by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
An appeals court has ruled that Navy submarines may not use a sonar-based surveillance system whose low frequencies are also used by whales, because the sonar can leave the whales disoriented, sometimes even causing their death. The decision is not quite as sweeping as it may sound; it applies to only one particular type of sonar, whose use was already restricted, and the court’s decision turned on the distinction between “negligible impact” and “least practicable adverse impact.” So perhaps it’s worth handing a new technical challenge to our Navy, however underfunded it may be, in order to save these magnificent sea mammals. On the other hand, every year millions of birds and bats are chopped to bits by wind turbines or fried by solar-power plants, and the carnage is taken in stride. What is written off as collateral damage when incurred in pursuit of expensive, erratic “green” energy becomes unacceptable, it seems, when it helps our armed forces defend America.