Terrorism and the war on whales
by Robert Nanninga
Terrorism takes on many forms, the most common of which is the war homosapiens wage against the natural world. As unrelenting as it is effective, the front line in this war of attrition is planetary and has a list of casualties reaching as far back as the Pleistocene.
What a luxury it must be to believe that humans have evolved since our spear-wielding ancestors brought about the last great wave of extinction some 11,000 years ago. From where I sit it seems the only thing to have changed since the demise of the mastodons is the technology used in the erasure of bio-diversity, and the pace and scope of the slaughter.
For those of you too busy to notice, in between calls for capitalistic compromise and patriotic consumption, the battle continues. Species once thought rescued are once again under the gun, as environmental victories prove to be no match for the obviously misnamed free market.
Two decades ago it was hard to travel anywhere in the United States without seeing a Save the Whales bumper sticker. One of the most memorable environmental campaigns to date, it was highly successful and resulted in a global ban on commercial whaling. The moratorium, whose primary architect was the United States, offered full protection for all species of great whales when ratified in 1982 during the conservative administration of Ronald Reagan. In effect since 1986, the cease fire lasted little more than seven years.
In October of 1993, as part of the pander and plunder stewardship of the Clinton Administration, America acquiesced to Norwegian efforts to resume whaling to protect North Sea oil exploration leases held by every major US oil company. Japan, for its part, simply redefined slaughter as science and continued national efforts to usher whales into extinction. All of which is supported by the Danish sponsored genocide of pilot whales in the Faroe Islands, Canadian and Icelandic fishing industries, and the Makah tradition of killing gray whales at the hands of US citizens.
Currently, while the Bush administration is busy securing support for its terrorism against terrorism, the government of Japan is crossing the globe and the palms of other governments to gain support in their efforts to lift the moratorium against commercial whaling. The International Whaling Commission (IWC) is scheduled to meet again on May 20th in Shimonoseki, Japan. It is here the IWC will consider a Revised Management Scheme (RMS) that will once again allow the industrial harvesting of whales of any and all nations. Talk about state sponsored terrorism.
Also on the 2002 IWC agenda for Shimonoseki is a discussion of humane killing methods for whales. The IWC promotes the development of killing methods. During the supposed whaling moratorium, both Japan and Norway made major improvements in their whale killing technologies, including advances in the triggering mechanisms for explosive grenades used in minke whale hunts, and the introduction of an improved explosive material, penthrite, which has greater power than the traditional black powder.
Unknown to most citizens of the United States is that, contrary its vocal opposition to commercial whaling, the US government is quietly supporting the adoption of the RMS. As the republicans, and supportive Democrats, are all too willing to sell out the whales to maintain support for Dubya's hawkish foreign policy.
Obviously compassionate conservatism does not apply to the gentle giants unfortunate enough to share the planet with greedy monkeys, ignorant enough to believe greater fire power correlates with a more benevolent death.
If I thought it would do any good I would ask everyone to write or call the White House, www.whitehouse.gov, and the US Department of Commerce, devansdoc.gov, to ask that they extend the reach of their war on terrorism to include the protection of all cetacean species. But, since that seems unlikely, I implore those that wish to see whales survive the turn of the next millennium, to support those working, against great odds, to save the whales.
One such group is the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. For more information on this nonprofit, nongovernmental organization's ongoing investigation and documentation of violations of international laws, regulations and treaties protecting marine wildlife species, visit www.seashepherd.org.
Perhaps if we can find a way to save the whales, we can then find a way to save the humans.
Robert Nanninga is a free-lance writer, producer and environmental journalist. A native of Vista living in Leucadia, he Chairs San Diego ZPG, as well as representing coastal North County on the Green County Council