SAVE THE WHALES – Except When they Get in the Way of Green Energy

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From Watts Up With That?

Essay by Eric Worrall

If you thought advocating bird killing wind turbines and solar thermal was the limit of green hypocrisy, think again.

We thought we’d saved the whales. Were we wrong?

Antarctica is a space of solace and sustenance for southern-hemisphere whales, but for how much longer?

What does a whale know?

It is minus 5 degrees – a balmy summer’s afternoon in Antarctica. The sky is white and the sea is glossy black. We have been sitting in this black rubber Zodiac for almost three hours, and I’ve begun to be wimpily conscious of the frostbite on my left foot, red and itching beneath my rubber boot and three layers of sock.

The problem today is that human markets are also consuming Antarctic krill. We use it for three non-essential purposes: as an additive in commercial salmon feed; in pet food; and as an omega-3 supplement for humans. A dozen industrial-sized factory ships are currently hunting krill in the Antarctic: the biggest players in the industry are Norway and China. China is rumoured to have another eight krill super-trawlers planned, and there is pressure to increase the catch.

And finally, it feels like a place where time is moving at warp speed. Climate change has made the Antarctic Peninsula one of the most rapidly warming parts of the planet. And this year marked a new record low level of sea ice on the continent as a whole. As well as protecting glaciers and icecaps that would cause enormous sea-level rises if lost, and the oxygen-generating phytoplankton that thrive beneath it, sea ice is crucial habitat for minke and killer whales and several species of seals and penguins. It also shelters Antarctic krill during their larval and juvenile stages. And we already know how much depends on krill.

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Greens don’t seem nearly as concerned about whales when they are supporting offshore wind power.

Something bad is happening, but nobody seems to care much. h/t David Wojick;

… NOAA said it has been studying what it calls “unusual mortality events” involving 174 humpback whales along the East Coast since January 2016. Agency spokesperson Lauren Gaches said that period pre-dates offshore wind preparation activities in the region.” [Gaches is NOAA Fisheries press chief.] …Read more:

The US government was recently asked to consider simple measures to reduce the risk offshore surveys pose to whales, such as stopping surveys during whale season. But such simple measures to avoid harm were rejected in favour of a vague plan to monitor the situation.

Alternative to minimize impacts on NARW [NARW = North Atlantic right whale]

A commenter requested that BOEM include a range of alternatives to prohibit HRG surveys during seasons when protected species are known to be present in the Project area, in addition to any dynamic restrictions due to the presence of NARW or other endangered species. The commenter requested that BOEM include EIS alternatives that require clearance zones for NARW that extend at least 1,000 meters with requirements for HRG survey vessels to use Protected Species Observers and Passive Acoustic Monitoring to establish and monitor these zones with requirements to cease surveys if a NARW enters the clearance zone.BOEM reviewed this request for an alternative and determined that it would be more suitable to address potential impacts of HRG surveys through mitigation and monitoring (rather than as an EIS alternative). Refer to Appendix H, Mitigation and Monitoring, for BOEM’s recommended measures to avoid or minimize impacts on marine mammals during construction and operation of the Projects.

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The offshore wind industry is concerned enough about potential blowback that a bunch of offshore power companies have applied for incidental take permits, a free pass for accidentally killing whales.

Of course, murdering protected species isn’t the only issue greens have rolled over on. Remember back when greens chained themselves to trees to prevent the construction of hydroelectric dams? Nowadays greens cheer the development of hydro systems, as zero carbon backup for intermittent renewables.

One day, when there are a lot fewer whales and endangered eagles and untouched green spaces, people might look back on and wonder about the great green betrayal. But I doubt we’ll ever get an apology from the current generation of greens.