The Consequences Of Meddling With Mother Nature

The Marine Mammal Protection Act was signed into law in 1972 and amended in 1994.

The act:

…protects all marine mammals, including cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises), pinnipeds (seals and sea lions), sirenians (manatees and dugongs), sea otters, and polar bears within the waters of the United States.

The Act makes it illegal to “take” marine mammals without a permit. This means people may not harass, feed, hunt, capture, collect, or kill any marine mammal or part of a marine mammal. The Act also formalized the marine mammal health and stranding response program to improve the response of stranding and unusual mortality events. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration web site gives the complete text of the Act.

So what are the consequences of this act? FoxNews in Boston posted an article today about some of the results of the act.

The article reports:

Great white sharks are discovering what tourists have known for years: Cape Cod is a great place to spend the summer.

…The white shark population is probably significantly larger, because the scientists can’t possibly spot all of them, Skomal (Greg Skomal, a senior scientist with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, and the state’s top shark expert) said.

Two of the more interesting findings are the increasing number of young sharks, and that they appear to be swimming farther afield.

“Last summer we saw greater numbers of smaller sharks, including juveniles, and that tells us that the population is rebuilding,” Skomal said.

Great whites, made famous in the 1975 movie “Jaws,” about a monstrous shark that terrorizes a fictional New England resort town, are coming to Cape Cod waters to feast on seals. Once hunted to near extinction, the now-protected seals are found in great numbers.

The seals used to be concentrated at the Monomoy Wildlife Refuge, off limits to humans, but as they have moved farther north, so have the sharks, Skomal said.

In 2013, WGBH reported that the increased seal population was impacting the fishermen in the area.

WGBH reported:

But the cuteness factor is lost on local fishermen like Nick Muto. He said he now has to compete with seals for fish, and it’s the seals who have a clear advantage.

“Fishermen feel we’re being blamed for a lot of the decline of the codfish population,” he said. “But in essence, in just the Cape Cod area alone, there’s 14,000 unregulated fishermen – being, the seal population.”  

Muto’s statistic may actually be a bit low. Current estimates place the number of seals around Cape Cod at more than 15,000 – almost triple the number from 1999. They gravitate to places like Monomoy because it’s isolated, and ideally suited to raising pups. The seals are here in big numbers. They’re here to stay. And these wily predators have gotten very good at competing with local fishermen for dwindling numbers of fish.

It’s obvious that the Marine Mammal Protection Act has had some unintended consequences. I am not a scientist and do not claim to have the answer to the negative impact protecting the seals has had on the fishermen and the impact the law has had on the shark population off Cape Cod. However, I think the law has to be reevaluated and the idea of limited killing of the seals explored. Otherwise, the beautiful beaches of Cape Cod will eventually become a safe habitat for great white sharks and an unsafe habitat for swimmers.

 

Buried In The Story Is The Cause For The Change

Channel 5 in Boston posted an article today about the fact that the number of great white sharks off Massachusetts shores is rising.

The article states:

The resurgence of the gray seal population has driven the increase in white shark sightings here.

White sharks in excess of 9 to 10 to feet switch their diet to larger prey: seals, sea lions and scavenged whale carcasses,” said Skomal.

The Marine Mammal Protection Act passed by the U.S. and Canada in 1972 helped bring back the gray seals, whose numbers in the Gulf of Maine to Massachusetts are estimated at between 300,000 and 400,000, with a major nesting area for seal pups on Muskeget Island between Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard, said Skomal.

About 2,000 pups were born on Muskeget in 2008, four times the rate in 1999.

Last September in Cape Cod waters, Skomal’s team filmed a white shark feeding on a freshly killed seal. The video shared Wednesday night depicted a bloody and violent scene.

The italics are mine. I don’t have anything against gray seals, I wish them well; however, when man decides to change the rules for one part of the animal population, he invariably impacts another part. Sharks have to eat, too.

You can bet that some pseudo-scientist will come along very quickly and blame the increased number of sharks on global warming. That’s just the way things work these days.

The Border Is Not Our Only Weakness UPDATED

ABC News reported yesterday that three Afghan military officers who were in the United States for a joint military mission have disappeared on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

The article reports:

They arrived in the country on Sept. 11, and were reported missing by base security personnel late Saturday. They were last seen at the Cape Cod Mall in Hyannis, Mass.

A Centcom official told ABC News there is no indication that the Afghan men reported missing pose any threat to the public. Officials said all the Afghan military personnel were fully vetted before they arrived

Base and local police and state authorities are working together to locate the three Afghans. There are still approximately a dozen Afghan soldiers still participating in the exercise, which ends Sep. 24th.

…Just last weekend, two Afghan policemen in the Washington, D.C., for a DEA training program at Quantico, Va., also went missing while on a sightseeing trip to Georgetown.

The two men, who were part of a group of 31 Afghan police officers in the U.S. for the multi-week program, were found safe somewhere outside of D.C., but officials would not say exactly where, ABC affiliate WJLA-TV reported.

According to WJLA-TV, the DEA said the two men left the group because they did not want to go back to Afghanistan.

The term ‘green on blue violence’ is used to describe attacks on our soldiers in Afghanistan by people our military is training to defend the country. The fact that this phenomena has a name is an indication that these attacks are not isolated events. So why are we inviting Afghans to America when there are trust issues with Afghani forces? This makes no sense.

UPDATE:

WCVB is reporting that that the three Afghani officers have been found.

The article reports:

The three missing Afghani soldiers who went missing during a training exercise at a Cape Cod military base this weekend have been found, a high-level law enforcement source tells Team 5.

…The source tells Team 5’s Karen Anderson the men were taken into custody at the Rainbow Bridge Canadian/US border crossing near Niagara Falls on Monday.

They were identified as Major Jan Mohammad Arash, Captain Mohammad Nasir Askarzada and Captain Noorullah Aminyar.

“They were here for a multi-national military exercise which had been scheduled for a long time. They have been here for a couple of weeks. There’s a lot of speculation that within the military they maybe be trying to defect,” Deval Patrick said.

 

Wind and…

English: A barn and wind turbines in rural Ill...

English: A barn and wind turbines in rural Illinois Deutsch: Eine Scheune und Windturbinen im ländlichen Illinois Français : Une Grange et des éoliennes dans la campagne de l’Illinois Português: Um celeiro e turbinas de vento na Illinois rural. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last night I had the privilege of hearing John Droz, Jr., speak on the topic of alternative energy. Mr. Droz is part of the Alliance for Wise Energy Decisions (AWED). an informal group of PhD‘s and other individuals involved in energy and environmental matters. As a physicist, Mr. Droz approaches the concept of green energy from a scientific perspective. Unfortunately, because the issue of green energy has become politicized, that approach is not generally heard. The group maintains the website WiseEnergy.org.

The issue last night was windmills–are they truly green energy and do they make sense scientifically? Recently Carteret County prevented the construction of a wind farm in their county, and there is now a company that may want to place a wind farm in Craven County. The discussion was a scientific approach to wind energy.

Mr. Droz explained that because a constant wind could not be depended upon, wind power alone cannot deliver electricity around the clock unless it is backed up by a conventional electrical source–coal, gas, wood, etc. So when you are talking about wind power, you are automatically talking about wind and.. That is something I have not often heard mentioned by the advocates of wind power.

There is also the issue of the impact of large wind turbines on residents nearby. In February of 2013, I posted an article (rightwinggranny.com) about wind power in Falmouth, Massachusetts. Falmouth is a town on the western end of Cape Cod, and theoretically would be a wonderful place to harness wind power–there is almost always wind. However, after the windmills began turning, residents complained of headaches, interrupted sleep, vertigo, and other symptoms. The Board of Selectmen voted to remove the turbines, but the town voted not to remove them (the removal might cost as much as $18 million). The town was examining other solutions–buying more property around the windmills (not cheap–property in Falmouth is expensive and there would also be the loss of real estate taxes paid to the town) and curtailing the hours the windmills operate. Obviously, neither solution is perfect.

The bottom line here is simple–from a scientific perspective wind power is not practical. There may come a time in the future when the technology advances to the point where wind energy does not need a fossil fuel back-up and the impact on people living near the turbines can be minimized, but we are not there yet.

The most important thing I learned last night was that if Craven County wants to protect itself from the damage wind mills would do to the county, there are some very basic things that can be done. First of all, the public needs to become aware of the facts about wind energy. Second of all, Craven County residents need to make sure that the Board of Commissioners is aware of the facts about wind energy. At that point, it is a matter of drafting basic legislation that will protect the country from the environmental damage that a wind farm would do to the community.

This is the link to the slideshow used in the presentation last night.

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Calling For Sunlight

Today’s Boston Herald posted an article about the Cape Wind Farm Project and the lack of transparency in the approval process.

The article reports:

In a letter provided to the Herald, the alliance cited a trove of bombshell internal Federal Aviation Administration emails that suggest the agency buckled to political pressure and downplayed fears that the 440-foot tall spinning turbines would interfere with radar and ensnare small, low-flying aircraft.

The Herald reported Saturday that FAA documents obtained by Parker’s group through a public records request contain repeated references to political support for the proposed 130-turbine project five miles offshore of Cape Cod.

“You’ve got a very clear green agenda from the Obama administration, and very clear agenda from the Patrick administration, wanting to have America’s first offshore wind farm, seemingly at the expense of public safety,” Parker has told the Herald. “It’s like offshore wind at any cost.”

The article and the comments remind us of some of the problems with the Cape Wind Farm Project. Aside from the question of whether political pressure played a part in its approval, there is the fact that it will raise the cost of electricity significantly for Massachusetts residents. There is also the fact that the life of a wind turbine is approximately 25 years before it will need to be removed. What a mess! This will never be a practical project–it will never save consumers money, and we will still need carbon-based back-up electricity to ensure that Massachusetts residents have electric power 24 hours a day! It would make much more sense to refine the technology for natural-gas generated electricity (which is extremely environmentally friendly) and save consumers money and generate jobs in America (America is the Saudi Arabia of natural gas).

Man has been looking for the perpetual motion machine since the beginning of time (that is one of the few things I remember from high school physics!). Green energy is simply another reflection of that quest. At some point in the future, there may be viable green energy, but the government will accomplish nothing by forcing the issue!

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