Sunday, August 16, 2020

Peace and Quiet Please

Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

Peace and quiet. Who hasn't more than occasionally asked for it. Animals don't even get this opportunity.

It was really nice to find this essay by Marco Tedesco, a research professor at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (Columbia University). "It's time, the essay's title states, "to rethink the Practice of Whale Watching. This will not be an easy sell since too many of us think it is our "right," although I've not heard anyone (yet) make a constitutional claim.

Whale watching as Tedesco points out is an industry, i.e., in the category of heavy artillery.. He cites the Marine Mammal Commission of the United States government which states that marine mammals (or cetaceans) such as whales and dolphins are “economic drivers of the economy linked to tourism and associated industries.” The Commission points out that the "economic contribution of a single whale during its lifetime is estimated at around 2 million dollars, for a total of over 3 trillion dollars when we consider all whales."

"Observing animals," as Tedesco notes, "in itself, is not wrong but we must always ask ourselves why we do it and pay attention to how we do it. Using motorboats to simply take a photograph to satisfy your own vanity or sterile curiosity (different from a scientific one!) is not noble, let alone useful. (There are hundreds of thousands of whale images already, and probably much more beautiful than what we can grasp from the boat.) Perhaps we could learn from these good giants, building a relationship based on respect and protection, rather than on vain curiosity. If we really want to help the economy of the sea and its inhabitants, we can donate funds to foundations or associations, talk to our friends about how wrong it is to destroy our planet for our selfishness and, perhaps, sit in a boat offshore with engines off (or paddling, even better), earning the right to be in that ecosystem, and waiting for them to come to us to spend time together as companions who share this wonderful planet."

About time.

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