Category Archives: Environment

Message for Australia from Sir David Attenborough

The Australian Government has to think very deeply about what is important and what is not?  If only our leaders could see through Sir David Attenborough’s eyes and awaken to this emergency. Australia is going to be hard hit by climate change and we are still supporting the Adani mine, still supporting resources extraction and a disproportionate influence by the energy industry.

It takes great courage to put the future of the children ahead of short term interests.  Those who do will never be forgotten.

We need to be able to express how we feel about climate change and we need to be free to speak, free to go onto the streets, free to speak to others as we want our world to change in a direction that serves the majority of people, not industries alone.

Interestingly, Sir David speaks about slavery – the ownership of people.  I felt that even employment is a form of ownership which translates into control and a suppression of our human feeling and natural freedom.  We are nature.  We have to remember the important balance, the importance of policies that do not promote greed, growth but reform our system to be able to recalibrate with natural systems.  I sense the leaders do not know how to look out of the box we have travelled in for centuries.  We are going to need leaders who are visionaries with the knowledge to be able to recognise the importance of real sustainability rather than business economics who have no  idea of the great impact coming.  The greed becomes a barrier to real change.

REAL HOPE for Indigenous Unity

REAL HOPE is a values model refer and worldpeacefull empowerment for YouTube philosophical poetry expanding harmony and peace in our world.

I gave a 118 year old leaf to an indigenous man and wrote a poem which I have spoken on this YouTube video.

I send a message of harmony and peace to Indigenous people around the world.  Thank you.


US Defence and Climate Change: What is the National Security Challenge?

I recall the days of the Greenies and how the green movement was dismissed as pseudo science. Anything that undermined the economic mantra is demonised in subtle and overt ways. This is because the perception of security rests with economics not nature.  When I read articles such as this my mind goes immediately to the questions:

Do they see the link between climate change and greed?

Do militaries understand they are utilised to defend property not rights? 

Is national interest global interest or are we competing separately for self interest first (greed)?

Still the climate sceptics industry is fuelling the argument and doubt that what is happening is not human induced and therefore they do not have to take responsibility and radically change for the sake of current and future generations. The real challenge for those in authority and those who are the powers behind the facades, is can they step aside from self interest and put the planet and future generations ahead of their own interests? Can the militaries look inwardly and see the connection between lack of inner peace (harmony) and outer discord? Can they make the link between inner climate and outer climate given we are the creators of our reality.  I use these words consciously as we are 100% responsible for the world of our own making. I see this is the greatest security challenge to the current paradigm.  The real insecurity is economic and its infinite drive to produce more materialism as profits is what is behind the changing climate. Can we define the real problem? Can we face the pink elephant in the room?

Investing in peace education enables people to make peace with where they are so they can handle change in a positive way. The reality is the climate has changed and it will create discord and upheaval (refugee flows) and the challenge is how we deal with these problems that will make a difference. If we fall into fear and insecurity we will panic and conflict will arise as many compete for limited resources. If we can learn to work together, to nullify fear (conflict transformation) and work on harmony within and outside of ourselves then renewable solutions will arise to mitigate our fears. I see this as the real climate change. The risk management that transforms risk into solutions. Another way of seeing this is transforming fear into love (unity), this is the real alchemy that has been spoken about for centuries. Some may call it the holy grail.

I wonder what an environmental analysis on the industrial military complex would yield? What of the munitions in war? What of the environmental damage through depleted uranium and toxic waste? What of destroyed environment and infrastructures in warfare that render communities destitute? What of the bombing of infrastructure? hospitals? civilians? What of the violence? Can the military look at this reality without a story of defence and freedom and redefine its role and meaning in the world? Is defence security or the mindset of endless war? What does the war against anything create? What if finally the military made peace realising fear is the enemy not people?  What if fear is really false evidence appearing real. Then there is no threat only possibilities. I wonder…

The article below will frame it differently in the current paradigm. One positive note is the military reducing its own emissions which are considerable.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis

DOD/Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith

Trump’s defense chief cites climate change as national security challenge

Reprinted from ProPublica

Secretary of Defense James Mattis has asserted that climate change is real, and a threat to American interests abroad and the Pentagon’s assets everywhere, a position that appears at odds with the views of the president who appointed him and many in the administration in which he serves.

In unpublished written testimony provided to the Senate Armed Services Committee after his confirmation hearing in January, Mattis said it was incumbent on the U.S. military to consider how changes like open-water routes in the thawing Arctic and drought in global trouble spots can pose challenges for troops and defense planners. He also stressed this is a real-time issue, not some distant what-if.

“Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today,” Mattis said in written answers to questions posed after the public hearing by Democratic members of the committee. “It is appropriate for the Combatant Commands to incorporate drivers of instability that impact the security environment in their areas into their planning.”

Mattis has long espoused the position that the armed forces, for a host of reasons, need to cut dependence on fossil fuels and explore renewable energy where it makes sense. He had also, as commander of the U.S. Joint Forces Command in 2010, signed off on the Joint Operating Environment, which lists climate change as one of the security threats the military expected to confront over the next 25 years.

But Mattis’ written statements to the Senate committee are the first direct signal of his determination to recognize climate change as a member of the Trump administration charged with leading the country’s armed forces.

These remarks and others in the replies to senators could be a fresh indication of divisions or uncertainty within President Donald Trump’s administration over how to balance the president’s desire to keep campaign pledges to kill Obama-era climate policies with the need to engage constructively with allies for whom climate has become a vital security issue.

[C]limate change is a challenge that requires a broader, whole-of government response. If confirmed, I will ensure that the Department of Defense plays its appropriate role within such a response by addressing national security aspects.

James Mattis


Mattis’ statements on climate change, for instance, recognize the same body of science that Scott Pruitt, the new Environmental Protection Agency administrator, seems dead-set on rejecting. In a CNBC interview last Thursday, Pruitt rejected established science pointing to carbon dioxide as the main driver of recent global warming.

Mattis’ position also would appear to clash with some Trump administration budget plans, which, according to documents leaked recently to The Washington Post, include big cuts for the Commerce Department’s oceanic and atmospheric research — much of it focused on tracking and understanding climate change.

Even setting aside warming driven by accumulating carbon dioxide, it’s clear to a host of experts, including Dr. Will Happer, a Princeton physicist interviewed by Trump in January as a potential science adviser, that better monitoring and analysis of extreme conditions like drought is vital.

Mattis’ statements could hearten world leaders who have urged the Trump administration to remain engaged on addressing global warming. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to meet Trump on Friday.

Security questions related to rising seas and changing weather patterns in global trouble spots like the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa are one reason that global warming has become a focus in international diplomatic forums. On March 10, the United Nations Security Council was warned of imminent risk of famine in Yemen, Somalia and South Sudan.

As well, at a Munich meeting on international security issues last month, attended by Mattis and Vice President Mike Pence, European officials pushed back on demands that they spend more on defense, saying their investments in boosting resilience to climate hazards in poor regions of the world are as valuable to maintaining security as strong military forces.

“[Y]ou need the European Union, because when you invest in development, when you invest in the fight against climate change, you also invest in our own security,” Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, said in a panel discussion.

Concerns about the implications of global warming for national security have built within the Pentagon and national security circles for decades, including under both Bush administrations.

In September, acting on the basis of a National Intelligence Council report he commissioned, President Obama ordered more than a dozen federal agencies and offices, including the Defense Department, “to ensure that climate change-related impacts are fully considered in the development of national security doctrine, policies, and plans.”

A related “action plan” was issued on Dec. 23, requiring those agencies to create a Climate and National Security Working Group within 60 days, and for relevant agencies to create “implementation plans” in that same period.

There’s no sign that any of this has been done.

Whether the inaction is a function of the widespread gaps in political appointments at relevant agencies, institutional inertia or a policy directive from the Trump White House remains unclear.

Queries to press offices at the White House and half a dozen of the involved agencies — including the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Defense, Department of Energy and Commerce Department — have not been answered. A State Department spokeswoman directed questions to the National Security Council and the White House, writing:

“We refer you to the NSC for any additional information on the climate working group.”

Mattis’ statements were submitted through a common practice at confirmation hearings in which senators pose “questions for the record” seeking more detail on a nominee’s stance on some issue.

The questions and answers spanned an array of issues, but five Democratic senators on the committee asked about climate change, according to a government official briefed in detail on the resulting 58-page document with the answers. The senators were Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the ranking member, Tim Kaine of Virginia, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

Excerpts from Mattis’ written comments to the committee were in material provided to ProPublica by someone involved with coordinating efforts on climate change preparedness across more than a dozen government agencies, including the Defense Department. Senate staff confirmed their authenticity.

Dustin Walker, communications director for the Senate Armed Services Committee, said responses to individual senators’ follow-up questions are theirs to publish or not.

Here are two of the climate questions from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, with Mattis’ replies:

Shaheen: “I understand that while you were commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command you signed off on a document called the Joint Operating Environment, which listed climate change as one of the security threats the military will face in the next quarter-century. Do you believe climate change is a security threat?”

Mattis: “Climate change can be a driver of instability and the Department of Defense must pay attention to potential adverse impacts generated by this phenomenon.”

Shaheen: “General Mattis, how should the military prepare to address this threat?”

Mattis: “As I noted above, climate change is a challenge that requires a broader, whole-of government response. If confirmed, I will ensure that the Department of Defense plays its appropriate role within such a response by addressing national security aspects.”

In a reply to another question, Mattis said:

“I agree that the effects of a changing climate — such as increased maritime access to the Arctic, rising sea levels, desertification, among others — impact our security situation. I will ensure that the department continues to be prepared to conduct operations today and in the future, and that we are prepared to address the effects of a changing climate on our threat assessments, resources, and readiness.


Gray Whale Migration

The gray whale, (Eschrichtius robustus), is a baleen whale that migrates between feeding and breeding grounds yearly. It reaches a length of about 15.2 m (50 ft), a weight of 36 tonnes (35 long tons; 40 short tons), and lives 50–70 years.[3] The common name of the whale comes from the gray patches and white mottling on its dark skin.[4] Gray whales were once called devil fish because of their fighting behavior when hunted.[5] The gray whale is the sole living species in the genus Eschrichtius, which in turn is the sole living genus in the family Eschrichtiidae. This mammal descended from filter-feeding whales that developed at the beginning of the Oligocene, over 30 million years ago.

The gray whale is distributed in an eastern North Pacific (North American) population and a critically endangered western North Pacific (Asian) population. North Atlantic populations were extirpated (perhaps by whaling) on the European coast before 500 AD and on the American coast around the late 17th to early 18th centuries.[6] However, on May 8, 2010, a sighting of a gray whale was confirmed off the coast of Israel in the Mediterranean Sea,[7] leading some scientists to think they might be repopulating old breeding grounds that have not been used for centuries.[7]




The gray whale is traditionally placed as the only living species in its genus and family.[8] Recent DNA analysis indicates certain rorquals of the family Balaenopteridae, such as the humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae, and fin whale, Balaenoptera physalus, are more closely related to the gray whale than they are to some other rorquals, such as the minke whales.[9][10] John Edward Gray placed it in its own genus in 1865, naming it in honour of zoologist Daniel Eschricht.[11] The common name of the whale comes from its coloration. The subfossil remains of now extinct gray whales from the Atlantic coasts of England and Sweden were used by Gray to make the first scientific description of a species then surviving only in Pacific waters.[12] The living Pacific species was described by Cope as Rhachianectes glaucus in 1869.[13] Skeletal comparisons showed the Pacific species to be identical to the Atlantic remains in the 1930s, and Gray’s naming has been generally accepted since.[14][15] Although identity between the Atlantic and Pacific populations cannot be proven by anatomical data, its skeleton is distinctive and easy to distinguish from that of all other living whales.[16]

Many other names have been ascribed to the gray whale, including desert whale,[17] devil fish, gray back, mussel digger and rip sack.[18] The name Eschrichtius gibbosus is sometimes seen; this is dependent on the acceptance of a 1777 description by Erxleben.[19]


The gray whale is a dark slate-gray in color and covered by characteristic gray-white patterns, scars left by parasites which drop off in its cold feeding grounds. Individual whales are typically identified using photographs of their dorsal surface and matching the scars and patches associated with parasites that have fallen off the whale or are still attached.

Gray whales measure from 16 feet (4.9 m) in length for newborns to 43–50 feet (13–15 m) for adults (females tend to be slightly larger than adult males). Newborns are a darker gray to black in color. A mature gray whale can reach 40 tonnes (39 long tons; 44 short tons), with a typical range of 15 to 33 tonnes (15 to 32 long tons; 17 to 36 short tons).[20]

They have two blowholes on top of their head, which can create a distinctive V-shaped blow at the surface in calm wind conditions.

A close-up of a gray whale’s double blow hole and some of its encrusted barnacles

Notable features that distinguish the gray whale from other mysticetes include its baleen that is variously described as cream, off-white, or blond in color and is unusually short. Small depressions on the upper jaw each contain a lone stiff hair, but are only visible on close inspection. Its head’s ventral surface lacks the numerous prominent furrows of the related rorquals, instead bearing two to five shallow furrows on the throat’s underside. The gray whale also lacks a dorsal fin, instead bearing 6 to 12 dorsal crenulations (“knuckles”), which are raised bumps on the midline of its rear quarter, leading to the flukes. The tail itself is 10–12 feet (3.0–3.7 m) across and deeply notched at the center while its edges taper to a point.


Two Pacific Ocean populations are known to exist: one of not more than 130 individuals (according to the most recent population assessment in 2008[21]) whose migratory route is presumed to be between the Sea of Okhotsk and southern Korea, and a larger one with a population between 20,000 and 22,000 individuals in the eastern Pacific travelling between the waters off Alaska and Baja California Sur. The western population is listed as critically endangered by the IUCN. No new reproductive females were recorded in 2010, resulting in a minimum of 26 reproductive females being observed since 1995.[21] Even a very small number of additional annual female deaths will cause the subpopulation to decline.[22]

In 2007, S. Elizabeth Alter used a genetic approach to estimate prewhaling abundance based on samples from 42 California gray whales, and reported DNA variability at 10 genetic loci consistent with a population size of 76,000–118,000 individuals, three to five times larger than the average census size as measured through 2007.[23] NOAA conducted a new populations study in 2010–2011; those data will be available by 2012.[24] The ocean ecosystem has likely changed since the prewhaling era, making a return to prewhaling numbers infeasible; many marine ecologists argue that existing gray whale numbers in the eastern Pacific Ocean are approximately at the population’s carrying capacity.[25]

The gray whale became extinct in the North Atlantic in the 18th century.[26] Radiocarbon dating of subfossil or fossil European (Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom) coastal remains confirms this, with whaling the possible cause.[16] Remains dating from the Roman epoch were found in the Mediterranean during excavation of the antique harbor of Lattara near Montpellier in 1997, raising the question of whether Atlantic gray whales migrated up and down the coast of Europe to calve in the Mediterranean.[27] Similarly, radiocarbon dating of American east coastal subfossil remains confirm gray whales existed at least through the 17th century. This population ranged at least from Southampton, New York, to Jupiter Island, Florida, the latest from 1675.[15] In his 1835 history of Nantucket Island, Obed Macy wrote that in the early pre-1672 colony a whale of the kind called “scragg” entered the harbor and was pursued and killed by the settlers.[28] A. B. Van Deinse points out that the “scrag whale”, described by P. Dudley in 1725 as one of the species hunted by the early New England whalers, was almost certainly the gray whale.[29][30]

In mid-1980, there were three gray whale sightings in the eastern Beaufort Sea, placing them 585 kilometers (364 mi) further east than their known range at the time.[31] In May 2010, a gray whale was sighted off the Mediterranean shore of Israel.[32] It has been speculated that this whale crossed from the Pacific to the Atlantic via the Northwest Passage, since alternative routes through the Panama Canal or Cape Horn are not contiguous to the whale’s established territory. There has been gradual melting and recession of Arctic sea ice with extreme loss in 2007 rendering the Northwest Passage “fully navigable”.[33] The same whale was sighted again on May 30, 2010, off the coast of Barcelona, Spain.[34]

In January 2011, a gray whale that had been tagged in the western population was tracked as far east as the eastern population range off the coast of British Columbia.[35]

Life history


Breeding behavior is complex and often involves three or more animals. Both male and female whales reach puberty at approximately eight years of age.[36] Females show highly synchronized reproduction, undergoing oestrus in late November to early December.[37] During the breeding season, it is common for females to have several mates.[38] This single ovulation event is believed to coincide with the species’ annual migration patterns, when births can occur in warmer waters.[38] Most females show biennial reproduction, although annual births have been reported.[37] Males also show seasonal changes, experiencing an increase in testes mass that correlates with the time females undergo oestrus.[38] Currently there are no accounts of twin births, although an instance of twins in utero has been reported.[37]

The gestation period for gray whales is approximately 13.5 months.[36] In the latter half of the pregnancy, the fetus experiences a rapid growth in length and mass. Similar to the narrow breeding season, most calves are born within a six-week time period in mid January.[36] The calf is born tail first, and measures about 4 m (13 ft) in length. Females lactate for approximately seven months following birth, at which point calves are weaned and maternal care begins to decrease.[36] The shallow lagoon waters in which gray whales reproduce are believed to protect the newborn from sharks and orcas.[citation needed]


The whale feeds mainly on benthic crustaceans, which it eats by turning on its side (usually the right, resulting in loss of eyesight in the right eye for many older animals) and scooping up sediments from the sea floor. It is classified as a baleen whale and has baleen, or whalebone, which acts like a sieve, to capture small sea animals, including amphipods taken in along with sand, water and other material. Mostly, the animal feeds in the northern waters during the summer; and opportunistically feeds during its migration, depending primarily on its extensive fat reserves. Calf gray whales drink 50 to 80 US gallons (190 to 300 l) of their mothers’ 53% fat milk per day.[39]

The main feeding habitat of the western Pacific subpopulation is the shallow (5–15 m depth) shelf off northeastern Sakhalin Island, particularly off the southern portion of Piltun Lagoon, where the main prey species appear to be amphipods and isopods.[40] In some years, the whales have also used an offshore feeding ground in 30–35 m depth southeast of Chayvo Bay, where benthic amphipods and cumaceans are the main prey species.[41] Some gray whales have also been seen off western Kamchatka, but to date all whales photographed there are also known from the Piltun area.[42][22]

Gray whale breaching off the coast of Santa Barbara, California

A gray whale viewed from above


Each October, as the northern ice pushes southward, small groups of eastern gray whales in the eastern Pacific start a two- to three-month, 8,000–11,000-kilometer (5,000–6,800 mi) trip south. Beginning in the Bering and Chukchi seas and ending in the warm-water lagoons of Mexico’s Baja peninsula and the southern Gulf of California, they travel along the west coast of Canada, the United States and Mexico.

The western gray whale summers in the Okhotsk Sea, mainly off the northeastern coast of Sakhalin Island (Russian Federation). There are also occasional sightings off the eastern coast of Kamchatka (Russian Federation) and in other coastal waters of the northern Okhotsk Sea,.[43][44] Its migration routes and wintering grounds are poorly known, the only recent information being from occasional records on both the eastern and western coasts of Japan [45] and along the Chinese coast.[46] The calving grounds are unknown but may be around Hainan Island, this being the southwestern end of the known range.[22][47]

Traveling night and day, the gray whale averages approximately 120 km (75 mi) per day at an average speed of 8 kilometers per hour (5 mph). This round trip of 16,000–22,000 km (9,900–14,000 mi) is believed to be the longest annual migration of any mammal. By mid-December to early January, the majority are usually found between Monterey and San Diego, often visible from shore. The whale watching industry provides ecotourists and marine mammal enthusiasts the opportunity to see groups of gray whales as they migrate.

By late December to early January, eastern grays begin to arrive in the calving lagoons of Baja. The three most popular lagoons are Laguna Ojo de Liebre (formerly known in English as Scammon’s Lagoon after whaleman Charles Melville Scammon, who discovered the lagoons in the 1850s and hunted the grays),[48][49] San Ignacio, and Magdalena.

These first whales to arrive are usually pregnant mothers looking for the protection of the lagoons to bear their calves, along with single females seeking mates. By mid-February to mid-March, the bulk of the population has arrived in the lagoons, filling them with nursing, calving and mating gray whales.

Throughout February and March, the first to leave the lagoons are males and females without new calves. Pregnant females and nursing mothers with their newborns are the last to depart, leaving only when their calves are ready for the journey, which is usually from late March to mid-April. Often, a few mothers linger with their young calves well into May.

By late March or early April, the returning animals can be seen from Everett, Washington, to Puget Sound to Canada.

A population of about 200 gray whales stay along the eastern Pacific coast from Canada to California throughout the summer, not making the farther trip to Alaskan waters. This summer resident group is known as the Pacific Coast feeding group.[50]


North Pacific

Charles Melville Scammon‘s 1874 illustration of a gray whale

Humans and the killer whale (orca) are the adult gray whale’s only predators. Aboriginal hunters, including those on Vancouver Island and the Makah in Washington, have hunted gray whales. The Japanese began to catch gray whales beginning in the 1570s. At Kawajiri, Nagato, 169 gray whales were caught between 1698 and 1889. At Tsuro, Shikoku, 201 were taken between 1849 and 1896.[51] Several hundred more were probably caught by American and European whalemen in the Sea of Okhotsk from the 1840s to the early 20th century.[52] Whalemen caught 44 with nets in Japan during the 1890s. The real damage was done between 1911 and 1933, when Japanese whalemen killed 1,449. By 1934, the western gray whale was near extinction. From 1891 to 1966, an estimated 1,800–2,000 gray whales were caught, with peak catches of 100–200 annually occurring in the 1910s.[52]

Commercial whaling by Europeans of the species in the North Pacific began in the winter of 1845–46, when two United States ships, the Hibernia and the United States, under Captains Smith and Stevens, caught 32 in Magdalena Bay. More ships followed in the two following winters, after which gray whaling in the bay was nearly abandoned because “of the inferior quality and low price of the dark-colored gray whale oil, the low quality and quantity of whalebone from the gray, and the dangers of lagoon whaling.”[53]

Gray whaling in Magdalena Bay was revived in the winter of 1855–56 by several vessels, mainly from San Francisco, including the ship Leonore, under Captain Charles Melville Scammon. This was the first of 11 winters from 1855 through 1865 known as the “bonanza period”, during which gray whaling along the coast of Baja California reached its peak. Not only were the whales taken in Magdalena Bay, but also by ships anchored along the coast from San Diego south to Cabo San Lucas and from whaling stations from Crescent City in northern California south to San Ignacio Lagoon. During the same period, vessels targeting right and bowhead whales in the Gulf of Alaska, Sea of Okhotsk, and the Western Arctic would take the odd gray whale if neither of the more desirable two species were in sight.[53]

In December 1857, Charles Scammon, in the brig Boston, along with his schooner-tender Marin, entered Laguna Ojo de Liebre (Jack-Rabbit Spring Lagoon) or later known as Scammon’s Lagoon (by 1860) and found one of the gray’s last refuges. He caught 20 whales.[53] He returned the following winter (1858–59) with the bark Ocean Bird and schooner tenders A.M. Simpson and Kate. In three months, he caught 47 cows, yielding 1,700 barrels (270 m3) of oil.[54] In the winter of 1859–60, Scammon, again in the bark Ocean Bird, along with several other vessels, performed a similar feat of daring by entering San Ignacio Lagoon to the south where he discovered the last breeding lagoon. Within only a couple of seasons, the lagoon was nearly devoid of whales.[53]

Between 1846 and 1874, an estimated 8,000 gray whales were killed by American and European whalemen, with over half having been killed in the Magdalena Bay complex (Estero Santo Domingo, Magdalena Bay itself, and Almejas Bay) and by shore whalemen in California and Baja California.[53] This, for the most part, does not take into account the large number of calves injured or left to starve after their mothers had been killed in the breeding lagoons. Since whalemen primarily targeted these new mothers, several thousand deaths should probably be added to the total.[citation needed] Shore whaling in California and Baja California continued after this period, until the early 20th century.

A second, shorter, and less intensive hunt occurred for gray whales in the eastern North Pacific. Only a few were caught from two whaling stations on the coast of California from 1919 to 1926, and a single station in Washington (1911–21) accounted for the capture of another. For the entire west coast of North America for the years 1919 to 1929, some 234 gray whales were caught. Only a dozen or so were taken by British Columbian stations, nearly all of them in 1953 at Coal Harbour.[55] A whaling station in Richmond, California, caught 311 gray whales for “scientific purposes” between 1964 and 1969. From 1961 to 1972, the Soviet Union caught 138 gray whales (they originally reported not having taken any). The only other significant catch was made in two seasons by the steam-schooner California off Malibu, California. In the winters of 1934–35 and 1935–36, the California anchored off Point Dume in Paradise Cove, processing gray whales. In 1936, gray whales became protected in the United States.[56]

As of 2001, the Californian gray whale population had grown to about 26,000. As of 2011, the population of western Pacific (seas near Korea, Japan, and Kamchatka) gray whales was an estimated 130.[57]

North Atlantic

The North Atlantic population may have been hunted to extinction in the 18th century. Circumstantial evidence indicates whaling could have contributed to this population’s decline, as the increase in whaling activity in the 17th and 18th centuries coincided with the population’s disappearance.[15] A. B. Van Deinse points out the “scrag whale”, described by P. Dudley in 1725, as one target of early New England whalers, was almost certainly the gray whale.[29][30] In his 1835 history of Nantucket Island, Obed Macy wrote that in the early pre-1672 colony, a whale of the kind called “scragg” entered the harbor and was pursued and killed by the settlers.[28] Gray whales (Icelandic sandlægja) were described in Iceland in the early 17th century.[58]


Gray whales have been granted protection from commercial hunting by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) since 1949, and are no longer hunted on a large scale.

Limited hunting of gray whales has continued since that time, however, primarily in the Chukotka region of northeastern Russia, where large numbers of gray whales spend the summer months. This hunt has been allowed under an “aboriginal/subsistence whaling” exception to the commercial-hunting ban. Antiwhaling groups have protested the hunt, saying the meat from the whales is not for traditional native consumption, but is used instead to feed animals in government-run fur farms; they cite annual catch numbers that rose dramatically during the 1940s, at the time when state-run fur farms were being established in the region. Although the Soviet government denied these charges as recently as 1987, in recent years the Russian government has acknowledged the practice. The Russian IWC delegation has said that the hunt is justified under the aboriginal/subsistence exemption, since the fur farms provide a necessary economic base for the region’s native population.

Currently, the annual quota for the gray whale catch in the region is 140 per year. Pursuant to an agreement between the United States and Russia, the Makah tribe of Washington claimed four whales from the IWC quota established at the 1997 meeting. With the exception of a single gray whale killed in 1999, the Makah people have been prevented from hunting by a series of legal challenges, culminating in a United States federal appeals court decision in December 2002 that required the National Marine Fisheries Service to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement. On September 8, 2007, five members of the Makah tribe shot a gray whale using high powered rifles in spite of the decision. The whale died within 12 hours, sinking while heading out to sea.[59]

As of 2008, the IUCN regards the gray whale as being of “Least Concern” from a conservation perspective. However, the specific subpopulation in the northwest Pacific is regarded as being “Critically Endangered”.[2] The northwest Pacific population is also listed as endangered by the U.S. government’s National Marine Fisheries Service under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The IWC Bowhead, Right and Gray Whale subcommittee in 2011 reiterated the conservation risk to western gray whales is large because of the small size of the population and the potential anthropogenic impacts.[21]

In their breeding grounds in Baja California, Mexican law protects whales in their lagoons while still permitting whale watching.[citation needed] Gray whales are protected under Canada’s Species at Risk Act which obligates Canadian governments to prepare management plans for the whales and consider the interests of the whales when permitting development.[citation needed]

Gray Whale migrations off of the Pacific Coast were observed, initially, by Marineland of the Pacific in Palos Verdes, California. The Gray Whale Census, an official Gray Whale migration census that has been recording data on the migration of the Pacific Gray Whale has been keeping track of the population of the Pacific Gray Whale since 1985. This census is the longest running census of the Pacific Gray Whale. Census keepers volunteer from December 1 through May, from sun up to sun down, seven days a week, keeping track of the amount of Gray Whales migrating through the area off of Los Angeles. Information from this census is listed through the American Cetacean Society of Los Angeles (ACSLA).


According to the Government of Canada’s Management Plan for gray whales, threats to the eastern North Pacific population of gray whales include:[60]

  • Increased human activities in their breeding lagoons in Mexico
  • Climate change
  • Acute noise
  • The threat of toxic spills
  • Aboriginal whaling
  • Entanglement with fishing gear
  • Boat collisions
  • Impacts from fossil fuel exploration and extraction

Western gray whales are facing, the large-scale offshore oil and gas development programs near their summer feeding ground, as well as fatal net entrapments off Japan during migration, which pose significant threats to the future survival of the population.[21]

The substantial nearshore industrialization and shipping congestion throughout the migratory corridors of the western gray whale population represent potential threats by increasing the likelihood of exposure to ship strikes, chemical pollution, and general disturbance (Weller et al. 2002).[22]

Offshore gas and oil development in the Okhotsk Sea within 20 km of the primary feeding ground off northeast Sakhalin Island is of particular concern. Activities related to oil and gas exploration, including geophysical seismic surveying, pipelaying and drilling operations, increased vessel traffic, and oil spills, all pose potential threats to western gray whales. Disturbance from underwater industrial noise may displace whales from critical feeding habitat. Physical habitat damage from drilling and dredging operations, combined with possible impacts of oil and chemical spills on benthic prey communities also warrants concern.[22][61]


Because of their size and need to migrate, gray whales have rarely been held in captivity, and then only for brief periods of time.

In 1972, a three-month-old gray whale named Gigi (II) was captured for brief study by Dr. David W. Kenney, and then released near San Diego.[62]

In January 1997, the newborn baby whale J.J. was found helpless near the coast of Los Angeles, California, 4.2 m (14 ft) long and 800 kilograms (1,800 lb) in weight. Nursed back to health in SeaWorld San Diego, she was released into the Pacific Ocean on March 31, 1998, 9 m (30 ft) long and 8,500 kilograms (19,000 lb) in mass. She shed her radio transmitter packs three days later.[63]

Appreciative Inquiry: Visioning Hawaii’s Adaptation to Climate Change

 Dr. Donna Ching presented on Appreciative Inquiry at the Rotary Peace Forum in Hawaii.  It was a very stimulating discussion. 

Here is a paper produced by the University of Hawai’i looking at Climate Change entitled Visioning Hawai‘i’s Adaptation to Climate Change.

The Executive Summary is as follows and then the link is provided below to the paper.



In the course of implementing the legislatively-mandated Ocean Resources Management Plan
(ORMP), the multi-stakeholder ORMP policy group and working group recognized a need for
policy guidance to frame and effectuate a coordinated effort to adapt to the expected impacts of
climate change. In 2009, the ORMP working group partnered with the Center for Island Climate
Adaptation and Policy (ICAP) at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa to develop A Framework
for Climate Change Adaptation in Hawaii. The desired outcome of the process outlined in the
Framework is for Hawaiʻi to adapt successfully to the impacts of climate change.

In order to move implementation of the Framework forward, the ORMP partners agreed that a multistakeholder workshop focused on developing a collective vision to inform policy related to climate change adaptation was a logical next step. This report, and the accompanying report titled, Hawai‘i 2060: Visioning Hawai‘i’s Adaptation to Climate Change; A Final Report of the Alternative Futures Exercise at the 2011 Planning Meeting with the Hawai‘i Ocean Resources Management Plan
Partners, detail the results of this effort.


On August 22-23, 2011, the State of Hawai‘i Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Program, the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and U.S. Army Corps of
Engineer’s Honolulu District’s (USACE) Silver Jackets initiative sponsored a workshop to
facilitate the development of the foundation for a statewide climate change policy. Sixty
participants engaged in the unique workshop, which combined a futures approach with
appreciative inquiry to think “outside the box” and develop a common vision for moving

Participants were selected by identifying representative stakeholders from larger constituencies,
thus resulting in a group that was not so large as to compromise the effectiveness of small group
participation but still include the broadest scope of interests. Participants represented a wide
array of interests, including federal, state and county agencies, academia, Native Hawaiians,
environmental non-profits, community organizations, business associates, insurance companies,
and youth. The list of participants is attached as Appendix A.

First, the workshop co-sponsors wanted to help participants get outside of their day-to-day budget
constraints, time pressures, staff shortages, and vast to-do lists so that they could think bigger and for a larger purpose: re-framing climate change as an opportunity rather than an overwhelming problem for Hawai‘i. In order to achieve this goal, the State of Hawai‘i Office of Planning (OP) contracted the Hawai‘i Research Center for Futures Studies at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa under Jim Dator, Ph.D., to lead the group through an Alternative Futures Exercise.

This approach is uniquely suited to developing resilient and adaptive policy guidance in the face
of high uncertainty. Among other things, it allowed participants to test their normative
understanding of the present, under alternative future constructs that account for various multisector climate change impacts under various political, cultural, and physical constructs. Dr.
Dator and his team transported participants into the year 2060 to experience four different futures
based on archetypes of continued growth, discipline, collapse, and transformed societies. The participants were asked to “live” within these scenarios, accept them as their reality, and evaluate
the pros and cons. These experiences enabled participants to articulate aspects of the futures
they wished to retain or prevent. Broadly, this process encourages participants to think
creatively when developing policies.

For a complete description of the methodology, the alternative futures experienced and discussed, and reactions and results, please see the accompanying report titled, Hawai‘i 2060: Visioning Hawai‘i’s Adaptation to Climate Change; A Final Report of the Alternative Futures Exercise at the 2011 Planning Meeting with the Hawai‘i Ocean Resources Management Plan Partners.

After the participants experienced the alternative futures for Hawai‘i in 2060, Donna Ching,
Ph.D., from the University of Hawai‘i College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources,
led the group through an Appreciative Inquiry (AI) session in order to focus attention on how we
would like climate change to be addressed in Hawai‘i. Rather than focusing on problems and
gaps, which can inadvertently create more problems, AI searches for what is working in order to
lead the group to success and generate new possibilities from a foundation of priorities
articulated through a process of collective agreement. The complete AI process followed and
outputs from the workshop are included in this report immediately after this Executive Summary,
under Meeting Summary: Group Memory.

Workshop Results

Participants first worked together to conduct an “environmental scan” of the trends, stakeholders,
contributors, competitors, and collaborators that may influence climate change adaptation in the
state. Then Dr. Ching facilitated a discussion on the group’s values. The group collectively
agreed upon the importance of the following value clusters:

A. Equity, Diversity, Justice, Socio-Cultural
B. Innovative, Resourceful, Adaptive, Progressive, Bold
C. Collaborative, Community, Cooperation, Inspiration
D. Don’t waste, Efficiency, Pragmatic, Discipline, Achievable
E. Economics, Value Ownership, Maximum Economic Value
F. Responsible, Stewardship
G. Sustainable
H. Knowledge, Science-based, Education, Wisdom

The list identifies the values participants agreed to specify with concrete actions because of their
importance in a preferred vision for Hawai‘i. These values are detailed in the group memory.
Participants then developed climate change adaption “visions” built upon these shared values.
Common themes from the visions included the following:

• Educated, informed, and aware public that initiated movement;
• Hawai‘i as a leader in adaptation technology and practice;
• Adopted ecological-based land use;
• Cross-jurisdictional collaboration;
• Resilient communities and economy;
• Sustainability and self-reliance (related to agriculture, energy, water, waste, etc.);
• Adaptive management and implementation;
• Involvement of research and education system to adapt and capitalize on opportunities;
• Planning for the next “phase” in policy; and
• Removal of jurisdictional barriers.

These common themes provided the foundation for the draft climate change legislative bill that
the State of Hawai‘i Office of Planning drafted after this session, with continued input from
workshop participants and additional stakeholders.
The group then identified two priority strategic issues and developed action plans for each. They
are briefly described below.

1. Strategic Issue #1: Educated Public and Political Will

a. Goal: Influence political will regarding climate change through educational
efforts.i. Action Item/Result: A group formed to create a plan to implement the
various objectives developed to achieve the goal for this strategic issue.
2. Strategic Issue #2: Integrated Planning and Collaboration

a. Goal: Better integration of planning among all agencies—county, state, and
i. Action Item/Result: Group agreement for the ORMP working group to
determine who will be responsible for implementing this goal and the
associated activities identified.

b. Goal: Create a better balance of the built and natural (e.g., reforestation)
infrastructure to respond to the effects of climate change.
i. Action Item/Result: Group agreement for ORMP working group to
flush out this goal and associated objectives further. Volunteers
surfaced to join the ORMP working group to achieve this effort.

After the Workshop

Several next steps from the workshop were implemented immediately. Companion measures
Senate Bill 2745 and House Bill 2483 were introduced by the Twenty-Sixth Legislature of the
State of Hawai‘i 2012 as part of the governor’s legislative package. Based on the common
themes developed in the workshop, the bills add a priority guideline to the Hawai‘i State
Planning Act. If passed, climate change adaptation will be integrated into county-adopted
general and development plans and implemented through land use permitting and county zoning.
State agencies will be required to consider climate change adaptation as part of their decisionmaking
as it relates to programs, budget priorities, and land use actions. In addition to these
direct statutory requirements, this would be Hawai‘i’s first statute on climate change adaptation.
The policy supports further work in the area of climate change adaptation through
implementation strategies. Workshop participants as well as additional stakeholders were invited
to provide input on OP’s draft. At the completion of this report, one bill was still alive in the
State Legislature as SB2745 SD1 HD1.

Other next steps identified at the workshop for the ORMP working group to move forward have
also gained traction and are currently being implemented. These include the formation and
subsequent work of two subcommittees on integrated planning and outreach/education, which
were created to address the two priority strategic actions identified above. Meeting summaries of
the ORMP working group are available online at


Overall, the two-day workshop allowed leaders to develop a shared understanding of the
inevitable impacts of climate change in Hawai‘i along with a common foundation for a desired
future for Hawai‘i’s people, systems, businesses, and resources. Strategies for adapting to the
adverse impacts of climate change require a multi-disciplinary, integrated planning approach that
takes into account other stressors such as population growth, economic realities, and Peak Oil.
The futures exercise allowed diverse stakeholders to experience alternative futures together,
which stimulated more comprehensive strategies to address future climate change impacts. The
appreciative inquiry approach enabled participants to reach collective agreement on a common
vision for Hawai‘i. The end results of the workshop provided a strong foundation for the
development of priority guidelines for climate change adaptation, which are being proposed by
the Governor of Hawai‘i as an addition to the Hawaii State Planning Act in the 2012 state
legislative session.

To learn more about this paper go to Visioning Hawai’i Adaptation to Climate Change link: