Author Topic: An old whale, native rights, and a changing world  (Read 6290 times)

Harvey Birdman

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An old whale, native rights, and a changing world
« on: June 14, 2007, 12:06:11 PM »
So here's my rant for the day...

I suppose everyone has seen the story on the news over the last couple of days about the whale killed by native alaskans that was found to have a piece of a harpoon over a hundred years old embedded in it. The news outlets are all cranking out stories about the wonder of it all - seems the whale was something like 130 years old.

Maybe it's just me, but I find this deeply disgusting. This creature had managed to survive for over a hundred years, only to be killed by some short-lived, short-sighted human intent on exercising 'traditional' practices.

There is an incredible inconsistency in native groups, who claim to be guardians of an ethic of caring for the environment, insisting that they be among the last groups allowed to kill these creatures. If they truly had a connection with the natural world they would realized that it is changing irrevocably and the responsible thing to do is try to preserve what's left, rather than insisting on their 'traditional' right to kill it.

 >:( :-\
« Last Edit: June 14, 2007, 12:10:15 PM by Harvey Birdman »

Offline rcallicotte

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Re: An old whale, native rights, and a changing world
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2007, 12:19:36 PM »
Agreed.
So this is Disney World.  Can we live here?

Harvey Birdman

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Re: An old whale, native rights, and a changing world
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2007, 08:40:33 PM »
Nope, nothing wrong with consuming meat (imho). The reality of the situation is that cattle are in no danger of extinction. Whales are; it's only a matter of time.

The reality is that these native groups are themselves doomed. Trying to justify persisting in self-destructive behavior because it's 'traditional' is just bone-headed. It reminds me of North Pacific loggers insisting that they be allowed to continue cutting vanishing old-growth forests 'because our families have done it for generations'. Never mind the fact that if they persist this 'way of life' will be extinct along with the forests in a generation or two...

Hey, I didn't say this was particularly rational. (Remember I called it a rant.)  ;D And I don't claim to have the answers to how arctic subsistence communities are going to survive in a changing, warming world. I will take the politically incorrect position, though, and say that perhaps the government should take responsibility for easing them into a more suitable lifestyle. And they themselves need to recognize the harsh reality for what it is, and become leaders in the movement to preserve what little is left of the environment, rather than being among the last holdouts of a barbaric practice.

imho. All I can say for sure is I find the justification of 'tradition' to be a pretty lame excuse for killing a rare (by any measure!) 130 year old animal.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2007, 08:45:27 PM by Harvey Birdman »

Offline Will

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Re: An old whale, native rights, and a changing world
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2007, 08:52:01 PM »
There is also the fact that they can only kill one whale a year. But yes it is sad and hopefully one day we will stop being so self centered but I don't think that will happen till something big happens. For example if all the whales died or something than that would get the attention of people but by then it would be too late and it would become a political issue to stop it form happening again and by the time the law is past the thing we are trying to protect is dead. Though there is something to be said for the fact that no matter how hard we try we can't kill every thing on the planet so there is hope even if its not for us, what goes around comes around and we'll get the axe eventually whether by the state of our action or by our history catching up with us.

Regards,

Will
The world is round... so you have to use spherical projection.

Harvey Birdman

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Re: An old whale, native rights, and a changing world
« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2007, 08:56:37 PM »
There is also the fact that they can only kill one whale a year...

Yeah, and in reality the number killed by artic hunters probably pales compared to those killed by shipping, pollution, driven ashore by military sonar (?)... but I still don't like it.  >:(

Offline Will

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Re: An old whale, native rights, and a changing world
« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2007, 09:04:26 PM »
true but I was talking about the natives not by the rest of us. The fact of the matter is that there is consequence for these things even if we don't want to believe it.

regards,

Will
The world is round... so you have to use spherical projection.

Harvey Birdman

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Re: An old whale, native rights, and a changing world
« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2007, 09:17:13 PM »
Agreed.

Offline Cyber-Angel

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Re: An old whale, native rights, and a changing world
« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2007, 12:11:29 AM »
History is I'm afraid replete with missed opportunities, as to tradition you cannot simple expect people to give up hundreds or more years of a way of life easily; as to do so is to ask them to give up part of them selves this kind of change weather or not it is for the protection of an endangered species is not some thing that can happen over night and also such thinking is extremely 19th century, what’s next are we going to slip back to measuring some ones intelligence by the slope of their forehead, I really don't think so.

In nature there is a vary delicate balance that is maintained at all times, upset that balance by removing a key component such as whales or even sharks which keep population numbers in cheek, but also keep them healthy by removing the sick and weak form that population, you up set permeably the balance and order of the food chain but also the world is in some way diminished by the consequence of action.

Humans have great power, to do both great good, but also great harm to the natural world and we really have to take our stewardship of the natural world far more seriously then we do today. What harm we do to nature will at some time, in some fashion come back to affect us, therefore we should treat the earth as we our selves would wish to be treated.

Our ancestors, I think had the right Idea which was firstly “only take form the land only that which you need” and secondly “If you take form the land you must in return give some thing back”; people I think have forgotten these fundamental concepts.

Regards to you.

Cyber-Angel 

Harvey Birdman

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Re: An old whale, native rights, and a changing world
« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2007, 01:06:25 AM »
History is I'm afraid replete with missed opportunities, as to tradition you cannot simple expect people to give up hundreds or more years of a way of life easily; as to do so is to ask them to give up part of them selves this kind of change weather or not it is for the protection of an endangered species is not some thing that can happen over night and also such thinking is extremely 19th century, what’s next are we going to slip back to measuring some ones intelligence by the slope of their forehead, I really don't think so...

I'm afraid I don't understand you here. I made no comment whatsoever on the intelligence of individuals or the historical validity of their culture, only it's validity in today's world. These individuals are contemporary enough to negotiate (indirectly, perhaps) for their 'traditional' rights before world regulatory bodies; why aren't they contemporary enough to take responsibility for their actions in a modern context?

Offline Cyber-Angel

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Re: An old whale, native rights, and a changing world
« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2007, 02:03:19 AM »
It’s called the right to self determination and the continuation of a way of life, there are far to many subtle cultural nuances at work here then can be understood by people looking at a culture form the outside. What we see as conservation which I am all for, native peoples such as the Inuit may see as outside interference in their culture the interference in South America First by the likes of Cortez and the extermination of the Inca but then by catholic missionaries, the same thing happened in Africa.

Other examples would be the forced settlement of the Native Americans in the US and also the forced settlement of the Aborigines here in Australia.

There are vary few people in Alaska form my understanding that still have the knowledge and skill to hunt whales, with vary few children learning the traditional skills that where once away of life, due to the prevalence of more modern diversions.

Like I said its all about balance, one whale a year that the Inuit take is far more sustainable into the long term future then the commercial whaling (Under the pretext of science) undertaken by nations such as Japan who use explosive harpoons, where as in Alaska traditional hand thrown harpoons are used, which need more skill to use.

Regards to you.

Cyber-Angel     

Harvey Birdman

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Re: An old whale, native rights, and a changing world
« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2007, 02:48:02 AM »
It’s called the right to self determination and the continuation of a way of life, there are far to many subtle cultural nuances at work here then can be understood by people looking at a culture form the outside. What we see as conservation which I am all for, native peoples such as the Inuit may see as outside interference in their culture the interference in South America First by the likes of Cortez and the extermination of the Inca but then by catholic missionaries, the same thing happened in Africa. ...

This philosophical idealism of the 'noble savage' you describe is totally out of touch with reality. The reality is that their 'way of life' is doomed. All the noble talk of preserving ancient ways of life is meaningless when the creatures they hunt and they environment this way of life evolved in are themselves in the process of disappearing. Like it or not, THAT is the reality. Catholic missionaries aren't killing endangered whales; Inuit are. And this 'one a year' argument doesn't hold water. How long does it take for a whale to reach sexual maturity? What is their gestation period? What is their basic reproductive rate? A hell of a lot less than 1 per year per pair, I'd bet.

And as for 19th century thought, I'd make the argument that treating these people as children incapable of making intelligent decisions smacks of a colonial attitude. They are as intelligent as you or I; they should be held as accountable as you or I (or Japan) for their actions. Historical, cultural justifications are meaningless. We all live in the same moment in time and our actions impact the same world. They can't justify continued barbarism just because their ancestors did it; they don't live in the past any more than I do.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2007, 02:54:45 AM by Harvey Birdman »

Offline Cyber-Angel

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Re: An old whale, native rights, and a changing world
« Reply #11 on: June 15, 2007, 04:04:28 AM »
I should imagine that gestation periods and so forth would vary between species but I am not a marine biologist so I can not say but I should imagine it would take some time. This thread, like the off-line debate is polarized weather it be right, wrong or indifferent.

I was making the assertion I did based on Priori Knowledge of the known historical record by way of example, nothing more. You could write entire volumes (and such exists) on whaling by traditional peoples as exist today and their rights under international law.

There are, as you know strict limits on the number and type of whale that can be caught every year as laid down by the IWC with activist groups such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Greenpeace monitoring what goes on.

Yes, it would be nice if no whales where hunted at all, but for the here and now they are within limits of sorts which are kept revised based on population numbers and other criteria; for certain species of whale their populations are higher now then they where, say twenty or so years ago while others are declining the same can be said of shark populations but that’s a different story.

I think that we should agree to disagree on this issue or try and find some common ground, like I have said before I am a philosopher not a genius.

Regards to you.

Cyber-Angel     

Sethren

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Re: An old whale, native rights, and a changing world
« Reply #12 on: June 15, 2007, 04:57:16 AM »
I hate talking about the worlds issues anyways.    ::)  I'll just shut up next time.

Harvey Birdman

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Re: An old whale, native rights, and a changing world
« Reply #13 on: June 15, 2007, 08:18:38 AM »
Hi, Sethren :

I hate talking about the worlds issues anyways.    ::)  I'll just shut up next time.

What happened? I must have missed something...   ???  :)

C-A :
I'm not sure we are disagreeing - I think we're talking at cross purposes.  ;) And you're right - some species populations have increased since commercial whaling was stopped. I don't think Bowheads are among those that have rebounded well, though - they're still pretty rare.

Here's an excerpt from wikipedia (that repository of all human knowledge, right or wrong) -


Breeding has been observed from March through August; conception is believed to occur primarily in March. Reproduction can begin when a whale is 10 to 15 years old. Females produce a calf once every 3 to 4 years, after a 13 to 14 month pregnancy
...

Commercial whaling, the principal cause of the population decline, has been discontinued. The population off Alaska has increased since commercial whaling ceased. Alaska Natives continue to kill small numbers of bowhead whales in subsistence hunts each year. This level of killing (25–40 animals annually) is not expected to affect the population's recovery. The bowhead whale population off Alaska's coast (also called the Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort stock) appears to be recovering but remains at about 7,800 animals (1990), roughly 41 percent of the pre-whaling population. The status of the other bowhead populations is less well known. These stocks are thought to be very small, probably in the low hundreds, for a possible worldwide population of 8,000–9,200 individuals.

...

The bowhead is listed in Appendix I by CITES (that is, "threatened with extinction"). It is listed as endangered under the auspices of the United States' Endangered Species Act.







« Last Edit: June 15, 2007, 08:21:30 AM by Harvey Birdman »

Offline rcallicotte

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Re: An old whale, native rights, and a changing world
« Reply #14 on: June 15, 2007, 06:27:12 PM »
But, the news on Mars is so...interplanetary.  What's a geek to do?

 ;D

I hate talking about the worlds issues anyways.    ::)  I'll just shut up next time.
So this is Disney World.  Can we live here?

 

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