Posted by: arminlav1 | November 5, 2011

The impact of oil and whaling


After considerable research, I could not find any evidence of whaling done in Florida. But I am sure at some time in the past since ships have landed on the Florida coast, someone must have hunted for whales. The population of whales is decreasing. According to FWC, there are less than 400 hundred right whales left in our existence. Although we have laws now to protect the species, in the past, especially during the 19th century, whales were slaughtered by the thousands for their oil, flexible baleen and blubber. Whale oil was used for heating oil and industrial lubricant. In Moby Dick, Stubb ironically is eating whale meat while oil lamp that is burning also came from the whale.

Today, business of whaling has changed since the times of Moby Dick. Since whale oil is rarely used, whaling is now primarily for meat and “scientific research.” Now, modern ships are equipped with sonar to find and track the whales. How does this impact us? For one, human has evolved into a more efficient killing machine. Our impact means diminished natural environment and extinct species. According to Japan Whaling Association, “over-exploitation could not happen again because of the stronger regulations and checks and balances that would accompany any reintroduction. The International Whaling Commission would control whaling if it were allowed again, just as it controls the bans now. Illegal catches or trade are unlikely sources since the Government of Japan has strict regulations that prohibits whaling for species regulated by the IWC in compliance with the moratorium on commercial whaling and because the import of whale meat from non-IWC member countries is prohibited by regulation.” However, the film that we discussed in class-Cove is worthy mention. Japan is the leader in hunting whales on a large scale. It is all done for consumption. Just because something is banned, it does not mean someone will obey it. The hunting culture we created is due to inept fishing practices. Ironically, The Japan Whaling Association states on its website that the purpose of the Japanese scientific research in whale stocks and health is to “gather evidence that will lift the moratorium so that commercial whaling can resume.” Question arises how much environmental damage are we willing to do—in the name of “science”? Is it not done for culture? The whales do not have a voice and all they will have if we continue to hunt them is money hungry industry and barren sea. The business of whaling industry and the hunt for oil led to petroleum and lighting we use today.

Besides the obvious dependency on foreign oil, humans have to deal with current problems at hand. The problems with petroleum that result from its use are many. In transporting oil, accidents do happen. Oil spills can kill plants and animals and soil beaches. The recent Gulf Oil spill disaster is a perfect example. The impact? The environment suffers. Animals had to be saved, transported and cleaned. Their natural habitat was not so natural after the oil spill.

Because we are so dependent, what would we do without oil? Petroleum generates electricity and all plastic is made from petroleum. From fertilizer, detergents, furniture, packaging material, the list goes on. Can we prevent the pollution that the use of petroleum products can cause by eliminating petroleum altogether? Can we be less dependent on oil? Is there another alternative source? What would it be like to live in a world without petroleum? According to British Petroleum website, we have between 25 and 45 years’ worth of oil left. What happens after this time passes?

 -Armin Stojadinovic-

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