Of whales and humans

A well-credentialed radical environmental activist addresses tough issues that will ultimately determine the balance of nature on the planet.

provided by Californians for Population Stabilization


The following is Capt. Paul Watson's luncheon address at CAPS2000 (Californians for Population Stabilization) this summer on population: "The Voice of Cassandra." He is the epitome of a radical environmentalist with a long and colorful history starting with his anti-whaling escapades under the auspices of the Greenpeace Foundation, which he helped establish.

Be forewarned: many people will find this material extremely controversial, outrageous and politically incorrect. This speech stood in sharp contrast with the much more moderate tone and content of the rest of the Conference. He certainly had the rapt attention of the audience, since you could have heard a pin drop in that large ballroom. There was at least one person in the audience who walked out in disgust, even though Capt. Watson got a most enthusiastic standing ovation at the end of this speech.

 CAPS 2000
Luncheon Address
Sunday, August 13, 2000
Captain Paul Watson
The Voice of Cassandra


don't know why the Democrats are spending millions this week to host their convention. All they need to do is to buy the broadcast rights to the Republican Convention, run it on the networks, and use a Hollywood special effects team to insert an image of Al Gore superimposed over George Bush. It could all be done on a blue screen, without interrupting traffic in downtown Los Angeles.

It was certainly symbolic that all the trees were ripped out of the ground near the Staples Center. Under Clinton and Gore, the rate of forest destruction in the Pacific Northwest actually increased since the Reagan/Bush days.

Republicrats or Demopublicans. It's all the same thing. Basically what we have here is a race between two aristocratic sons of the South, both born-again Christians, both supporters of the WTO, NAFTA, Free Trade, and big business.

George Bush - we know where he stands on environmental issues, so we get what we see. With Al Gore, what he writes, and what he says, is not what we have or what we will get. For this reason, I'm 99.9 percent opposed to George Bush and 100 percent opposed to Al Gore.

I don't support politicians who tell me they have personal conversations with God. If I did, I would live in Iraq. Religion has absolutely no place in American politics. I've read every book Thomas Jefferson ever wrote and his and the other founding father's wisdom on keeping the church separate from the state is one of the wisest tenants of the Constitution of these United States.

Recently, Al Gore made the point that the Constitution guarantees us freedom of religion. It does not, he added, guarantee us freedom from religion.

This is a dangerous man.

Picking Joseph Lieberman may make Gore look like he is a visionary. My concern is not that Lieberman is an Orthodox Jew. He could be a Muslim or a Hindu, for all I care. What I am concern about is that, in his Nashville coming out party, Lieberman invoked the name of God 13 times in 90 seconds.

I heard Al Gore speak at the U.N. Conference in Rio in 1992. I was in the front row as he stood on the stage and addressed an international crowd and told them that, "we will save this planet the same way we defeated Communism, through Christianity and the free market system."

He did not provide details.

Personally I was disappointed when Dan Quayle dropped out of the race. I had written an election slogan for Dan entitled, "America deserves Dan Quayle." I could have sold a million of them.

We do have Ralph Nader, but the Green Party is politically correct on the population and immigration issues and his running mate, Winona LaDuke is pro-whaling.

So, come election day, I'll be at sea.


A whale tale


At sea was where I was a quarter of a century ago, in a tiny inflatable boat, sixty miles off the coast of Northern California.

It was the first Greenpeace campaign to protect whales and we were there to try and stop the Soviet whaling fleet from slaughtering sperm whales. I had come up with the tactic of placing human bodies between the whales and the whalers, the idea being to place ourselves in small boats between the defenseless whales and the harpoons. I was reading a lot of Ghandi at the time, and thus I was idealistically and naively armored in a cloak of pacifist passion. I actually believed that the whalers would not risk killing a human being in their pursuit of the whales.

In my youth, I absolutely believed in the decency of man, and my faith in the positive virtues of human nature was unassailable.

My humanistic ideals were shattered forever on June 21, 1975 by the thunderous scream of a harpoon cannon and the screams of dying whales.

Those Russians wanted to kill whales and they were not about to let a few hippies get in their way. Nonviolence does not work against an opponent that does not respect life.

But there we were, Bob Hunter and myself in that small boat in choppy seas, well beyond the smell of land. Behind us was a one hundred and fifty foot steel-hulled Soviet hunter killer boat with a bearded, dirty-shirted, cigarette smoking gunner crouched behind a huge harpoon cannon. The bow of the ship rose up on each swell and was moving towards us like a meat cleaver in the hands of a maniac. It was a mere twenty feet from running us down.

Twenty feet before us, fleeing for their lives, were eight magnificent sperm whales.

As we tried to block the harpooner, I saw him smirk as his finger pulled the trigger. A thunderous explosion followed as a 150 lb. grenade-tipped projectile flew over our heads and slammed into the backside of a whale, showering blood and gore into the air, as the whale screamed in almost human-like pain.

Suddenly, the largest whale in the pod rose up and dove, his tail slapping the water as he disappeared. And we knew what he was doing. We had been warned by the experts that the whale would attack us, and so we waited with great anxiety for fifty tons of angry animal to come hurling up from the depths beneath us.

Suddenly, the ocean erupted as the whale rocketed from below and attacked - the harpooner. But that bastard was waiting for him and he very nonchalantly twitched his finger, and with a horrific explosion drove the exploding harpoon into the whale's head at point blank range.

The whale bellowed in pain and fell back into the sea, thrashing and convulsing, blood spurting into the air as he rolled on the surface of the sea in agony.

And, as he rolled, I saw his eye. The whale saw us and suddenly he dove and I saw a trail of bloody bubbles racing towards me from below the surface.

As Bob and I sat transfixed, the whale broke the surface at an angle and I saw his huge body rising over us, blood and water pouring from the gaping wound in his head, his lower jaw open, so close I could have reached up and wrapped my hand around one of his six-inch teeth.

The whale could have simply fallen forward and crushed us. Instead, I found myself looking into an eye. An eye the size of my fist, and in that eye - there was understanding. I felt it. That whale understood why we were there. Instead of crushing us or seizing us in those mighty jaws, the whale slowly and painfully slid back beneath the surface of the sea eye to eye contact all the way. I saw his eye, still looking at me, as it disappeared below the waves and he died.

That whale could have taken our lives. Instead, he let us live.

And something inside myself was changed forever. That day, I knew that I would spend the rest of my days defending whales and defending life in the oceans. For I saw something else in that eye. I saw pity. Not for himself, nor for his kind. Pity for us - that we could extinguish life so thoughtlessly.

I saw the enemy and it was us.

And what I saw shattered any illusions that I had about humanity. The Russians were killing these gentle giants for the oil. High speed lubricating oil for ICBM missiles. They were killing the whales for the purpose of building weapons meant to exterminate human beings. And that's when it dawned upon me that the human race was - insane.

Since that time, I have sunk nine whaling ships. In 1986, after sinking half the Icelandic whaling fleet, I was approached by a former colleague in Greenpeace who said that what we had done in Iceland was criminal, despicable, and unforgivable.

I answered, "So?"

He said that he needed to tell me that. I said, "John, do you really think I care what you think? Do you think that I care what any human being has to say about that action? We did not sink those two killer boats for you, John, or for any other human being. We sank them for the whales, John. Find me just one whale that disagrees with that action and I'll reconsider. Until then, I could not give a damn about your opinion on the matter."

That's why I'm unpopular within the conservation movement. I do things that disturb people. I say things people don't want to hear. I'm not here to win any popularity contests. My job as a conservationist is quite simple - to piss people off. Why? Because people are the problem.


War of the world


A state of war exists between this generation of the present and the generations of the future, between ourselves and our grandchildren. It is a war we can only win by losing. It is a war where the casualties we inflict are as yet unborn. Some of these casualties are those who never will be born. Perhaps the greatest catastrophe will be the extinction of the human species.

It is a war where our lifestyles are our tactical weapons. Our infantry is composed of our own bodies, where instead of loading and pumping out shells, we aim ninety million wombs a year towards tomorrow and fire a volley of a quarter of a million babies into the future every single day.

With every shot, trees fall to provide diapers and toilet tissue, more fish are yanked from the sea, more pesticides are sprayed onto crops, more automobiles are manufactured, more, more, more and more as the quality of the life sustaining environment becomes less and less and less.

The most deadly weapon ever created is the human baby, because in the hands of thoughtless, selfish, arrogant, and ruthless parents the baby is molded into a taker - insensitive, greedy, destructive and apathetic in short, a parasite.

We who pride ourselves as the greatest creatures upon this Earth, so grandiose in stature that we are modeled upon the very image that we have formed of God, we who define ourselves as the paragon of animals! Man the toolmaker. Man the artist. Man the Thinker. Man the omnipotent, all powerful and so, so, incredibly arrogant that we remold and re-spin the will of our Gods each day to suit our trivial pursuits.

Very little stands in our way. We conquer mountains and yearn to conquer space. We subdue nature, destroy creation itself, just because it pleases or profits us to do so. In the process, we stomp thousands of species - both plant and animal into extinction, barely giving each passing a thought. Woe be it to the nonhuman obstacle that stands before our manifest destiny and woe be it to the human that questions this conceit.

Humankind, homo sapien, homo arrogantus, we conceited naked apes whose skulls are filled with dreams of self proclaimed divinity and whose opposable thumbs are destined to hitchhike us to oblivion. For all our boasts of being the most intelligent species on this planet, we still have not learned to live in harmony with our fellow Earthlings or in harmony with the ecosystems that support and sustain us. We have evolved from forest primates to living in insect-like communes, each of us dutifully concentrating on fulfilling our role as willing slaves to the economic regimes that govern us.

The Yanomani people of Amazonia have a name for us: the termite people. We gobble up the trees and burrow tunnels through the earth and spew our foul filth onto the beauteous bosom of nature.

And we have little time to spare to reflect upon the consequences of our profound arrogance. Gone forever are the passenger pigeon, the buffalo wolf, the North African bear, the giant auk, the Steller sea cow, and I could carry on naming scores of wondrous creatures exterminated and extirpated by the bloody hands of man.

We think little of them, if at all, and we feel even less. Our guilt is absolved by denial and distractions. Animals don't think and don't feel, or so we choose to believe - it makes it easier to put a bullet into their head, or to bludgeon a baby seal or to harpoon a whale. We simply deny them respect and finish them off without regret or remorse.


Life on the cheap


Hell, we do the same to people. Those who are not of our tribe, of our religion, of our citizenship, who fly a different piece of cloth than us can be killed, wasted, maimed, humiliated, cast aside and dismissed as honkies, kikes, gooks, queers, redskins, rednecks, republicans, cops, gang-bangers, feminazi's eco-freaks or any of hundreds of names we have devised to label those we consider different and thus expendable. For all our pretensions, we remain tribalistic, territorialistic, and so very trivial in our passions.

After all, there are so many of us, and life is such a cheap commodity, that we can afford to lose a few. Most of the causalities are simply just names anyway, names devoid of humanity - we think little of them and witness their passing as fodder to fill in the dramatic and entertaining presentation of the nightly news.

Oh, we do have our icons, our worthy aristocracy. If a movie star crashes in a plane or a princess dies in a car crash, most of us struggle to act out the pain, as if we must, if only to impress ourselves that we are not totally devoid of compassion. Or we retreat to the tribalism of family and mourn for those we feel obligated to mourn for, forgetting those who came before with as much disdain as we have for those who will come after us.

Who was your great, great, great, great grandmother? What was her name? What was she like? Most of us do not know, nor have we given it much thought. The past is of little concern to a people pleasured by the present.

As a result, we are beings without a past, lost in a dimension of materialistic values where, if something is not fabricated from metal, glass, concrete or plastic, it is of little value. In truth, we have absolutely no idea of where we came from and we have even less interest in where we are going. The future is an abstraction and any ideas of what our children's children's children world will be like is seldom entertained.

What will this world be like in fifty years, five hundred years, five thousand or fifty thousand years from now? What will it be like five million years from now? We think little about this, yet our actions in the present are the determining factors that will shape the Earth of tomorrow.

In truth, I waste my breath speaking on this issue that we wish to avoid like the plague, for it is in fact the plague of our own numbers that perches on the near horizon, haunting our collective futures. I waste my breath because the world does not want to hear the truth and will not see the truth until it springs like a carnivorous ogre upon our children, striking them down like reaped grain, victims of the ignorant arrogance of their God-aspiring parents.


Unpopular solutions


There are solutions. I have absolutely no doubt that the problem of out-of-control human population growth will be solved. It will be solved whether we like it or not. We simply have to choose between a voluntary, pleasant solution and an involuntary, unpleasant solution.

Personally, I don't believe we will solve the problem voluntarily. We don't have the intelligence nor the fortitude for it. We don't like to sacrifice our comforts, and we have theological and cultural barriers that prevent intelligent decisions from being introduced. People don't want real solutions. We prefer instead the illusion of solutions.

I attended the U.N. Conference on the Environment in Stockholm, in 1972. At the top of the agenda at that conference was the problem of human population growth. Twenty years later - and with over a billion people more on the planet I attended the meeting of the U.N. Conference on the Environment and Development in Rio De Janiero. The issue of human population growth was not even on the agenda. There was lots of talk about development, however, with catchy phrases meant to justify business-as-usual, like "sustainable yields" and "revised management programs."

In this country, you need a license to drive a car. You need a license to pilot an airplane and, with ever-increasing regulations, it is even getting difficult to take out a rowboat without passing a Coast Guard exam. You need a permit for a handgun. You even need a special permit to hike in Yosmite or to visit Glacier National Park because of overcrowding.

The one thing you don't need a permit for is to have a child. There is no need to write an examination. There is no requirement to demonstrate competency to have a child. You need to demonstrate financial responsibility to buy a house, but not to have a child. You can be a blathering idiot with a history of child molestation and drug addiction and you can still have a child. In a world where fewer and fewer people are criticizing the erosion of our freedoms, the freedom to impregnate or to become pregnant is considered inviolate.

The simplest damn thing that most human beings can do is to have a kid.

I think it is not unreasonable to propose that, before anyone is allowed to be a father or a mother, they pass a few simple tests. First, the parents or single parent should prove that they have the financial means to support a child for at least eighteen years without forcing the taxpayers to provide child support. Secondly, the parents or single parent should demonstrate that they have no history of abuse, both self abuse, through drugs or alcohol, or abuse to others. Thirdly, the parents or single parent should demonstrate that they can provide a healthy, nurturing, loving environment in which to raise the child.

Pass these tests and a permit could be issued to have a child. This permit could be issued by a medical doctor - sort of like a prescription. If these three simple tests cannot be passed, and a pregnancy happens without the permit the foetus should be aborted.

I say this, knowing that it will horrify people and that I will be called a Nazi. However, I should remind you that Hitler ordered German women to have as many babies as possible and gave a bonus to large families. Hitler and the Nazi were not proponents of birth control.


Follow the rules


The three simple rules that I propose do not discriminate against any race. All three rules are meant to benefit the child and to benefit society as a whole. No child should be raised in poverty, and society should not be obligated to pay the child support. It can be argued that this is discrimination against the poor. And it is. But what better way to end poverty than to prevent the ever growing number of poor children? And what better motivation for people who want children than to demand that they become responsible adults first?

The second rule also does not discriminate against any race or social group. It is a rule that benefits the child. If you are inclined to beat your spouse or commit violence to children, then why should you be allowed to create a victim?

The third rule is just plain common sense.

You know, I've always wondered why the polls demonstrate that most right-to-lifers are pro-capital punishment. Who ends up on death row? Unwanted, abused, uneducated, unloved, malnourished children. Every murderer was once an innocent child. Every gang-banger was once a cute little baby. Even Hitler, Stalin, Hussein and Charlie Manson were once darling toddlers.

The production of a human being is a serious responsibility, yet we allow anyone who wishes to reproduce to do so because, globally, we consider reproductive rights to be the priority human right. Many cultures willingly and actively suppress and deny freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of sexual orientation, and even freedom of thought. But no significant culture has ever suppressed freedom of reproduction.

It's just an idea. It won't work. Society won't go for anything as revolutionary as common sense.


Here come the horsemen


The solution that will work will be delivered by the Laws of Nature. It will be Nature that will dispatch the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Our arrogance and our ignorance, our refusal to act responsibly, our refusal to curb our own numbers will bring on those horses: Famine, Plague, War, Civil Strife.

Famine is already upon us. And yet, from the ranks of the foetus-lovers in the land of plenty, we hear little of the suffering of the millions of children who starve to death each year. What we do hear is promises from the bio-genetic industry for miracle crops. Where the wise see misery, the greedy see potential. All over the world, commercial fisheries are collapsing. People are outnumbering the fishes in the sea. And as resources dwindle, we target scapegoats for extermination. Protect the fish, kill the seals, the whales, the dolphins. Save our crops from the elephants. Blame other species. Blame the weather. Blame El Niño but don't blame ourselves.

Each day, I hear on the news about innocent victims of violence, innocent victims of natural disasters, innocent victims of famine and disease. There are no innocent victims. A birth certificate is evidence of guilt. Guilt by association with the collective stupidity of the human species.

The greatest threat to our future is the rapid destruction of biodiversity. Every person on this Earth shares the blame for the wholesale destruction of biodiversity, from the trees sacrificed for disposable diapers to the mercury vapors released into the atmosphere from the crematorium.

Out-of-control human population growth is the single most significant factor causing the mass extermination of species presently going on - for the most part, out of sight and out of mind.

Plague is among us and the emergence of new viruses is a daily news item. Tuberculoses, malaria, cholera, AIDS - all steadily rising. The plague of cancer, increasing. Instead of striking at the source, we torture animals in laboratories, and we have made an industry of promising hope to the victims.

Wars are increasing. Wars over resources. Wars over ethnic and religious issues. Race wars. As our numbers increase, people turn more and more to tribalism. We retreat to the security of "us vs. them." We need faces to hate. Isn't it amazing that there is always a face there in front of us, put there by the media, for us to conveniently hate? Ben Laden, Saddamn Hussein, Kaddafi, the Ayatollah, Noreiga, one right after the other.

Terrorism will increase and will be used for further justification of extinguishing liberty. Repression begets terrorism, and terrorism begets more repression. Civil strife. Drugs, gangs, alcoholism, demonstrations, civil disobedience, repression of protests.

We are not just on the threshold of global apocalypse. We are inside the door.

But the public won't listen. We are too busy with circuses. We need to be entertained. As Rome burns, we party, we dance, we drink, we take drugs, we watch mindless television and listen to mindless talk shows and read mindless newspapers.

In this city, right now, the largest political circus of the year is assembling. I can 100% assure you, right now, that one issue that will not be discussed is overpopulation or immigration. They won't discuss the cause but they will lament the symptoms and they will deliver the same old political rhetoric. The solution lies in family. Family values and more prisons, more police officers, stiffer jail sentences, more laws. Just say no to drugs. Just say no to sex. Outlaw abortion. Just say no to freedom.


Family devalues


What the hell are family values? I can see America's family values on the Jerry Springer show. I see America's family values in teen pregnancies, juvenile drug and alcohol abuse, and declining educational systems. What is Al Gore or George Bush going to do to improve family values? Not a damn thing. As I recall, Bill Clinton was big on family values. Nor will you see any solutions coming from that parliament of whores in Washington, D.C.

We need to address the real problems threatening the future security, of not just this nation, but of the entire planet. Priority problems like escalating species extinction, global warming, dwindling resources, genetically modified crops, pollution, deforestation.

Instead, we focus on trivialities. Trivialities like gays in the military, abortion, race relations, prolonging life etc. I don't give a damn about women or gays in the military. Why are we wasting political time on this nonsense? I'm against women and Gays in the military for the same reason I'm against men in the military. Why? Because I'm not a big fan of war.

Abortion. We need more of them. What's the big debate about? The right-to-life crowd don't give a damn about postnatal abortions - all those unwanted and abused children brought into this world by the ignorant and the irresponsible. If the Catholic Church believes that a foetus has a soul, then why is a foetus not accorded the last rites of the Church?

If we had a fraction of the concern for the postnatal child as we do for the foetus - we would have a healthier society.

Race - ahh, this is a big distraction. There's only one race the human race and it's the problem. We don't have a black problem, or a Mexican problem. We don't have a Jewish problem, or a Japanese problem. What we have is a human problem. Too many humans.

How about a little affirmative action for the other species that live on this planet with us?

Heart transplants - we tortured lots of animals to come up with this Frankensteinian nonsense. Maybe if we spent more money on prevention and heath counselling and less on organ trading, we might all be healthier. Instead, the same system that spends a million bucks extending one insured person's life regardless if she/he wants it, turns its back on the uninsured child in need of help. The healthy die from lack of food and water while the near dead are kept alive at enormous expense.

It's difficult to die when you haven't lived. If you've lived a full, free life - death is not that frightening. Most of us spend our entire life paying a mortgage and then we die. Take the Latin roots of that word mortgage and you have death contract or a contract unto death. Most of us are to busy paying off our death contract to take the time to live.

We all die. We don't all live.

It's becoming increasingly more and more difficult to live an adventurous and free life. The reason is simple. We don't have the room for it. We have replaced quality of life with quantity of life.


Absolute limits

How much further will we go? A half a century ago, I was born into a world of three billion people. There is now over six. That's a doubling in fifty years. Since the majority of these six billion are under thirty-five years of age, I think it is logical to project a world population in excess of twelve billion by 2050 and twenty-four billion by 2100. By 2150 we could have 48 billion.

But not to worry - it won't go that far. No species can survive living outside the three basic laws of ecology. The law of Biodiversity that diversity is essential for survival of every species. The Law of Interdependence that all species are interdependent on each other. The Law of Finite Growth that there are limits to growth and resources and carrying capacities are finite.

As T.S. Elliot wrote, the world will not end in a bang but with a whimper. The pathetic whimpers of starving, diseased, wounded human beings bleeding in the mud, dying alone on a planet made wasteland by the arrogance and ignorance of a single species.

I know - I'm just a doom and gloom prophet. Rush Limbaugh calls us Casandra's always railing about the negative. That's an interesting comparison and reflects on Limbaugh's ignorance of classical literature. Yes, Casandra was a prophetess of doom. Yes, she harassed King Priam about the fall of Troy. Her curse was that she knew the truth, and she was condemned to have no one believe her. In the end, she was right.

That is our position today. We know the truth. It's simply a question of mathematics. Any kid with a calculator can add up the numbers and see that, without subtraction, multiplication will lead to zero.

Humanity is dying and does not wish to know about it. We don't want solutions, we want denial. We want fairy tales. We want illusions. We do not want the truth. That is our curse - to see the truth and to not be believed.

But once we have seen the truth, we cannot back down. This planet is worth fighting for. We can't be concerned about the outcome. We can only focus on doing the right thing. And maybe, just maybe, we can break through.

I believe that a voluntary solution to solving the population problem is impossible.

But maybe the impossible is the only solution we have.