Saturday, January 19, 2008

Bears, Drilling, and Whaling Stink Bombs

(Artist credit: Jim Warren Titled "Don't Mess With Mother Nature")

In the latest development regarding the polar bear habitat in a section of Alaska that may be opened to oil drilling, a congressional environmental panel stated that "The U.S. government must decide first if polar bears are threatened by climate change before it opens part of their icy habitat to oil drilling"


"Rushing to allow drilling in polar bear habitat before protecting the bear would be the epitome of this administration's backward energy policy, a policy of drill first and ask questions later," Rep. Ed Markey said at a hearing of the House (of Representatives) Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, which he chairs.

The Bush administration is alone among major industrialized countries in rejecting the carbon-curbing Kyoto protocol. Washington also opposes mandatory limits on climate-warming greenhouse emissions.

The article further states that 15 million barrels are needed due to the increasing demand for petroleum.

When asked about the potential for oil spills and the impact on the local wildlife, more specifically the polar bears and marine mammals, Randall Luthi, director of the Minerals Management Service (which announced the oil lease) stated:

...the risk to the bears from oil drilling would be negligible and that if the oil sales went through before a decision was reached on the polar bears, there would be "an additional layer of consultation" with conservation officials as oil and gas companies worked in the area.

He further stated:

there was a 33 to 50 percent chance of a 1,000-barrel spill in this area, but also said no wildlife had been endangered by this kind of exploratory drilling.

Where's the contingency plan to avoid a spill? What are they doing to prevent such a thing from happening? Up to 50 percent chance of a spill is way more than enough cause for justifiable and deep concern.

What happens if a spill occurs? Excerpt from the article:

Steven Amstrup, a scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey, told the panel that if polar bears came in contact with spilled oil, they would probably die.

Polar bears do not do well when they get into oil," Amstrup said. "They tend to groom themselves, they ingest the oil and the spills, basically, are most likely fatal."

Full article here: Decide on Polar Bears First

Retrieving 15 million barrels of oil, which is a very temporary solution, that would have an irreparable and adverse effect on the local environment and the majority of the wildlife in the area, both on the land and in the sea, is, in my opinion, just plain stupid and crazy. And putting profits ahead of the planet is just insanity.

On the whaling front, Japan released the hostages yesterday, as agreed, to Australia's Oceanic Viking customs ship.

Shortly after the two Sea Shepherd crew members were returned to the Sea Shepherd ship, they then resume their protest against the Japanese whalers by going after the Yushin Maru ship and throwing "stink bombs" aboard. Apparently their throws were right on target and it appears that given the power of these "stink bombs" (which are basically rancid butter) it primarily prevents the whalers from staying on their ship's deck for any length of time, usually up to two days.

So far, it's now been over nine days since a whale has been killed by the Japanese hunters.

Captain Paul Watson promises to continue to "harass" and basically do everything possible, short of hurting anyone, to ensure no further whales are culled.

Is Japan feeling the pressure of their widely unpopular decision to continue whaling and all the myriad of reasons they use to explain it away? Greenpeace thinks so.

One excerpt that stands out:

Today, one of the leading newspapers in Japan, Asahi Shimbun, also called into question the validity of the whaling program, by asking "Why is the Japanese government so insistent on engaging in whaling?". The article cites concerns about the use of taxpayer's money, dubious science, the lack of interest from the fishing industry in supporting the whaling program, and the fact that former employees of the Japanese government Fisheries Agency were "parachuted" into key roles in the supposedly independent Institute of Cetacean Research – the agency which commissions the whaling fleet.

For the full article on this, please click here: Japan's "Fake" Whaling Program Begins to Crumble

Greenpeace also posted about this on their site: Fake Whale Science from Ship to Shore

Greenpeace continues to hound the main ship, the Nisshin Maru. So far, their efforts have remained successful in keeping the ship away from the whale sanctuary area.

Still, Japan has made it very clear they have every intention of resuming their whale culling within the next few days.

Between Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace, despite their differences, I imagine the disruptions will continue and hopefully we'll have minimal to preferably zero whales killed.

Meanwhile, Japan is complaining that Australia is giving preferential treatment to the Sea Shepherd activists who had been detained, then released. They accused Australia of giving "limousine service" to these activists.

When Sea Shepherd went to pick up their two crew members from the Oceanic Viking, they then lost the whalers because they had to travel approximately 80km (50 miles) to meet the ship. So they are once again back to trying to locate the whaling fleets.

Article here: Kicking Up a Stink

Excerpt from another article, Whale Activists Admit to Stink Bombs:

Mr Watson said the Steve Irwin was again trying to find the Japanese whaling fleet in order to launch more attacks.

“Greenpeace knows where they are but Greenpeace won't tell us where they are, which I am a little annoyed with because if they start killing whales tomorrow I am going to hold Greenpeace responsible for that because Greenpeace knows that we could stop them.

My kudos to both Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd for their continued vigilance against these whalers. It should be inspiration to all of us that one single drop in the ocean by each of us, can cause a swell and make a difference around the world.




  1. It's great that you and others are fighting the good fight for the animals and the environment.