Are animals sentient beings?

First let’s check you know what sentient means.

Sentient – adjective – able to perceive or feel things.

animals around table

Most of the UK’s animal welfare law comes from the EU, so it is quite interesting right now as part of Brexit whether MP’s in Parliament are choosing to continue the EU legislation word for word or water it down for a future UK outside the EU. The first step, with MP’s saying that animals are NOT sentient, seems to show they are not going to see animals as creatures that perceive and feel things.  The RSPCA said to Farming UK: “It’s shocking that MPs have given the thumbs down to incorporating animal sentience into post-Brexit UK law.” Meanwhile Nick Palmer, head of policy at Compassion in World Farming, said: “How can the UK be seen as a leader in animal welfare when the repeal bill fails to guarantee that animals will continue to be regarded as sentient beings? We urge the Government to reintroduce the commitment into the Bill.”

Some countries like New Zealand have shown far greater consideration of animal rights:

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73 millions trees being planted – a huge reforestation project in Brazil

A multi-million-dollar initiative which is led by a US-based NGO (non-governmental organisation), is being described as “the largest tropical reforestation project in history.” Over the next six years, it will aim to replant 70,000 acres (that’s about 35,000 football pitches) of land that has been turned into animal pastures.  We all know why this is necessary. Around 20% of the Brazilian Amazon (the world’s largest rainforest) has been destroyed since 1970, mostly owing to cattle farming. The rate of destruction has been slowing gradually since 2004 but scientists fear that a further 20% of the Amazon rainforest will be destroyed in the next two decades. So this reforestation is a great way not only for Brazil to keep the promises it made at the Paris Agreement, but also to help the world keep to the 1.2-2 degrees centigrade of warming permitted in the Agreement.

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Save the five year old child or the thousand viable embryos

The Independent has a really interesting article about a man destroying pro-life arguments with a clever scenario. It involves a fire in a fertility centre (don’t question why you’re there) and whether you’d save the five year old child or the thousand viable embryos. It is quite a useful argument you could use in a question 5,   statement response style question, for either the pro-choice argument or to criticise the pro-life argument.

Build a Wind Farm the size of India in the Atlantic and there’ll be enough energy for the world

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This is the startling proposal of two scientists from the Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford University, California.  The two doctors Anna Possner and Ken Caldeira conclude: “On an annual mean basis, the wind power available in the North Atlantic could be sufficient to power the world.” They pointed out that wind speeds are on average 70 per cent higher over the Earth’s oceans than over the land. There is a lot more Maths involved than this though, as every time you add a turbine to a wind farm then it puts a cap on the amount of energy from available moving air that can be converted to electricity. The North Atlantic doesn’t show the same effects from this as a lot of energy comes from up high as much as across the ocean.

“We found that giant ocean-based wind farms are able to tap into the energy of the winds throughout much of the atmosphere whereas wind farms onshore remain constrained by the near-surface wind resources,” said Dr Possner.

Watch some TV to help you understand about a GCSE Component 2 topic

It’s no secret that watching TV or films can be a more entertaining way to learn and revise than reading textbooks or going on to school websites. So here is a good tip for our GCSE Religious Studies students: Cold Feet, currently available on the ITV Hub, has an Episode showing the arguments for Pro-Life and Pro-Choice, and how a young teenage couple choose to have an abortion. It is Episode 3, and you’ve got 15 days left to watch it!

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This TV series is described as being a comedy drama which follows the lives and loves of a group of individuals. It is Series 7 of the drama and has been hugely successful over the last twenty years. In Episode 3 it shows how an unplanned pregnancy sparks a feud which puts a strain on old friendships. The show has been highly praised for how it covers this sensitive storyline: the Huffingtonpost describes how fans have lauded its sensitivity; and the Radio Times said the episode showed the series at its “unflinching best”.

Thank you to Heather in Year 11 for recommending this TV show!

This NHS page tells you all the medical facts about abortion in the UK, whereas the BBC has a great page which explains all the ethical arguments surrounding abortion.

There are 12 different videos about the history of abortion, pro-choice Vs pro-life, and religious arguments on the TrueTube channel.

Finally, if you still want to fin out more, this interesting Independent article shows how around the world women’s rights to abortion vary tremendously.

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Obituary for David Shepherd

Told by Slade School of Art in London that he had no artistic talent didn’t stop David Shepherd from being able to raise more than £8m for wildlife conservation by donating the proceeds from the sales of his painting to charities such as the World Wildlife Fund. Later in his life, in 1984, he set up the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation which campaigned to protect endangered species, and combat poaching and its trade.

a very wise old elephant

His paintings, whether they be of large animals or huge locomotives, showed the subject facing down the audience, bold and large. In 1970 the BBC made a documentary about him called The Man who Loved Giants.

In 2011 he launched a social media campaign to save the tiger in the wild, TigerTime.

“Man is the most stupid, arrogant and dangerous animal on Earth,” he said. “Every hour we destroy a species to extinction, and unless we start doing something about that very quickly, we are going to self-destruct.”