27 June 2011

PETA asks Pope to ride leather-free in new Mercedes Popemobile

If reports are correct, Pope Benedict XVI is about to get a new eco-friendly ride courtesy of German automaker Mercedes-Benz. The new popemobile is rumored to be driven by a 60 horsepower electric motor along with a V-6 gasoline engine.

Apparently one charge will enable the new holy cruiser to travel 18.5 miles before relying on the gas engine. Even though the 18.5 mile electric range isn’t awe inspiring at least the new modified hybrid vehicle seems greener. But in the immortal words of College Gameday host Lee Corso, “Not so fast my friend!”

In a letter penned by PETA’s senior vice president Dan Matthews, the animal rights organization is asking the Pope to consider upping his environmental stance and adding a bit more compassion by opting for a leather-free interior.

Matthews writes:
Greetings from PETA, which counts many Catholics among our 2 million members and supporters worldwide. In light of the recent news that the Vatican's new Popemobile will be a hybrid, we're writing to suggest that it also be made leather-free in order to further help the environment and prevent animal suffering.

Not only does the leather industry cause immense cruelty to animals, who are often dismembered and skinned while still conscious, it is also extremely hazardous to the environment. According to the United Nations, tanneries have largely shifted operations from developed to underdeveloped nations, where labor is cheap and environmental regulations are lax. In order to preserve animal skins, companies use tons of toxic chemicals that end up in nearby soil and water supplies. The toxic groundwater near tanneries has caused health problems for residents in surrounding areas. Arsenic, a common tannery chemical, has long been associated with lung cancer in workers who are exposed to it on a regular basis. Studies of leather-tannery workers in Italy and Sweden found cancer risks up to 50 percent higher than normal, and the incidence of leukemia among residents near a tannery in Kentucky was five times the national average. In poorly regulated Third World countries, the statistics are far worse.
Pretty convincing argument to say the least, toss in the suffering cows endure on factory farms and a leather-less interior seems like a no-brainer.

But no word as of yet from the Vatican if the Pope has placed an order for a cruelty-free interior or if he has decided on adding the iPod/MP3 Media Interface to the harman/kardon LOGIC7 sound system with Dolby Digital 5.1. Don't worry we’ll keep you posted.

Eric Fortney | @elfortney | email
Eric is the co-founder and executive editor of the animal rights and eco-friendly news source, This Dish Is Veg. In addition to his work at TDIV, Eric is a father of three, runner, and lover of the outdoors.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/oh-barcelona