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Hypocritical crusaders

Recently, a Greenpeace boat was rammed by a Japanese whaling ship. Or vice versa, depending on which side of the fence you sit on. Somewhere in my blogospheric wanderings, I stumbled over a Greenpeace blog purportedly authored by the crew on that particular mission. Since sparring with members of the crew and those peopling their fawning commentariat, I am reminded yet again how soft-headed, shallow and emotionally driven the anti-whaling argument is.

It continues to amaze me how, over the years, Greenpeace has pulled off such a remarkable public relations campaign in regards to whaling. They have successfully ensured the utter ignorance of many hundreds of millions of otherwise intelligent individuals on the matter of whaling. For most opposed to whaling, there is one species, “the whale”, and it is being fished into extinction by those nasty Japanese. Forget the fact that some species of whale are not even close to endangered. The minke, for example, has an international population ranging somewhere between 500 000 – 1.1 million individuals. The minke is the most commonly harvested whale. Icelandic and Norwegian whalers only hunt minkes and the vast majority of the Japanese catch consists of minkes. Forget the fact that, when the Japanese hunt other species, each year they have never taken more than 51 Bryde’s whales, 10 sperm whales or 100 sei whales. If you want to check the population levels on each of those whale species, please take a look at the earlier IWC chart I linked to. To suggest this tiny rate of harvesting will have a negative impact on whale populations is preposterous. Even if the Japanese follow through on their threat to double their cull of minkes to about 1000, and – let’s be generous – add another 1000 taken by the Icelandic, the Norwegians and indigenous groups, this cumulative figure of 2000 is clearly sustainable given a conservative population growth rate of 1% and a highly conservative total population of 500 000.

Another point that the anti-whaling wailers do not like to concede and invert in their rhetoric; whaling in international waters is not illegal. Membership of the International Whaling Commission is entirely voluntary, and no member is bound to accept its rulings. For example, IWC member Norway has been catching minke whales under an objection to the moratorium on whaling since it was put in place in 1986. Japan, whilst almost certainly running a misleading campaign that asserts its catch is predominantly for scientific purposes, could withdraw from the moratorium on commercial whaling and start openly whaling commercially any time it wanted to.

A further blow to the relevance of the anti-whalers’ cause can be seen in the dwindling market for whale meat. Even arch enviro-moonbat David Suzuki concedes that the market for whale meat is falling in Japan. The same thing is happening in Norway, according to other environmental hysterics. Simply, the young don’t much care for the stuff in Japan or Norway. The market for whale meat is literally dying. As for any potential non-culinary demand in the West, we no longer need whale oil, and there are far cheaper sources of pet food. When viewed rationally, whaling is a non-event, and its importance is further deflating.

Considering the above, the anti-whaling campaign seems like a ridiculous waste of energy if “saving the environment” is key. One of the eco-pirates on the Greenpeace boat claimed, in a response to my initial post on their blog, that “Greenpeace’s position is based purely on the need to leave healthy intact ocean ecosystems for future generations.” If they were truly a group concerned with preserving ocean ecosystems, they would be concentrating their efforts in South East Asia, where numerous fisheries are in various stages of collapse due to rampant overfishing. The whaling debate shows Greenpeace for what they are – a bunch of filthy hypocrites who ignore true environmental catastrophes to chase after high profile red herrings. Please pardon the pelagic pun.

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19 comments to Hypocritical crusaders

  • I stopped reading when I got to this nonsense:

    For most opposed to whaling, there is one species, “the whale”.

    Not true, I’ve just seen a very rare “straw-whale” being shot.

  • “The market for whale meat is literally dying.”

    Don’t you think it all related? I mean, the fall in the market for fur (despite the recent shift) can probably be attributed to animal rights folks.

    I’m not saying that greenpeace is right in their actions, just that sending a boat or two out periodically with the press paying attention is probably one of the cheapest ways to achieve their objectives. If they do nothing criminal (anyone know the international laws for maritime navigation, i.e. is it illegal to feign a ram?), this is a good choice.

  • Greenpeace invest so much effort into the save the whales campaign because it pays so well. Non-profit doesn’t mean non-revenue seeking. Supposed no- profits like Greenpeace behave exactly like for-profit organizations.

    Greenpeace sells a product and that product is environmental self-righteousness. Greenpeace isn’t in the “business” of saving the environment. They are in the “business” of giving their donors warm fuzzy feeling by making them think they are saving the environment. Saving whales works very good for this product because the whales are so remote from most peoples lives. The economic victims of Greenpeace are people from the developed world harvesting what is essentially a luxury product.The uncomfortable moral tradeoffs that might have to made in the case of southeast asian fisheries, for example, don’t exist.

    Just because Greenpeace doesn’t issue dividends doesn’t mean that the behavior of its internal decision makers is not controlled by financial concerns. Even the most idealistic person will find themselves warped by the need to raise money to advance their agenda. For a large, high-profile organization like Greenpeace, revenue-seeking became an institutional behavior a long time ago. Greenpeace will not abandoned such a lucrative product even if it is trivial to show that their efforts would have greater effect elsewhere.

  • Pete_London

    Shannon Love

    Spot on. From Mark Steyn:

    MICHAEL Crichton’s environmental novel State Of Fear has many enjoyable moments, not least the deliciously apt fate he devises for a Martin Sheenesque Hollywood eco-poseur. But, along the way, his protagonist makes a quietly sensible point: that activist lobby groups ought to close down the office after 10 years. By that stage, regardless of the impact they’ve had on whatever cause they’re hot for, they’re chiefly invested in perpetuating their own indispensability.

  • I had whale steak once when it was still legal. It tasted like a cross between, oh, filet of baby seal and white rhino cutlet.

  • Forget the whales, save the truffles!

  • Robert Hale

    I wish I could remember where I read some scientist speculating that, if whales became extinct, then penguins, over the next few million years, would evolve into giant versions to fill the whales’ niche in the ecology.

  • Nate

    Gigantic man-eating Penguins?!?!?!?
    YES!
    Where do I sign up?

  • Patrick

    On a more serious note, they ought to just shoot the bastards 100 feet out of the water, and say they missed the whale! If there are no survivors, they can’t well be contradicted, can they? Not to mention that it would be awfully difficult to find a court with jurisdiction over the subject matter and even harder to find one with jurisdiction over the whalers.

    Otherwise Shannon love is spot-on, as is Mark Steyn.

  • We at Samizdata have a firm policy on whaling. Please read the Social Responsibility Statement, and also this post. Thank you.

  • They are in the “business” of giving their donors warm fuzzy feeling by making them think they are saving the environment.

    Of course. Do you think I’m utterly naive? The point is, the more people are told that the phoney truisms about whaling are complete rubbish, the better. This is merely my tiny contribution.

  • veryretired

    Shannon, as usual, is spot on. Nobody is going to get any big donations protesting overfishing of the whatever fish by the Malaysians.

    Always follow the money.

  • Chris Harper

    I ceased believing anything any Greenpeace had to say back at the time of Brent Spar. This was such an obvious piece of revenue chasing, at the expense of the environment, that to this day, if one of their spokesman were to announce that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow I would be looking for independent confirmation.

    The only organisation on the planet who can make me feel any sympathy for Greenpeace is France.

    A looming and absolutely effing ginormous environmental problem is the European fisheries collapse. Where is Greenpeace in this? To what extent is this NGO funded by EU policies? How independent is Greenpeace from European Governments and the EU?

    Greenpeace is not going after these SE Asian fisheries because, although they are a mix of idealistic nutters and the dishonest, they are not stupid. Try anything on with these countries and they will get blown out of the water.

  • Errol

    Not to mention that it would be awfully difficult to find a court with jurisdiction over the subject matter and even harder to find one with jurisdiction over the whalers.

    Can’t any country try pirates for acts done on the high seas? Or even anywhere?

  • tom

    Greenpeace was trying to get a world wide ban on chlorine. Chlorinated drinking water was the biggest advance in public health. Period.

  • rosignol

    Tom, Greenpeace isn’t in business to save people.

  • derek

    Greenpeace is not going after these SE Asian fisheries because, although they are a mix of idealistic nutters and the dishonest, they are not stupid. Try anything on with these countries and they will get blown out of the water.

    Actually, Greenpeace just finished an Asia-Pacific fisheries tour last year, as well as two bottom-trawling campaigns in the North Sea and Tasman Sea. In fact there are oceans campaigns being run all over the world by Greenpeace. The only problem is, mass media doesn’t cover them.

    The media wants sensationalist news. Sometimes Greenpeace gives it to them, e.g. the whales campaign. And it does bring more money in, which in turn helps to fund other, less sexy, campaigns. Save the tuna?!

  • Sylvain Galineau

    And who appointed these people to represent the interests and desires of future generations anyway ?

  • Flu-Bird

    Greenpeace are all a bunch of stupid and annoying eco-pests and all around troublemakers why dont they realy make themselves usful like building birdhouses or cleaning up litter instead of running around doing stupid and rediculous protests OR ARE THEY JUST INTERESTED IN ALL THAT PUBLICITY FROM THE LIBERAL LEFT-WING NEWS MEDIA