Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy(?) Earth Day!

I've been doing a pretty bad job keeping up on this.  And by "pretty bad" I mean, "I haven't posted in months."

But anyways, it's Earth Day.  A few news items:

The U.N. has re-instated World Ocean Day on June 8.  Be sure to keep it in mind.  It's not going to solve our problems over night, but it's a step in the right direction.

The United States has prohibited fishing north of the Bering Strait to protect nearly 200k square miles of the Arctic.

In commemoration of Earth Day -- because it's weird to say "celebrate" Earth Day to me; it's a bittersweet statement -- read some good articles on the environment.  Look up a scientific journal on climate change or ocean acidification or invasive species.  Or, check out these two articles by the gentlemen at

"What the Hell Happened to the Environmental Movement?" by the Southern Fried Scientist--


"5 Things Worse for the Environment" by WhySharksMatter--

I'd like to write something poignant here, but to be honest, I'm really unprepared to be writing this.

Anyways, have a memorable Earth Day and go recycle or plant a tree or cut up the plastic things they put on six packs of soda/pop/soda pop or write a letter to your congressmen...or all of the above.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A couple thoughts

I haven't updated in a while.  To be fair, no one but myself has read this so far, so it doesn't make a difference, but there are two things I'd like to comment on.

The first is I've started reading Alan Weisman's The World Without Us, and it's turning out to be a great read.  I'm only 90-some pages into it, but it's packed with (cited) information and is really interesting.  To be completely honest, I'd thought it would be more of a story than the factual, non-fiction read that it is, but that's okay- it's wonderfully written.

The second issue is one I feel very strongly about-- whaling.  For anyone who doesn't know, whaling for commercial purposes is against international law (according to the 1986 international moratorium on whaling put forth by the International Whaling Commission).  However, killing whales in the name of scientific research is legal, given that the organization responsible leaves as little waste as possible which means selling byproducts on the open market.

Iceland and Norway, both countries with strong whaling traditions, have periodically started whaling throughout the last 22 years, but have been shut down by international conservation groups every time.  Recently, Japan has joined the roster of countries to support whaling.  Their Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) has been conducting large scale whaling operations, stating that their purpose was to do research on the corpses of killed whales to find out things like age and diet, among other things-- general demographic sampling of the fin, humpback and minke whale populations, among others.  More details are on their site.

Every summer (in the southern hemisphere, so in the winter, for all you northern hemisphere folks), the ICR has sent a fairly large whaling fleet down to Antarctica to conduct their research by taking somewhere around 1,500 whales.  After conducting their research, they process the whale meat for mass consumption on the market.

Antarctica is a protected zone, as apportioned by the Antarctic Treaty of 1959 and is given to the protection of Australia so long as Australia does not claim sovereignty over the continent.

Okay, so now you have some of the background.  

Here's what's going on--

Australia has a huge problem with the Japanese whalers-- it's generated some pretty nasty press based on photos of the operation and the ICR is behaving like they are illegally whaling.  Their site, in English, seems given over to dispelling the "myth" that they're a commercial operation.  They constantly defame the most active conservationist organization opposing them, Sea Shepherd (Sea Shepherd uses direct but non-lethal methods to stop activities that damage the marine environment, generally aiming to make operations economically unsound).  It's comical how much about whale demographics isn't on the site and how much propaganda is.

Anyways-- back to Australia.  Australia seems to be generating more and more anti-whaling support.  Enough that the IWC is considering let Japan whale in Japan's coastal waters instead of them taking as many in Antarctica. Here's one of the original articles (the one I'm getting my information from)-

Basically, this is Japan coming out and saying that they'll abandon ALL of their research in the Antarctic.  They're abandoning their controls to "continue" the experiment under vastly different circumstances- whales migrate through Japanese waters during a different time of year.  They'd be adding this intensely skewed data to their data bank-- this is not something responsible scientists conducting an experiment do.

So the other reason Japan is whaling?  Profit.  Japan is commercially whaling through the ICR and in the name of research.  It explains why they put up such a front and why they are so okay with having messed up research results.  Sure, there are other explanations, but Occam's Razor (the simplest solution is most often the correct one) prevails.

Japan is illegally whaling, and the IWC is giving them permission to do it.  The IWC has failed the conservation movement.

So what can we do?

It's really up to where you live.  If you live in a country that's a part of the IWC, send a letter to your country's leader, telling them that you think that whaling in Japan (or Norway or Iceland) is not okay.  Whales are an integral part of the marine ecosystem, and no one knows the kind of devastation to marine ecosystems their disappearance would cause.

If you want more direct action, write to Greenpeace or another organization, telling them to start another campaign against whaling.  Or, if you're feeling even more radical about it, make a donation to Sea Shepherd.

Well, thanks for reading my thoughts.  As always, debate is welcome in the comments.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Hello all,

I've moved back into the dorms after winter break, and I've decided that, rather than eat the nauseating meat that is served for entrees, I'm going to try out vegetarianism. 

I've always kind of thought about it, but I've always, for various reasons, made excuses not to. Things like nutrition and taste always held me back.  Now that I'm regularly taking daily multivitamins and I'm more or less far away from any good tasting dishes involving meat, I'm out of excuses.

I have a few reasons- first of all, it keeps me away from overindulging in meat, which for me is easy to do.  It's a healthier choice as long as I'm mindful of what I replace it with.  So eating healthier is a definite goal with this.  Another one is a very logical one- I'm all for animal rights and conservation and ethical treatment of animals, but I eat meat?  Sounds hypocritical to me.  So I am looking to eliminate that hypocrisy in my life as well.

Anyways, I don't think anyone reads this yet, but if anyone does, feel free to leave your thoughts below.  I'll try to make regular updates on this topic (research and how it's going with my lifestyle).

Wednesday, January 14, 2009



Here's my first post in a blogging experiment.  The idea-- create a blog containing my thoughts on conservation and environmentalism, including current issues.

I try to do my own research into issues, instead of just accepting what various organizations say, so I will try to cite my entries so everyone can double check it.

Hokay, so a little about me--

I'm a college kid from the American Midwest (one of the northern states) but I'm a SCUBA diver and I'm mostly interested in marine conservation.  Other issues will creep in once in a while.

I hope to be posting every few days.  I like constructive criticism and debates- not derogatory comments or arguments.  If there are any questions you have about me or about something I write about, feel free to ask me.  Before anyone asks, my username is a word invented by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. in his novel "Cat's Cradle."  It means "the tendrils of life."

So I guess with all that out of the way...

Hello, and welcome to my Eco-Blog.