Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Large and Small for 10/19: Dog and Cat Fur, Crackdown on Puppy Mills, and Global Warming hits the wallet

Large and Small for 10/19: Dog and Cat Fur, Crackdown on Puppy Mills, and Global Warming hits the wallet

Governor Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania

The weekly Large and Small entry is a completely new feature to the Junkheap, and reflects my own growing interest in animal rights and environmental concerns.

Let’s start with something that seemed like a no-brainer to me, but is apparently a big enough problem that the EU actually required a ban on it: using cats and dogs for their fur. I applaud the ban, but holy shit, who would wear something like that?

ANIMAL welfare campaigners today welcomed a vote by the European Parliament in favour of an EU-wide ban on the sale of dog and cat fur.

MEPs approved the ban as part of the first ever European Community strategic plan on animal protection. Edinburgh West Liberal Democrat MP John Barrett, recently appointed honorary vice-president of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA), said: "This is a historic turning point in the fight to ban this inhumane trade.

"The vote by members of the European Parliament sets in motion an EU-wide commitment to ban the import of dog and cat fur products to the EU."

Mr Barrett said he had lost count of the number of constituents who had contacted him to support his calls for a total ban on the trade.


Here’s some more good news: Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell (a Democrat, no less, whoo) has appointed the state’s first prosecutor specializing in regulating all of those damn Pennsylvania puppy mills. Finally there’s going to be some sort of oversight and hopefully measures to make these animals’ lives better and hopefully shut down the abusive breeders.

HARRISBURG - Seeking to end the inhumane treatment of dogs in commercial breeding operations, Gov. Rendell is expected to announce today the appointment a career state prosecutor to lead the embattled office charged with regulating 2,500 kennels across the state.

Jessie Smith, a 20-year veteran of the Office of Attorney General and a former board member of the Harrisburg Humane Society, has been named special deputy secretary of the Bureau of Dog Law, according to administration sources.

Rendell, who pledged in March to take action to improve conditions in the state's "puppy mills," also is expected to announce the appointment of Jeffrey Paladina, a former assistant district attorney, as special prosecutor for dog law enforcement and the establishment of a four-member enforcement team that will be dispatched to problem kennels.

"This is the first step toward a long-term solution to the puppy-mill problem in Pennsylvania," said Bob Baker, an ASPCA consultant who served on a working group that made recommendations to Rendell early this year. "This sends a strong message to breeders to straighten up or there will be action."

Animal welfare groups say the bureau has been unable to stop the worst offenders because it had rarely used its power to suspend or revoke kennel licenses. "The excuse it gave was that it didn't have an attorney to handle that," Baker said.


So, global warming isn’t that important because it doesn’t personally affect you. Right? Wrong. For even the most money-headed of people, global warming can have tangible, real impacts on the most important thing: their bottom line.

Oct. 11, 2006 — U.S insurance rates are already rising because of the impacts of global warming — and consumers should prepare for even higher rates — as flooding, wildfires, and other extreme weather events become more common, a new study says.

It's an important issue for insurers, who have already suffered billions of dollars in losses due to increases in serious weather events that fit the pattern of global warming. Severe weather is on the rise, the report says, costing insurers $92 billion in the 1990s and $23 billion in 2004 hurricane losses alone.

In some cases, insurers have pulled out of high risk markets completely, shifting the burden to taxpayers.

The report, "Climate Change and Insurance: An Agenda for Action in the United States," was released by insurer Allianz Group and conservation group World Wildlife Fund.

While U.S. insurance companies have been good at looking at the historical risk from natural catastrophes, the report says they have been slow to adopt the latest scientific findings in their computer models that project future risk and in turn, set rates.

"U.S. companies have a very sophisticated set of tools, but they look backwards," said Hans Verolme, director of the World Wildlife Fund Global Climate Change Program. "What they do not yet do is take in to account some of the knowledge that has been acquired in the scientific community."

As that new knowledge is taken into account, consumers will increasingly see the focus on global warming reflected in their insurance bills.

"As a general consequence of global warming, insurance prices will go up," said Clement Booth, a board member of Allianz. "There's no question about that."

And insurance agencies are taking notice, and are doing something. What a strange, strange bedfellow for the environmentalist.

NEW YORK – Insurance companies, who like to stay out of the limelight, are becoming leading business protagonists in the assault on global warming.

• Next week, Travelers, the giant insurance firm, will offer owners of hybrid cars in California a 10 percent discount. It already offers the discount in 41 other states and has cornered a large share of the market.

• This fall, Fireman's Fund will cut premiums for "green" buildings that save energy and emit fewer greenhouse gases. When it pays off claims, it will direct customers to environmentally friendly products to replace roofs, windows, and water heaters.

• In January, Marsh, the largest insurance broker in the US, will offer a program with Yale University to teach corporate board members about their fiduciary responsibility to manage exposure to climate change.

The insurance industry's clout is sizable. It's the second-largest industry in the world in terms of assets, and has a direct link to most homeowners and businesses. It insures coal-fired power plants as well as wind farms, so it can influence the power industry's cost structure. With its financial muscle, the industry could help advance the use of new financial instruments designed to allow companies to trade greenhouse-gas emissions in the same way that commodities are bought and sold.

"The insurance industry has the ability to change behavior, policies and communicate with clients," says Nancy Skinner, US director of the Climate Group, which lobbies for business and government action to address global warming.

Some consumers are already noticing a negative effect of this shift. In the past year, some 600,000 homeowners living in a zone that an insurer considers a high storm risk in an era of climate change have seen their policies cancelled or not renewed. This includes coastal areas stretching from Texas to New York. Currently, coastal properties are valued at $7.2 trillion.

Strange bedfellows, but I welcome them.

Posted by crimnos @ 10:50 AM

Read or Post a Comment

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