PETA: Make meat eaters pay more

Auntie Ruth is green to the eco scene. Read up each week as she weeds through the dirt and unearths new gems of environmental knowledge.

Auntie Ruth is sad because it’s that time of the year again—the time when the Japanese begin their five-month whaling season, with the intent of killing hundreds of whales in the waters of the southern Antarctic Ocean, an International Whaling Commission-designated sanctuary. Whale meat consumption became widespread in Japan after World War II, but the practice has continued ever since. Last year, Japan killed 551 minke whales in the Antarctic and announced plans to kill more than 900 minke whales and 50 fin whales in the sanctuary this year, according to Humane Society International. The IWC passed a moratorium on whaling in 1982, but Japan has killed more than 15,000 whales since the moratorium was implemented in 1986 by exploiting a provision in the 1946 International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling that allows a government to kill whales for scientific research.

A scientific panel convened in Sacramento earlier this month and decided not to list chlorpyrifos as a chemical “known to the State of California to cause birth defects or reproductive harm.” The chemical continues to be widely used as an agricultural insecticide in the state—with about 2 million pounds applied annually—despite the Environmental Protection Agency banning the chemical from household products in 2000 after concluding that it interferes with brain development in infants. This designation would have meant that discharges of the toxin into sources of drinking water is forbidden and would have required that people be warned of exposure.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals recently made an odd request of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont: The animal-rights advocacy group asked the insurance provider to raise health-insurance premiums for people who eat meat and lower premiums for vegetarians. Actually, PETA’s request isn’t so odd, considering heart disease and diabetes have been conclusively linked to the consumption of meat and other animal products and that vegetarians are less prone to diabetes, obesity and some types of cancer. Unfortunately, state law prohibits Blue Cross from varying rates based on the dietary and nutritional habits of members.