Writing under the alias Kevin Jonas, Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty’s Kevin Kjonaas wrote an article that appeared in the March 2005 issue of Satya magazine warning that the world is on the edge of collapse and chastising animal rights activists for not caring.
According to Kjonaas,
By 2050 it is estimated that the human population will stand at over ten billion. In 15 years the demand for meat will double. It is predicted that as early as 2016, 95 percent of the world’s rainforests will be depleted, and along with them a major source of our air supply. Today alone, 137 species will be brought to extinction, and 50,000 more will join them by the year’s end.
Most of this is dated nonsense. The UN’s Population Projection, for example, estimates world population will be slightly over 9 billion in 2050. The rainforests have almost no net effect on the world’s oxygen levels, since decaying plant matter in the rainforests uses about as much oxygen as the rainforests produce. Kjonaas is presumably too busy facilitating violence and terrorism to bother keeping up with current developments in the areas he styles himself an expert.
Kjonaas’ argument, to the extent he has one, is that just as the world is on the verge of an environmental collapse, the situation for animals is roughly analogous with the current tactics of the animal rights movement having almost no effect on animal use. And what do you do when faced with the possibility of a catastrophe? Why, of course, then you are justified in using extraordinary measures,
I have always been a proud advocate of radical activism precisely because it is a rejection of the stagnated process of the status quo. It is this sense of urgency that inspires some to break the rules of the broken game and take our predicament seriously.
Many dismiss radical activism and direct action as angry, immature, and disruptive to the politics of the polite. Some criticisms may be constructive, but this holds true for all methodology, and in many instances radical activism is more than adolescent angst. It is a reaction to the pressure of impending collapse, and a sincere attempt at affecting a measurable impact. Now, more than ever, we should be discussing and considering these tactics in a desperate bid for success.
Confronting the impending crises of policy, population, and consumption is not meant to romanticize revolutionary efforts, nor is it meant to discount improvements that are being made gradually through letters, litigation, and legislation. My feet frequently ache from manning information tables, and IÂ’m happy my grandmother can eat vegetarian at her local Burger King. However, acknowledging the shortcomings of these tactics opens us up to question what it will truly take to succeed.
We need to consider everything. To throw every idea against a wall and see what sticks, and discard what slips. We owe it to those weÂ’re fighting for to discover what has true potential to end the atrocities against which weÂ’re fighting. We need to be personally and politically ready to accept that it may not be the feel-good efforts at Â‘changing the heartsÂ’ of our toxic species that work. That mad cow may be our best friend after all! We need to at least start thinking about future realities and asking these questions. At the very least, we need to refrain from quickly dismissing those who are trying radical approaches to redress a radical and ravaging reality.
Times are this dire and no one among us should be satisfied with our current progress. The solution is not necessarily that everyone go out and Â“get militant,Â” but at least we can start thinking beyond the stringent rules of the national protectionists and the trappings of our own creature comforts. We must truly embrace a causeÂ—a struggleÂ—that is worth fighting for, going to prison for, and perhaps even dying for.
Certainly it would be nice to see Kjonaas go to jail for his movement, which will hopefully happen after his trial this summer.
And, of course, he’s absolutely right on the broader point — the animal rights movement has almost no chance of achieving its goals through its present means. Of course, it has almost no chance of achieving its goals through the means favored by Kjonaas either. All that will happen with the tactics that Kjonaas advocates is an ever stronger law enforcement reaction resulting in lots of activists in jail and little or no progress for the movement.
Animal rights activists largely have two choices — do you want to be peaceful and ineffective or violent and ineffective?
Apocalpyse Now. Kevin Jonas, Satya, March 2005.