Friday, March 01, 2013

David about those Petitions!

Oh how I despise them!
Those idiotic petitions, the folks who post them and the slacktivists (and here!) who sign them and then call themselves conservationists!

And I cite
You may be aware that the Shark population as a species is under great threat, Some marine biologist have suggested as soon as 2020 these magnificent creatures may be extinct. 

Over 200,000 Million Sharks are taken each year, many illegally, caught to support a growing industry for shark products in the Asian market. Most fins being used as a starch to thicken Shark Fin soup which has no taste but is thought to have magical properties and a sign of wealth!

Whilst legislation in to banning shark fining may be introduced, unless the demand for these fins is stopped at source then the illegal poaching of sharks will continue. Whilst China is not the only Country importing Shark fins, it is by far the largest importer. 

By urging the Chinese Government taking action to ban the use of Shark Fins in both medicinal and foods, such as Shark Fin soup China would be leading the world in valuable conservation. Wouldnt it be nice to GO DOWN IN HISTORY as the country that saved the Sharks, rather than the Country responsible for their extinction?
Well, gee, indeed.
At the rate of 200 Billion!!! Sharks being taken each year, that Shark populations as a species may indeed be extinct by 2020 - especially if we continue fining them (for what - speeding?) for that magical soup!
And the language! I thought Stoke was in England where they speak English?

Please read David's post on the matter.
Totally agree of course. 
There is however one ulterior aspect that with one exception has so far prevented me from signing any such petition - even the ones that were totally factual and well written, and this by good people and for valid causes.

The reason is that I remain skeptical that petitions actually work.
Unless convinced of the contrary by the petition leaders, and this for every individual petition based on its individual merits, I always harbor the suspicion that instead of being motivating, those petitions may instead be regarded as irritating all the way to "undue outside interference" by the people that are being petitioned. 
In brief, I always fear that they may in fact do more harm than good.

Happy to be proven wrong tho!
The next case in point will be the upcoming CITES CoP where we are being regaled with a plethora of petitions and public statements on top of scores of pictures of people brandishing flat Sharks. My prediction is that the Mantas will pass but that the Sharks will be snubbed, this once again due to the interference by Japan.

As always, we shall see.
And if the result will be an unexpected victory for the Sharks, it will be interesting to analyze how much of it was due to those social media tools.

And if not... :)

PS: Jaime Chase, another marine biology student - wow!


OfficetoOcean said...

200 Billion! :D

By the way, Stoke is indeed in England but research into the area is still trying to find evidence of human lifeforms there, there are lifeforms, but it's inconclusive whether they are in fact, human. It's been said we know more about outer space than we do about what actually dwells in Stoke.

Tropical Selkie said...

Agree 99.9%...slactivist petitions make me nuts; my email/twitter/facebook are flooded with them. I do have one example of a petition contributing to positive change, here in Miami. A disreputable, deteriorating marine park was planning to open yet another 'branch'...the activist community here rallied around the issue (and the petition) both signing and showing up to the Town meetings. The project was shelved and the Town manager told me, directly, that the community opposition (and the petition on file, in the record) significantly contributed to the Town council voting against it. BUT I still hate the endless onslaught of random, bad, ill-conceived petitions!

DaShark said...

Sez the dude with the totally unintelligible mancurian accent! :)

DaShark said...

Yes of course Selkie!

I remember one specific petition, equally from Florida, where one of the politicos actually asked for a collection of signatures!

I just wish that when it comes to those "good" petitions, the initiators took the time to tell the public about the underlying strategies and why that specific petition was likely to make a difference.

Usually, they just appear to say "trust us" and then fire away more or less blindly - and when as so often, nothing comes of it, they pretend that nothing happened instead of engaging in a proper post mortem.

El-Gee said...

Da Shark,
I agree with you on a lot of things, but not on this one.

Generically speaking, I would say that (if well written, organized by someone who actually has authority on the matter or knowledge of cause, etc), petitions are a good way for people to lobby the political decision-makers.

Conservation/Environmental decisions (such as CITES list introductions, the creation of a Marine Park somewhere, etc etc) are for the most part political decisions.

Often, political bodies will consult with stakeholders (NGOs, local communities, etc), but this consultation never reaches the general public - alas, the general public gets to give its opinion on Election Day only.

Then a political body - often with massive conflicts of interest (like a Government) or internal conflicts (like CITES or the IWC) decides.

Which is why I see petitions as a good way for people who - even if they are not professional conservationists or even amateur conservationists - want to make a diference, to add their voice.

One voice (one click), is nothing, but if you add thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens, asking for ONE THING, or ONE CAUSE, I find that extremely powerful.

You see, not everyone can be an Action-Conservationist. Lots of us have other jobs, other passions, perhaps even other priorities.

But clicking is not slacking, it's giving an opinion, trying to make a difference with a little act. The beauty of it is that one act may look small, but if 100000 people click, that's not that small anymore.

Which is why i think petitions are valuable lobby tools.

DaShark said...

El-Gee, thanks for that!

Were it as you state, then I would sign those petitions whenever I would agree with their content and aim.

But as I said, I remain skeptical.
As far as I know there is no proper research into their effectiveness, especially when it comes to conservation projects - I see examples for their success, however the rate and causes (!) of failure of other petitions are never being mentioned or analyzed.
E.g. how many people have signed petitions to stop the Dolphin killing in the Cove... and...?

Also, you may be aware that several platforms are such that by posting petitions there, you are actually "buying" signatures, much in the same way that one can "buy" likes for Facebook pages etc, meaning that they do not at all reflect the vox populi.

The politicos of course know that and like me, they appear skeptical all the way to negatively influenced.

So unless otherwise convinced, I'm going to continue holding off - but I've signed ONE of them because the initiator told me that the politico had asked for it!