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How many statisticians does it take to….
Screw in a lightbulb? Trivialize the deaths of at least two dozen whales? Convince the world that the massive installation of wind power off our East Coast won’t irreparably damage our estuarine, inshore and offshore ecosystems?
The folks at NOAA/NMFS (and with the convenient parroting of myriad so-called environmentalists, and BOEM, the other part of the federal cheerleading squad selling Ocean Wind as a major solution to our “energy crisis”) have declared that it hasn’t been proven that there aren’t any relationships between the extensive survey work being committed by Big Wind and the associated contractors and the two dozen deaths that have been visited upon several species of whales off New York and New Jersey. What is their proof? Inadequately enough, their “proof” boils down to the fact that they have seen no proof. To my way of thinking, that’s tantamount to convicting someone of murder because there is no proof that he or she isn’t a murderer. But it appears as if, as far as dead whales and President Biden’s and New Jersey’s Governor Murphy’s windmill fantasies are concerned, that’s good enough. At least for NOAA/NMFS, BOEM and a bunch of environmental organizations.
Let’s say that you have a degree or two in some academic discipline for which the vast majority of jobs are in the public sector. And that you have a job in a public agency. Particularly in today’s and almost undoubtedly in tomorrow’s economies you probably want to hold onto that job as tenaciously as you can. In the bureaucratic world that means, as Jim Croce sang, “you don't tug on superman's cape. You don't spit into the wind. You don't pull the mask off that old lone ranger. And you don't mess around with Jim” (or Phil or Joe).
In other words, a state-level bureaucrat is going to have a rougher time of it if he rains on Governor Phil Murphy’s parade and ditto for a federal bureaucrat and President Joe Biden’s parade. Ditto for college/university researchers and grant getting.
If you’re aware of the fervor with which whale “protectors” flock to, beat their collective breasts over, and publicize each unfortunate whale demise, you probably believe that, at least in the case of the United States, each of those deaths is brought to the attention of what are considered whale/marine mammal “authorities;” that the condition of each mortality is recorded; that the cause of each mortality is determined at best or, at the least, estimated; and that this information is collected and analyzed by educated, trained and supervised public agency personnel. The marine mammal equivalent of the county medical examiner that Jack Klugman portrayed in the long running (8 seasons) NBC series Quincy, M.E. (and described on the IMDB website as “The cases of a brilliant, if Irascible, coroner who investigates suspicious deaths that usually suggest murder.” That would be just about all a dead whale-or a serious, committed environmentalist-could hope for.
Unfortunately, in the real world the best that a dead whale gets doesn’t quite measure up to what Jack Klugman offered to the victims of accused (or convicted) murderers.
If this were the best of all possible worlds, a Jack Klugmanish individual with the necessary mental ability, degrees, licenses, certifications and supervision would be the person working on dead whales. She or he would be working on them as soon after death as possible, performing a complete autopsy (if necessary, down to the cellular level), and filing a publicly accessible, carefully designed, standardized report of the necroscopy within an appropriately brief period after the whale’s death. And each report would be readily publicly accessible.
The cost per dead whale would be affordable, and it could also be done expeditiously. In the greater scheme of (government) things It wouldn’t take very much to move three or four technicians and their equipment anywhere on the East coast in a matter of hours. Possibly costing on the order of a few thousands of dollars.
The Marine Mammal Protection Act (https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/national/marine-mammal-protection/marine-mammal-protection-act) and the Endangered Species Act (https://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-endangered-species-act) certainly empowers NOAA/NMFS to be extremely aggressive and maybe even profligate when it comes to protecting cetaceans in general and whales in particular. And their personnel almost invariably are. But it seems that when it comes to whales in New York’s and New Jersey’s waters they have been uncharacteristically meek, mild and circumspect. Making this particularly hard to understand is the severe and growing public angst each dead whale creates, and the economic impact that these mortalities have already had-minimal at this point because they have been in the “off” season-and could continue to have on the two states’ coastal economies.
It appears as if in the world of the MMPA/ESA bureaucrats virtually anybody who has an interest in whales, has some available time and an unfulfilled wish to take a machete to a dead or dying critter that’s been floating in the ocean for some indeterminate length of time and might well have been driven over or run into by unknown vessels either pre- or post mortem, will be welcomed aboard. The assumption is that a follow-up report, which generally remains inaccessible to the public, will be filed though treated as confidential by the marine mammal protection people.
And then, on the political/bureaucratic side, we have the defenders of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s “damn the whales, full speed ahead” approach to the protection and preservation of New Jersey’s irreplaceable inshore and offshore waters and the critters that call them home, (NJ Board of Public Utilities President and Governor Murphy Appointee Joseph) “Fiordaliso also disputed any link between whale deaths and the offshore wind sector, noting experts have yet to find any conclusive evidence tying the problem to the industry.*” Mr. Fiordaliso’s disputation, eerily similar to the comments of every other supporter of the windustrialization of our oceans, relies on the fact that “we have yet to find any conclusive evidence tying the problem to the (wind) industry.” Note that neither Mr. Fiordaliso nor other so-called experts-whether career federal/state agency scientists/bureaucrats or wind energy sycophants that I am aware of-have definitively stated that any institution, agency or individual has in hand conclusive evidence as to what is actually killing the whales.
But they are all, individually and collectively, willing to endorse nothing more than a belief that that conclusive evidence, though up until now elusive, is out there.
Pity the poor whales. But pity even more the hapless scientists and bureaucrats who evidently feel compelled to publicly agree with Governor Murphy’s and President Biden’s fantasies of unlimited cheap electricity at the expense of our estuarine and ocean ecosystems. And that this is more than enough justification for possibly damning the whales.
*Try substituting here “…noting experts have yet to find any conclusive evidence proving the accused murderer is innocent.”
I’ll note here that a seeming lull in New Jersey/New York whale deaths proves nothing more than the “fact” that we know as little about the spate of excessive strandings today as we did when the whales started to die. By no stretch of anyone’s imagination (excluding, of course, personnel at NOAA/NMFS and BOEM, and members of the ENGO seismic profiling deniers club) should this be proof of anything other than fact that we don’t have a clue as to the cause of what is a still an unexplained unnatural phenomenon.
New Jersey Congressman Jeff Van Drew held an investigative hearing, AN EXAMINATION INTO OFFSHORE WIND INDUSTRIALIZATION, in Wildwood, NJ on March 17. The hearing was extremely well attended, with many concerned people turned away at the door. The panel of experts, Congressional Members present, and the audience were overwhelmingly in favor of a thorough investigation of what sounded like bureaucratic/political shenanigans before the state of New Jersey and the Biden administration allows any offshore wind energy development. Interestingly the proponents of this wind energy development are trying, futilely it seems, to connect the rapidly increasing opposition to the irresponsible installation and operation of wind-driven generators with the fossil fuel industry.
A video of the hearing is available at https://tinyurl.com/7zmt4z5e starting at 26:21.
Sign a Change.org petition demanding a temporary delay in and an investigation into Governor Murphy’s/President Biden’s seriously misguided attempts to fill our inshore and offshore waters (and adjoining wetlands) with thousands of these 1,000-foot-tall monstrosities and the associated infrastructure. To sign on go to https://www.change.org/p/protect-our-coast-nj-save-the-whales-stop-offshore-wind/c. As of noon on Friday, March 18, over four hundred thousand people who are concerned about this unprecedented whale mortality, and of the health of our onshore, inshore and offshore ecosystems have signed on. If you haven’t, please do so now. And remember that windpower development is only the first step in the march to industrialize our oceans. Deep sea mining interests are already lining up for their turn. For an “introduction” see the International Union for Conservation of Nature website on this coming threat at https://www.iucn.org/resources/issues-brief/deep-sea-mining.
Thank you for your time and attention,
Nils E. Stolpe