Just as another months-long dolphin drive is set to begin in Taiji, Japan, dolphin advocates will be taking part in Japan Dolphins Day on September 1 as part of an international effort to raise awareness about their plight and encourage a future where this slaughter no longer takes place.
The award-winning documentary The Cove brought Taiji’s annual dolphin drives into the spotlight and raised international outrage over the cruel practice of rounding up thousands of dolphins and killing them for their meat every year. It also brought attention to the relationship between the slaughter and the practice of taking and selling some of these cetaceans to marine parks around the world where they’re exploited for entertainment.
The especially heartbreaking case of Angel, a rare albino calf who made headlines after she was torn from her mother’s side and taken by fishermen during a violent roundup last January, led to international outrage over the captures and helped raise the profile of the ways the captures are helping to perpetuate these drives even further.
Sadly, the slaughter and captures continue. According to Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), nearly 850 dolphins of mixed species were killed last season, while more than 150 were taken alive for captivity. The outlook for this year isn’t looking much better:
Quotas have been set for the 2014-15 season, and allow for 1,938 dolphins to be taken in the drive hunts in Taiji alone. Of this total, nearly 1,000 bottlenose and striped dolphins may be killed, along with hundreds of other spotted, Risso’s, Pacific white-sided dolphins, false killer whales, and short-finned pilot whales.
The good news is that this year their advocates will be back at events being held around the world on Japan Dolphins Day to campaign on their behalf and help end the demand for captive dolphins. According to the Dolphin Project, last year more than 16,000 people participated at nearly 117 events and organizers expect record numbers this year.
Ric O’Barry, Campaign Director for the Earth Island Institute’s Save Japan Dolphins and founder of Japan Dolphins Day events, stated:
“The last Taiji hunting season was a brutal one. Across the globe, members of the public reacted to international headlines when hundreds of bottlenose dolphins were herded into the Cove in Taiji. One of those dolphins, Angel, became a symbol of the brutality of the hunts and helped to build and galvanize worldwide opposition to the inhumane captures. We plan to highlight the plight of Angel this year, along with our new slogan: Liberate, then Celebrate: A New Era for Dolphin Compassion.”
As the Dolphin Project notes, this day is not about attacking Japan – most Japanese people don’t know about the hunts and are appalled when they learn about it – it’s about continuing to educate everyone about what’s happening and about the dangers associated with eating mercury-laden dolphin meat, in addition to working with the government to end the slaughter.
We can’t all be there in Taiji to help, but there are a lot of other things we can do to help support efforts to end these dolphin drives this Japan Dolphins Day.
Attend an Event
Dolphin advocates will be attending events taking place around the world at embassies, aquariums and other public places to help educate the people about the drives in Taiji and how captivity plays a role in the continued roundups of dolphins. To find an event near you, visit the Dolphin Project’s map.
Write Letters and Sign Petitions
Dolphin advocates are being urged to send a letter to the Japanese Embassy in your country and the U.S. Embassy in Japan to voice concerns over the continued dolphin drives. You can also send a letter to the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums urging it to stop supporting facilities that take dolphins from drive hunts.
Already more than 482,000 people have signed the Care2 petition urging the Obama administration to address this issue, but there there are also plenty of other petitions that are circulating to help these dolphins. You can still sign the ones asking SeaWorld to abandon its plans to import a Pacific white-sided dolphin that was taken from a drive hunt and another one asking Taiji not to open its own marine park.
Support Organizations Working to Save Dolphins
For more information on ways to help organizations working to protect cetaceans and end dolphin drives, visit the Dolphin Project, Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians, Save Japan Dolphins and Whale and Dolphin Conservation.
Just Stay Home
One of the easiest ways to help is by simply not visiting aquariums and marine parks that keep dolphins (or whales). The profits raked in from the sale of dolphins captured during these drives is largely subsidizing them, and the money these facilities make from visitors helps support the demand for more. Please also continue to spread the word about these drives and why captivity is bad for cetaceans.
This video was created by Megan Rose Taylor, who writes in the description that she hopes to inspire others to give their voice to these dolphins. If you don’t want to see graphic images, close your eyes and listen to her powerful words.
When it comes to plans to cut carbon emissions, a lot of people label them “infeasible” simply because of the cost… as if you can put a price tag on the health of the planet. Nevertheless, even people who are primarily concerned about the economic ramifications of reducing carbon emissions have to admit that efforts to improve the environment have pretty immediate economic benefits, as well. A new study conducted by MIT finds that strategies implemented to slash emissions wind up paying for themselves — and then some.
Too often, the real financial benefits of emission programs are overlooked. The mistake that most carbon reduction plans make is failing to estimate the benefits and subsequent money that is saved through improved air quality. “Policies aimed at cutting carbon emissions improve air quality by a similar amount as policies specifically targeting air pollution,” said Noelle Selin, one of two lead authors of the study.
Pollution is responsible for plenty of health effects like heart disease, lung disease and asthma attacks. By cleaning the air, the government ends up making the money back by spending less money on medical care for the population and workers not having to take sick days.
To have a better understanding of the financial benefits, MIT examined three of the government’s schemes for cutting emissions:
- Cap-and-trade: By far, cap-and-trade programs earned back the most money. Societies earned back an average of over 10 times more money than they spent on instituting these programs in the first place by reducing the need for healthcare costs.
- Clean energy standards: Instituting clean energy standards was found to essentially break even in terms of money recouped. Given that clean energy programs have many more benefits than just saving money, that makes it all the more enticing considering that no money is lost in the process.
- Transportation changes: Alas, altering transportation policy is not a proven money-saver. Only 26% of the money spent on clean-energy public transit efforts was ultimately earned back. That’s not to say these changes aren’t important, but the MIT scientists are unable to honestly say that it makes as much sense as the other plans from a financial perspective.
Alas, by the researchers’ own admission, there is a limit to how much money can be recouped. The data shows that, at some point, the air will be cleaned to a certain extent that the financial benefits will no longer make up for the money spent to curb emissions. The need to reduce carbon emissions even further will still be imperative in order to save the planet, but the monetary incentive won’t be there, meaning that groups will have to be convinced that our own survival is reason enough to continue with the programs.
At least it’s a start, though. Realistically, we probably need the financial motivation to get these critical programs off the ground sooner than later. We’ll just have to worry that people within the capitalist system will see the value in continuing them once it’s not as concretely earning money back for the government.
In arid and degraded areas of Sub Saharan Africa, farmers who were barely able to provide for their families are now creating abundant forest gardens and “planting it forward” as they pass on successful techniques to their neighbors.
Working with agroforestry experts and volunteers from Trees for the Future, an Aid for Africa member organization, farmers in West Africa are turning small unproductive fields into veritable oases of fruits and vegetables.
One plant-it-forward scenario begins with Omar in Senegal. Thirteen years ago, he inherited about two acres (one hectare) of land with a few trees, shrubs and peanut plants. Income from this field was about $200 a year. Working with Trees for the Future, Omar began to add fast-growing trees with deep roots to improve soil quality and thorny acacia trees around the border to keep out grazing animals and harsh winds. Omar then intercropped vegetable plants and fruit trees. Within four years, Omar’s forest garden produced fruits, vegetables and tree products and an income of $1,000 a year.
Determined to spread his knowledge to others, Omar worked with Trees for the Future to provide seed and technical advice to his neighbor Keba, a 52-year-old peanut farmer who was struggling to make a living on land that was depleted from 50 years of peanut farming. Today, Keba’s land, which is surrounded by more than a thousand thorny bushes, produces a variety of crops including hot peppers, jujube berries and cashew nuts. In the past, he was lucky to earn $200 a year. Today, he earns that amount in a month from selling his hot peppers.
Keba too wanted to “plant it forward” and share his knowledge with another local farmer. The result—another thriving sustainable forest garden where there once was a degraded peanut field. Through example and word of mouth, farmers in the region continue to help each other find a better way to feed their families and rise out of poverty.
Trees for the Future has worked with more than 300,000 families throughout Africa and other parts of the world to help them return degraded land to sustainable production. John Leary, Trees for the Future’s executive director, has seen what happens when farmers “plant it forward.”
“In a place where difficulties abound, the worst thing to lose is hope. This farmer-to-farmer relationship of planting it forward brings cooperation, learning, teaching and hope…” he said.
Learn more about Trees for the Future and how they are working with African farmers to plant it forward.
Aid for Africa is an alliance of 85 U.S.-based nonprofits and their African partners who help children, families, and communities throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. Aid for Africa‘s grassroots programs focus on health, education, economic development, arts & culture, conservation, and wildlife protection in Africa.