As the International Whaling Commission [IWC] convenes to discuss the fate of various whales, there are those who claim moral opposition to whaling is hypocritical because humans devour a multitude of species; thus anti-whaling activists are guilty of imposing their own ethics on other cultures. If one has not delved deeply into the subject, one might be tempted to follow this logic.
Unfortunately for cetaceans, [whales and dolphins] the real threat to their existence isn't simply the "harvesting" Iceland, Japan, and Norway, currently pursue or even if the commercial exploitation of their species begins once again globally. No, the true tragedy of all of this is that even if Norway, Japan, Iceland, and every other indigenous tribe on this planet ceased hunting cetaceans, they are so saturated with the poisons of our own species' civilization, there is still a high probability of their becoming extinct. Not from whaling, but from the genetic damage caused by the mutagens which are accumulating within their own flesh and blood.
The fact Japan, Norway, and other nations still consider cetaceans a "resource" the dominant species [master race] has a right to "harvest" is but a symptom of our own failure as a species. "[Our species has overburdened] the biosphere to the brink of collapse. We are a species out of harmony with nature, gone berserk in the indulgence of its desires at the expense of other living beings." - Dr. JohnE Mack
One could argue that eating whale meat is not a good idea if you are a human of child bearing age and interested in having offspring sometime in the future. One could point to a 1992 study of maternal blood revealing women from the Arctic had the highest levels of [toxins] anywhere in the world due to a diet rich in sea mammals, and how their own breast milk is among the most poisonous nourishment they can offer their children. One could also reason that consuming whale meat is one of the quickest ways to become like those very same women in the Arctic and those who plead for a resumption of commercial whaling are as blind as they are braindead. For ourselves, however, ... these arguments are simply far too anthropocentric. What about the cetaceans in and of themselves? Have they no value other than commercially?
We're some of Carl Sagan's biggest fans for a number of reasons, but perhaps the greatest is his own compassion, not just for the cetaceans, but for all sentient beings. In The Cosmic Connection, he described an experience he had while visiting his friend Dr. John Lilly; who was experimenting with dolphins at the time in an effort to communicate with them and to better understand something of dolphin intelligence.
As Dr. Sagan made his acquaintance with a dolphin named Elvar, he scratched him on his stomach, as one might a pet dog or a cat. Growing weary, he ceased and was having a look around when Elvar bounded out of the water, hovered on his tail flukes and cried out, "More!"
Sagan scrambled into Lilly's office and excitedly explained Elvar had said, "More".
Lilly calmly looked up and asked, "Was it in context."
"Yes, it was in context."
"Good that's one of the words he knows."
It turns out Dr. Lilly's friends had learned more than just a few words of English and as Dr. Sagan pointed out; not a single human being has been able to decipher the meaning of any of the cetacean languages. He mused, "Perhaps this calibrates the relative intelligence of the species."
Unfortunately, this is not much of a plug for cetacean intelligence when you look at our homeworld. Our planet has become a cesspool, and anyone arguing for an expansion in the "harvesting" of this "resource" is simply out of touch with ecological reality.
"The Cetacea hold an important lesson for us. The lesson is not about whales and dolphins but about ourselves. It is at this point the ultimate significance of [cetaceans] emerges. It is whether we can develop a sense that beings with quite different evolutionary histories, beings who may look very different from us, may nevertheless be worthy of friendship and reverence, brotherhood and trust." -Dr. Sagan
Are we willing to begin cleansing our world, and theirs, at the expense of short-term profits? Highly improbable and grievingly tragic as we discuss whether we should continue "utilizing this resource" as the natural right of the master race.
W Binder (C)
One of the greatest non-fiction books ever written is Capt'n Paul Watson's OCEAN WARRIOR. A founder of GreenPeace before it became a money-making bureaucracy; his life is currently being made into a movie. Read at least pages 64-82 if you ever have the chance