Look at the whale (while we wipe out everything else)

24 04 2014
harpoon trees

Modified from Raeside (Victoria Times Colonist)

I’ve tended to stay out of the ‘cetacean wars’ over the years because of the politics, emotions and vested interests involved, but I find it hard to ignore any longer. I’ve been wanting to write this little essay for some time, and given that we are doing a great job of buggering up the greater biodiversity future of this country, I think the time is right.

For years, Australia has been a champion of the anti-whaling movement, both in terms of its self-righteous, loud-mouth condemnation of whaling nations in its role as global ocean policeman at the International Whaling Commission, and its multi-million dollar financial investment in cetacean research. While this considered in isolation is without doubt a laudable objective (i.e., we certainly shouldn’t be hunting these magnificent marine megafauna), it is one of the greatest environmental wool-pulling-over-the-eyes, look-at-the-silly-monkey political sideshows ever devised.

“Why, Corey, that is a particularly Philistine view of the issues, don’t you think?”, I can metaphysically hear you state. However, do not confound the morality with the politics; I’m certainly focussing on the latter.

The simple fact is that being so vocally anti-whaling, Australian politicians can win easy green votes while doing nothing much at all about the other, real environmental crises unfolding right beneath the noses of their constituents. And easy it is – even the most hard-core, right-wing plutocrat would probably not (publicly) denigrate a government for standing up for the whales. In other words, it’s not a controversial environmental issue. So a little emboldened brinkmanship on the international stage, bolstered by some over-the-top, sensationalist media coverage, and you have a guaranteed recipe to garner faux environmental kudos.

It is a case of brilliant politicking, and absolute deviousness.

I probably needn’t remind people that Australia was most gung-ho about commercial whaling up to 1979, so our relatively recent-found zeal for preventing whaling is a little hypocritical, to say the least. Combine that hypocrisy with our currently proud stance in support of Aboriginal killing of turtles, dugongs and various other native species, as well as the non-Aboriginal lust for dead sharks, and you have at least to question the motivation.

The hypocrisy doesn’t end there, as I’m sure most readers of CB.com can appreciate. Australia exports hundreds of millions of tonnes of coal around the world each year, and we have one of the highest per-capita greenhouse gas emission rates in the world. We are superlative water-wasters (ironic for a country mostly comprised of deserts), have the world’s highest mammal extinction rate, and an historical addiction to deforestation that rivals the devastation of the Amazon. We are systematically eroding our national protected areas, and have elected a government working hard to destroy any hint of remaining environmental protection left in the country. The list goes on.

So the next time you get excited and back-slappy about Australia’s ‘hard’ stance against commercial whaling, maybe you should look under your nose first and avoid falling for the silly monkey trick.

CJA Bradshaw




8 responses

23 02 2016
chrispydog (@chrispydog)

It’s analogous to the political sleight of hand that equates talking up renewables and being really serious about cutting our very dirty fossil fuel electricity’s emissions. What’s shown itself to be a very small token gesture obscures the urgent need to replace coal power stations with something comparable in output but without pumping carbon dioxide into our atmosphere.

No need to talk about it if you’re for “clean, green, renewables”, or what I call the “green fig leaf”.


20 10 2014
It’s not all about cats | ConservationBytes.com

[…] I argue that the newfound enthusiasm for killing anything feline is being peddled mainly as a distraction from bigger environmental issues and to camouflage the complete incompetence of the current government and their all-out war on the […]


4 07 2014
Western Australia’s moronic shark cull | ConservationBytes.com

[…] can a country be a leader when it comes to saving whales in Antarctica, but kill threatened sharks in Western Australia? It is a step backwards at a time when a growing […]


2 07 2014
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[…] in dealing with Australia’s appalling environmental record. However, I fear that it merely acts to distract Australians more from the real environmental crises unfolding around us. I also predict that it will be […]


12 05 2014
26 04 2014
Alana Roy

I hope by “Australia” you mean the government and not putting us all in one basket? Makes me a little angry and not back slappy but head slappy! There are some of us who care about all the above animal and environmental issues. We don’t all say we love animals then eat them! Most of us are as embarrassed of our govt as you are and realise it’s all just a political game made up of egos and money. It’s the people who win most of these issues not the govt, and we will continue to fight for them one by one. These issues may not be important to them but they are to us.


24 04 2014
Graeme McLeay

Actually my first thought following this little political victory was that it’s a small win in the face of warming oceans, loss of plankton due to rising acidity, and unabated over -fishing.


24 04 2014

Well written!


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