Editor’s note: Guest blogger Emily Goldstein was a finalist in Oceana’s first annual Ocean Heroes contest in 2009 for her work to convince thousands of people and dozens of large companies to reduce their energy use, saving 16 million pounds of CO2.
Polar bears stand for everything that is wild and free, ruling over the Arctic as the creature we all associate with the North Pole. They are the apex predators in the Arctic, admired for their power and majesty. But the polar bear has recently become well-known for another, more deadly reason: they have become victims of climate change. Their world of ice is melting away, threatening their very existence.
In November I traveled to a remote town in northern Canada to talk with scientists about the polar bear’s perilous situation. Churchill is a village near the Hudson Bay, where ice first begins to form each year. This was my third visit there, but each time I go I feel even more privileged to be able to experience the world of the bears. The first time I looked into the eyes of a polar bear, I knew that I had to do something to save these amazing creatures from extinction.
Oceana sent a group of representatives to the climate negotations in Copenhagen, which officially gets underway today.
So what message will we be sending? Oceana will be presenting a Google Earth tour of the Arctic, narrated by board member Ted Danson. The video tour highlights the impacts of climate change on Arctic people and ecoystems, particularly melting sea ice, ocean acidification and increasing industrialization. You can take the video tour At Google's Copenhagen landing page.
As Danson urges, "The science is sound, the law is clear, and the need for policy change is indisputable. The United States must take immediate action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to protect the public health and welfare of the Arctic and ultimately, the planet. We must also takea precautionary, science-based approach to decisions about industrial activities in the Arctic. That way, we can ensure that the Arctic ocean, and the resources it provides, are there for future generations."
Since I missed Whale Wednesday yesterday, I'm making up for it today with an update on an adorable Canadian cetacean.
As you may or may not recall, a beluga whale was born at the Vancouver Aquarium this summer. Now she needs a name, and the aquarium is asking for submissions. Here's the rub: the name must be from the Inuit language, Inuktitut, reflecting the beluga's Arctic origins. So that means no "Britney" or "Bathsheba" submissions, people.
I just submitted "illaqtuq" which, I just learned, means "laugh." Belugas have that great high-pitched twitter, after all. And it could be shortened to "Illa." Pretty good, huh?
Grand prize is an encounter with a beluga, and you can submit until Nov. 22.