Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Marc Bekoff in Forbes? The Times Are a-Changin'!

When I think of Forbes Magazine, I think of a business magazine that has been around a long time and has rightfully earned a reputation as a staid and venerable bulwark of free enterprise.

But Forbes surprised me with a long and detailed profile/interview with Dr. Marc Bekoff, Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Bekoff is the author of the powerful The Emotional Lives of Animals and The Animal Manifesto: Six Reasons for Expanding our Compassion Footprint.

Bekoff is one of the most eloquent spokespeople for animal rights. He has written numerous books about the ethical treatment of animals and he travels around the world lecturing on the subject. He is also a past Guggenheim Fellow and a fellow of the Animal Behavior Society. In short, this guy is a heavy hitter. Yet he's not necessarily the kind of guy you see profiled in a magazine like Forbes.

However, there he is, speaking his mind in Forbes and saying very eloquent things. He speaks about a wide range of topics, from animal ethics to climate change to what he calls "proactive compassionate activism." There are moments when he sounds pessimistic. For example: "The stakes are huge if we fail to take care of other animals and Earth because we are on the brink of numerous irreversible losses to magnificent webs of nature. Our wholeness and that of the world at large is in peril.

But Bekoff ultimately sounds an optimistic note:
Rest assured that we are indeed making positive differences even if we don’t see them now. I also travel a lot, like you, and meet incredibly passionate and committed people all over the world who are dedicated to making the lives of other animals much better than they are. So, there is light, it sometimes seems very dark, but there is that ever-present glow that keeps me and many others going. I like to say we must get rid of all negativity, focus on what works, keep the faith, be nice to everyone including our opponents, and never say never – ever. We also need to “pick our battles” and accept that some people will never change, and that’s the way it is.
Marc Bekoff appearing in Forbes - a magazine that definitely does not have a history of publishing articles about animals and their well being - is itself a great victory. It is a sign that times are changing. Hopefully for the better.


  1. Thanks for noting this interview with Dr. Bekoff. He deserves much more recognition than he has so far been accorded....and it is indeed a positive note that a bastion of non-animal-rights notions like Forbes published the interview.

    1. If you know who Michael Tobias is (www.michaeltobias.org) this conversation should be surprising at all.