It is the power of a free press which can help keep the sense of morality and justice afloat in a world in which denial and diminishing sea ice are often found in the same sentence. Thank you Op-Ed for a clear opinion on what is more important in the current news about the credibility of Charles Monnett’s research methods regarding polar bear drownings.
I agree that the emphasis on Monnett is missing the point completely and shows another case of blaming the messenger when we should be looking at the canary in the coal mine.
As founder of NatureStage and an interdisciplinary artist and environmentalist, I believe that any art form which reaches our emotions can melt the hardness we can develop towards suffering, whether of polar bears, majestic, immensely strong, drowning in the habitat they know best, or towards the animal, child or adult next door. It is vital that we remain empathic to the suffering we directly or indirectly cause other beings on the planet.
How often have I heard people say that they can’t do anything about it so why see something that will make them sad? The opportunity they are missing, is that they will potentially be moved to take action that can accumulate from lapping waves pushing against the sands of the status quo, to a tidal change which upends a system of cruelty and exploitation entirely. Living with integrity tends to strengthen us through each action, and to cause ripple effects of inspiration.
Can we have the courage to seek out the emotionally-laden images, films and music that will keep our hearts flexible, open, not only to the plight of the polar bears, but to one another? Can global warming and climate change, at the very least, melt our hearts to become more compassionate and to take action to alleviate suffering, not only in the future, but here, now?
Who will be the first to create landing spaces for the polar bears swimming, searching, looking for any place on the horizon to rest?
For more information on the ethics of bearing witness to the suffering done in our name, whether direct or indirect, please see the following blog post and the reference to philosopher Kathi Jennie’s paper, The Power of the Visual.
Analysis by Kieran Mulvaney
Wed Jan 26, 2011 01:13 PM ET
Researchers in Alaska have tracked a female polar bear swimming for 232 consecutive hours, during which time she covered 687 kilometers (427 miles) until she finally reached the sea ice of the Arctic Ocean. The finding underlines the enormous capacity of polar bears to survive in the water, but also demonstrates the immense cost to them of having to do so for long periods. By the end of the ordeal, the bear had lost 22 percent of her body mass, and her yearling cub had apparently died.
Writing in the journal Polar Biology, George Durner of the United States Geological Survey and colleagues describe capturing an adult female bear and her cub on Alaska’s Beaufort Sea coast in late August 2008. Around the adult’s neck, the researchers placed a radio collar with GPS unit, satellite uplink, and an accelerometer to monitor the bear’s activity rate independent of the GPS measurements. (She was one of 13 bears so equipped by the researchers that month.)
The bear weighed 226 kg (498 lbs), and the yearling weighed 159 kg (350 lbs). When the scientists found the bear again, two months later, she weighed just 177 kg (390 lbs) and was not lactating; the yearling was nowhere to be seen.
By analyzing the recovered data and overlaying the bear’s movements with ice charts, Durner and colleagues deduced that on 25 August (two days after capture and release) she entered the water off the Beaufort Sea coast and swam north for nine days, before finally reaching sea ice. She then spent three days on the ice, another day swimming, and a further 49 days on the sea ice before being found again. http://news.discovery.com/earth/polar-bear-swims-for-nine-days-pays-heavy-price.html