Monday, April 19, 2010

Lemming Tracks: Whales, Business, and Hating Japan

I should warn you: This post is not in solidarity with the sincerely-held belief that:
  • 'Save the Whales' is all that counts
  • Capitalism is bad
  • Japan is despicable
I wish I was kidding about that 'Japan is despicable' thing. Here's a considered opinion, posted recently by a very earnest lover of whales and the environment:
"RT @[redacted]: : Japanese whalers blame Sea Shepherd for smallest catch in years Victory! fu*k japan!!!
1:44 PM Apr 13th via TweetDeck"
Sadly, it wasn't the only one of its kind I've run into lately.

If you agree with that statement, and feel that "fu*k japan!!!" is an acceptable sentiment, stop reading right now. You will not like this post.

Me? I didn't like the racist WWII propaganda that America was flushing out of its system back in the fifties and sixties: and I don't like this new 'activism' any better.

Oh, yeah: Earth Day is coming up, April 22, 2010. I remember the first one, in 1970. It was groovy.

This doesn't seem very "apathetic," does it? I've discussed that before. Don't worry: The Lemming will be back in about an hour with something nice and light.
"How Capitalism Saved the Whales"
James S. Robbins Ph.D, via Nova Scotia's Electronic Attic (1988, 1992)

"Abraham Gesner saved more whales than Green Peace ever will"

"In 1849, Gesner devised a method to distill kerosene from petroleum
"In 1846 there were 735 ships in the whaling fleet.
"Thirty years later, in 1876, the fleet was down to 39 ships.
"Kerosene had taken over the whale oil market...."

The price of sperm oil reached its high of $1.77 per gallon in 1856;
by 1896 it sold for 40 cents. Yet it could not keep pace with the price
of refined petroleum, which dropped from 59 cents per gallon in 1865
to a fraction over seven cents in 1895. "

"...It is an article of faith among environmentalists that the ills of the world can be traced to economic and technological development, especially since the industrial revolution. The changes that took place in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, such as harnessing new sources of energy (moving from water to coal power, for example), the development of the factory system, and the human population explosion, they say, led directly to the current problems with waste disposal, air and water pollution, overcrowding, and misused resources, not to mention global warming, ozone depletion, acid rain, and other highly speculative developments...."

This isn't your usual "save the whales" article. And I don't expect any born-again environmentalist to believe a word of it.

Particularly since Earth Day 2010 may bring out the more weirdly and loudly earnest Earth-savers, the Lemming will briefly get on a soapbox.

Please, don't let the fanatics affect your judgment: either way.

My own view is that it makes sense to recycle, and doesn't make sense to dump raw sewage into your drinking water. I've written this before, recently: and think it bears repeating.

Yes, 'Save the Whales' became something close to a religion in the latter part of the 20th century. Quite a few people are - apparently - convinced that we're all gonna die from something. Most recently, it's been global warming. Twenty years from now, I suspect it'll be something else. Maybe Western civilization's vile use of microwave ovens that's doing something pretty much terrible.

I'd be able to get a little enthusiastic about 'saving the environment' if I wasn't aware of what's happened on this planet for the last few hundred million years: and if so much of what calls itself 'environmentalism' wasn't silly. At best.

By the way: despite what I just wrote, I think koalas and pandas are cute, and that it's not nice to litter. I also like Jello®.

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