The picture to the left I have somewhat clumsily entitled … CONTEMPLATING: FEELING STUPID BECAUSE I THOUGHT CLIMATE CHANGE WAS A FANTASY!? Well it isn’t but that doesn’t mean it should be used as an excuse not to take action in other areas as some have done recently …
Two truly depressing bits of news came across my desk today (18 March 2010), both from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). One was labelled Death Knell for Polar Bears as CITES Votes Against Conservation. The other was headlined Iceland Illegally Exporting Whale Meat to the EU. Both break my heart and …
both made me even more concerned when I discovered the stories behind them.
Had the CITES vote gone the other way it would have banned all international commercial trade in polar bears and their parts. But instead the meeting of the 15th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of Wild Fauna and Flora chose to ignore the plight of polar bears and “turned their backs on this iconic species”, to use the words of IFAW Director Jeff Flocken.
As a journalist who has specialised in energy and climate change for well over a decade, I am particularly perturbed to find the reasoning for the CITES vote against protecting these innocent creatures.
Apparently climate change poses the greater longterm threat to the species. So why should we bother to save them when they are going to die anyway, huh?
Well climate change poses a greater longterm threat to all of us, so on this basis should we also leave the poor to starve in Africa where climate change is making an undoubted impact, or to fend for themselves the people of the hundreds of small island nations that will be lost to climate change impacts? Quite rightly we would never dream of entertaining such foolhardy, incomprehensible, reasoning when it comes to our own survival.
The CITES logic therefore astounds me. No it disgusts me.
Using climate change as an excuse not to ban such unnecessary and deplorable behaviour in the case of our dwindling population of polar bears is unforgivable. Shame on those CITES members that voted against a ban.
And well, as for Iceland’s illegal exports of whale meat, I can only conclude that it is as morally bankrupt as it is financially so. No doubt the latter has contributed to its apparent moral vacuum. But financial need must not be tolerated as a justification for flouting international law.
As a life-long supporter of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society in addition to being a supporter of the World Wildlife Fund for Nature, this news greatly disturbs me. I can only hope the leaders of this nation and its citizens involved in breaking the law on whaling are rightly brought to account, something IFAW is working on.
And the same goes for those involved in Latvia and Denmark, a country I have long been associated with through my work on wind power and have tremendous respect for in many other regards. These two EU countries have also broken EU law on whaling, receiving whale meat exports from Iceland. Shock, horror … Japan is Iceland’s third, law breaking, customer.
Japan is never going to give up its whale meat obsession I fear (although that’s no reason to give up the fight to stop them), but as members of CITES – under which the trade in whale products is illegal – Iceland, Denmark and Latvia, should be held accountable for their illegal activities. I urge you to all support IFAW which is lodging a formal complaint with the European Commission, the CITES Secretariat, CITES representatives for Latvia, Denmark and Iceland, Interpol and the World Customs Organisation.
Go to www.ifaw.org for further information…please!
Image above © Gail Shameza Rajgor. See more photos here
In fact, all images © Gail Shameza Rajgor unless stated!