a strong contribution of genetic factors to the amount of playful interaction with pets.
Increased understanding of a potential genetic adaption towards dog ownership would support theories of co-evolution of humans and dogs and could also aid the understanding of differences in health outcomes today. However, there are no empirical data supporting a genetic contribution to dog ownership, likely due to lack of information on dog ownership in large twin cohorts. However, it is now possible to study this using register data in Sweden. It is mandatory by law that every dog in Sweden is registered with the Swedish Board of Agriculture. Moreover, all dogs sold with a certified pedigree are also registered with the Swedish Kennel Club. A survey conducted by Statistics Sweden in 2012 estimated that 83% (95% confidence interval (CI), 78–87) of dogs are registered in either or both of the two registers35. In this study, we aimed to estimate the heritability of dog ownership in the Swedish Twin Registry, the largest twin cohort in the world.
If you wish to follow up the references that appear above then please go here.
Also if you wish to examine the Tables and Figure 1 that appear in the Results then you also need to go to the same place.
I spent 18 months studying Creekridge Park, a diverse and mixed-income area of Durham, North Carolina, to understand how black, white and Latino residents interacted with each other. Between 2009 and 2011, I interviewed 63 residents, attended neighborhood events and conducted a household survey.
I learned that white, black and Latino residents led rather separate social lives in Creekridge Park. Eighty-six percent of white people said their closest friends were white, and 70% of black residents surveyed reported that their best friends were black.
One black resident lamented that neighbors weren’t as “friendly as I had hoped and thought that they would be – or at least, this image I had in my head of what ‘friendly’ would be like.”
White, black and Latino people in Creekridge Park even had different experiences with something as seemingly innocuous as pet ownership.
Many white residents described friendships growing as a result of walking their dogs around the neighborhood, with chance encounters on the sidewalk turning into baseball games, dinners and even vacations together.
“It’s the dogs that are our connectors,” said Tammy, a white homeowner in her fifties. “That’s how a lot of us have gotten to know each other.”
Such positive interactions did not necessarily happen across racial boundaries. More often, I found, dogs reinforced boundaries.
When Jerry, a black homeowner in his sixties, stopped to chat with some dog-owning customers, who were white, in the outdoor seating area of a neighborhood bakery, the staff asked him to leave.
“I owned some dogs like that at one particular time. And I was just speaking to them. All of a sudden, I’m a panhandler,” Jerry said, incredulous and hurt.
Jerry is a black disabled veteran who was wearing his old army uniform that day. He figures they thought he was begging for money.
The dogs didn’t create the interracial boundaries at the bakery, which caters to a primarily white, middle-class clientele. In fact, the dogs presented an avenue to connect black and white neighbors. But they gave bakery staff a reason to intervene, to maintain interracial boundaries.
The treatment of dogs in Creekridge Park also divided neighbors of different races.
Tammy, the same resident who said dogs served as “connectors” in the neighborhood, disliked that her Latino neighbors wouldn’t let their dog into the house, leaving her tied up in the backyard.
One day, when she heard her neighbor’s dog barking, she decided to monitor their backyard with binoculars, to make sure the dog was OK. When the father spotted her doing her surveillance, Tammy lied. She said she was looking at a different dog.
Tammy was not, however, embarrassed when recounting this story. She felt she was justified in considering the dog’s well-being. She offered the family a bigger dog house and began to take the dog on hour-long walks twice a day. Eventually, she adopted the dog as her own.
Tammy said that she always intervened whenever she saw dogs mistreated in the neighborhood. However, the only examples she shared during our interview involved Latino families.
Latino families are not the only Creekridge Park residents who tied up their dogs. The practice is common enough across Durham that a local group was formed in 2007 to build free dog fences.
Police Come ‘Almost Immediately’
Several white residents of Creekridge Park have even reported their neighbors to the police for suspected animal abuse.
Emma, a white homeowner in her thirties, called the police when she thought her neighbors were involved in dog fighting.
They “came almost immediately,” she said.
Generally, Emma told me, if she knows her neighbors, she will confront them directly about problems she perceives. Otherwise, she prefers to call the police.
Given how segregated friendship networks are in Creekridge Park, this seemingly non-racial distinction between “known” and “unknown” neighbors means that in practice Emma involved police in conflicts only with black and Latino neighbors.
How White People Enforce Their Rules
This white willingness to report non-white neighbors for “unruly” behavior recalls numerous recent incidents nationwide in which white people have called the police on black people for perfectly legal activities.
In July 2018 a white woman in San Francisco threatened an 8-year-old black girl for “illegally selling water without a permit.” A few months before, a white woman dubbed by internet users as “BBQ Becky” called the cops on a black family barbecuing in an Oakland park for using an “unauthorized” charcoal grill.
In U.S. neighborhoods, middle- and upper-class white residents enjoy a privileged social position by virtue of their race and class. They understand that police, local businesses and government agencies exist to serve them – the same social institutions that often underserve or even target racial minorities.
By drawing arbitrary lines between right and wrong, insider and outsider – even good pet owner and bad – white people like Tammy and BBQ Becky use that power to try to shape diverse neighborhoods into their preferred mold.
As a result of white residents’ focus on their own comfort in diverse places, racial inequality can pervade everyday life – even, my research shows, when walking the dog.
I have to say that it’s not entirely clear if dog ownership leads to social cohesion or the opposite.
I need to read the article again but what do readers offer.
Humans have enjoyed a long history of canine companions. Even if it’s unclear exactly when dogs were first domesticated (and it may have happened more than once), archaeology offers some clues as to the nature of their relationship with humans.
The latest clue suggests that humans living in Southern Europe between 3,600 to 4,200 years ago cared for dogs enough to regularly share their gravesites with them. Barcelona-based researchers studied the remains of 26 dogs from four different archaeological sites on the northeastern Iberian Peninsula.
The dogs ranged in age from one month to six years old. Nearly all were buried in graves with or nearby humans. “The fact that these were buried near humans suggests there was an intention and a direct relation with death and the funerary ritual”, says lead author Silvia Albizuri, a zooarchaeologist with the University of Barcelona, in a press release.
To better understand the dogs’ relationship with the humans they joined in the grave, Albizuri and her colleagues analyzed isotopes in the bones. Studying isotopes—variants of the same chemical element with different numbers of neutrons, one of the building blocks of atoms—can reveal clues about diet because molecules from plants and animals come with different ratios of various isotopes. The analysis showed that very few of the dogs ate primarily meat-based diets. Most enjoyed a diet similar to humans, consuming grains like wheat as well as animal protein. Only in two puppies and two adult dogs did the samples suggest the diet was mainly vegetarian.
This indicates that the dogs lived on food fed to them by humans, the team reports in the Journal of Archaeological Science. “These data show a close coexistence between dogs and humans, and probably, a specific preparation of their nutrition, which is clear in the cases of a diet based on vegetables,” says study co-author Eulàlia Subirà, a biological anthropologist at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.
The archaeological sites all belong to people of the Yamnaya Culture, or Pit Grave Culture. These nomadic people swept into Europe from the steppes north of the Black and Caspian Seas. They kept cattle for milk production and sheep and spoke a language that linguists suspect gave rise to most of the languages spoken today in Europe and Asia as far as northern India.
The buried dogs aren’t the oldest found in a human grave. That distinction belongs to a puppy found in a 14,000-year-old grave in modern-day Germany. The care given to that puppy to nurse it through illness was particularly intriguing to the researchers who discovered it. “At least some Paleolithic humans regarded some of their dogs not merely materialistically, in terms of their utilitarian value, but already had a strong emotional bond with these animals,” Liane Giemsch, co-author on a paper about the discovery and curator at the Archäologisches Museum Frankfurt, told Mary Bates at National Geographic in 2018.
The fact that the researchers in the new study found so many dogs in the region they studied indicates that the practice of burying dogs with humans was common at the time, the late Copper Age through the early Bronze Age. Perhaps the canine companions helped herd or guard livestock. What is certain is that ancient humans found the animals to be important enough to stay close to even in death.
That last sentence is precious. “What is certain is that ancient humans found the animals to be important enough to stay close to even in death.”