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The Mast-Head: Ignoring the Obvious

Thu, 03/02/2023 - 09:51

One of the things that has struck me about the rash of dead whales on beaches in the Northeast is that it has been going on for years, millenniums, in fact. Among the few concessions given the Montaukett and Shinnecock peoples as English adventurers took their land was that they might keep the tails and fins of any whales washed ashore. This is not to say that something unusual is not going on with the whales. Federal authorities have described an “unusual mortality event” dating to about 2016.

Two main factors have been identified in the whale deaths and neither of them is offshore wind exploration, despite what you might read online. In the case of humpback whales, whose numbers have increased dramatically after being hunted nearly to extinction, their abundance, plus a shift in where they find food, is partially responsible. Then there are ship strikes. Of the 23 whales that ended up on shore since early December, many have been found with injuries from ships’ propellers.

The lack of an obvious connection to the relatively limited work being done to prepare for wind turbine installation has not stopped the internet and some Republican politicians from speculating irresponsibly. Environmental organizations with long-established track records say the risk from offshore wind power work is minimal compared to its alternatives, notably oil and gas drilling.

This past fall, the Port of New York surpassed Long Beach in California, and Los Angeles as the number-one busiest in the United States. During 2021, container-ship traffic was up 20 percent over all from the year before. According to The Wall Street Journal, port congestion was a leading cause of product shortages during the pandemic and led to higher freight rates and supply-chain costs, which have pushed inflation to a 40-year high.

But, hey, it’s the wind power work, right? Nope.

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