"Imagine that one day alien beings from outer space will land on our planet. Beings like in the Hollywood movie Independence Day. They are incredibly intelligent and far superior to humans. But this time there is no death-defying president in the fighter plane available. And also no unrecognized genius paralyzes the extraterrestrial computers with earthly viruses. Instead, the aliens have defeated and imprisoned humanity in no time at all. An unprecedented reign of terror begins. The aliens use humans for medical experiments, make shoes, car seats and lampshades out of their skin, use their hair, bones and teeth. They also eat people, especially children and babies. They taste best because they are so soft and their flesh is so tender.
A man whom they are taking from the dungeon to slaughter and make sausage out of, screams at the strange creatures: "How can you do such a thing? Do you not see that we have feelings, that you hurt us? How can you take our children away from us to kill and eat them? Do you not see how we suffer? Do you not realize how unimaginably cruel and barbaric you are? Have you no pity at all?" The aliens nod. "Yes, yes," says one of them. "It may well be that we are a little cruel. But you see," he continues, "we are just superior to you. We are more intelligent than you and more reasonable. We can do more things that you can't. We are a much higher animal species, much more advanced than you. Well, and that's why we are allowed to do everything with you that we want. Have a look at our fantastic culture! Our spaceships with which we can fly at the speed of light. And then look at your miserable existence! Compared to us, your life is hardly worth anything. Moreover, even if our behaviour is somehow not quite right, because of your pain and your fears - one thing is much more important for us: "You just taste so good to us!" [taken from: Precht, R.D. (2011). „Warum gibt es alles und nicht nichts?“ München: Goldmann, S. 144-147.
"Is it really the case, as science has long claimed, that only we humans fully savour the palette of feelings? Could it be that Creation has developed a special biological path especially for us, the only one that guarantees a conscious, fulfilled life? [...] For if man were something special in the sense of a biological construction, then he could not compare himself with other species. Compassion with animals would have no meaning, because we could not even begin to guess what is going on in them. [...] Certainly, it may sound presumptuous to say that a pig feels the way we do. But the likelihood that an injury will cause less bad feelings in him than in us tends towards zero. Oha," scientists may now exclaim, "that has not been proven at all. That's true, and you will never be able to do that. Whether you feel like me is just a theory. No one can look into another person, can prove that a needle prick, for example, produces the same sensation among all 7 billion people on earth. After all, people can express their feelings in words, and the result of these messages increases the probability that things will be similar for all people on the emotional level." [Wohlleben, P. (2016). „Das Seelenleben der Tiere“. 5.Auflage, München: Ludwig Verlag.]
"Already more than 2000 years ago, ethics thought about how humans should treat animals. So the Chinese philosopher Hsiang Hsiu (ca. 227-277) was not quite sure whether animals are rather a thing that humans use to satisfy their interests, or whether they are completely independent living beings with feelings and sensations? This question is still the core problem of animal ethics today. Do we humans determine the life and death of animals, or do animals have feelings and their own needs, even rights, independently of us?
The thoughts of Hsiang Hsiu were rather an exception in traditional ethics, which was ignored for almost 1500 years. Until the 17th century, animals were considered to function like machines. René Descartes (1596-1650) even denied them any emotional life and consciousness, so that experiments could be carried out with them alive. And this is exactly where animal ethics in the 21st century comes in. Thanks to the English philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797), the concept of animal machines was already criticized in the 18th century. Animals were classified as beings capable of suffering who had feelings. Despite their medical necessity, animal experiments must take this into account in a modern constitutional society. This argument is put forward in particular by the German philosopher Ursula Wolf (born 1946).
The second aspect of animal ethics concerns the species-appropriate keeping of animals. It is not unusual for animals to vegetate under unworthy conditions. For example, geese and chickens on large farms often only have as much space in their boxes and cages as their bodies occupy. Four laying hens are kept in wire cages of up to 50 cm - this does not even correspond to one DIN A 4 side as habitat per animal. Cows and calves are not better off. They vegetate in stables on slatted frames because the provision of flooring with straw would mean more work for the staff and thus higher costs. Painful deformities of the hooves are often the result of this mass animal husbandry. Here animal rights acitivists as well as philosophers set also the argument of the suffering ability of animals against: Animals can feel and may not be held therefore during their lifetime under cruel conditions.
The Australian philosopher Peter Singer (born 1946) even goes one step further. As a third aspect of animal ethics, he demands that people should respect the dignity of animals. For animals are independent beings who have interests and desires independent of man: among other things, good food and a social bond with their conspecifics."[Brüning, B. (1997): „Was ist Tierethik?“ https://www.bpb.de/gesellschaft/umwelt/bioethik/175397/quellentexte-zur-tierethik?p=all]
"For centuries, animals have been considered to have neither feelings nor the ability to think. The opinion of the famous philosopher René Descartes that animals, unlike humans, are only sophisticated machines is almost infamous. Consequently, anatomists were able to carry out experiments on living dogs without any scruples - and thus gain the first insights into the human blood circulation and the nervous system.
The paradox of this search for knowledge was already criticized by the Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire in the 18th century: "They nail him [a dog] to a table and open his abdominal cavity alive to offer you a glimpse of the innards. You will discover in it the same organs that enable you to feel and that you possess. Answer me, your machine theorist, has nature equipped this animal with all the sources of feeling so that it cannot feel? Does it have nerves to be without any excitement?
Voltaire's objection was largely ignored in science - and still is today. Animal experiments - also with dogs - and mass animal husbandry are standard today.
Behaviourists declared the inner life not only of humans but also of animals to be a "black box" - about which nothing could be known. And while popular scientific literature on the most amazing strategies, memory and feelings of animals is overflowing, science has little to offer. Thus, writes Brensing, only one of 59 chapters in a 2000 page standard work of biology deals with the behaviour of animals. Amazing achievements of her brain - creative problem solving, use of tools, self-confidence, abstract thinking - are completely absent.
Brensing's examples impressively show that there is no reason to deny animals an "inner life" with pain, fear, grief and joy. On the contrary: astonishingly many of them have a differentiated social behaviour, learn from each other, some form cultures thousands of years old and know about the uniqueness of their own person - such as dolphins, whales, elephants and apes.
If all this is true, the biologist asks - are we still allowed to treat animals the way we do? Are we allowed to test psychotropic drugs on fish and at the same time deny them a feeling of pain? Can we find that six-week-old pigs are smarter than 18-month-old children - and, in accordance with the law, imprison them for life on two square metres and finally kill them?"[„Wir müssen Tiere vermenschlichen“, Carstens, P. (04.10.2017). https://www.geo.de/natur/tierwelt/17442-rtkl-wissenschaftler-bricht-ein-biologie-tabu-wir-muessen-tiere-vermenschlichen]
"Trees that communicate with each other. Trees that lovingly care for their offspring, but also for old and sick neighbours. Trees that have sensations, feelings, a memory. - The forester Peter Wohlleben tells fascinating stories about the unexpected and amazing abilities of the trees. With the help of the latest scientific findings and his own direct experiences with the forest, he creates an exciting new encounter [...] and we enter a completely new world.
Peter Wohlleben tells us in his new book "The Secret Life of Trees" that trees have a language. Fragrances play an important role as messengers and mushrooms with their threads and mycelium form the "Internet of the forest". We learn that trees cultivate friendships, "cuddle" them, "nurse" their "tree babies" and "educate" their tree children. We are shown that root tips have brain-like structures and one automatically asks oneself whether plants can think? And did you know that there are more living beings in a handful of forest soil than there are people on earth? That city trees have an extremely hard life? And trees in general are masters of deceleration?
Here are a few excerpts from the book "The Secret Life of Trees":
- Trees can be very considerate of each other. When about two trees stand close to each other, you often see that only thin branches point in the direction of the other tree. While on all other sides thick branches grow in order to have as many leaves as possible to catch the sunlight, only tender branches carefully grope their way towards the neighbouring tree. Neither of the trees wants to compete with the other, but both take care that everyone gets enough light to stay healthy.
- During storms and storms, trees often form a kind of solidarity community. Where a single tree would fall, the members of an intact beech forest support each other. They do this by swinging back and forth differently through their different crowns and trunks, swaying against each other, slowing down their movements and thus preventing them from swinging up and falling down.
- Trees can and often warn each other of pests. If, for example, a beech is attacked by insects, it warns its colleagues with scent messages. These can then go into a defensive position and store defence substances in the bark. In the African savannah there is an acacia species that emits the gas ethylene when a gazelle eats off its leaves. The acacia thus warns its neighbours, who store a substance in their leaves that makes them inedible.
- Trees often suffer from an unfavorable environment - just like humans. Street trees standing next to a lantern, for example, suffer in this way. Just like humans, trees need their sleep to regenerate. But they can't do that when they are under permanent exposure at night. They suffer from sleep deprivation - just as we humans would.
The book changes the view of trees and plants in general. While animals are now aware that they often suffer and need our human consideration, trees are often regarded as pure suppliers of raw materials - but trees can also communicate, suffer just as humans or animals do. They also deserve our attention and consideration. To create an awareness for this is the important merit of this book "The Secret Life of Trees", which has been almost out of print for weeks. This shows that we have not forgotten our natural connection and the important togetherness and that we are again moving towards creating a more balanced life with this precious nature.
[...] Through groundbreaking scientific experiments, they proved what outsiders among plant researchers already said centuries ago: plants react like humans. They have feelings and memory, perceive optical and acoustic impressions, and distinguish between harmonies and dissonances. In experiments, plants were connected to sensitive measuring devices. These devices indicate that plants react frightened when they feel threatened, and joyfully when a friend approaches them. The discovery of plants as animate living beings and their physical and emotional relationships with humans opens breathtaking perspectives for our entire understanding of nature.
Wohlleben, P. (2015). „Das geheime Leben der Bäume“. 17.Auflage, München: Ludwig Verlag.„Erstaunlich: Bäume & Pflanzen kommunizieren miteinander“. https://www.horizonworld.de/erstaunliches-baeume-pflanzen-haben-empfindungen-und-kommunizieren-miteinander/