Dr. Y. Damodar Singh
Department of Veterinary Pathology
The earth is finite. Its ability to absorb wastes and destructive effluent is finite. Its ability to provide food and energy is finite. Its ability to provide for growing numbers of people is finite. And we are fast approaching many of the earth's limits. Current economic practices which damage the environment, in both developed and underdeveloped nations, cannot be continued without the risk that vital global systems will be damaged beyond repair. [pic]
Pressures resulting from unrestrained population growth put demands on the natural world that can overwhelm any efforts to achieve a sustainable future. If we are to halt the destruction of our environment, we must accept limits to that growth. A World Bank estimate indicates that world population will not stabilize at less than 12.4 billion; while the United Nations concludes that the eventual total could reach 14 billion, a near tripling of today's 5.4 billion. But, even at this moment, one person in five lives in absolute poverty without enough to eat, and one in ten suffers serious malnutrition.
Animal rights are the rights of animals to be protected from human use and abuse and can take moral, legal and practical forms. People who support animal rights believe that animals are not ours to use as we wish for whatever purpose, be it for food, clothing, experimentation or entertainment. Animal rights supporters also believe that we should consider the best interests of animals regardless of the usage value they may have for us. [pic]
The concept of human rights is often based on a belief in 'natural rights'. Natural rights are assumed to be given by God, or were enjoyed when people were living in a 'state of nature' before people were civilized, or are in some way possessed universally in that rights apply to everyone automatically, indisputably and irrevocably. The English philosopher John Locke in the 17th century was among the first to distinguished certain natural rights he thought people were entitled to: the rights to life, liberty and property. [pic]
In a world increasingly filled with abuse, violence, neglect, and lack of regard for the lives of human beings, it becomes ever more difficult to uphold the rights and ethical treatment of other species as well. Babies, at the embryonic stage of development and full-term deliveries, are discarded without a second thought. Children are tied to bedposts and starved, beaten to death, or sexually molested. In a society where such horrific acts proliferate daily, ethics, conscience, and humanity are lost. Unfortunately, people who cannot even support ethical treatment of people are completely immune to the need for ethical treatment of animals. Yet animals have rights just as people do, endowed by their Creator. As sensate beings with distinct personalities, many with impulses to help and serve others, and the same sensitivity to suffering as humans have, animals deserve to be treated with dignity, maintained without suffering, and provided a life that is not assaulted with treacheries devised by humans. The animal rights movement has many supporters who are specifically concerned with the use of animals for medical and cosmetics testing, the killing of animals for furs, hunting for pleasure, and the raising of livestock in restrictive or inhumane quarters, so-called factory farming.
Since the time immemorial, we have been deliberating on the role animals play in this human-dominated world. Some thought that since humans were at the top of the food chain, they were more “fit” and that they deserved to survive more than other animals’ species. Nonhuman animals will not be meaningfully protected from unnecessary harm so long as they are considered human property. In 1798 the Englishman Thomas Malthus published An Essay on the Principle of Population voicing apprehension about human population growth. He pointed out...