It seems that the conservatives are worked up about a recent federal court ruling that requires the Navy follow the law and use passive sonar, rather than active sonar in exercises designed to test submarine detection capacity. The law in question, the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act, recognized the threat to marine mammals and sensibly restricted human activities that threaten the lives of these creatures.
Michelle Malkin? Well, she’s no scientist:
This murky language means that the Navy can’t make a single splash without worrying whether some eco-extremist group will sue them for flipping out Flipper or stressing out the seaweed.
Seaweed, as it turns out, is not a mammal.
Her colleague in ignorance, Big Lizard, is no political scientist:
Lady, we are in a war, for God’s sake. You don’t stop the military from testing the weapons that save our lives every day just because your heart bleeds for Flipper, Shamu and all their undersea chums.
I’ll admit I haven’t watched the news today, but I missed the information that we were at war with someone with a deep water Navy, including submarines. Fortunately, Michelle clears it up:
Foreign enemies invaded our borders and murdered over 3,000 men, women and children on Sept. 11. Hundreds of thousands of young men and women have volunteered to make sure it doesn’t happen again. And all this guy can worry about is the comfort level of squid and plankton?
Oh, right…Al Qaeda flew submarines into the World Trade Center. And squid and plankton have been reclassified as mammals, I assume.
This is what passes for logic on the right today. Every issue, no matter how unrelated is still connected to 9/11 and terrorism. In the best case, it demonstrates that the practicioners of ‘logic’ on the right are just incredibly lazy. The less flattering, and more likely reality? They can’t support their arguments, so they desperately hope that repeating 9/11, war, 9/11, will convince idiots to make the argument for them.
So, is active sonar bad for whales and other marine mammals?
Kenneth Weiss, of the Los Angeles Times (April 26, 2001) said this:
Balcomb was outside his home on Abaco Island, Bahamas, on
March 15, 2000, when a 16-foot Cuvier’s beaked whale became stranded in shallow water. With somehelp, he managed to push the 2-ton animal back intodeeper water.
Soon he found a total of 16 whales–two minke whales and the rest beaked whales–stranded over a 200-mile area. All this occurred immediately after a day of Navy sonar exercises in the area.
Although a similar mass stranding had occurred in
Greece, this time a marine mammal researcher had fresh samples. Balcomb collected the whale heads and sent them to the Harvard Medical Schoolfor CT scans.
The research concluded that the loud sounds caused a "resonance phenomenon" in the air cavities of the whales’ heads. The sound vibrations were literally "tearing apart delicate tissues around the brain and ears," he said, leading to hemorrhage and death.
Even more disturbing to him, he said, is that since that day he has not seen any of the 35 photo-identified Cuvier’s beaked whales he has studied for a decade.
"These guys were here all months of the year for 10 years," Balcomb said. "They’re gone. The Navy killed them."
Jean-Michel Cousteau argues that long term exposure could lead to the extinction of whale species:
LFA noise is billions of times more intense than that known to disturb whale migration and communication. Whales and dolphins depend on their sensitive hearing for survival. To put it simply, a deaf whale is a dead whale. Deafening noise from the LFA system will interfere with the vital biological activities of marine mammals. Scientists fear that long-term exposure to LFA could push entire populations over the brink into extinction.
And what the impact to our military readiness? Non-existent.
The Windsor Star ( March 7, 2003) reports that neither the GAO or Christie Whitman believed the claims:
A General Accounting Office report on military training issued in June found that "(t)raining readiness, as reported in official readiness reports, remains high for most units" and that readiness data don’t support the Pentagon’s claims that it’s being hurt by the encroachment of environmental laws.
EPA Administrator Christie Whitman said last week in testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, "I don’t believe that there is a training mission anywhere in the country that is being held up or not taking place because of environmental protection regulation."