In “A Change of Heart about Animals”, Jeremy Rifkin says that animals are more like us than we imagined and that we should treat them the same way we treat humans. Although Rifkin’s background is impressive, and he is probably very knowledgeable about economic trends in Washington DC, there is little evidence provided that he has much expertise in the areas of animal emotions and their cognitive abilities.
I feel that Rifkin’s argument is weakly supported by irrelevant research and anecdotes. I fail to understand how “Betty” and “Abel”, the tool-making crows, are supposed to result in my change of heart about animals. Though I certainly feel that we should treat animals with care and regard for their well-being, we must also remember that animals provide an important food source for all the people of the world. In addition, the use of animals for research has resulted in valuable progress in the curing of many diseases.
Rifkin attempts to appeal to our emotions by naming the animals and personalizing them. He also uses strong visuals, such as the elephant example, that creates a picture in our mind, producing an emotional response of sadness or empathy.
Rifkin states “The human journey is, at its core, about the extension of empathy to broader and more inclusive domains.” Though I feel that Rifkin had good intentions of trying to convince us that we should be more mindful about the emotional well-being of animals that we use for food, scientific research, etc., I feel that our resources would be better spent on improving the life and welfare of human beings, rather than animals. Personally, Rifkin did not succeed in changing my heart about animals.