Watching this video will make you very sad (backstory here). It should. It is heartbreaking.
But the real question is: what are we collectively willing to do about it, if anything? Is it enough to inspire changes in the choices we make and the way we live. Because how humanity lives (what it values and what it doesn’t) is what is starving this polar bear.
Here is just a partial list of all the things we can do that relate to this polar bear and his fate: have fewer children, eat less or no meat, drive less (and walk, bike, or use public transportation more), stop flying so much, reduce electricity consumption, shower a few times a week instead of every day, stop buying so much stuff, and stop wasting so much food. Vote for politicians who believe climate change is happening and are willing to ask for sacrifices to deal with it. Support leaders who are fighting global inequality. Support the global education of women, and family planning. Put the lives and needs of ALL species, and stewardship and conservation of the natural world, above your personal convenience. In short, simplify your life and radically reduce its environmental footprint. What else?
Yes, it involves doing less of a lot of things marketers and our culture want us to do a lot of. Doing fewer things that we associate with comfort and convenience. To live in a way that is radically different from the way we have been raised and acculturated to live. But it really isn’t that hard. And it feels good, because it feels right, to DO something.
So let’s work our way through the list, and then we can honestly lament the condition of this polar bear. Because our tears won’t do him any good. Only actions.
CITES giveth (to some sharks and manta rays), and CITES taketh away (or doesn’t giveth, for polar bears).
(via Washington Post)
This news came out last week, but it illustrates perfectly the imperfections of the CITES regime and its inscrutable byzantine politics:
An international meeting of government wildlife officials rejected a U.S. proposal to ban the global trade of polar bear parts Thursday, following an impassioned appeal by Canadian Inuits to preserve polar bear hunting in their communities.
There are between 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears living in the wild in Canada, the United States, Russia, Denmark and Norway, according to the most recent analysis, which was conducted in the early 1990s. Scientists project that as Arctic summer sea ice shrinks, many polar bear populations could decline by 66 percent by mid-century.
I still haven’t seen an account which explains what actually went on behind the scenes to kill this proposal. But all sorts of vote-trading and vote-buying is the norm at CITES. And often enough protecting endangered species is not, in fact, the priority.
Because it’s not like the evidence of climate change, and the rate at which it is occurring, is diminishing. In fact, a recent study only makes it look more dramatic in the context of the past 11,000 years of earth history.
Calling All Thinkers: We could definitely use some big ideas, some counter-conventional arguments, some original thinking. One way to get inspired is to read some bold thinking from the past.
Marine Mammal Protection: Sure, it could use an update. But the Marine Mammal Protection Act has achieved a lot. Here are 40 facts for its 40 years of existence (plus: a pretty great marine mammal photo gallery).
Polar Bear Possibilities: It looks grim, but can we save polar bears? Yes, says the world’s greatest polar bear researcher (and we need to if we want to save ourselves).
BONUS VIDEO: Watch Earthlings, a documentary about human dependence on–and abuse of–animals.