A: To save the whales... no, to make a few bucks, why else?
Q: If I block ads am I breaking some kind of sacred "social contract?"
A: Not in my opinion. In fact I encourage you to turn off these ads. You'll have to sign up as a user of this site first... then, go into the user preferences and scroll down to "News box configuration." In this section, select only the boxes that you want to see. Then click "Save Information." You still may see some ads in the body text of articles though.
Check out this fine software for more ad blocking inspiration.