Saturday, 17 January 2015

Polar bears and being green

I saw the news that a study of polar bears has found that they are moving north, as the sea ice where they live is in decline. It saddens me that they are having to move because their home is slowly disappearing.

Polar bears are one of my favourite animals. I still find it incredible that they have black skin and transparent hair, but look so white. For my 30th birthday, I went on a trip to see them in Churchill, Canada. We flew to Churchill airport, which seemed to be the size of a village train station. It was very sweet. Our tour guides took us out on these huge buggies where we could step outside to a platform to see the bears. We didn't go close, which was good - I know that as much as we wanted to see them, the bears probably didn't want to see us. At any rate, we didn't stay out on the platform for long at a time; I don't know what the temperature was, but it was really cold!

In a strange coincidence, our tour guide turned out to be from Bromley. He probably shopped in Boots when I used to work there.

Looking at the news now, I feel lucky that I got to see the bears, but guilty too. I hardly ever travel by plane, I don't drive, and I haven't flown for more than four years. But I could have gone to Churchill by train - admittedly, a really expensive, two-night journey - and I didn't. It was only the second time I've taken a two week holiday - and both times were to visit family and friends in Canada. As I was going to Churchill alone, I guess I didn't want to miss out on spending another three days with my friends in Alberta.

Twenty years ago, I was very idealistic and evangelical about environmental issues. Now, I'm less so. I'd say it's probably one part frustration/losing hope, and two parts trying to be more tolerant. I don't think the way to win arguments or campaigns is to shame people or scare them. I still care about the environment, I still care about people, and I guess I still do my bit. Like Kermit sang, it's not easy being green.

"I am green and it'll do fine. It's beautiful.
And I think it's what I want to be."

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