Ok so the whales may not actually be jumping about what was said by Obama on Tuesday, but they are definitely impacted by the potential outcome of the comments. Climate change is a scientific fact, and its effects can already be seen, much of which was laid out in the WDC/WWF 2007 Report “Whales in Hot Water”.
And even local shifts in habitat may be occurring as a result of temperature changes. For example in recent years there has been a six-fold increase in sightings of North Atlantic right whales in and around Nantucket Sound, an area south of Cape Cod. So far this season, the interns I am fortunate enough to share the office with have had to travel far and wide to find humpback whales, who seem reluctant to come up to Stellwagen Bank where prey is less abundant as compared to previous years. While it is too early to say with any scientific certainty what is causing these changes, one possible reason might be that their food sources are starting to shift with changing temperatures. For other kinds of marine mammal, like river dolphins, they may not even be able to adapt to changing habitat.
For WDC, we have been proactive about trying to be responsible with regards to our impact on the climate. For example we designed our campaign kits out of recycled materials, no PBAs, and made locally. We have also run recycling programs both in the office and on the boats. We view climate change as a very significant threat to the habitat of the whales, dolphins, and porpoises that we work so hard to conserve and protect.
However, it is impossible for us, as a small non-profit to bring about all the change that is needed. That is why we are excited about a political administration that is being serious about climate change. That is why years from now when our children ask us if we did everything we could to leave them with a cleaner, more stable world, a world where they can enjoy seeing the same whales in the wild as us, that we can stand alongside President Obama and say yes we did.
Our excitement is limited however. The simple fact is that climate change is already occurring. It is already affecting our oceans and the whales we work to protect. Combating climate change will not be easy, but you can help keep whales out of hot water. By being environmentally conscious about the day-to-day decisions we make, we can work together towards a world where every whale and dolphin is safe, and free.
To see the full action plan, go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/share/climate-action-plan