Reflection on “The Cove”

Although The Cove premiered in 2009, I hadn’t heard of this documentary until I watched the more recent documentary Blackfish.  Growing up in Orlando, close to Sea World, Blackfish hit home.  But I didn’t know how The Cove would impact me.  I wasn’t sure if it would strike as deep a chord as Blackfish did, or if it would be more like a PETA video- something that exists purely for shock value, when it feels like there is very little we can actually do to stop it.  I was very surprised by how The Cove turned out.  I thought it was incredibly well made and it was not at all what I was expecting.  It was graphic near the end, but appropriately so.

Although this slaughter is happening in an entirely different country, watching this film made me feel as if it could be happening here.  The passion that was put into this film resonated with me as I’m sure it did with many others, and it successfully bridged the gap between us as viewers and the actual events happening in Taiji.

A few things about the documentary stood out to me.  The most emotional part of the film, for me, was the scene in which the one dolphin had escaped the nets and was coming toward shore, after being harpooned.  What made this so upsetting was not just the emotional element of an animal struggling to live, but the fact that the japanese fisherman were laughing, lightheartedly, directly after the filmmakers had witnessed this dolphin’s horrible end. It really made me realize who these fisherman truly are, at their core.

On another note, I had a slight problem with the human, dolphin connections that the filmmakers were making.  Although I do believe in having a deep connection with animals, especially intelligent animals such as dolphins and whales, I don’t always believe that dolphins purposefully save human lives or seek out connections with us. I have a problem every time a documentary or organization tries to justify saving a species because of how closely that animal can connect or relate to us on a human level.  All animals, all life, are equal on this earth.  To say, “dolphins are so much like us, we need to save them”, seems irrelevant to me.  Dolphins and humans have certain similarities without a doubt, and I definitely believe that they can form personal connections with people, just like other animals can, but more importantly they are dolphins, who form connections with each other and play a vital role in the ecosystem of the ocean and that alone should be enough.  Whether they are self aware or not- that shouldn’t determine whether this type of capture and slaughter should continue.  What is wild should remain wild, and when there are no benefits at all to hunting that animal for human consumption, there is absolutely no excuse.

After the documentary concluded I felt a lingering sense of hope, but I immediately wondered what the last four years had shown as a result of this film.  It has certainly raised an enormous public outcry, but apparently not enough to stop the slaughter from happening.  Even as I type this, dolphins are being hunted in Taiji, as they are every year from September to March.  And I honestly can’t think of anything sadder than that.

However, I believe that in the grand scope of things, four years is a very short period of time.  The Cove was the beginning of the end.  As long as it is not looked upon as an “oh we tried to stop that once, but they didn’t listen” situation, I believe that the slaughter can be stopped, but we must be relentless.  At the very least, we must continue to boycott places that take animals into captivity from the wild.

Here are a couple photos of one of the results of Taiji’s most recent dolphin hunt:

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In January 2014 a rare baby albino dolphin was captured and sold into captivity, while the majority of her pod was slaughtered. 

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The albino dolphin calf, in her life of captivity. 

– Jay

The Cove Reaction

This documentary was by far one of the most excruciating but informative things I have ever seen. It was something that I will never forget. The atrocities that are committed by the Japanese people of Taiji are unreal. My brain cannot even begin to fathom how they have allowed this to happen. I think I’m even more appalled at the fact that Japan, better yet, the world, has not put a stop to this yet.

Why would anyone want such intelligent animals?

I never thought watching this movie would make me so angry at Japan. Well not all of Japan, but the people of Taiji. The deaths of 23,000 dolphins per year at Taiji is something that the world MUST stop. In the last 5years, the fishermen of Taiji have killed 115,000 dolphins and porpoises, which is absolutely UNREAL. Why hasn’t this been stopped yet? Why hasn’t the government of Japan not done anything to stop this? Dolphin and whale meat should be banned everywhere. Not only is it extremely toxic but ironically enough the people consuming it, are ignorant to the fact that it is slowly killing them.

The end of the movie was what did it for me. Words cannot describe the way I felt, and STILL feel after watching it. It was almost one of those things where you want to look away, but its so shocking and horrific that you need to look. Animals being slaughtered, poked with harpoons, and swimming to their deaths is something that I will never forget. Something that really caught my attention, is that the animals are self aware, so they know what is going on. When Ric O’Barry said that Cathy, “Flipper” committed “suicide” in his arms, was something truly shocking, something else that I will probably never forget.

In spite of the dolphin slaughter,  I really applaud the OPS’s efforts in exposing this horrific situation, that is unfortunately still happening in that part of the world. Its people like them that inspire others to do something. I am glad that OPS is putting an effort to stop this. However, I wish that more people knew about this. I am pretty sure that there are other countries in the world where the population knows nothing of whaling. I was really surprised that the rest of the population in  Japan, had no idea this was going on in their country. I hope that some day, these atrocities will stop.

By Jenny Charles-Santos

Picture credit: The Guardian

The number of jelly fish increased by global warming, impede warming.

Mostly jellyfish live in warm region, global warming causes increase the number of jellyfish make various damages are occurred, but lately, increased jellyfish delay climate change.

 One of the GEOMAR (Hermholtz Centre for for Research Kei) research staff reports when jellyfish die, settle the ocean floor, absorb carbon from seawater, and save them or while decompose becomes to nutrient to supply organisms.
 
The ocean absorbs 25% carbon dioxide from human activity. As a result, the amounts of jellyfish moves carbon dioxide dissolve in the sea is equal to how many they die. Meanwhile jellyfish was classified  to the noxious organism rebirth to one of the solution of climate change and attempt to research in variety direction.

Climate Change in the Midwest.

Climate change in the United States is getting to be a rather big deal. One area in particular is the Midwest. This area includes the cities of Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Cleveland, Minneapolis, and St. Paul among others. Over the last few decades average annual temperatures have increased, causing an increase in the amount of heat waves in the area along with twice the amount of heavy downpours. These increases can affect the health of Americans living in the Midwest. Heat-related deaths, along with an increase in the risks of spreading certain diseases, and worse air quality will all be results of these dramatic changes in the climate. This will not only affect humans, but it will also affect water resources, agriculture, forests, and surrounding ecosystems. Throughout this year alone, precipitation in the Midwest is likely to become more intense, leading to increased flooding in the streets and cities, strained drainage systems, and reduced summer water availability. This could be dangerous for a number of reasons. Property damage will increase all over the Midwest, and the between the large heavy downpours there will more likely be large times periods of drought and water shortage. As for the affect on the agriculture, it could harm or help it. With heavy downpours there is efficient resources made available for farmers and agriculture. On the other hand though, Droughts and shortage of water can harm the agricultural systems in the midwest. Last but not least, the great lakes. The climate change is likely to disrupt the economy of the great lakes. Warmer temperatures may  have a positive impact on shipping, as ice-free seasons on waterways lengthen. These warmer temperatures could also have a negative impact, though. It could cause in increase in evaporation, lowering water levels causing too shallow of waters for large fully-loaded ships to cross. Overall this is an issue that needs to be addressed and no longer ignored.

Is It Hot in Here or Is It Just Global Warming?

Global warming. A shady fiend standing in the doorway to advancement. A flat tire on the highway of improvement. An unsettling warm spot in the pool of progress. What are we mere citizens to do to combat this horrid global phenomenon that entraps us? As pessimistic as it sounds, there will never be a time where all the people of the world get together and hold hands around the site of soon-to-be-demolished oil refinery, awaiting its destruction. That is, not without some really awful natural things happening first, which have direct evidence as being caused by global warming.

So, what do we do? Swaying the people in charge looks to be the only answer; people will do absolutely anything given enough monetary incentive, which might include saving our planet from turning into Mars (A bit unsettling to think that.. maybe at some point Mars was another Earth, and now look at the place. There isn’t much evidence to support it other than the fact it used to have water and perhaps a better atmosphere, but, the mere thought is pretty poignant).

People are far too comfortable as they are for there to ever be any kind of major impact on our atmosphere brought on simply by the public, let’s be realistic. Even more effective than money, fear is the ultimate motivator. It builds pyramids, it wins wars, it topples governments. Unfortunately, this means something considerably awful would have to happen to us on a global scale, and by then, would it be too late? Heck, I dunno. There are plenty of people who thrive off fear mongering for money (See: any special on the Weather Channel. COMING UP NEXT, HORROR TERROR HURRICANES FROM HEEEEELL, THESE AREN’T YOUR DAD’S HURRICANES, JACKWAD. THESE HURRICANES ARE GONNA F**K. YOU. UUUUUUP.). But that kind of fear is for entertainment, whether it’s treated like fiction or reality.

Our best bet is getting science in the game and figuring out ways to reduce greenhouse gases, or reconvert them somehow, perhaps some high-atmosphere extractor or something? A large planet-wide belt that sucks in and converts gases? A new species of bird that grabs the gases with both hands and carries it into space and puts it in one of those other sh***y gas giants? All viable answers to the global warming issue, but someone needs to get on it.


Yeah just slap a fire graphic over a picture of Earth. Yeah that looks good. Mmm.

Sources:
http://www.epa.gov/climate/climatechange/science/indicators/ghg/index.html
http://www.columbia.edu/~vjd1/greenhouse.htm

Climate Crisis in the Caribbean

          I’ve lived in Puerto Rico for 19 of my 20 years of life, and in that time I’ve gotten comfortably used to its warm, balmy, and rainy year-round weather patterns. This was the kind of weather I grew to love despite all the sweat and mosquito bites, and was a big reason why I went to a college in Florida in the first place. But while I’d smirk at the crazy extreme weather snowstorms in the northern US during winter these past few years, unabashedly sporting my standard shorts and flip flops and thanking goodness I didn’t have to worry about such drastic weather conditions any time soon, I was alarmingly unaware of just how much climate change was also affecting my island home, and what it could mean for its future.

          There are the more predictable changes at this point, which include higher sea levels, more powerful tropical storms, and warmer, more acidic coastal waters. Rainfall is thus projected to decrease over time, especially during the heavy downpour summer seasons, while rising sea levels are likely to increase the frequency and severity of floods during storms, as well as eroding and subsequently inundating coastlines.

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Home sweet home.

          And these are surely already affecting many of the islands unique and varied ecosystems: coasts, rain forests, mangroves and more, already facing damage from human development and pollution. In particular, coral reefs, which provide shoreline protection and valuable fisheries, face serious threats from water pollution. Warmer, more acidic coastal waters would likely serve as a further stress on many reefs. The loss and inundation of other coastal habitats, like mangroves, from rising sea levels and storm surges could endanger species that depend on these habitats for survival as well.

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One of many damaged coral reefs in the Caribbean Sea.

          It always saddens me slightly to acknowledge that I truly no longer live in Puerto Rico, and though I go back often enough, this probably adds to the reasons why I haven’t really felt these changes personally. I’d probably be as blissfully unaware of the dangers the island faces if it weren’t so apparent that, at this point, every location on Earth has been affected in some way by climate change. And, without any legitimate effort put to mitigate these dangers, its only a matter of time until I, and other unaware islanders, do start feeling the changes. And what then?

Sources:

http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/impacts-adaptation/islands.html

http://www.pnuma.org/deat1/pdf/Climate_Change_in_the_Caribbean_Final_LOW20oct.pdf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_issues_with_coral_reefs

Canine Eugenics and You

          The Science of Dogs was great. It was great because I love dogs and I love watching documentaries where I get to look at dogs do dog things. But the substance behind the fluff (pun intended) was also kind of mind-blowing, and that further adds to its greatness.

          For one, I’ve certainly thought about just how nuts the insane variety of currently existing dog breeds is before, but I didn’t know that the dog is the most genetically diverse animal species on the planet. That both surprised me and made a lot of sense upon remembering the former. And to know that this is true directly because of human intervention, the late 19th century’s sudden obsession with dog breeding, was honestly kind of shocking. We’ve cross bred dogs to determine every aspect of their nature, from physical appearance and biological capabilities, to “breeding loyalty”, or at the very least, breeding human dependancy. The last twenty minutes or so of the documentary are focused on examining the behavioral differences between the dog and its primal, still living ancestor, the wolf. Various simples tests run between the two species show that, while the wolf is perfectly capable of showing affection towards its human handlers, it does not inherently seek out humans in order to operate. A wolf will soldier on, singleminded and independent, regardless of human intervention. Dogs on the other hand, when faced with simple tests they could not solve, always turned to their human handlers for input after failing to do so. I honestly had never considered that man’s best friend is friend to man because we’ve made that a permanent and inherent part of their nature.

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An exercise in contrast.

          And this very nature, its creation by human hands, really served to put the pure breeds versus mutts debate into perspective for me. I have a purebred chihuahua and I already had to drop 700 dollars for surgery to remove a baby fist sized kidney stone from his bladder, so I’ve seen the inherent genetic risks that come with pure breeding first hand. On the one hand, highly specific dog breeding has given us dogs that can sniff out bombs better than any machine. On the other, a Pug’s skull is so shallow that a simple sneeze can cause its eyeballs to pop out of their sockets, so there is most definitely an argument to be had here.

          As this becomes a hotter topic, it’ll be interesting to see if any sort of restrictions eventually come into play with regards to aggressively specific dog breeding. In a few years time, playing God with canines might be seen for what it really is, and really means, for our beloved house pets.

Sources:

http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/wolves/images/32863739/title/wolf-photo

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pug

No Impact Man

No Impact Man seems heavily criticized, as everything should be. Colin Beavan is not perfect, and his project’s name is a misnomer, of course, and he is very privileged to be able to do what he is doing. That’s not to say, however, that it was an easy feat. He did what a lot of people could do, technically, but did not have as strong a will. It was a “What If” project that was able to highlight a lot of ignored problems in a way that some parts of the population can relate. He (and his family) were able to touch a lot of people with their project. This was not a documentary with a global impact, but does it have to be?

In particular, the documentary really got me to realize how much trash my apartment was producing on a weekly basis, and how generally clueless I could be about where it all was coming from. For one, we use a lot of water bottles and coke cans. We want to get a water filter to reduce or flat out eliminate our water bottle use, and consume less coke. Sometimes we eat out, like at Brickman’s or Burger King, and we get a paper plate and a paper cup or a bag full of disposable things. What is there to do for us? Stop eating at Brickman’s? Stop eating fast food? Do we really have to make these big lifestyle changes? This wastefulness is deeply ingrained into our society, and I’m disturbed at the culture we’ve created that has such a painful reliance on disposability.

Anyway, if “No Impact Man” can touch anyone in a meaningful way, and get them to consider their actions more, and make what changes they can, then it is of no harm.

Thoughts Surrounding “No Impact Man”

After watching no impact man I am reminded of my time earlier in my life as a boy scout.  I heard the phrase “Leave no trace” multiple times throughout the eight years I was a part of the program.  I was continually urged to be conservation minded and to act with respect towards nature.

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The problem was that I didn’t like nature.  Nature was too cold, too hot, or just plain boring for me.  Whenever I was outside, my thought turned towards the comforts of my home, or the excitement about a video game, or just spending some time alone far away from any mosquitoes.  I didn’t much care if my actions had an impact on the environment.

It’s strange.  All my life I have been told to care about the environment, so now whenever I hear about how we should cut down on this and recycle that I don’t take much thought to listen.  I heard it all before, now it’s just boring repetition.  At least that is what I often think first when the discussion comes my way.

I’m not entirely sure why it can be so difficult to pay attention to these issues that are actually very important.  Maybe it is because we believe that our actions contribute only a small morsel to the environmental hazards.  Maybe it is because we have difficulty grasping concepts and things that are large scale and do not appear to relate to our personal lives.  Maybe we just become bored of the cause because it is the same things repeated over and over again.

In my opinion the lack of motivation among people to act is a significant issue in the world today.  It is a problem that does not have a particularly clear solution either as motivation is not something you can physically make and give to others.  Maybe focusing on our cultural roots would help the problem more, such as being more supportive of collectivist ideals such as sacrifice (as in giving up of one’s own time or possessions to make something better for someone else).