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I've got the bad monkey blues

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
February 21, 2006


I'm embarrassed for our species. No, I'm not talking about George W. Bush and his "War on Terror" road show, although they contribute to the problem. A small part of much larger issue, the only thing connecting the Bush administration to the plight of whales is a lack of concern.

Call me a pessimist, but I feel whales have as much chance surviving the 21st century as a unified Iraq. Unwilling to live and let live, corporate utilitarians will leave no species unmolested or culture intact, that does not directly benefit the profit monkeys. It's rather ironic that at the time when human activity is accelerating global climate change, and rising ocean levels, humans are killing off species better adapted to deal with a post industrial world.

Prompting this latest observation was the news of whales killed for science in Japan, are being marketed in dog food. Talk about gross violation of international treaties. Bogus claims of science not withstanding, the fact that the flesh of whales killed "for research" is available for human consumption is blatant provocation of the global commercial whaling ban. Selling whale parts for dog food in Japan exposes scientific whaling programs as politically motivated shams.

The International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling in 1986. Under a research program, the Japanese government plans to kill some 1,070 minke whales in 2006, 400 more than last year. Japan will also hunt 10 fin whales, and a combined total of 160 Bryde's, sei and sperm whales.

In 2005, more than 1,035 tons of whale meat hit the market in Japan, a 65 percent increase from 1995. Due to sluggish demand for the tough, pungent meat, inventories doubled in five years to 2,704 tons in 2004. Wakayama, a prefecture 280 miles southwest of Tokyo, has been aggressive in getting children to eat whale, introduced whale meals at 270 public schools last year. Dishes include whale meatballs, whale burgers and whale spaghetti Bolognese.

Most Californians don't eat whale meat, and most Americans support the whales right to exist. The United States government banned whaling in 1940. Saving the whales was actually in fashion during the 70's, when environmental stewardship still seemed possible. Once hunted to near extinction, 10 of the of the 15 whale species still in existence, not including, porpoises, dolphins, and narwhals, are on the endangered species list. Orcas, the latest to be listed, are threatened not by commercial hunting, but by a collapsing food chain due to over fishing, and man-made pollutants.

Japan is not alone in their cold- hearted utilitarianism. Joining the Japanese government in their mammalian genocide is Norway. Norwegian whalers will be allowed to kill 1,052 minke whales in 2006. Both of these whaling nations are working to overturn the global ban on commercial whaling, continuing to exterminate whales in the name of science, while non-whaling nations do nothing to prevent the slaughter of cetaceans.

Non-enforcement of global agreements protecting whales is shameful. When non -whaling nations compound the problem by doing business with Japan and Norway, those governments are complicate in the cetacean slaughter. The United States is one of those governments, so too is California.

Unfortunately for all marine mammals, predation by humans is only part of the problem. Over fishing, global climate change, driftnets, sonar usage, boat and ship traffic, human waste, and industrial pollutants all factor in as well.

Californians contribute daily to the extinction of whales. The myriad of pollutants running off the coastal communities of Southern California is incomprehensible. Considering the amount of cleaning detergents and solvents washed down the collective drain everyday, is it any wonder most people would rather surrender to the bliss of ignorance, than acknowledge the consequences of their actions?

I hold out little hope for any of us. Humans, having evolved into a suicidal species, are hell bent on taking everything with us. Nothing is safe and nothing is sacred. With plenty to eat, humans hunt for sport and in the name of senseless science. With little concern outside anthropocentric entitlement, humans kill with no concern for the future.

Unable to save the whales, what's the chance of us being unable to save ourselves?

Oddly enough, I don't feel sorry for the whales.

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