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Letters & Emails

Not Quite Ethical

The article about the ethical destinations was interesting (“Ten Best Ethical Destinations,” Spring 2012), but we disagree with one of the destinations on the list – Serbia. This country treats its street dogs abominably. Its dog shelters are hellish places, basically slaughterhouses where the animals are condemned to die of starvation and disease, or from fights that break out because of overcrowding. Often they are simply killed by humans wielding clubs, poison, or guns. There is no such thing as humane euthanasia in these places, and (as in Romania) the corrupt local officials actually make profits from the deaths of these dogs. They receive funding for animal control, and the less they pay out for humane care and control, the more they pocket. The federal government is well aware of what’s going on, but ignores it. It’s estimated that in Belgrade alone about 6,000 stray dogs are brutally “exterminated” like rodents – poisoned or trapped and beaten to death – each year.

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We realize animal welfare was not one of the categories the Ethical Traveler focused on, but we think it should have been. It all boils down to what Gandhi said: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

David and Stela Bernazani
Lafayette, CA

A Voice for the Voiceless

I really enjoyed the Spring 2012 cover story, “Natural Law.” As former Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas noted in his famous dissenting opinion in the 1972 landmark environmental law case, Sierra Club v. Morton, “inanimate objects” should have standing to sue in court. He wrote:

The photograph of the lionfish hunter in our Spring 2012 story, “Invaders of the Reef,” was taken by Patrick Holian, and not Fernando Simal, as was credited in the print issue.

“The river as plaintiff speaks for the ecological unit of life that is part of it. Those people who have a meaningful relation to that body of water – whether it be a fisherman, a canoeist, a zoologist, or a logger – must be able to speak for the values which the river represents and which are threatened with destruction.”

Unfortunately, the Sierra Club lost the case, but because of Douglas’s dissent environmentalists are better able to assert standing on behalf of a natural resource that is under threat. Michigan grants standing to “any person” to sue in order to protect natural resources from “pollution, impairment, or destruction.” That concept has lately been under attack in the Michigan Supreme Court. My organization, the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, will soon launch a tool called Green Gavels that allows citizens to see exactly how the Michigan Supreme Court deals with standing and other issues in environmental protection cases.

Drew YoungeDyke
Ann Arbor, MI

graphic comic

It’s Not About Giving Up

The debate “To Breed or Not to Breed” (Spring 2012) was very compelling. I think both Erica Gies and Julie Zickefoose are right in their choices and I have great respect for their individual decisions. Those of us who realize that we are fast “using up” this planet need to help people see what they stand to gain – the beauty and joy and practicality in living in balance with whole of creation. It’s not all about what we “have to give up.”

I have told my children (and will be telling my grandchildren soon) that having children should be a conscious choice, and that not everyone needs to have them.

Barbara Atkinson
Crockett, VA


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