Monday, December 21, 2009

Thinking with Maynard Clark

Glad that the Senate healthcare bill passed.

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Thinking with Maynard Clark

Today will be a good one. I'm feeling the mental and physical energy! But much to do!

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

New York Times "Distinguished Journalism in Public Health" for Series on Distracted Driving HONORED by HSPH

Press Releases

2009 Releases

Harvard School of Public Health Honors The New York Times for "Distinguished Journalism in Public Health," Citing Series on Distracted Driving

For immediate release: Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Boston, MA -- The Harvard School of Public Health’s Center for Health Communication will honor The New York Times for “distinguished journalism in public health” at a luncheon event at the Harvard Club of New York City on Friday, December 4, 2009. The Center’s newly established journalism award cites The Times’ path-breaking series “Driven to Distraction,” which drew widespread public attention to the dangers associated with driving while texting or phoning. HSPH Dean Julio Frenk will present the award to Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., chairman of The New York Times Company and publisher of The New York Times.
The December 4 luncheon also will celebrate the “21st Birthday” (i.e., legal drinking age) of the National Designated Driver Campaign to prevent drinking and driving, which was launched by HSPH’s Center for Health Communication in late 1988.
Dean Frenk commented, “The New York Times’ in-depth series on the dangers of distracted driving has catapulted a previously neglected public health issue to a position of prominence on both public and policy agendas. Research has shown that distracted driving is like drunk driving in the danger it represents, and it is the new 21st century challenge to safety on our highways. The Times’ coverage of distracted driving constitutes a compelling example of distinguished journalism in public health.”
The Times’ reporting included the disclosure of previously suppressed research documenting serious hazards associated with the use of cell phones and other electronic devices while driving. The Times’ “Driven to Distraction” series led to enactment of new state laws and promulgation of new federal policies, as well as greatly enhancing the public’s awareness of the problem.
The Times’ reporting team was led by Matt Richtel, a correspondent in San Francisco. It featured unique online features by Chief Producers Gabriel Dance and Tom Jackson, working with Producer Danielle Belopotosky, and photographs by Chang Lee and others, as edited by Picture Editor Merrill Oliver. The series was edited by Deputy Business Editor Adam Bryant and Assistant Managing Editor Glenn Kramon, in consultation with Business Editor Lawrence Ingrassia.
The HSPH Center for Health Communication’s innovative Designated Driver Campaign was created by Jay A. Winsten, HSPH Associate Dean and Frank Stanton Director of the Center, in 1988, and was conducted throughout the early 1990s in partnership with leading TV networks and Hollywood studios. The campaign successfully demonstrated how a new social concept—the “designated driver” —could be rapidly diffused through American society via mass communication, catalyzing a fundamental shift in social norms. The campaign broke new ground when TV writers agreed to depict the use of designated drivers in more than 160 prime-time episodes of programs such as Cheers, L.A. Law, and The Cosby Show. Public opinion polls found that a majority of Americans embraced the designated driver concept, contributing to a sharp decline in alcohol-related traffic fatalities.
Jay A. Winsten commented, “In celebrating the “21st Birthday” of the Designated Driver Campaign, we are cognizant of the unfinished work in traffic safety, including the growing problem of distracted driving which The New York Times almost single-handedly brought to the forefront. In launching the Center’s new award for distinguished journalism in public health, and presenting the inaugural award to The New York Times, we hope to encourage other news organizations to commit the necessary resources to tackle other pressing issues in public health.”
(Additional information on the Designated Driver campaign is available at http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/research/chc/harvard-alcohol-project/.
(To view the “Driven to Distraction” series on NYTimes.com, go to http://www.nytimes.com/driven.)
For more information:
Robin Herman
617-432-4752
rherman@hsph.harvard.edu

The HSPH Center for Health Communication ( http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/chc)  is widely recognized for its pioneering contributions to the field of mass communication and public health. In addition to the Designated Driver Campaign, the Center created initiatives to curb tobacco smoking, youth violence, alcohol abuse, and domestic violence, and sponsored a mid-career journalism fellowship.  Currently, the Center is spearheading a national media campaign to recruit volunteer mentors for at-risk youth, and is planning a major initiative on global health.
###
Harvard School of Public Health is dedicated to advancing the public's health through learning, discovery, and communication. More than 400 faculty members are engaged in teaching and training the 1,000-plus student body in a broad spectrum of disciplines crucial to the health and well being of individuals and populations around the world. Programs and projects range from the molecular biology of AIDS vaccines to the epidemiology of cancer; from risk analysis to violence prevention; from maternal and children's health to quality of care measurement; from health care management to international health and human rights. For more information on the school visit: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu

Friday, December 11, 2009

Thinking with Maynard Clark

Heading to a classical concert at Jordan Hall down the street near NEU

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Thinking with Maynard Clark


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Thinking with Maynard Clark

Getting over much of the perturbation of global crises, national & international news, and family.

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Thinking with Maynard Clark

Do societies with 'social ethics' that improve behavior make better persons or just improve actions?

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

"Immoral doctrines" and Speciesism

Some believers in human exceptionalism base the concept in the Abrahamic religions, such as the verse in Genesis 1:26 "Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” " Animal rights advocates argue that dominion refers to stewardship and does not denote any right to mistreat other animals, which is consistent with the Bible.   Buddhism, despite its reputation for respect for animals, explicitly accords humans a higher status in the progression of reincarnation.  Animals may be reincarnated as humans, but only humans can reach enlightenment.  Felipe Fern├índez-Armesto writes that early hunter-gatherer societies such as the Innu and many animist religions lacked a concept of humanity and placed non-human animals and plants on an equal footing with humans.


Religious and anti-religious anti-speciesists may not be able to get along socially or politically because, as a practical matter, many people may be unable to accept the values that a specific religion promotes (e.g., Islamic attitudes towards women) and will therefore not join that religion. Advocating for religious reasons that animals be accorded social and political rights may seem to require a practical secular justification either because (a) rights can only be established legally by a broad social consensus and social pluralism presents many contrasting religious and nonreligious belief patterns, and (b) arguing from a conceptual foundation that is not broadly accepted may in practice disconfirm what intuitive agreement might already exist on behalf of the personhood and moral status of animals. They may also be unable to accept the fact that those who do not affirm the rights of animals will go to hell or be damned, especially if said nonbelieving specieists are close to the person.

More recently, charges of speciesism against religions, both East and West, have posed a curiously re-discovered intellectually challenge: does one reject speciesist religions or merely the speciesist interpretations by speciesist affiliates who do not fully comprehend the breadth and depth of religious teachings? In other words, are religious teachings that describe the moral fallibility of human life more true because speciesism, a newly-recognized sin, is evident even among religious affiliates?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thinking with Maynard Clark

"Let me be candid: By and large, meat-eaters are a self-righteous bunch." Karen Dawn, DawnWatch

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meat-eaters are a self-righteous bunch

"Let me be candid: By and large, meat-eaters are a self-righteous bunch." Karen Dawn, DawnWatch

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thinking with Maynard Clark

Tweaking 4-page grad school research mgnt admissions essay on leadership - .1" margins all-around

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thinking with Maynard Clark

My 4-page grad school admissions essay on leadership is nearly complete and COULD be submitted, but-

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Thinking with Maynard Clark

Working on my 4-page grad school essay on leadership: your EXPERT insights are welcomed - individual, collaborative, reflective, or whatever

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Thinking with Maynard Clark

Day 2 of planning and composing my 4-page essay on leadership for grad school in business

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thinking with Maynard Clark

Day 2 of planning and composing my 4-page essay on leadership for grad school in business

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thinking with Maynard Clark

Talking now with someone I like.

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Thinking with Maynard Clark

Dragging through Monday in the LMA: yet, this is a happy day for some odd reason, I cannot explain.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Network wars!!

Yawn: Sunday morning talking heads talk show - FOX puts Chris Matthews opposite George Stephanopoulos (ABC) - UH! HOW does one choose when forced to do so?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Maynard's Veggie and Boston Blog - Windows Live

Maynard's Veggie and Boston Blog - Windows Live

http://bit.ly/73FKEy FAQ/white paper on how to set up online college VEGAN food service how-to-do-it

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thinking with Maynard Clark

The 19th century German Nietzsche urged mountain climbing when dismayed about homo sapiens

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Thinking with Maynard Clark

Deciding NOW just about HOW LATE to stay at the HMS office because I need to show project NUMBERS

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Win and let win

Or is that 'live and let live'? Depends on who in your 'space' is winning but not cutting you in on it...as if you or I really NEED that person to 'cut us in on' her or his 'win' (or SEEMING win).

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thinking with Maynard Clark

home doing nothing tonight preparing to go to work early tomorrow to finished things not done today

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Thinking with Maynard Clark

Working away in the LMA on paying bills, then back to psych history project

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thinking with Maynard Clark

At the HMS office in Boston's LMA, trying to bring a 5-year-long project to a close within a week.

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Thinking with Maynard Clark

At work - with LOTS of 'catching up' to do in my project, which must be brought to a quick conclusion within a week.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Meat and Cancer: Lecture at the Harvard School of Public Health

HARVARD SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH
Department of Nutrition

Meat and Cancer
Rashmi Sinha, Ph.D.
Senior Investigator, Deputy Branch Chief Nutritional Epidemiology Branch Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics National Cancer Institute, NIH

Monday, November 23rd, 2009
12:30-1:20 p.m.
Harvard School of Public Health
Kresge Building, Room 502
651 Huntington Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts

Contact Colleen Bertrand for more information (617-432-1851, cbertran@hsph.harvard.edu)

Meat and Cancer: Lecture at the Harvard School of Public Health

HARVARD SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH
Department of Nutrition

Meat and Cancer
Rashmi Sinha, Ph.D.
Senior Investigator, Deputy Branch Chief Nutritional Epidemiology Branch Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics National Cancer Institute, NIH

Monday, November 23rd, 2009
12:30-1:20 p.m.
Harvard School of Public Health
Kresge Building, Room 502
651 Huntington Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts

Contact Colleen Bertrand for more information (617-432-1851, cbertran@hsph.harvard.edu)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Thinking with Maynard Clark

Internet Archive: Free Download: The 300-350 Show: Dr Pachauri on livestock and climate change http://www.archive.org/…mateChange

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What makes 'confidence schemes' ethically problematic for ethically sensitive persons?

Cruelty to persons around the world and throughout natural history is pretty awful.

Aesthetically, that makes ANY kind of metaphysical confidence pretty darn difficult for us mere mortals.

Even if some observable PROGRESS - moral progress, not merely technical improvements in methods and mechanisms - devices and dynamics - could be evident, the needless suffering and victimization make 'lipservice' to prior conceptualizations seem pretty unethical to sensitive folks like us.

But then, who really knows?

What makes 'confidence schemes' ethically problematic for ethically sensitive persons?

Cruelty to persons around the world and throughout natural history is pretty awful.

Aesthetically, that makes ANY kind of metaphysical confidence pretty darn difficult for us mere mortals.

Even if some observable PROGRESS - moral progress, not merely technical improvements in methods and mechanisms - devices and dynamics - could be evident, the needless suffering and victimization make 'lipservice' to prior conceptualizations seem pretty unethical to sensitive folks like us.

But then, who really knows?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thinking with Maynard Clark

Gpomg tp sleep

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Thinking with Maynard Clark

Home relaxing tonight before spending a day off at the office

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World Public Gives China, US Low Marks on Climate Change: Hu Jin Tao, Obama Prepare to Talk Together

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As Hu Jin Tao, Obama Prepare to Meet, World Public Gives China, US Low Marks on Climate Change

November 11, 2009
With President Barack Obama on his way to meet his Chinese counterpart in Beijing for talks on global climate change and a range of other issues, a poll by WorldPublicOpinion.org shows that publics in more than half of 20 nations disapprove of the way China and the United States are dealing with global warming.
(Photos: Pete Souza/White House Photo, Office of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom)
The poll asked respondents to grade China and the US on several dimensions. China gets poor marks for how it handles human rights--on average 52% say China does not respect human rights while just 36% say it does. The US does better, with 50% saying it is respectful and 38% it is not.
People around the world regard both superpowers as cooperative, but they also see both countries, especially the US, as using the threat of military force to coerce other nations.
Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao are expected to focus on climate change, economic concerns, and nuclear issues related to Iran and North Korea when they meet Nov. 16 and 17. The climate change question is of particular importance in the run-up to December's conference in Copenhagen, where 192 countries will attempt to conclude a new treaty on climate change. All eyes will be on China, the world's leading emitter of greenhouse gases, and the United States, which long held that distinction.
The WPO poll, conducted during April and May, finds that people in 11 nations disapprove of how [China] is "dealing with the issue of climate change." Clear majorities in six nations -- France (74%), Britain (73%), Germany (72%), the United States (69%), South Korea (69%), and Egypt (58%) -- are disapproving, along with pluralities is five other nations. Only in Pakistan (93%), Nigeria (69%), Kenya (64%), and Indonesia (55%) do majorities approve.
Likewise, majorities in six nations disapprove of the US handling of global warming--Egypt (68%), Britain (65%), France (62%), Pakistan 62%), Turkey (56%), and Germany (56%) --, as do pluralities in five. Nigeria, Kenya, South Korea, India and Indonesia are the only countries where majorities express approval.
Across the 20 nations polled, approval of China's record on climate change is somewhat lower than for the US. On average, 34% approve of China (42% disapprove) while 39% approve of the US (41% disapprove).
WorldPublicOpinion.org conducted the poll of 20,349 respondents in 20 nations that comprise 63 percent of the world's population. This includes most of the largest nations--China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Russia--as well as Mexico, Chile, Germany, Great Britain, France, Poland, Ukraine, Kenya, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, Pakistan, and South Korea. Polling was also conducted in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau. Not all questions were asked to all nations. The margins of error range from +/-3 to 4 percentage points. The surveys were conducted across the different nations between April 4 and July 9, 2009.
WorldPublicOpinion.org, a collaborative project involving research centers from around the world, is managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland.
Throughout the poll, some groups of countries consistently favored one superpower and were critical of the other. Most notably, people in most Muslim countries gave China positive ratings and the US negative ratings. Among European countries, the US tended to rate high and China low. Kenya and Nigeria hold consistently positive views of the two superpowers, and Turkey has consistently negative views of both.
China and the United States are both seen as cooperative. Asked "if you think each is or is not generally cooperative with other countries," an average of 59% responded positively with regard to the US, and 53% for China.
On a nation-by-nation basis, the US is judged cooperative by 15 nations and not cooperative by four nations. China is seen as cooperative by eleven nations and uncooperative by seven.
At the same time many nations see these big powers as using "the threat of military force to gain advantages." This is especially true of the US: all nations polled, including the US itself, sees the US this way--on average 77%.
Views of China are less sharp: on average 46% say China does the same, while 41% say it does not. Ten nations say China uses military threats, eight say it does not. Among its neighbors majorities see China as threatening in South Korea (75%), and India (54%) and views are divided in Indonesia.
An area in which people around the world judge China considerably more harshly than the United States is respect for human rights. Majorities in nine countries say China does not respect human rights -- especially France (88%), Germany (88%), South Korea (87%), the US (86%), Britain (86%), and Poland (80%). However, seven, say China does respect human rights: especially Pakistan (91%), Nigeria (77%), and Kenya (67%).
The United States respects human rights in the view of 12 nations, especially. Majorities who disagreed were found in 6 nations, especially the Muslim nations of Pakistan (79%), Turkey (70%), Egypt (68%), and Iraq (60%), but also Mexico (61%).
Asked overall whether China or the US "is playing a mainly positive or negative role in the world" views are mixed. On average the split is dead even for the US, with 40% of respondents overall seeing a positive role and an identical number seeing a negative one. The overall positive response for China is higher, 44%, but still short of a majority, while 34% respond negatively.
Only in Kenya, Nigeria and South Korea do clear majorities say that both China and the US play a positive role in the world. A Majority in Turkey sees both superpowers playing negative roles.
Despite tense relations, Taiwanese views of China are not as negative one might expect. Large majorities believe China uses the threat of military force to gain advantages (70%) and does not respect human rights (76%). However slightly more than half (51%) say that China is playing a mostly positive role in the world. The same number agrees that China is mostly cooperative with other countries in the international arena.
Publics in China's special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau have very favorable views of Chinese policies. Overwhelmingly majorities agree that China is playing a mainly positive role in the world (81% Hong Kong, 81% Macau) and that China usually cooperates with other countries (85% Hong Kong, 89% Macau). Roughly two-thirds of both publics reject any notion that China uses its military power to intimidate other countries (68% Hong Kong, 69% Macau). A slight majority in Macau (51%) and a plurality in Hong Kong (45%) support China's actions in combating climate change.
The exception is on human rights. A large majority in Hong Kong (62%) say China is not respectful of human rights while views in Macau are mixed with many declining to answer.

Funding for this research was provided by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Calvert Foundation.
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World Public Gives China, US Low Marks on Climate Change: Hu Jin Tao, Obama Prepare to Talk Together

November 11, 2009
With President Barack Obama on his way to meet his Chinese counterpart in Beijing for talks on global climate change and a range of other issues, a poll by WorldPublicOpinion.org shows that publics in more than half of 20 nations disapprove of the way China and the United States are dealing with global warming.

(Photos: Pete Souza/White House Photo, Office of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom)


The poll asked respondents to grade China and the US on several dimensions. China gets poor marks for how it handles human rights--on average 52% say China does not respect human rights while just 36% say it does. The US does better, with 50% saying it is respectful and 38% it is not.

People around the world regard both superpowers as cooperative, but they also see both countries, especially the US, as using the threat of military force to coerce other nations.

Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao are expected to focus on climate change, economic concerns, and nuclear issues related to Iran and North Korea when they meet Nov. 16 and 17. The climate change question is of particular importance in the run-up to December's conference in Copenhagen, where 192 countries will attempt to conclude a new treaty on climate change. All eyes will be on China, the world's leading emitter of greenhouse gases, and the United States, which long held that distinction.
The WPO poll, conducted during April and May, finds that people in 11 nations disapprove of how [China] is "dealing with the issue of climate change." Clear majorities in six nations -- France (74%), Britain (73%), Germany (72%), the United States (69%), South Korea (69%), and Egypt (58%) -- are disapproving, along with pluralities is five other nations. Only in Pakistan (93%), Nigeria (69%), Kenya (64%), and Indonesia (55%) do majorities approve.
Likewise, majorities in six nations disapprove of the US handling of global warming--Egypt (68%), Britain (65%), France (62%), Pakistan 62%), Turkey (56%), and Germany (56%) --, as do pluralities in five. Nigeria, Kenya, South Korea, India and Indonesia are the only countries where majorities express approval.

Across the 20 nations polled, approval of China's record on climate change is somewhat lower than for the US. On average, 34% approve of China (42% disapprove) while 39% approve of the US (41% disapprove).

WorldPublicOpinion.org conducted the poll of 20,349 respondents in 20 nations that comprise 63 percent of the world's population. This includes most of the largest nations--China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Russia--as well as Mexico, Chile, Germany, Great Britain, France, Poland, Ukraine, Kenya, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, Pakistan, and South Korea. Polling was also conducted in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau. Not all questions were asked to all nations. The margins of error range from +/-3 to 4 percentage points. The surveys were conducted across the different nations between April 4 and July 9, 2009.

WorldPublicOpinion.org, a collaborative project involving research centers from around the world, is managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland.
Throughout the poll, some groups of countries consistently favored one superpower and were critical of the other. Most notably, people in most Muslim countries gave China positive ratings and the US negative ratings. Among European countries, the US tended to rate high and China low. Kenya and Nigeria hold consistently positive views of the two superpowers, and Turkey has consistently negative views of both.

China and the United States are both seen as cooperative. Asked "if you think each is or is not generally cooperative with other countries," an average of 59% responded positively with regard to the US, and 53% for China.

On a nation-by-nation basis, the US is judged cooperative by 15 nations and not cooperative by four nations. China is seen as cooperative by eleven nations and uncooperative by seven.
At the same time many nations see these big powers as using "the threat of military force to gain advantages." This is especially true of the US: all nations polled, including the US itself, sees the US this way--on average 77%.

Views of China are less sharp: on average 46% say China does the same, while 41% say it does not. Ten nations say China uses military threats, eight say it does not. Among its neighbors majorities see China as threatening in South Korea (75%), and India (54%) and views are divided in Indonesia.

An area in which people around the world judge China considerably more harshly than the United States is respect for human rights. Majorities in nine countries say China does not respect human rights -- especially France (88%), Germany (88%), South Korea (87%), the US (86%), Britain (86%), and Poland (80%). However, seven, say China does respect human rights: especially Pakistan (91%), Nigeria (77%), and Kenya (67%).

The United States respects human rights in the view of 12 nations, especially. Majorities who disagreed were found in 6 nations, especially the Muslim nations of Pakistan (79%), Turkey (70%), Egypt (68%), and Iraq (60%), but also Mexico (61%).

Asked overall whether China or the US "is playing a mainly positive or negative role in the world" views are mixed. On average the split is dead even for the US, with 40% of respondents overall seeing a positive role and an identical number seeing a negative one. The overall positive response for China is higher, 44%, but still short of a majority, while 34% respond negatively.

Only in Kenya, Nigeria and South Korea do clear majorities say that both China and the US play a positive role in the world. A Majority in Turkey sees both superpowers playing negative roles.

Despite tense relations, Taiwanese views of China are not as negative one might expect. Large majorities believe China uses the threat of military force to gain advantages (70%) and does not respect human rights (76%). However slightly more than half (51%) say that China is playing a mostly positive role in the world. The same number agrees that China is mostly cooperative with other countries in the international arena.

Publics in China's special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau have very favorable views of Chinese policies. Overwhelmingly majorities agree that China is playing a mainly positive role in the world (81% Hong Kong, 81% Macau) and that China usually cooperates with other countries (85% Hong Kong, 89% Macau). Roughly two-thirds of both publics reject any notion that China uses its military power to intimidate other countries (68% Hong Kong, 69% Macau). A slight majority in Macau (51%) and a plurality in Hong Kong (45%) support China's actions in combating climate change.

The exception is on human rights. A large majority in Hong Kong (62%) say China is not respectful of human rights while views in Macau are mixed with many declining to answer.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

David Roberts writes critically about PETA's PR: Should citizens of conscience become vegetarians?

Vegetarianism and environmentalism

On PETA’s latest campaign 256

Just 'cause I love poking the hornet's nest, I thought I'd weigh in on this brouhaha about PETA, vegetarianism, and environmentalism. As I see it, there are three core questions:
1. Should citizens of conscience become vegetarians?
To me, the answer to this question is pretty obviously yes. I don't see how it can be seriously argued.
Depending on your inclinations, you can heed the health arguments, the moral arguments, or the environmental arguments (regardless whether you agree with the UN study that meat production is the No. 1 contributor to global warming, it is obviously a very large contributor, never mind CAFOs' horrid effects on land, air, and water). Taken together, these arguments strike me as dispositive. It is not possible to participate in industrial animal farming with clean hands.
Add to all this the fact that unlike giving up a car, moving closer to work, or retrofitting a home to be more energy efficient, giving up meat involves virtually no cost or inconvenience. Eating meat is entirely an aesthetic choice, based on taste and habit. Taste and habit are not convincing counterweights to the arguments against meat.
So yes, you should eat less meat; ideally you should eat none. You ought to be a vegetarian.
Two additional notes:
  • Yeah, yeah, the equation is different if you eat only humanely raised animals purchased from local farmers, or if you hunt and kill your own meat. But about 0.001% of Americans do that, and there could never be enough of that kind of meat to match current consumption levels, so it's a distraction from the real argument. At least for me, the argument for vegetarianism is not categorical; it's contingent on the actual state of industrial livestock farming.
  • I'm not a vegetarian, so I'm a big fat hypocrite. I eat meat -- not nearly as much as the average American, but some. I choose local and humane when I can, but lots of times it isn't an option. My personal eating habits give me considerable incentive to justify meat consumption. But I'd rather acknowledge my hypocrisy than use a bunch of bullsh*t arguments.
2. Is it true that you cannot be a meat-eating environmentalist?
This is a deeply silly question. The term "environmentalist" is socially contingent and highly contested. Environmentalism has no metaphysical essence. "You aren't an environmentalist" is moral judgment masquerading as an assertion of fact.
Every discussion I've ever witnessed about who is or isn't an environmentalist, or what does or doesn't count as environmentalism -- and believe me, at this point I've seen plenty -- contains vastly more heat than light. Feelings are hurt, umbrage is taken, but nothing is ever learned, no consensus is ever reached. It's a peacock show through which everyone parades their biases and preconceptions.
What makes an environmentalist? Is it enough to care about (write about, advocate for) environmental policy, or must you also engage in activism? Must you take action to green your own life? If so, how much? Drive less, or not at all? Turn off lights, or go off grid? Eat less meat, or go vegetarian?
I don't know, or much care. There are lots and lots of things decent human beings should do. Nobody's able to do them all. We all do a little; we should all do more. Those of us on more or less the same side gain very little by furiously judging each other's personal choices in a futile attempt to define the tribal boundaries of environmentalism.
3. Is PETA's latest campaign counterproductive?
It's important when thinking about this question to disentangle your own response to the campaign from the question of its overall efficacy. I'll freely admit it bugs the crap out of me. Proclaiming who is and isn't an environmentalist bugs me. Using Al Gore as a foil bugs me. Using global warming opportunistically, as a convenient wedge, bugs me. The whole thing is irksome.
However, the campaign isn't designed to secure my moral or aesthetic approval, or yours. It's designed to spread awareness of something you and I already know: that eating meat is environmentally destructive and exacerbates global warming. A sober, fair-minded, carefully argued campaign would not achieve that goal. It would sink without a ripple.
As I've argued before (in connection to another PETA campaign), it's extremely difficult to make yourself heard over the din of pop culture and 24-hour media. There aren't many people looking around for information on the destructiveness of their most intimate habits. Virtually the only way advocacy campaigns can gain any traction is by generating some controversy. Despite what you may think, that's not all PETA does, but they do it a lot and they do it well. That's why you know who they are. That's why we're having a debate about vegetarianism and environmentalism.
As annoying as it is, I count the campaign a success, because of the hundreds of advocacy campaigns going on right now, this is the one we noticed. That's what PETA set out to achieve, and they achieved it.
David Roberts is staff writer for Grist. You can follow his Twitter feed at twitter.com/drgrist.