This must be the hardest story that I have written. To write it, I must view the video…. and I couldn’t bear it. For an animal lover like me, who advocate compassion for animals and the protection of our wildlife, to watch this video is excruciating–it’s like being tortured.
The video shows a starving polar bear on an iceless land. To survive, polar bears must travel from land to the ice-covered sea to catch their food (seals, sea lions, and walruses). They are said to go without food for months while they wait for summer to end and the ice to form once again on the Arctic sea. But with global warming, the ice has been slower to form, extending the bears’ fasting season.
According to the researchers who caught this heartbreaking scene of a polar bear’s desperate attempt to survive:
Video shows the polar bear clinging to life, its white hair limply covering its thin, bony frame. One of the bear’s back legs drags behind it as it walks, likely due to muscle atrophy. Looking for food, the polar bear slowly rummages through a nearby trashcan used seasonally by Inuit fishers. It finds nothing and resignedly collapses back down onto the ground. (published on National Geographic)
Why climate change should matter to you
This starving polar has become the face of the deadly consequences of climate change, which most scientists agree is caused by human activities. They also warn that polar bears may soon go extinct if this goes on.
But climate change is not just affecting the polar bears. It’s affecting the entire planet. Sea levels are rising, glaciers are melting, and extreme weather conditions (such as super typhoons, drought, and ice vortices) are causing disasters.
To us in the Philippines, who can forget Yolanda?
In other words, it’s not just about the polar bears. It’s about you. Now. And it will be worse for your children–if you do not do something now.
5 Things we can do now to deal with climate change
1. Educate yourself.
I think we have to start by caring (despite the fact that our survival is at stake here, most people seem indifferent). We then arm ourselves with knowledge. Read up on what’s going on with climate change and what we can do about it. Just make the effort to distinguish between fake news and legit ones and then stay away from the fake news sites, ok?
2. Cut down on meat.
Here is a hard truth–our greed for meat is destroying the planet. Greenpeace reports that the livestock industry generates as much greenhouse gas emissions as all cars, trucks, and automobiles combined. I know it’s hard so I suggest you take it one step at a time. Eat more vegetables so you eat less meat. Go once a week without meat. Move forward from there.
3. Be energy-efficient.
You’d be surprised that this involves more than just changing your light bulbs and appliances to energy-efficient ones. It involves walking or cycling more and using a ride-sharing service or commuting to places instead of taking your car. It also involves reducing your food waste and garbage… All that rotting waste in landfills, what we locals call ‘smokey mountains,’ produce a monstrous amount of methane, a greenhouse gas that’s 28 times worse than carbon dioxide.
So, please compost, segregate your waste, and recycle. Avoid buying too much stuff that will end up as waste.
4. Be involved.
Even if you succeed in minimizing your carbon footprint to zero, other people who continue to be irresponsible would still contribute to global warming. So your individual impact would not be enough to save the planet and you would still be affected, just like the rest of us, by the effects of climate change. Bottomline is, we need to ALL be on board for dealing with climate change in order to instigate global effects. So, please spread the word about climate change. Encourage your community to ‘go green’ (Do you know that our country already has existing laws to protect the environment, such as the Clean Air Act and Ecological Solid Waste Management Act?). Join tree-planting activities. Create green spaces in your home. Volunteer with environmental groups or causes.
5. Support climate-literate leaders.
Now that we know better, we can make more informed choices when it comes time to vote for the people with the power to make big decisions. Do these people support renewable energy? Is their concern for the environment for real or just for show? Do they even know or care about climate change? Our wisdom in choosing our leaders is critical as the biggest impact on the planet will come from the policies and solutions that are influenced by who are in office. So far, do you think our leaders are taking the protection of the environment seriously?
Please remember that small actions taken together from around the world will make a huge difference. It may be too late for the polar bear in the video, but it doesn’t have to be for our planet.
Tell us, how do you do your part in helping address climate change?
Featured photo source