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What’s whale worth?

So Iceland decided that it would resume commercial whaling at midnight last night. The announcement came more or less out of the blue [there had been talk of it, but personally I didn’t think it would happen so soon], and without fanfare.

There was certainly a flurry of activity in its wake – the media went gangbusters, pitting advocators and protestors against one another, soliciting views from ‘the people on the street’, and busily broadcasting the arguments for and against. Meanwhile there was the predictable outrage and condemnations from around the world – those foreign ambassadors posted here likely glided in their embassy cars to the doors of the Foreign Ministry this morning where they made their views known – although that certainly wouldn’t have been the case with the Japanese ambassador, nor the Norwegian one. Nor the other Nordics, for that matter. Come to think of it, of the embassies stationed in Iceland, probably only the UK, US and Canadian embassies had anything to say about it. However, Ben Bradshaw in the UK has now summoned the Icelandic ambassador to his office, and is demanding an explanation [and I bet he’s not grinning, either].

But I digress. I will probably get tarred and feathered for this, but I really don’t get the extreme sentimentality around hunting whales. Plus – and this is important – I despise the hypocrisy of those who freak out about whale hunting when they think nothing of eating poultry and livestock that has been raised and/or transported under the most horrific, despicable conditions, before being slaughtered, processed beyond recognition, and then fed to the masses for dinner.

Whales as a species have grown vastly in number in the last couple of decades, since the hunting ban was implemented. They also virtually vacuum the fish from the sea, and the greater their numbers, the more fish they consume. As creatures they are hunted in their natural habitat, which to me is vastly preferable to the common mass production of animals for human consumption. In Iceland, whale hunting is a tradition, and as such holds a certain reverence in the minds of the people. It is not something done brazenly. Although I don’t expect others necessarily to understand that aspect of it.

So yes, in principle I’m in favour of whaling – in economical measure. And I’m hard pressed to put myself in the shoes of those who rail against it without offering any rational arguments. But then I am reminded that perhaps irrational arguments – ‘emotional arguments’ – are just as valid as those based on reason. After all, were I replace ‘whaling’ with ‘saving Iceland’s wilderness from evil corporate giant Alcoa’ I would most certainly belong in the ‘emotional’ camp. The vastly different nature of those two subjects notwithstanding.

As things stand presently, the most reasonable argument against Iceland starting commercial whaling appears to me that there is not a vast market for whale products. [That said, if the 12 o’clock news is to be believed, Icelandic Europe received numerous inquiries today from all over the continent, asking about whale meat.] What it boils down to is this: with not more hanging in the balance than our stubborn insistence on our beloved independence and sovereignty and tradition, the stakes might not be worth it. Because although I can’t understand the logic or the hypocrisy of the whaling opponents, I do understand sanctions and boycotts and general ill will, and they are not much fun. Other people’s views and opinions and actions may not be the way we like them, but in the end acceptance of what is and what we cannot change is usually the most intelligent course of action.

Even if it means no snacking on pickled whale blubber.

Frigid. This morning it was –3°C, the coldest temps so far this season. You know – the kind of day when your skin starts to feel all chapped and tight and dry. I went out for a run, though. Happily there was hardly any wind and the sunshine was lovely. And when it’s like that – i.e. the absence of windchill – it has to get pretty damn cold before you start to notice the frost on the inside of your lungs. Believe it or not, the temperatures usually do not drop much below this here in Niceland in the winter. Currently right at the freezing mark, and the sun came up at 08.26 and went down at 17.58.