Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Whale Wars: How TV Turns Violent Green Activists into Popular Entertainment

Whale Wars is a popular Friday night television series on the Animal Planet cable channel. Having just completed its fourth season, the hour-long documentary program depicts the heroism of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as it tries to stop Japanese fishing vessels from killing whales in Antarctica. Too bad that Whale Wars omits important information about the extremist nature of Sea Shepherd and its operations.

Animal Planet and DCI obviously embrace Whale Wars for its entertainment value and audience share. The show’s producers want viewers to see a story of high seas adventure, one that portrays a struggle pitting dedicated activists against an outlaw nation engaged in barbaric practices. But that is not the reality of Sea Shepherd, the program’s heroes. The organization, which is recognized as a 501(c)(3) public charity by the IRS, is dedicated to destroying modern industrial society.

For example, in his book Earthforce! An Earth Warrior’s Guide To Strategy¸ Paul Watson, the head of Sea Shepherd, claims that humans must live in harmony with nature, and that the only people who do so are small tribes that live in Africa and Asia.

Peter Hammarstedt, a Sea Shepherd first mate, has described what the group wants to achieve:

“If regular Americans and people around the world realize it’s wrong to kill a whale, and right to go to all kinds of lengths short of hurting anybody to stop it, then we are one step closer to people questioning why they use animals for food, why they use animals for clothes, and why they use animals for medical research…We are winning…We will see the end of factory farming, we will see the end of fur farming in North America.”

Underlying such sentiment is an anti-human ideology. At an “Animal Rights 2002” conference Watson said, “There are 30-million plus species on this planet. They’re all earthlings. They’re all equal. Some are more ‘equal’ than others, I admit: earthworms are far more valuable than people.” And in Earthforce! Watson writes that while “humans may consider themselves to be divine legends in their own mind, the biological reality is that they are simply overly glorified, conceited apes.” Yet these particular views are never mentioned on Whale Wars.

Sea Shepherd’s History of Violent “Direct Action”

Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson uses the euphemism “direct action” to describe his group’s reliance on violent tactics. At a 2002 animal rights conference, Watson explained, “The fact is that we live in an extremely violent culture, and we all justify violence if it’s for what we believe in.” He added: “There’s nothing wrong with being a terrorist, as long as you win. Then you write the history.”

Under Watson’s leadership, Sea Shepherd has a long history of violent “direct action.” Over more than three decades Sea Shepherd claims to have attacked whaling ships around the world and to have sunk ten of them. Sierra, Susan, Theresa, Isba 1, Isba 2, Hvalur 6, Hvalur 7, Senet, Nybrena, and Morild—their names are painted on the port side of the Steve Irwin.

In 1979 Watson and his crew rammed the Sierra with their vessel, the Sea Shepherd. The Sierra did not sink but managed to make it back to a port in Portugal. However, there was an anonymous follow-up. According to Earth Warrior, a 1995 book about Sea Shepherd by author David Morris, Watson received word that “three environmentalists in wetsuits, carrying magnetic explosive mines, had just slipped into Lisbon harbor and blown up the Sierra.” At the time Watson was about to go on trial in Quebec for assaulting a police officer during the course of a protest against a Canadian seal hunt.

Watson takes liberties with his criminal record, claiming that no Sea Shepherd mission has resulted “in a single criminal or civil conviction against myself.” His convictions for interfering with the seal hunt in Canada in 1980 and 1983 were overturned on appeal. In 1993, Watson was arrested in Canada for Sea Shepherd actions against Cuban and Spanish fishing boasts off the coast of Newfoundland. In 1997 he was convicted in absentia in Norway for the sinking of a Norwegian whaling ship, the Nybrena. Watson has claimed responsibility for disabling several ships in Iceland. And authorities in Costa Rica and Japan have also attempted to arrest Watson for sabotage activities there. None of these run-ins with the law are mentioned on Whale Wars.

Morris’s book Earth Warrior describes a frightening incident in which Watson told his crew member Peter Brown to shoot at a Japanese drift-netting ship, the Gen Ei Maru No. 79. “Peter runs below deck and returns holding an AK-47 semiautomatic rifle,” wrote Morris. “Shots from the armor piercing rifle blast through the engine noise…Peter is apparently shooting at the bow, aiming below the waterline, where it’s mostly storage space. But who knows for sure? Paul orders Peter to fire across the bow. Shots blast out again. Peter is now holding a shotgun. Where did that come from? Then back to the AK-47. He flatly refuses an order to shoot out the spotlight on the Gen Ei Maru No. 79. ‘It’s too close to the bridge,’ he protests.” Morris reports that Watson subsequently dropped the shotgun into the ocean and that Peter Brown would say the shotgun was loaded with harmless “crackers.” But then why was he ordered to shoot out a spotlight? This incident is never mentioned on Whale Wars.

Watson seems quite capable of lying to his crew and Sea Shepherd supporters when it serves his purposes. For instance, near the end of the first season there is a confrontation between the Sea Shepherd vessel Steve Irwin and the whaler Nishhin Maru. In the episode Watson opens his jacket to reveal a slug lodged in his bullet-proof vest. He later issues a press statement claiming he’s been shot at from the Nishin Maru, an allegation hotly denied by the Japanese crew. The claim seems unlikely and, given Watson’s own views on truth and deception, appears suspect. Indeed, the incident was too far-fetched for the producers of Whale Wars who added a response from the Japanese. They argued that Watson would have been thrown backward on impact and sustained bruises to his chest had someone from their ship shot at him. Whale Wars footage shows that neither occurred.

In another incident in season two, the Steve Irwin is shown refueling in port. As Watson speaks to a gaggle of reporters, a crew member hands him an envelope that Watson opens in full view of the cameras. A white powder is inside. Authorities are called and Watson and other crew members are quarantined on the Steve Irwin until it is determined that the powder is not a threat. This incident generated considerable sympathetic media coverage for Sea Shepherd.

But some aspects of the incident make it highly suspicious. First, why would a crew member hand Watson an envelope while he was talking to reporters? Presumably it would make more sense to wait until Watson was finished with his interviews. Next, presumably someone as busy as Watson would have an administrative assistant who opens his mail for him. The envelope with the white powder should have been opened long before it reached Watson. Nevertheless, none of these odd coincidences are examined in the show. Neither Sea Shepherd nor Animal Planet agreed to requests for an interview regarding this matter.

Sea Shepherd Origins and Funding

A longtime environmental activist, Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson’s public persona belies his group’s history of violence. He does not act like a belligerent radical, but is soft-spoken and seems reasonable and likeable. But in his book Earthforce!, Watson explains that to persuade the public (and manipulate the media) activists should not “alienate…by dressing and behaving in a manner which threaten the moral majority….When preaching to the Romans, it pays to look and behave like a Roman. People distrust, dislike, and often detest those who appear different.”

A look at Watson’s personal history provides evidence of his belligerent character. Watson has claimed to be a founder of Greenpeace, but was expelled from its board of directors in 1977 (by a vote of 11 to one) because his fellow directors considered him divisive and irresponsible. In 2003 he was elected to the Sierra Club board as leader of a faction that favored strict controls on immigration to prevent U.S. population increases. He quit the following year to protest the Club’s support for hunting.

After leaving Greenpeace, Watson went on to start the Earth Force Society, convincing writer Cleveland Amory, then president of the British Fund for Animals, to support Earth Force’s first ship, which Watson named Sea Shepherd. In 1981 Watson changed his group’s name to Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

With its propensity for violence, Sea Shepherd was a low-budget operation—until Whale Wars. Tax documents show its revenue jumped from $1.5 million in 2005 to $3.4 million in 2007 to $4.0 million in 2008. IRS data for 2009, the most recent available, show Sea Shepherd revenue of $9.8 million, which includes the $5 million gift from game show host Bob Barker that was used to buy a second ship named in gratitude after him.

Other public records show that in 2010 Bob Barker’s DJ and T Foundation (assets: $13.3 million), a grant-maker dedicated to spaying and neutering animals, made seven gifts to Sea Shepherd totaling $3.7 million. There are also contributions from the Tides Foundation ($30,500 since 2002), the Foundation for Deep Ecology ($281,000 since 2000), and the Park Foundation, Inc. ($159,000 since 1999). Sea Shepherd’s latest tax return shows that Watson is paid just over $100,000 in salary and benefits. Most activists in the organization, including the crews sailing to the Antarctic, are volunteers.


By mainstreaming radicalism, Whale Wars has made the violent tactics of Sea Shepherd widely acceptable. As Sea Shepherd goes mainstream, it’s likely that more advocacy groups and their leaders will be tempted to do likewise knowing that they will not endanger their tax-exempt status or their capacity to raise money. Their targets will become less objectionable than Japanese whalers. It may be only a matter of time before activists use Sea Shepherd’s “non-violent” violence against the producers of beef and pork, chicken and turkey—all staples of the Western diet.

Thus far violence in the environmental movement has for the most part been limited to fringe groups like Sea Shepherd. Discovery Communications’ Whale Wars runs the risk of spreading that violence far and wide.


Approaching the end of the Kyoto Treaty

Economic historian Martin Hutchinson looks at the issues facing a successor to the treaty

We are now within three months of the climacteric year of 2012 around which the 1997 Kyoto Protocol was built, and therefore within fifteen months of a period in which the Kyoto restrictions will no longer have effect. No fewer than sixteen conferences have been held in an attempt to find a successor to Kyoto, the largest in Copenhagen in 2009. A seventeenth such conference will be held in South Africa at the end of November.

Start with the science of global warming. There’s clearly something there, but it might be infinitesimal. The warming effect of additional carbon dioxide in the atmosphere makes sense even to my vague memories of high school chemistry. It is also certainly clear that the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been increasing steadily in the last half century, at least. What’s not at all clear is the size of the effect the additional carbon dioxide is having on temperature – will we warm by 5 degrees Celsius in 2100, or only by 0.05 degrees Celsius?

In addition, there is both theory (again according with my vaguely remembered high school chemistry) and evidence to suggest that the effect of additional carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is asymptotic, not exponential, in other words that each additional tonne deposited has less effect than the previous one. If you read the 2007 Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a report deliberately written to maximize the resources devoted to climate change initiatives, you will find that the probability of a temperature rise beyond 2 degrees Celsius in 2100 is quite low.

The work of climate change scientists, much of which has been based on construction of elaborate computer models rather than direct observation, has however been suspect. Data used in the IPCC reports has been discovered to have been tampered with, and the integrity of climate change science called into question. It’s not surprising that corners have been cut and inconvenient data suppressed. These scientists’ livelihoods and funding depend entirely on there being something real to worry about and we should not realistically expect higher standards of integrity in today’s scientific profession than in the remainder of our sadly degraded intellectual and political life. A further question has arisen, casting no further doubts on the integrity of existing scientific work but making its results highly questionable, from recent research at CERN in Geneva, which suggests that cosmic rays have a substantial effect on climate, a factor not taken into account in existing climate change models.

The claim by the left that climate change represents “settled science” is thus laughable. The magnitude of the effect is not settled and much of the work in the field, constructing computer models based on dubious and incomplete assumptions, should not be dignified with the name of science.

The prestige of “settled science” has in any case received an additional blow in the past week with the apparent discovery at CERN of neutrinos travelling modestly but significantly faster than the speed of light. If these results are confirmed, they contradict Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity, formulated in 1905 and apparently verified by observations of the transit of Venus in 1919. On the Special Theory has depended a large part of the edifice of twentieth century sub-atomic physics, from quantum mechanics, an invention of the late 1920s that poses several unpleasant philosophical problems, through to the “string theory” that includes ten dimensions, most of them infinitesimal, on the basis of which we spent untold billions constructing CERN in an attempt to find the mysterious and so far untraceable Higgs Boson.

If an important theory in the hard sciences, more than 100 years seasoned, that was apparently confirmed by observation 92 years ago, and on which untold billions have been spent and Nobel Prizes won, can turn out to have been materially in error, then it can only be concluded that we know less than we think we do. Distorting the world economy beyond recognition, lowering global wealth by a substantial fraction for decades to come, would have been unwise even if climate change theory had been as firmly established as Special Relativity. As it is, while there is reason to pay attention to the climate change question and invest significantly in improving our knowledge in the area, the uncertainties of measurement, causality and data integrity are far too great to reorganize the world around it.

The Kyoto process and the climate change hysteria that followed it have however been useful in giving us a number of demonstrations of what won’t work, as well as a few things that have worked.

The Solyndra debacle, the collapse of a solar power company with a $535 million U.S. government loan, has shown us not only that government funding of individual companies doesn’t work, but why it doesn’t work. Government not only lacks the expertise to choose between competing technologies, but is subject to all kinds of unpleasant political and donor-related pressures to do the wrong thing. Direct funding of new technologies by government, other than in the pure research phase, is a corrupt waste of taxpayer money.

A second failure of the Kyoto years has been government-mandated “cap-and-trade” schemes. Like direct government investment in companies, they have proved to be appalling nests of corruption. The unpleasantness of the phony subsidies to Chinese energy-savings scams is only exceeded by the Enron-like shenanigans in the emissions permit trading markets. The cap-and-trade structure was devised in part by Enron itself before its demise, and it shows all the hallmarks of other constructs of the unfortunate Jeff Skilling – on paper an elegant market-based solution, in reality an invitation to cronyism, corruption and rip-offs. The central fallacy of these schemes is that central planning bureaucrats can magically be expected to decide a target for carbon emissions each year – the schemes thus abdicate the market’s most important function. They need to be closed down forthwith.

A third failure of the Kyoto years has been government’s attempt to select preferred technologies for subsidy. Like direct investment, such an attempt inevitably descends into a mass of corruption and ineptitude. One such example was geothermal power, where environmentalists were blinded by its lack of carbon emissions and failed to take account of the possibility that drilling deep into geologically unstable rock formations was likely to cause earthquakes. Another was corn-based ethanol, where the George W. Bush administration, egged on by its financial and electoral paymasters in the farm lobby, installed an economically outrageous subsidy system that increases rather than diminishes carbon emissions.

Finally, as was suspected even in 1997, direct regulation does not work and imposes intolerable costs on the economy. The EPA’s current attempt to use a dodgy Supreme Court decision to override the political process altogether and through regulation of carbon emissions meddle in all sectors of the U.S. economy is potentially a major addition to the blizzard of regulations currently holding back economic recovery.


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon warns of rising 'Sea Levels'

Some mischievous person added the graph below to the report. The graph shows clearly that sea level has in fact plateaued

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is warning about rising sea levels that will put coastal cities from Miami to Kolkata at risk and climate change in urban areas is to blame.

"Major coastal cities, such as Cairo, New York, Karachi, Calcutta, Belem, New Orleans, Shanghai, Tokyo, Lagos, Miami and Amsterdam, could face serious threats from storm surges" and are at risk of being inundated by rising waters, was told.

"The nexus between urbanisation and climate change is real and potentially deadly," he said.

"More and more municipalities are harnessing wind, solar and geothermal energy, contributing to green growth and improving environmental protection," he said, urging further international support for local and municipal efforts.

Experts are saying that by 2050 we will have a major problem with rising sea levels.


The latest lulu

"It rained so hard the oceans fell". They seem to overlook the fact that water sucked up to fall as rain mostly goes back to the sea via rivers -- etc.

“The year 2010 was one the worst years in world history for high-impact floods. But just three weeks into the new year, 2011 has already had an entire year's worth of mega-floods. “ -- Meteorologist Jeff Masters

I spend hours a day researching what New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman calls “global weirding”: the destabilization of our weather system fueled by the three million tonnes of fossil fuel pollution we inject into it each hour. So it is a rare day when something shocks me as much as a recent U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) report on last year’s extreme rainfall.

As most locals know from soggy personal experience, our corner of planet Earth since last spring has been a bit wetter and greyer than normal. And next door, our Washington neighbours donned their gum boots and slogged through their fourth wettest year since 1895.

Still, we got off lucky. Very lucky it turns out. According to this jaw-dropping NASA report, worldwide rainfall and snowfall were so extreme, in so many places last year, that sea levels fell dramatically.

Sea levels have been rising steadily for over a century as the ever warmer ocean water expands and the world’s remaining glaciers and ice sheets melt. In fact sea levels are rising twice as fast now as they were a few decades ago. As the NASA chart above shows there have been some ups and downs but nothing in the modern satellite record comes close to the 6 mm drop worldwide last year.

While 6 mm might not sound like a lot, when collected from the surface of all our planet’s oceans it adds up to 26,000 gallons of water per human.

So just where did all this missing water go? The ringleader of the great water heist was one of the strongest La Nina cycles of recent times. La Nina shifted and altered weather patterns causing extreme precipitation to funnel into places like India, Pakistan, Australia, and northern tiers of both South and North America.

In the map below, produced from NASA’s GRACE satellite data, blue indicates areas that gained water last year. The darkest blue areas gained as much as 50 mm in one year.

These dark blue spots are also the sources of the world’s epic floods of the last couple years which not only left tens of millions homeless and destroyed agriculture and infrastructure, but also left behind so much water that global oceans were depleted by 6 mm.


Solar energy School Propaganda 101

The Obama administration's crony green subsidy scandal is erupting like a solar flare in Washington. But do you know what your kids are learning in their environmental education classes about this red-hot taxpayer eco-scam? Chances are: not much. Instead, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Democratic apparatchiks at the National Education Association are disseminating solar power propaganda masquerading as math and science curricula.

Titled "Solar Power and Me: The Inherent Advantages," the lesson plan for middle-school and high-school students directs them to "take note of how solar energy is incorporated into the infrastructure of various cities nationwide and write a short essay about how they would encourage solar energy use in their own town."

A worksheet labeled "All About Solar!" makes the blanket assertion that solar technologies are "a sound economical choice as they can reduce or eliminate exposure to rising electricity rates, or even eliminate one's need to pay an electrical bill! In addition, solar panels can be a smart long-term investment, with many solar vendors offering 20-30 year warranties on their products."

The only warranties worth anything from bankrupt, half-billion-dollar solar company Solyndra Inc. are the warranties on the Disney whistling robots and saunas that adorned its Taj Mahal headquarters. But I digress.

Another worksheet cheerleads the "financial savings" of "solar power and me" and coaches students to "imagine you live in amazing and sunny Anaheim, CA, where the combination of local and federal rebates covers 74 percent of your total cost of a solar panel system!" The exercise then entices the student to take out a 20-year loan on a new solar panel system to produce even greater illusory savings.

Yet another question-and-answer key reads: "How would switching to solar energy affect energy use at your home and school?" Answer: "In general, switching to solar energy would lower your home's electrical costs and reduce your emissions, thus saving money and improving the environment."

But as Brian McGraw of the free-market Competitive Enterprise Institute points out: "There might be a small niche market, but solar energy is still largely incapable of producing reliable electricity at rates that are even in the ballpark of cost competitiveness compared to coal or natural gas." Energy Secretary Steven Chu, the force behind billions of dollars' worth of rushed green energy loans overseen by deep-pocketed Obama bundlers, himself acknowledged that solar tech will need to improve five-fold before it even begins to have a cost-competitive shot.

After examining decades' worth of failed subsidized solar efforts at home and around the world, the Institute for Energy Research concludes: "Although stand-alone solar power has a certain free-market niche and does not need government favor, using solar power for grid electricity has been and will be an economic loser for ratepayers and a burden to taxpayers."

The DOE/NEA curriculum encourages students to pressure politicians to pour more money into supposedly underfunded green energy schemes. But the House Budget Committee reported last week: "The president's stimulus law alone included tens of billions in new government subsidies for politically favored renewable-energy interests: $6 billion in loan guarantees for renewable energy investments; $17 billion for the Department of Energy's energy efficiency and renewable energy programs; $2 billion for energy-efficient battery manufacturing; and billions more on other 'clean-energy' programs for a total of $80 billion. Two years later, the president's promise of millions of jobs stands in stark contrast with reality."

A more useful homework assignment would be to have these future taxpayers calculate how much their moms and dads are spending to prop up Obama's green jobs industry and its elite Democratic campaign finance donors/investors. The White House projected 65,000 new jobs from nearly $40 billion in green job stimulus spending. Instead, fewer than 3,600 jobs were created. Get out your calculators, kids: That's $4.85 million per job. Investor's Business Daily crunches the numbers further on the taxpayers' return on its DOE green loan guarantee "investments" and finds that the program will cost a whopping $23 million per job.

A separate NEA solar energy lesson plan marketed with Dow Corning teaches 5th- through 8th-graders "how solar panels work." A more apt, real-world lesson would teach them how they don't work. The myth that this alternative energy source "pays for itself" is busted with just a cursory glance at the Denver Museum of Science and Nature.

President Obama staged a photo-op on the facility's solar panel roof in 2009 when he signed the green jobs goodie-stuffed stimulus law. The museum refused to disclose electric bills before and after installation of the solar array. But after digging into the lavishly taxpayer-funded project, the Colorado-based Independence Institute discovered that the panels -- which only last 25 years -- wouldn't "pay for themselves" until the year 2118, more than a century from now.

It's elementary. The government shouldn't be in the business of picking any eco-winners or losers. "Too Green To Fail" redistributes wealth from viable private projects to pipe dreams, forces higher taxes and energy costs on everyone, and rewards partisan funders at public expense. Teach your children well. They're inheriting the bill.


More Greenie lies

A friend recently alerted me to a protest which is scheduled to take place in Pierre, South Dakota, to reverse a decision by the State Legislature to issue permits allowing a pipeline to be constructed across South Dakota to transport crude oil from the Alberta (Canadian) oil sand deposits to refineries in Texas, at a rate of a million barrels a day.

The e-mail contained a very fine collection of lies, innuendo, twisted “facts” and appeals to prevent South Dakota and Nebraska from being destroyed by this pipeline project, and to “tell the truth.” In this article, I’m responding to these points. Beware: my response is very sarcastic and somewhat bitter. As a citizen of South Dakota, I cannot but be sick that once again our state is infected with this kind of nonsense. Please accept my apologies for length, harshness, and downright anger. I have been fighting this sort of thing for my entire adult life, it seems, in at least a half-dozen states and overseas. Their malice just grows stronger.

As my readers might imagine, I've been watching this issue for a long time. The US and Canada have billions of barrels of oil, perhaps more than all the Arabs put together. The construction and the operation will be expensive but will pay for itself quickly, according to all unbiased analysis I’ve read.

By contrast, at first glance, most of this e-mail is propaganda. I noticed that there are almost NO citations at all - just claims. And a LOT of bald-faced lies....

Much more HERE


For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


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