Another Season of Anti-Whaling Propaganda on Animal Planet

Cable channel Animal Planet is once again feeding its viewers dramatic environmental propaganda and misinformation. Season 4 of "Whale Wars," a program chronicling the anti-whaling efforts of environmentalist Paul Watson and his Sea Shepherds, is showing on Animal Planet this summer.

The show follows the efforts of Watson and his modern day pirates (who fly a customized version of the Jolly Roger), who attempt to disable whaling ships by throwing chemicals onto Japanese whaling ships and fouling their propellers.

As shown on Whale Wars, the Sea Shepherds' tactics include the use of butyric acid bombs (stink bombs), "slippery bombs," "photonic disrupters," and media manipulation.

Watson has used even more direct tactics in the past, arguing that "There's nothing wrong with being a terrorist so long as you win." He claimed in a 2008 New Yorker interview to have sunk as many as 10 whaling boats.

Watson claims that his aggressive tactics are justified to stop "illegal" whaling, since the ICRW (International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling) banned commercial whaling in a 1982 treaty. But limited whaling is permitted under Article VIII of the ICRW treaty, which permits scientific exemptions to the whaling ban.

R. J. Smith, a Distinguished Fellow of the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Center for Energy and Environment, told BMI that "Japan is following the specific terms of Article VIII of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling in regards to undertaking scientific research whaling." He also pointed out that "Other nations, such as Norway and Iceland, openly engage in commercial whaling, while Japan is singled out for its scientific whaling program."

Smith also noted that minke whales are not endangered, stating that "there is general agreement that there are probably 750,000 to a million minkes" in the Southern Pacific. Since the Japanese limit themselves to a quota of 935 minke whales a year (and 50 fin whales and 50 humpback whales), their annual whale hunt would have no permanent negative effect on the population of minke whales.

But facts are of little concern to the Sea Shepherds and to Watson, who argued that "If you don't know an answer, a fact, a statistic, then ... make it up on the spot." And apparently, nor are human lives. Watson's efforts to halt Japanese whaling put both the lives of whalers and his crew at risk. The Japanese halted their annual whaling expedition earlier this year, after Japanese officials argued that the Sea Shepherds' attacks endangered the lives of its whalers. And Watson has openly declared on Whale Wars that people unwilling to die for whales don't belong on his ship.

Watson believes that the lives of whales are more important than the lives of humans. He has called humans "the AIDS of the earth," declared that "earthworms are far more valuable than people," and believes that world population should be reduced to less than one billion.

Watson also scorns modern human civilization, demanding the elimination of large cities: "No human community should be larger than 20,000 people and separated from other communities by wilderness areas." He has called for a return to primitive lifestyles and sail-powered ships, opining that mankind should "stop flying, stop driving cars, and jetting around on marine recreational vehicles" - despite the fact that he admits his boats are powered by oil.

Watson's history of radical ideas and violent action forced even environmental groups to disown him. Greenpeace expelled him in 1977. Watson resigned from the Sierra Club after a three-year stint as director in 2006 due to policy arguments.

By its promotion of "Whale Wars," Animal Planet is signaling its support for the aggressive tactics and radical ideas of a man whom even the mainstream environmentalist movement has rejected.