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Here is another poverty-related issue, from the Maritime Provinces of Canada — especially the poorest of all provinces, Newfoundland and Labrador. The infamous slaughter of baby harp seals is set to begin again a bit later this month, on the ice off the Atlantic coast. Such organizations as Greenpeace [well, it looks as though GP’s involvement is uncertain; you decide what that means; so let us leave them out of this for now] and the Humane Society of the United States are already in place to protest.

Another pair of celebrity-protesters are Paul McCartney and his wife Heather, great activists for animal rights. They arrived yesterday in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, with a retinue of helicopters, with the intention of observing the seals as closely as they can on the ice. The story on their visit, in yesterday’s Globe and Mail, prompted a large number of comments from readers, the great majority of them very unfriendly indeed. Among the recurring themes were: Foreigners have no right to tell Canadians what to do; vegetarians are hypocrites; celebrity activists are hypocrites; Sir Paul is a hypocrite; the seal-slaughter is traditional; it is not ... Read more

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  • great illustration

    This is a powerful and effective use of a graphic image to make an extremely important point. Congratulations to Keri.

    The perception I have -- and correct me please if I am wrong -- is that the great majority of us North American environmentalists are rather well off, comparatively, with more wealth and education and leisure and comfort than the majority of our fellow citizens. That is certainly the impression given by such mainline environmental organizations as Sierra Club and Audubon (which I admire greatly, and of which I am a member). Is it not logical to assume therefore that we are somewhat out of touch with our underprivileged brothers and sisters?

    I am very grateful for this Grist series on poverty, because it suggests important ethical questions: Are our environmental goals meant to help the poor and underprivileged as well as ourselves? Have we truly taken their particular interests into account? Is well-intentioned environmental activism frustrated by the lack of cooperation from low-income people, who feel that their interests have not been addressed?