Sixth Mass Extinction is Here, Experts Say

Julian Omidi discusses the ‘sixth extinction’ and how the elimination of species may lead to the end of mankind as we know it.

Mankind may be approaching another extinction event. That’s at least the thoughts of Paul Ehrlich, senior fellow at Stafford Woods Institute for the Environment. What is being known as the ‘sixth extinction’ has Ehrlich and his co-authors calling for the conservation of animals and their habitats. Today, lets look at his work and the potential threat facing our ecosystem.

Recently published in Science Advances, the study shows species are entering extinction at 100 times faster than the normal rate. If continued at this rate, it could take millions of years to recover. The estimate was based on research of fossil records and other extinction counts from a variety of records. Their thoughts, their findings severally underestimate the severity of the situations.

A large contribution to this is humans impact on the environment. This includes introducing invasive species, land clearing and logging, as well as carbon emissions. It is thought the damage to ecosystems by such practices will eliminate the natural benefits for generations to come.

The authors suggest that avoiding this type of event will take rapid change. This would require adding conservation efforts to already endangered species as well as working on reducing climate change and altering their natural habitats for commercial gain.

To change this then, we must go further than protecting animals rights, but also consider the ecosystems that promote biodiversity. We must make a large scale shift of our consciousness towards how we obtain our energy, how we build housing and even how we distribute food. The study makes clear that mankind has the biggest part in the spark of the sixth extinction.

Only time will tell the impact this event could have and our ability to postpone it. It seems that any form of advancement in technology has some negative impact of the Earth’s ecosystem. If we are not careful, the next few generations of mankind may suffer our ignorance.

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi is the co-founder of Animal Support, a nonprofit that advocates for the well being of animals around the world.

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Animal Tracking in the Serengeti

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In today’s blog, Julian Omidi discusses animal extinction and how we can get involved in stopping it.

Animal extinction is a global issue that doesn’t get discussed enough. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, literally dozens of species are going extinct every day—and it’s mostly our fault. Human activities over the past century have caused a shocking number of consequences for animals, the most significant being global warming and habitat loss. It’s even more important than ever to raise awareness and involvement in order to slow these alarming rates of extinction.

One group found a rather creative way to do this– through photography.

Between June 2010 and May 2013, a research team led by Alexandra Swanson set up over 200 cameras in Serengeti Park of Tanzania. Their goal was to capture the lives of endangered species that would be difficult to photograph in the presence of humans, so the cameras were mounted on trees or other still objects. They incorporated both motion and heat sensors so that when an animal was near, the camera would be triggered automatically.

As a result, more than 1.2 million sets of photos were captured during this time. The research team was obviously quite overwhelmed by the sheer volume of images they’d have to start sorting through, so they asked an online “citizen science” portal called Zooniverse to help.

Here’s how it works: anyone, even without a background in science or zoology, can log on to this website and register to help with the Snapshot Serengeti project—or a number of others, which cover nature, wildlife, climate, humanities, and even space! Zooniverse uses an algorithm to narrow down the species of the animal photographed based on a number of characteristics that the user can select.

With the help of Zooniverse and 28,000 citizen volunteers from all over the world, Swanson’s team was able to make successful identifications of 48 different species as of last week, many of which are classified as endangered. The project is still open, so I encourage you to try making some identifications of your own! It’s a fun way to make a difference and learn about rare species of animals.

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi is a philanthropist and co-founder of the non-profit organization, Animal Support.

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Will Going Vegan Save the Animals?

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In today’s blog, Julian Omidi discusses National Animal Rights Day and the practicality of living vegan.

Besides signifying the last day of May and graduation season, May 30th also marked the fourth anniversary of a fairly new U.S. holiday—National Animal Rights Day(NARD), which was started by the animal rights and conservation-focused non-profit Our Planet Theirs Too.

OPTT is just one of many organizations that promote a vegan lifestyle as indispensable toward furthering their goals of living in harmony with and respecting all animals. In fact, many activists openly criticize those who do not choose to abide by this lifestyle, arguing that animal support should be all-or-nothing when it comes to diet.

However, not everyone has the means to do this. Because of income inequality in the US, those who live close to the poverty level have very few choices in terms of the quality of the food that’s available to them. A single mother who is working a minimum-wage job, for example, cannot afford to drive 20 miles to the nearest organic grocery store and buy an $11.99 jar of vegan, ethically-sourced cashew butter. A vegan, or even vegetarian, lifestyle requires at least some level of financial commitment.

So is it possible to remain actively conscious of animal welfare and still partake in meat and/or animal by-products? The answer may not be all that straightforward. But if going completely vegan would be impractical in the context of your lifestyle, there’s no need for misplaced guilt. The key is to be mindful of what you are choosing to consume, and to always ask questions—for example, do you know where your dinner came from? What about your cashmere sweater? Choose brands that are sustainable, fair-trade, and cruelty free—and this applies to clothing, cleaning supplies, beauty products, and many more types of goods you might not even think of!

For those that do choose to go completely vegan, there are so many resources out there for you to take advantage of, such as recipe/lifestyle blogs, magazines and even cooking shows. Over the past decade, an increasing number of restaurants have started to offer creative vegan options; some even have entirely vegan menus!

I encourage you to spread the word and get even more people involved in National Animal Rights Day; it’s a wonderful endeavor to spread awareness of animal welfare. And remember to live mindfully and treat all beings with respect.

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi is a philanthropist and co-founder of the non-profit Animal Support.

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Antibiotics and Animal Welfare

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In today’s blog, Julian Omidi discusses the rights of animals in the livestock production sector.

The “five freedoms” of animal welfare

In 1965, the UK government commissioned a report on the welfare of animals being raised as livestock. The results contained a list of five freedoms that all animals should be given when under human control, and was subsequently adopted by animal rights organizations around the world as a constitution of sorts. The freedoms are as follows:

  1. Freedom from Hunger and Thirst
  2. Freedom from Discomfort
  3. Freedom from Pain, Injury, or Disease
  4. Freedom to Express Normal Behavior
  5. Freedom from Fear or Distress

Are big businesses finally coming around to furthering animal rights?

Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club issued press releases late last week that have captured the attention of both the media and animal welfare activists: a promise to abide by these five freedoms in order to enforce the humane treatment of farm animals, and improve the sustainability of the resulting food products.

It’s a move that echoes recent statements from the likes of Perdue, Tyson, and McDonalds—to name just a few.

Is this a genuine effort to facilitate a positive change in the retail industry, or just a strategic PR move to shift attention away from questionable labor practices in the past decade? Regardless of intent, at least it’s a step in the right direction. Corporate transparency is certainly one way to hold institutions accountable for what might be happening behind the scenes. This brings to mind countless past animal abuse scandals– and the resulting popularity of documentaries that made attempts to expose them.

One positive result of this decision is a widespread awareness of the harm that human antibiotics have on animals. Your average Joe may not be familiar with the Five Freedoms or the ASPCA, but he sure recognizes the phrases “Save money. Live better” and “I’m lovin’ it.” The initiative for antibiotic-free animals is becoming increasingly relatable for Americans, and I hope to see the trend continue.

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi is a philanthropist and a co-founder of Animal Support, a nonprofit organization that exists to further animal rights around the world.

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Gallup poll Finds Americans want more Protection for Animals

In today’s entry, Julian Omidi discusses a new Gallop poll that suggests Americans are increasingly favoring equal rights for animals.

Gallup recently released a poll that showed citizens in the US want more protection for animals. The company began asking a series of three statements to rate how people responded in 2003:

  • Animals deserve the same rights as people
  • Animals deserve some protection
  • Animals don’t need much protection

From 2003 to 2015, those that stated “animals don’t need much protection” remained consistent at only 3%. However, the response “animals deserve the same rights as people” has increased over the years. In 2008, those that felt animals should have equal rights as humans was at 25%. That response has increased to 32% making the national opinion a 7% increase. That means, more people believe that animals should have equal rights as humans.

The findings showed that this response crossed gender, age and political orientation. From 2008 to 2015, there was a rise in the number of men, women, democrats, republicans and ages 18 to 50+. Meaning, Americans as a whole want better rights for animals.

The poll also addressed environments where animals should have better treatment. This included amusement parks, research facilities, sporting events as well as others. A majority of the people were either somewhat concerned or very concerned about the treatment of animals in professional settings.

This shift is a small victory in the treatment of animals. It is good to see that Americans are becoming increasingly concerned with the rights of animals. The more the majority opinion can transform, the more likely animals will obtain more protection and better treatment by society as a whole.

If you are concerned about the well-being of animals, do your part. Advocate for better treatment of animals by joining groups, writing your representatives and voicing your stance online. The more we can share information and reach other people the further we can advance the wellness of animals throughout our country and the world.

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi is the co-founder of Animal Support. He advocates for the fair treatment of animals around the world.

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Community Volunteers: Teach English as a Second Language (ESL)

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In today’s entry, Julian Omidi discusses the rewards of volunteering to be an English as a Second Language (ESL) tutor in your community.

One of the most rewarding pursuits for community-based volunteers is teaching. Every major U.S. city offers dozens of such positions through the public library system. Whether you live in Miami or Anchorage or anywhere in between, there is almost certainly a library volunteer program that could use your help as an ESL teacher/volunteer.

Teaching English as a second language to foreign immigrants, most of whom are newly arrived, is a great way to help those in need and to make your community more productive. For the majority of immigrants, job choices are extremely limited when they don’t speak functional English. Fluency is usually not the goal of these programs, but what linguists call “functional literacy” is.

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you decide to take on the challenging and exciting task of becoming an ESL volunteer teacher/tutor.

• Libraries will train you. You do not need to be a certified teacher in your state to work as an ESL volunteer. Just be ready to take about 10 to 20 hours of prep classes (some online) before you are allowed to step into the classroom.

• Your classes will include a mix of people from various countries. Typical groups you might end up teaching will include recent arrivals from Mexico, Somalia, China, Korea, and India.

• It generally takes about two or three months from the time you sign up until you are in the classroom teaching.

• Expect very small classes, most of which will not have more than six students.

• Library volunteer programs will give you everything you need in the way of books and supplies, but you might want to invest in a few inexpensive pocket dictionaries to cover the various languages your students speak. That way, you will be able to look up a word or phrase now and then when the course materials are insufficient.

• Learn to speak slowly and clearly so your students can understand and hear the words they already know. Practice using simple sentence structure and common words.

Helping immigrants adapt to their new country is a rewarding way to invest your time as a volunteer. As a bonus, you will likely acquire many new friends during your stint as an ESL teacher, and you’ll learn a great deal about other cultures. Sign up at your local library if you are interested in this kind of volunteer work.

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi, along with his brother Dr. Michael Omidi and mother Cindy Omidi, are advocates and co-founders of numerous nonprofit organizations, including Civic Duty and many others.

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The Zoo Animals We Love the Most

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In today’s entry, Julian Omidi looks at the most beloved zoo animals.

The worldly editors at Encyclopedia Britannica have made it official: some zoo animals are more popular than others. In fact, the erudite editorial educators are now offering up their own top-10 list of amazingly adorable animals on display at public zoos. Note that, unfortunately, not every creature is available in every zoo.

When you head out to your local eco enclave this summer, you might not encounter all of them. Here’s Britannica’s roundup that should be copied and posted on your refrigerator door for future reference. Check each one off as you see them in your travels. Happy zoo-going!

Meerkats (see photo above)
So human and so curious, meerkats combine the best traits of raccoons and monkeys in a weird mixture of adorable, childlike friendliness.

Red Pandas
If you don’t instantly fall in love with these loveable tree-dwellers, then your heart is set to “chill.”

Bats
Forget what you’ve seen in vampire films. Most enclosures for bats are the coolest thing in the entire zoo.

Orangutans
Perhaps the most popular zoo creature of all time, these semi-human simians are always a big draw wherever they appear.

Poison Frogs
An oddity of the animal kingdom, these minuscule hoppers are a blast to watch, as long as there is a strong piece of protective glass between you and them.

Kangaroos
Another classic zoo favorite. Throughout history, kangaroos have captivated and intrigued those who encounter them.

Tamarins
Beware the mysterious and not-so-friendly Tamarin, which is actually a mini-monkey. They look so cuddly and cute but, as any zoologist will tell you, they are definitely NOT meant to be pets. Even so, they are amazing to observe and impossibly tiny.

Tree Kangaroos
These small, monkey-like climbers are new to the zoo scene, but make almost everyone’s top-10 “loveable animals” list.

Armadillos
An age-old zoo favorite that appears to be almost human.

Capybaras
These friendly giants are the world’s largest rodents, but you’ll see more guinea pig than rat in their countenance. Plus, kids instantly fall in love with these animals, so if your zoo has some, don’t miss them.

Be sure to visit and support your local zoos, wildlife refuges and animal shelters. They do so much for our communities!

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi, along with his brother Dr. Michael Omidi and mother Cindy Omidi, are advocates and co-founders of numerous nonprofit organizations, including Civic Duty and many others. To read an account of the Omidi brothers rescuing an abandoned baby harbor seal, visit their charity AnimalSupport.org.

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Do the Right Thing by Helping Injured Animals

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In today’s entry, Julian Omidi explains what to do if you find an injured animal.

Whether you live in an urban area or in a more rural setting, you should know what to do if you find an injured or incapacitated animal. Sometimes what appears to be a disabled critter is nothing more than a baby that has been left alone while its mother forages for food. Learn to size up situations like these, and you will be performing a valuable service for your furry, feathery and hairy friends.

Wild Things Sanctuary’s website features a detailed listing of what we humans need to know about abandoned animals. Here’s a summary of what experts suggest we do until professional help arrives:
• Do not hold or feed an injured animal, and try to keep it in a quiet, dark place. Even animals with minor injuries can die of shock, so take special care not to frighten the creature.

• Be very careful, and make sure to wear gloves if you must have any contact with the animal. Bites can be painful and dangerous for humans who are unprepared for such an encounter.

• Put a box over the animal until help arrives, and keep all pets away from injured creatures.

• Contact a local shelter or animal welfare agency at once to find out what the next step is, and to make certain that you are securing the animal properly.

• Keep in mind that baby rabbits, deer and other so-called “suburban wildlife” are often left alone during the daytime hours while their mothers hunt for food. Feeding times are typically at times when we humans are asleep, so don’t assume an animal is abandoned just because it is alone in a nest or secluded area.

With warmer weather approaching, let’s all make an effort to keep an eye out for abandoned and injured animals.

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi, along with his brother Dr. Michael Omidi and mother Cindy Omidi, are advocates and co-founders of numerous nonprofit organizations, including Civic Duty and many others. To read an account of the Omidi brothers rescuing an abandoned baby harbor seal, visit their charity AnimalSupport.org.

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The Best Career Choices for Animal Lovers

julianIn today’s entry, Julian Omidi takes a look at career paths for people who want to help animals.

Have you ever thought of becoming a zoologist or veterinarian? Perhaps you’d rather be involved with animal training or marine biology. Whatever your particular animal-related field of interest, there is a career for you. Like any other avocation, the choices diverse and most require at least a college degree in a specific subject area. Here’s a quick rundown, from Study.com, of the most common career choices for those who truly love animals and want to spend their lives helping them:

Veterinarian: This is perhaps the best-known and most difficult career path for animal enthusiasts. It’s essentially a doctoral degree program where candidates spend as much money and time as they would in a traditional medical school. You’ll need a solid college transcript to get into vet school. Spots in most schools are limited and highly competitive, so it pays to plan ahead. If you want to become a vet, take as many science courses as possible in college, get part-time jobs at animal clinics or shelters and keep your grades up. The average veterinarian in the U.S. earns close to $100,000 annually as of 2014. (Yes, all that hard work is worth it!)

• Animal care worker: This field is broad and the educational requirements for jobs depend largely on what you do. Growth is expected to continue and jobs are plentiful. Anyone with at least a high school diploma can enter as a staff member at a shelter or an assistant at a veterinary clinic. Many people work as animal groomers during high-school summer breaks.

• Zoologist/biologist: You’ll need at least a college degree to enter this field, but the career choices are wide and well-paying. If you have good observation skills, hold a degree in biology (even marine biology), zoology or a related discipline, you’re good to go. There are also Ph.D. paths for zoologists and biologist which would allow you to teach at the college level. Pay is very good and those willing to travel to remote areas have the best opportunities for advancement.

• Animal massage therapist: This is a relatively new field. Entry requires a high school diploma and massage therapy license in the U.S. Specialized courses in horse, dog and cat massage are a big plus. Some states are now beginning to certify equine (horse) and canine (dog) massage therapists. Many equine therapists work with race horses and top breeders around the world. You won’t get rich, but pay is better than average and you’ll also be able to sell your services to humans as a traditional masseuse/masseur.

Be good to each other, and consider a career in an animal-related field,
Julian Omidi
Julian Omidi, along with his brother Dr. Michael Omidi and mother Cindy Omidi, are advocates and co-founders of numerous non-profit organizations, including Civic Duty and many others.

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Mentoring the Future of America

In today’s blog, Julian Omidi discusses the importance of mentoring children, as well as the benefits it provides.

Giving back is always a rewarding experience. This is especially the case with mentoring the youth of America. You can provide mentorship in multiple capacities.

Providing Guidance

When you mentor, you utilize both professional and personal experiences that help instill lessons to the person you mentor. It can help them realize that anyone who grows up and becomes successful can experience challenges. You can provide stories of resilience that they will be able to take and apply to their future.

Additionally, you can help them with professional skills that they can apply. You will feel confident providing wisdom, which will in turn will feel rewarding. You can positively change the course of a child’s life.

Forming Bonds

When mentoring someone, you form bonds. You become a role model to someone much younger than you. Simultaneously, you can learn from them. They can show you lessons from their own resilience, especially if you are mentoring a student from a lower socioeconomic environment. Their optimism and perseverance can show you what humans are truly capable of when they have a burning desire to change their circumstances.

Learn How You Can Mentor

There are many different organizations you can partner with that can link you to a child or teen you can mentor. Some of these focus on more professional and business minded students, while others focus more on recreational mentoring. By researching an organization, you can find one that fits your background and personality.
Through mentoring, you have the chance to transform your life as well as someone else. It can give your life a deeper purpose, knowing you are helping guide and shape a young person’s life. Try mentoring in your area.

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi is a philanthropist that works to better the world for children and animals.

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