January 31, 2005


Global warming may kill off polar bears in 20 years, says WWF
(Bradley Klapper, The Guardian, January 31st, 2005)

Many Arctic animals, including polar bears and some seal species, could be extinct within 20 years because of global warming, a conservation group said yesterday.

Traditional ways of life for many indigenous people in the Arctic would also become unsustainable unless the world "takes drastic action to reduce climate change", said the conservation organisation WWF.

"If we don't act immediately the Arctic will soon become unrecognisable" said Tonje Folkestad, a WWF climate change expert. "Polar bears will be ... something that our grandchildren can only read about in books."

Self-reference alert: In the early eighties, I was working as a legal adviser to a Quebec Inuit political/development corporation that had settled a land claim. The Quebec legislature was studying wildlife management in Arctic Quebec and the Inuit were anxious to have a special role. A hulking traditional Inuk hunter was chosen to appear at legislative hearings. All the progressive white advisers briefed him carefully on what to say–-how the Inuit were natural conservationists who had practiced traditional wildlife management since time immemorial and how they instinctively understood how important a delicate ecological balance was to maintaining their traditional livelihood, which of course was their number one priority. But they forgot how short-fused he was. Grilled by legislators in unfamiliar surroundings, he eventually lost it and started screaming: “Why white man worry so much about polar bear? Polar bear kill Inuit! Polar bear eat fish and seal! Polar bear no good! Inuit want to kill all polar bear!!!”

Posted by Peter Burnet at January 31, 2005 5:22 AM

If we don't act immediately....

The WWF should initiate a global "ShAVE THE POLAR BEARS campaign ASAP.

And to vastly improve their beleaguered images, Juan Cole (demonstrating that his area of expertise is not limited to the middle east) can describe the campaign as "no joke" and Kofi Annan can shave the first bear (with Benetton buying the rights to this brilliant photo-op for a global consciousness raising ad campaign).

Posted by: Barry Meislin at January 31, 2005 6:09 AM

In Alaska, quite the opposite has occured since the pipeline was installed. They've seen a polar bear explosion as the heat from the pipeline that keeps the oil flowing makes the bears and other animals much more amorous.

Polar bears regularly roam into settlements and eat the garbage, it's lots easier than fishing.

Posted by: Bart at January 31, 2005 6:29 AM

Why are they so upset? Polar Bears eating the garbage is just recycling the easy way. Sheesh!

Posted by: erp at January 31, 2005 9:54 AM

It's when they run out of human made garbage, and start making their own, that problems start. Imagine an 800lb junkie who wants his fix, NOW!. Bears are really stupid, in that they can quickly learn bad habits, and then refuse to abandon them.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at January 31, 2005 1:09 PM


"Bears are really stupid, in that they can quickly learn bad habits, and then refuse to abandon them."

Gee, maybe there is something to this common ancestor stuff after all.

Posted by: Peter B at January 31, 2005 3:11 PM

The long low entrance to igloos is to keep bears and murderous Inuit out, or at least give the inhabitant a fair chance to conk them on the head as they come in.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at February 1, 2005 12:02 AM

WWF wants to save bears. What are they planning. The Great Polar Smackdown!

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at February 1, 2005 3:44 AM