As I travel around the United States on a national book tour to promote The Humane Economy, I am able to have a conversation with and engage the broader public on the work of The HSUS and the emerging humane economy taking shape all around us. On Sunday, at a packed ‘in conversation” event with Congressman Earl Blumenauer at Powell’s book store in Portland, Ore., I was elated to remind the crowd that Ringling’s last show with elephant acts would conclude that day – after 145 years! We also talked about people putting boots on the ground to qualify our anti-wildlife-trafficking ballot initiative in that state, bringing the issue of stopping the ivory trade in front of voters in November.
The night before, after a talk at the University Book Store in Seattle, I spoke at the annual gala of Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest, as we celebrated the end of the era of invasive experiments on chimpanzees and planned for the difficult and expensive task of caring for the hundreds of chimpanzees scheduled to come out of labs and retire to sanctuaries in the months ahead. A few days before that, in front of a crowd of 300 on the Harvard University campus, I had a memorable “in conversation” event with best-selling author and journalist Michael Pollan. Among other things, we talked about the importance of the Massachusetts ballot measure to ban the extreme confinement of farm animals – a subject that Boston Globe columnist Scott Lehigh took up in a column on the heels of my visit. Only two weeks back, I opened the tour at a special event with U.S. Senator Cory Booker and Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker. We talked about the senator’s efforts in Congress to dramatically reduce chemical testing on animals – with the debate soon to come to a close in Congress and The HSUS and the Humane Society Legislative Fund fighting for language to advance 21st century science and to leave old, crude ways of generating data for risk assessments behind.
While The Humane Economy looks at the dynamic forces helping to create an animal-friendly economy, there’s a very granular element to the book tour. We are building our ranks of animal advocates, expanding the public’s understanding of our work, driving big ideas, pushing ahead key campaigns, and forging new relationships with people. So far on the tour, I have made stops at universities, start-up companies, and even at a number of Fortune 500 companies, including PetSmart, McDonald’s, and Google, with visits to come at Cargill, Citibank, and others. My tour updates on Twitter and Facebook have sparked interest among people in other countries who are now joining the discussion.
We are reaching millions of people with the message of animal protection, with appearances on NPR’s “Diane Rehm Show” to HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” to CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” and we’ve got other major television appearances scheduled in the coming days and weeks. I’m glad that columnists and magazines are writing about the humane economy. Tomorrow night, I’m going to participate in a national debate, to be broadcast on more than 200 NPR affiliates, about trophy hunting and conservation, on the program “Intelligence Squared.” This is an issue gaining real traction; the killing of wild and endangered species makes no economic sense, and it’s demonstrably cruel and gratuitous.
The HSUS does so much good for animals, and writing serious-minded works for publication is one of them. The Humane Economy, which debuted at #2 on the Washington Post bestseller list, is just the latest. Dr. Michael Greger wrote a bestselling book released in December 2015 about health and food called How Not to Die. Christine Gutleben edited a volume with Karen Prior and Charles Camosy called Every Living Thing: How Pope Francis, Evangelicals and Other Christian Leaders are Inspiring All of Us to Care for Animals, and Dr. Stephanie Clark is preparing to publish the proceedings of a conference on humane education and our universities. Finally, Dr. Jonathan Balcombe has just completed writing a book called What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins, set for release in early June.
Our founders were men and women of ideas, and one thing we strive to do is drive thought leadership in our movement. But the goal is always to put ideas into action. I’m excited to continue the tour and to continue the conversation with caring Americans. The humane economy is taking form before our eyes, but it’s going to take the efforts of all of us to make it whole and to make it happen with all deliberate speed.