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Sunday, August 31, 2008

I've felt that there is no place on this blog for me to discuss my political preferences one way or the other - and while I do have strong political opinions, this is not the forum with which I wish to express those opinions.

Today, however, I really feel that I need to break my silence on the political track.....and here's why.

Many months ago, a friend of ours lent us that documentary series "Planet Earth"...I think it aired on Discovery Channel....but can't be sure. There was an episode, maybe about the Arctic, and a portion of that episode focused on the Polar Bear.

With climates rising on Earth, the ice packs that reign the Arctic through the better part of the year are breaking up, receding, and melting earlier in the summer season than in years passed. The Polar bears rely on the sea ice for their main food supply, fish and seals. They have always had to swim between ice slabs, but now, with those slabs melting quicker and earlier, the bears are forced to swim for many, many days without rest, shelter, or food before they reach another slab or shore. Many are drowning, because they simply cannot swim far enough or long enough, and others, who may make it to shore are desperate for food energy after swimming for days without a meal.

This episode in particular documents a bear in the later situation, and it has stuck with me since seeing it. It brought to to my knees, to tears - and still today, thinking about it does the same.

After an extended swim, which lasted many days, the weathered, weakened, and hungry bear finally arrives on a shore inhabited only by walruses. Normally a bear would not see this animal as a meal. The Walrus' can be deadly to a bear, with long, sharp tusks, and a thick leathery hide; a Polar bear is no match for a Walrus. This bear, however, desperate for food, attacks, again and again, trying in absolute desperation to eat. The walrus' attack back, and after many attempts with no success, the bear had become seriously wounded, with deep puncture wounds to a leg. The bear hobbles off, unable to use one of its limbs. Defeated, and mortally wounded, the bear simply curls up on the shore next to the walrus' to await a untimely, heartbreaking, and unavoidable fate.

To see an animal is such distress is unbearable. To know that our selfish actions, as co-habitants of the planet, can have such profound and detrimental consequences in far reaching corners of the earth hurts my heart. That is why, when I read this today, I felt that it neccessary to provide a dissenting opinion - contrary to that of the new VP Candidate Sarah Palin.



Big Oil and Other Interest Groups Join McCain VP Palin's Lawsuit to Reverse Polar Bear Listing
by
Jeremy Elton Jacquot, Los Angeles on 08.31.08
Business & Politics








After getting past the initial shock of hearing about John McCain's selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, I quickly honed in on two particularly salient aspects of her environmental views: her belief that climate change is not man-made and her opposition to the polar bear's listing as a threatened species. Now while I may not yet know much about Palin's overall record in office (what little there is), I thought these positions were telling -- especially given the McCain campaign's strenuous efforts to play up its candidate's environmental bona fides.

Which is why I'm sure the McCain campaign won't be too thrilled with the news that the American Petroleum Institute (gee, what a surprise) and several other industry groups, including the National Association of Manufacturers (yup,
these guys) and the National Mining Association, are joining the Palin administration's efforts to overturn the polar bear listing, as the WaPo's Kari Lydersen reports.
Polar bears are doing just fine, thank you very much:

Palin's team and the industry groups have complained that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision to list the polar bear would create an "Alaska Gap" by only subjecting the state's businesses to onerous greenhouse gas limits. Other states would be able to skirt such controls since they wouldn't have to make conservation a priority. A fair contention, perhaps, but this is where the lawsuit's argument really breaks down:

On Aug. 4, the state of Alaska filed a lawsuit opposing the polar bear's
listing, arguing that their populations as a whole are stable and that melting
sea ice does not pose an imminent threat to their survival. The suit says
polar bears have survived warming periods in the past.

Lawsuit seeks to reverse decision by Bush administration:

It's one thing to argue that the listing would impose burdensome regulations on your state; it's quite another to argue that, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, polar bear populations are not being harmed by climate change and that they have survived such incidents in the past. The important thing to remember here is that the decision would only list the polar bear as a threatened species (not endangered), and that it is being proposed by the Bush administration.

The easiest way to circumvent all this legal tussling would be for the federal government to actually impose greenhouse gas emission limits nationwide -- or, at the very least, allow individual states to do so themselves -- effectively negating the industry groups' argument that the listing would unfairly target Alaska. Of course we all know what the likelihood of that ever happening is.



  • Two-thirds of the world's current polar bear population could be lost by the middle of the century because of shrinking sea ice, according to a 2007 U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) study.

  • In 2004, an aerial survey of the northern Alaskan coast documented dead bears floating in the sea. Scientists surmised that the bears drowned because the shrinking sea ice means they have to swim longer distances to shore or between ice slabs. No bear drownings were seen in any other aerial surveys conducted between 1987 and 2003, according to a U.S. Minerals Management Service report.

  • The survival rate for cubs that live in the southern Beaufort Sea region in northern Alaska dropped significantly in recent years, according to a 2006 U.S. Geological Survey study.

  • Pregnant polar bears in northern Alaska have become much less likely to den on the sea ice. The proportion of dens on sea ice was 62 percent from 1985 to 1994, but dropped to 37 percent in 1998 to 2004. The reason: melting sea ice, according to a 2007 USGS report.

  • In the most southerly populations, polar bears already appear to be in trouble. In Canada's West Hudson Bay, the population declined 22 percent between 1987 and 2004, according to a 2007 USGS report

  • Since 2002, many polar bear populations in Alaska have shown increasing signs of stress, including drownings, malnutrition, and cannibalism.

  • The Arctic may be virtually free of summer sea ice by 2040 -- and without sea ice, polar bears cannot survive.

***Follow-up***

We have never asked anyone to agree with us on our positions, political or otherwise. And while we do not wish to offend anyone, we do have certain beliefs and cultural observations that caused us to begin this venture in the first place.

As a buying group focusing on food, we realize that there are many other social, environmental, as well as political associations and implications that come along with the food industry and what 'food' has devolved to in our culture. We believe that clean food cannot come from a damaged Earth, and we are of the belief that humans have become careless in their treatment of the Earth.

It is our position that we must become a part of the solution, and we support all actions that can lessen our impact on this Earth. We do not support legislation that seeks to cause harm, directly or indirectly, to the planet, or any of its inhabitants.

These reasons are why we have chosen to create a group that supplies food outside of the standard corporate buying establishment.

But, as I said, since we do not wish to offend, we have decided it is best to keep our specific political opinions out of the public's view. We have also decided, however, to leave the environmental argument as it stands, for reasons that are founded in our purpose, and because these are the truths we believe.