To Obama: Save the Whales!

Enough is enough on science claim.

I went through my usual morning routine today: sit-ups and stretches during the 6 a.m. edition of “SportsCenter” (great to see real Laker highlights for the first time in a month!); getting a cup of English Breakfast tea and putting the dishes away; confirming the course of the day with family members Lisette, Zack and Jake; and sitting down to the L.A .Times. 

Because it’s Wednesday, I go to Lopez’ column first to see who he’s calling out (today it’s Supervisor Ridley-Thomas use of discretionary funds) and then I move on to the Opinion section. It was great to see Joel Reynolds from NRDC blasting the Obama administration on its ludicrous position to save the whales by legalizing whale hunting.

I am a biologist and I seem to remember from the numerous ecology classes I took at UCLA that the best way to enhance the health of populations in the wild is to not kill them. The administration’s position that legalizing whaling will somehow expose illegal whaling conducted under the guise of scientific study or cultural preservation is flawed logic at best and catastrophic to cetaceans at worst. (Some activities should just be banned. Just look at how so-called cultural rights have been used to rationalize human rights abuses worldwide over the years.)

The real fight at the IWC should be closing the ridiculous loopholes exploited by whaling nations like Japan, Norway and Iceland for a quarter century. (BTW, how can anyone take the International Whaling Commission seriously until it takes the word whaling out of the name?) Such enhanced technologies as molecular biological tracking can now identify whale species quickly. So the toothless IWC should be mandating increased molecular genetics monitoring of whale sold in the marketplace. That way, the true scope and magnitude of the illegal practice will be become transparent to nations around the world.

 With the use of scientific techniques to identify the illegal sale of more whale than reported and to confirm the trafficking of endangered species that should never be killed let alone sold, the magnitude of the problem will become stark. Only then will the IWC morph into the International Whale Conservation Commission that it should have always been.

Right after a new requirement to enhance monitoring, the IWCC should follow in the footsteps of CITES’ action on elephant ivory and ban the sale of all whale products. Enough is enough. Time to call the whaling nations on the science and cultural claims by making it clear that killing whales should not result in personal economic gain.

I know. None of these recommendations are new and international environmental agencies haven’t exactly exerted meaningful leadership on global environmental issues. But at least the U.S. can take the high road and use some of its political and economic clout to stand up for our safest conservation issue: Save the Whales.

On a side note: I can think of no better place for the President to make a bold pronouncement on a tough American anti-whaling position than the commencement at Lawndale’s Environmental Charter High school.  School founder Alison Diaz and company are doing a superb job giving students hands-on opportunities to make a difference in the environment, and the school is producing the newest generation of environmental professionals, stewards and leaders.

ECHS is now in the final national six-school bakeoff to decide where Obama will make the commencement address   So make sure you vote in the next two days for ECHS.  And make your voices heard – we need to make all whaling illegal. 

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