WEATHER »
<b>GIVE ’EM HELL:</b>  High-intensity Navy sonar and explosives will be hard on marine mammals off Southern California.

Paul Wellman (file)

GIVE ’EM HELL: High-intensity Navy sonar and explosives will be hard on marine mammals off Southern California.


Can 007 Save the Whales?

Battle at Sea


If you’ve got James Bond and Greenpeace on your side, how can you lose? Answer: When you’re fighting the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Pierce Brosnan, who played 007 in four James Bond movies, is warning that Navy plans for training and testing with high-intensity sonar and explosives threaten death for whales and other marine mammals off Southern California.

“The Navy’s mid-frequency sonar will bombard whales with noise so intense — up to 236 decibels — it can actually cause their internal organs to hemorrhage,” Brosnan warns.

Barney Brantingham

Not that Brosnan, Greenpeace, and other opponents of the whale killing, like the California Coastal Commission and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) want to stop the Navy training and testing here. No way. I mean, how else can we stop the dreaded North Koreans from attacking?

First thing you know, North Korean basketball fanatic Kim Jong-un and his godless commie gang would be showing up at NBA games, taking all the choice ringside seats, and dating the Laker Girls.

No. So all Brosnan, et al., want to do is include “common-sense measures” to protect the whales and “in no way compromise our military readiness.” For the next five years, starting in January, “The Navy claims that it would kill 130 marine mammals outright, permanently deafen another 1,600 and significantly disrupt feeding, calving, and other vital behaviors more than 8.8 million times,” according to the NRDC.

The Coastal Commission proposed safety zones near marine sanctuaries and places with high concentrations of blue, fin, and gray whales seasonally, according to the Associated Press.

But the Navy said this would make the training less realistic and cut its scope. The Coastal Commission rejected the plan, saying that the Navy lacked enough information to back up its claim that the effects would be negligible.

This sets the stage for the Navy to go full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes, and for the commission to sue. Back in 2007 and 2009, the commission set out similar restrictions and, when the Navy refused them, got a preliminary court injunction blocking the plan. Then-President George “Mission Accomplished” Bush gave the Navy an exemption. The U.S. Supremes, well-known protectors of Mother Earth (unless corporate interests or other powerful elites are involved), overturned the injunction in 2008.

At this writing, Brosnan and the NRDC are asking people to urge Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to tell the Navy “to put safeguards in place that will stop this deadly assault on whales.” It also sets the stage for another of President Obama’s hand-wringing quandaries, as the controversial environmental dispute threatens to knock on the White House door.

Dude, you got reelected! Do the right thing. Think of your kids. Do you want them to see pictures of dead and disabled whales on Santa Barbara beaches?

I’ve been down to Scammon’s Lagoon in Baja, where gray whales go to mate and give birth, and it’s a joy to watch them swim around in the shallow lagoon. They were once almost extinct. I worry about their future even more than I do about the chance of Kim Jong-un forcing Jack Nicholson into the back row at Laker games.

The Navy and the NRDC have tried to work things out, but negotiations have stalled, according to Jessica Lass, NRDC spokesperson. As for filing a court suit, “I think we are seriously considering that as an option,” she told me.

The Lakers only play five at a time, but Washington has a powerful team of nine — the Supreme Court. And no ref. And I think it has two entrances, one marked “Corporations,” the other “Environmentalists.” Over the latter door reads the motto: “Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here.”

To submit a comment on this article, email letters@independent.com or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email tips@independent.com.



event calendar sponsored by:

You Solve It,’ City Tells County on Library Money Shortage

To avoid financial shortfall, city sends ball back to county's court.

Vigil for Victims in Palestine Held at Courthouse

Community gathers to protest injustice.

Stoker to Be Sworn into EPA Job

Former Santa Barbara County supervisor confirms his appointment as regional head of Environmental Protection Agency.

Live Stream of Channel Island Falcons Makes History

Webcam follows wild peregrine falcon family on the Channel Islands.

Sonos Informs Employees of Potential Layoffs

'Restructuring' could affect 96; how many in Santa Barbara unknown.