…To Save the Whales
I recently saw one of Exxon Mobil’s slick new TV ads espousing Exxon’s commitment to developing new technologies that will reduce global warming. I was actually very impressed. Subsequently, I opened an email from Greenpeace showing a dead beached whale, with news of a pod of rare melon-head whales that beached themselves due to seismic testing conducted by Exxon off the coast of Madagascar.
Seismic testing off of the world’s coastlines, conducted to find new sources of oil, creates underwater noise levels similar to that of military SONAR (approximately 230 – 260 decibels) and causes serious harm to aquatic mammals that rely on highly sensitive echolocation. To a whale or dolphin, these sound waves are comparable to what we would hear if an ambulance siren was right up against our ear. These sounds are extremely painful to them, and can cause disorientation, interruption of normal behavior such as feeding or mating, and brain hemorrhaging. You can read much more about the science behind how whales and dolphins are affected by sonar and seismic testing in Greenpeace’s special report.
A recent editorial in the New York Times (“Of Whales and National Security”) outlined the policy considerations posed by these very serious dilemmas, which are now being debated in the nation’s highest court. Greenpeace, the Natural Resources Defense Council (http://www.savebiogems.org), and other environmental and wildlife organizations have all mounted rigorous legal campaigns against unregulated seismic testing, as well as the Navy’s efforts to conduct military drills with mid-range SONAR off our nation’s coastlines (http://www.nrdcactionfund.org/campaigns/oceans/save-marine-life-from-deadly-sonar.html).
In response to the rude awakening I experienced when I opened that email from Greenpeace, I searched the ExxonMobil website for a public relations contact phone number, to no avail. The only way I was able to contact them was by sending an email through an online form (no email addresses were provided, let alone names of contact people). This is what I wrote to them:
“This is a plea. I just saw a very heartening commercial on TV that espoused Exxon’s commitment to developing new technologies that will reduce global warming. I then opened an email from Greenpeace showing a dead beached whale, with news of a pod of rare melon-head whales that beached themselves due to seismic testing conducted by Exxon off the coast of Madagascar. I was absolutely devastated by this.
I searched the ExxonMobil website for a public relations contact phone number, to no avail, which is why I’m settling for emailing you. All I ask is that you keep the promise you stated in your commercial, to protect the environment to the best of your ability. I am aware that by addressing issues of climate change, you are faced with your greatest and most difficult challenges ever. However, I know you have the resources to accomplish your goals. Please, spare the suffering of innocent creatures and the impact on our children’s future by committing yourselves to the much more difficult task of developing alternative, safe fuel sources, rather than drill for oil at any cost. Thank you so much.”
I never got a reply from them. I can only hope that someone at the company was listening.