Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

We at ASOC hope you had a wonderful holiday and hope you will have a happy New Year. Here are a couple of tidbits we wanted to mention in these last hours of 2008:

-Slate movie critic Dana Stevens named Werner Herzog's documentary on Antarctica one of the best films of the year. Check it out. You'll enjoy it a lot more if you rent the DVD - when I saw a version edited for television, I felt the commercial breaks interrupted the narrative too much.

-A news story about Winter Whale Watching week in Oregon reminded me again of the popularity of whale watching. Whaling countries justify whaling by saying that it is part of their heritage and a financial boon to some communities, but countries that benefit economically from whale watching (worldwide, a far larger industry than whaling) deserve consideration, too. Not all of these countries are rich, either - some may be in great need of the tourism dollars that accompany whale watching. While whales shouldn't be saved or killed solely on their profitability, this aspect often gets left out of the debate. As with so many environmental issues, the needs of people seem to be pitted against the needs of nature, when in reality, when the natural environment is healthy, humans typically benefit as well. I hope policymakers remember that in the upcoming year.

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