animal rights

Speciesism + Science Faction


Painting by P. Mathews from 1838 of the Trial of Bill Burns. Burns was prosecuted for beating his donkey under the Martin's Act for cruelty to animals (1822). The case is memorable because the donkey was brought into court.

Painting by P. Matthews (1838) of the trial of Bill Burns, a man prosecuted for beating his donkey.

This week’s theme is speciesism! Speciesism refers to the belief that the human species is superior to all other species. Mark Devries is the filmmaker behind “Speciesism: The Movie,” a film that documents the immense scale of pig farms in North Carolina using drone surveillance. Inspired by the animal rights discussion, we’ve included a podcast episode produced by Science Faction that discusses the evolution of land species from fish.

Download the episode.

Download the program log.

Mark Devries, Speciesism: The Movie

Mark Devries is a filmmaker interested in the ethics of livestock practices used in North Carolina. His documentary, Speciesism: The Movie, shows how large-scale livestock farms raises the issue of animal rights and raises concerns about environmental protection and human health. Tasmia Nishat interviewed Mark Devries about the visual impact of these livestock farms, his ethical concerns, and the methods he used to capture film of private farm property, including using a small plane and drone surveillance.

Science Faction: Fish with Feet

Science Faction is a Canadian miniseries that explains scientific research using 1000 of the most commonly used words. “Fish with Feet” takes listeners on a journey to the lab of Dr. Emily Standen at the University of Ottawa to learn about fish that can walk. They discuss how Dr. Standen’s lab is raising fish out of water and how her work elevates our understanding of the evolution of ancient fish species into land species.



Humans and Other Animals


In an article recently published by The Guardian, it is predicted that by 2050 the world will contain another 120 million tonnes of humans…and another 400 million tonnes of farm animals. Animals are here – they are everywhere – even if we don’t see them; but what might this unprecedented growth mean for both humans and non-humans alike?

Join us as we talk with Howard Nye, a philosophy professor whose work revolves around the ethics of human relationships with our non-human counterparts.

That’s right, this week on Terra Informa, we’re interested in tackling some big philosophical questions:  How do reason and/or emotion dictate how we ought to treat animals? What is veganism? What are the parameters of vegan ethics?  What will we have for lunch?

Okay, maybe not the last one…but maybe in the follow-up.

Download episode here.

For more information about topics in this episode, you can read about the Critical Animal Studies blog quoted in the interview, A Critique of Consumption-Centered Veganism, and you can read about the population crisis of farm animals.


What’s Happening

  1. On February 27th, listeners in Vancouver attend Seedy Sunday where you can swap seeds for the upcoming gardening season, attend lectures on worm composting, seed saving and other topics, and participate in the used book and magazine sale. Seedy Sunday takes place from 10-4 at the Van Dusen Botanical Garden. Entry is by donation and parking is free. In fact, Seedy Sunday events are happening all over Canada this weekend. Visit to find one near you.
  2. For listeners in Edmonton, Swing N Skate is happening every Sunday in February at City Hall from 1-4pm. Spend some time skating outside in the beautiful weather and then head inside to warm up and dance to Dave Babcock and His Jump Orchestra. For more information, visit the Edmonton Arts Council’s event page on Facebook.
  3. If you’re in Whitehorse and you have ideas about how to divert garbage from the landfill, you should sign up for the Zero Waste Hackathon happening March 1st to 4th! When you sign up in a team of 4 or less, you’ll receive 250$ for supplies and materials to create an innovative solution to this ongoing problem. For more information, visit the Zero Waste Yukon event page on Facebook.
  4. Do you live in St. Catharines and want to show off your smartphone photography skills? You can participate in the 3rd Annual Walk STC Your Downtown Photo Competition and have your photos hang in the Mahtay Cafe at 241 St. Paul Street from May 1 to 31. For more information on how you can share your photos on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, visit the Walk STC event page on Facebook.

Credit for the image to Fujoshi


We’re Bringing Sexy Back


We’re celebrating Valentine’s Day the only way we know how. We dive into the worlds of environmental activism, conservation and sustainable food, finding love and lust behind the headlines. It’s the return of The Sexy Show.

We find out if sex sells when the product is animal rights. We sample that classic love-drug known as chocolate. And we uncover the terrible cost of certain rumored aphrodisiacs, and the passionate conservationists trying to undo the damage.

Download Episode

The Naked Tooth

From clothes to cars and booze to shoes, sex in advertising is so widespread that you can hardly swing a neutered cat without hitting a half-naked model trying to sell you something. The whole notion that “sex sells” has become an axiom in modern marketing, so much so that it seems like the only “madmen” out there are the ones deliberately avoiding it. But can sex effectively sell something like moral concern? Hamdi gets to the bottom of it by speaking with psychology researcher Dr. Renata Bongiorno from the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia and PETA Campaign Specialist Ashley Byrne in New York City.

Links:  When Sex Doesn’t Sell: Using Sexualized Images of Women Reduces Support for Ethical Campaigns from PLOS ONE, Why’s PETA’s shock tactics barely make an impact from Brisbane Times, and Does Sex Always Sell? from the University of Queensland.

The Quintessential, Edible Token of My Love

What food, more than any other, reeks of sensuality, indulgence, and pleasure? Why, that devilish desert known as chocolat, of course. As a nod to this week’s sexy theme, Danielle and Yvette ask the question: What’s the most famous aphrodisiac of all? They also explore why every supermarket and drugstore goes overboard with the red, pink, and gold boxes wrapped in cellophane that market love in each edible morsel. Danielle sat down with Jacqueline Jacek of Jacek Chocolate Couture from Sherwood Park, Alberta to find out more.

Aphrodite, Take back Your Aphrodisiacs

Feeling horny? Chocolate ain’t doing the trick in seducing your sweetie? Try some alternative aphrodisiacs! Actually, don’t, because they may come from a certain endangered horned-mammal. Fortunately, the world contains rhino-lovers who devote their time to saving them. Trevor spoke with Toronto-based rhino-lover Greg Gubitz of Canada’s Big Life Foundation, as well as UBC’s Rene Beyers, to find out what they’re doing to save these lovely horny creatures.

Links: “Big Life Foundation’s Rhino Project,  “2013 worst year for rhinos” from BBC

Aphrodite, Take back Your Aphrodisiacs

A pile of assorted chocolates.

Chocolate: is it really an aphrodisiac? Image uploaded by Klaus Höpfner.

How do you deal with environmental concerns in the bedroom? This is what we find out in this week’s sexy episode. We discuss PETA’s notorious advertising and the wider question of whether sex sells, the classic love-drug known as chocolate, and on that note, if certain aphrodisiacs ain’t what they’re cracked up to be – at terrible costs.

Download this episode


Commentary on The Cove & Climate Change Data

Terra Informa March 21, 2010 (listen/Download)Mandy with Dolphins

This week we have an episode of our recurring segment Garry the Garbage Guy for you. Also, we have a green-screen movie review by Alex Hindle, who will share his thoughts on the Academy award winning documentary film, The Cove. And Terra Informa correspondent David Kaczan brings us a special feature on the recent surge in climate denial. But first here is this week’s selection of environmental news headlines.

Liquid CO2 highway to keep GHGs out of atmosphere (Alberta Environment)
600 ducks died at Syncrude site in 1979, trial told (By Alexandra Zabjek, Edmonton Journal)
Probe turns up lead in bison, Bullet fragments in meat blamed (By Darcy Henton, Edmonton Journal)
Climate-change scientists ‘muzzled’, Ottawa’s interview rules reduce coverage, document says (By Mike De Souza, Canwest News Service)
New analysis compares U.S. and Canadian investments in sustainable energy in 2010 (Tim Wies Pembina Institute) Liquid CO2 highway to keep GHGs out of atmosphere (Alberta Environment)

Alex Hindle brings us a Green Screen Movie Review of the multiple award winning documentary, including the Oscar for best documentary, The Cove (check how the movie makers used their Oscar opportunity to advance social media activism). This movie explores a town (Taiji Japan) that appears to be devoted to the dolphins and whales which play off their coast line. However, behind this picturesque exterior lies it’s gruesome underbelly. Driven by a multi-billion dollar dolphin entertainment industry and an illegal dolphin meat trade. This movie unearths the chilling side of an industry long thought to have been “closed for business”.

Help Save Japanese Dolphins

Sea Shepperd

Bonus Video Footage

Totally unrelated site (*wink)

Steve Anderson revisits Garry the Garbage Guy to discuss the development of a new ECO Station in Edmonton in 2009. ECO stations allow for the safe disposal of household products that are poisonous, corrosive, flammable or any other product that can be harmful to human health or the environment. Everything from paints to computer parts can be disposed of at these stations which continue popping up around Edmonton.

List of what can be accepted at Eco Stations

Climate Scientists are telling us that our carbon intensive economies are creating an ever worsening climate problem. Scientific research into this topic first started in earnest almost 30 years ago, and the evidence has got stronger ever since. Whilst there are still uncertainties, and future projections are limited in their predictive power, the case for action seems clear. Why then, do we seem to be going backward at the moment? Next on Terra Informa, David Kaczan provides a commentary on this issue, and makes some suggestions for how the debate should move forward from here.

Check out Myles’s thoughts on the first annual #yegswap on this weeks terra bloga post.

Terra Informa March 21, 2010 (listen/Download)

Thanks of visiting and listening in this week, we are always looking for new volunteers, collaborations and ideas so post a comment or send us an email (terra [at] cjsr [dot] com)