I would like to thank very much everyone for their interesting and insightful replies to my posting. I never expected such a discussion about religion and basic ethics to emerge.
I am an atheist so I base my ethics on my own observations of the world and on the advice of people I trust, however, we all draw on something to create are moral world view be it God, PETA, or the man raving about CIA spy satellites on the street corner.
I will most defiantly read the two articles mentioned in the first few posts and have decided to write some of my favorite down gear producing companies and ask them if they know how their down is sourced. If they are Eider ducks, from meat producing geese etc...
I most certainly understand the grave concerns regarding petroleum based products and a larger carbon footprint is certainly not something I am after, however, if I see a gaggle of majestic geese rising from a pond when collecting water at a camp site I hate to think I had tortured his cousin just to stop a chill that night.
By the way I have lived my entire life in Montreal, Canada the place with the largest temperatures swings of any major city in the world so I know a thing or two about needing warm cloths for my day to day life. Since, however, when running out to the store or going for a walk with my dog weight and compressibility are not an issue it would never even occur to me to wear down in the city. Additionally, I wanted to bury my grandmothers old fur coats and consider that sort of "fashion" to be totally reprehensible. If I lived in Nunavut, northern Canada, however, I would probably see things differently, and rightfully so. Anyways thanks again for your comments and I will continue to check on the replies to see how the discussion develops.