Tag Archives: nature

Activists Obscure Truth in Seal Hunt, Natural Order

By Jason Menard

I admire the tenacity of those PETA people, I truly do. But there comes a time and place where we need to learn to pick our battles. Nature’s a cruel mistress, and no amount of cajoling or grandstanding is going to make her change her mind – but in this new world, the key to survival isn’t related to brain-power, but how cute you look.

So Brigitte Bardot can grace us with her presence, she can stand before the horrifying image of a human baby lying dead on the ice, with a seal poised to deliver yet another blow with a club. Unfortunately, Bardot, Paul McCartney and a significant number of these well-meaning (I hope) animal-rights activist are being deliberately misleading in their commentary. And isn’t it interesting that a former bombshell and the one known as “the cute Beatle” are the ones lending their image to this fight.

In today’s world we’ve usurped natural Darwinism and replaced it with a more cosmetic version. And the images just obscure the issues.

Do a quick search on-line for anything relating to Canada’s annual seal hunt and you’ll be peppered with sites showing images of dewy-eyed baby seal pups, looking forlornly at the camera, with the implicit knowledge that some big, bad hunter is just waiting in the wings with a club ready to crush its little brains in.

Sorry, that’s just not the case. In fact, it’s illegal to hunt any seal that has yet to shed its newborn pelt. So that fluffy little cute seal we see is just fine.

Now, how about those ugly looking tuna? Nobody’s rushing to their rescue. We’ve accepted the fact that humans need to eat – although this logic doesn’t seem to matter to those opposing native seal-hunting rights, but I digress – and because tuna are big and ugly, we rarely see aging Brit-Poppers hanging out at the Star-Kist plant posing next to an image of an oppressed Charlie the Tuna.

But the dolphins that get caught in those nets that’s another story. We can’t kill the cute little dolphins – why, you may get Flipper! Yet, where’s the outrage over the loss of coral or pikas, both of which are on the World Wildlife Funds’ endangered species list? They don’t make for quite as appealing ad copy as baby snow leopards or orphaned pandas. Cows, pigs, and chickens are staples of our diet – but why do their lives deserve any less consideration than seals? Who is the final arbiter as to which animal gets to live and which is classified as livestock?

I really don’t know enough about seal hunting to know whether or not it’s something that should be supported. As someone who loves to tuck into a good steak, eats a heck of a lot of chicken, and enjoys the bounty of pork products that exist, I don’t feel I have the right to stand on a pulpit and pick and choose which animals are above becoming a meal or a jacket.

And, when statistics say that the seal population, despite the annual hunt, is flourishing, it’s hard for me to say that this practice is having a negative impact on the ecosystem. After all, it’s not like seals are in the predicament of African elephants, being killed simply for their tusks. These are animals that are, in many cases, being used as a significant source of the local economy and diet. This isn’t pleasure killing, this is nature at its base essence.

But the problem with this type of emotional advertising and grandstanding from activists like McCartney, Bardot – heck, even Pamela Anderson, is that the issue gets obscured by the image. While it’s effective in swaying those who only look at the surface of the issue, where is the open discussion for those willing to look at both sides of the story? Where are the facts, not just the emotions?

Baby seals photograph better than hunters (most of whom use guns, not clubs – but clubs make for more savage imagery), but where are the images of the native hunter bringing home food for the family. Or where’s the picture of the outpost fishing village whose very livelihood rests upon the continuance of the seal hunt?

The world has always been about predators and prey. Not to go all Lion King here, but there is a circle of life at play, wherein animals and nature work symbiotically to maintain a balance. Just as deforestation, global warming, and hunting for profit can irreparably damage nature’s precarious order, could not overprotecting animals have the same sort of effect?

For the average person who just wants to do right by the world, the answers aren’t evident. And, unfortunately for us, the greatest thing that’s being obscured by this drama, hyperbole, imagery, and emotion, is the truth.

2006© Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved

Blown Away by Humanity’s Arrogance

By Jason Menard

Watching Hurricane Katrina tear its way through the American south-east, following closely on the heels of Dennis and Emily, and echoing the deadly 2004 Hurricane season, one could wonder if humanity’s arrogance is truly blinding us to reality.

We live in a world that we’ve increasingly been able to control. And what we don’t control, in large part, we understand. We’ve reduced the great mysteries of the world to their base elements and we push the boundaries of human exploration and potential each and every day.

But has the gift of knowledge robbed us of our essential common sense? Does this feeling of control and power that we feel towards Earth blind us to the fact that in a battle between man and nature, nature will always win out.

Our overconfidence regarding our place in the world borders on arrogance. For thousands of years, man survived by respecting nature and learning to settle in areas that offered protection from the elements. Now, some of us actively defy nature and choose to reside in regions despite the elements.

People are still flocking to certain parts of Florida, Louisiana, and the Carolinas — parts of the United States where it’s not a matter of if a hurricane will hit, but it’s only a question of when. Common sense dictates that if an area is frequently subject to violent weather, then perhaps one should find alternative locations for settlement. However, common sense isn’t all that common – especially when it comes to snagging that prime beachfront lot.

Of course, when the beachfront is blown up and through your house on a fairly regular basis, is it still worth it?

In watching the television coverage or reading news reports during hurricane season, we’re bombarded with images of unspeakable lose, devastating tragedy, and the awe-inspiring spectacle of nature at its most dramatic. And, inevitably, we’re presented with the fact that a certain number of people, despite the dire warnings of meteorologists and the pleadings of local and federal officials, stubbornly refuse to leave their homes and decide to risk their lives – and those of their families – in a battle against Mother Nature.

Areas that are still rebuilding from last year’s devastation are bracing for more damage this year. It’s a seemingly never-ending struggle against time and circumstance, but are the risks truly worth the rewards?

The answer would seem to be no, especially when we factor in the loss of human life. Hurricanes aren’t like lightning strikes – they’re predictable, regional, and, ultimately, avoidable. Other regions of the continent are subject to certain natural phenomenon on a regular basis: the northwest is a haven for forest fires, the northeast finds itself in winter’s icy grip each year, and the southwest is on shaky ground – literally, with significant fault lines along the coast. For the most part, the risks of living in these areas fall under the category of acceptable.

We can’t protect ourselves from everything, but we should be at the point where we can do a risk analysis and find that the benefits outweigh the potential for disaster. But even the most optimistic of us could find that living in a neck of the woods that hurricanes frequent would be a little on the unfathomable side.

This isn’t a question of living in an area despite the presence of a few tough-looking customers hanging out on the street corner at night. This isn’t a matter of making a stand by sticking it out and improving the neighbourhood. Mother Nature leads a pretty bad-ass gang, and it’s hard to make the neighbourhood a better place to live when it’s been strewn across six counties. By now humanity should have learned when and where to pick its battles.

Our ancestors knew better than to live right in the path of nature’s fury. So why is it that we’ve chosen to forget those lessons? Progress, evolution, and technology have given us the knowledge and capability to understand the consequences of our actions. Unfortunately, the passage of time has also brought with it the arrogance to believe that we are removed from the natural order and, in fact sit above it — instead of just playing a part.

We need not all live in fear of the elements, head to high ground, and live in hermetically sealed bubbles. The fact of the matter is that we don’t need to remove ourselves from nature – we just have to respect it.

2005 © Menard Communications – Jason Menard All Rights Reserved