Wednesday, November 07, 2007


When I was in Berkeley, we unwound at night by watching the Discovery Channel's excellent Planet Earth series. (They're doing an encore presentation on Sunday nights at 7PM Central Time. Or you can rent it).

First we watched the one on caves.

Then the desert.

And, finally, ice.

The ice one followed a polar bear family; the female and cubs stay behind while the male hunts for food.

He has to go a long, long way - on an empty stomach no less - and usually trudges across the ice to get to the seals or other prey.

But the ice is gone, and the polar bear has to swim.

And swim.

And swim.

He swims forever.

Days, weeks.

He is exhausted.

Still he swims.

Finally, he gets to land and locates a bunch of walruses.

The adults form a circle, their backs to him, in order to protect their young.

The polar bear chooses a target, and tries to try to pry the walrus off of the cub.

He tries hard.

But he's too weak to finish the job.

He slinks off and regroups.

Finally, he tries again.

But he is too weak from all of that swimming.

He does not pull the walrus off and get to eat his first meal in months.


This time, the walrus attacks him.

The polar bear slinks off again.

This time, he walks in a tight circle, like a dog before it lies down.

The narrator points out the patches of blood on his fur; apparently the walrus gored him a few times.

The polar bear finally lies down.

And then he dies.


After each show, there's a short making-of segment.

During this one, they showed a polar bear approaching the arctic shack where the film crew lived while shooting their footage. The narrator explained how unusual it is for a polar bear to do this.

The humans threw some flares and whatnot at him, and he didn't come any closer.

But apparently he returned later.

They showed him pressing his wet nose against one of their windows; the humans had food, and he was literally starving.

And Little Miss Ahimsa wanted him to break in and eat the film crew and all of their victuals.

It seemed like poetic justice, considering that it's humans who are causing all of the problems in his habitat.

So now, when I'm about to make a bad decision - like drive the car instead of ride the bike, or leave the water running while I brush my teeth, or not turn off the computer, or dream about buying that yellow Humvee, etc. - I think about that polar bear.

And, more often or not, I do the right thing.


I know some of you are saying, "Global warming is natural! It's not our fault!"

But even you oil company dupes have to admit there's a something very wrong when yogis start screaming for blood, and the hunters start acting like pussies.

The photo at the top of this page shows a hunter comforting a polar bear (which he has NOT shot). It's from this article, which says:

Jeremiah Johnson, a local hunter who tracks and kills polar bears "because they are there" has seen three of the behemoths collapse before him in just the last month. "It just isn't sporting to shoot one of these creatures when they are suffering like this", Johnson said as he recounted his attempts to revive a bear he was ready to shoot.

Think about that the next time you buy some unnecessary crap that will wind up in a landfill, or decide to hop on a plane to India.

I know I certainly will.


  1. overtaxed chicagoan3:04 PM

    Mayor Daley would figure out a way to tax those polar bears. I've decided to move out of Chicago, it is a cesspool of corruption.

  2. Anonymous9:13 PM

    Why do I like Polar Bears? They are big and vicious, capable of tearing me to pieces and they eat cute little seals, but that is not why.

    They live the hard life. They do not complain. When we exploit them they do not hire lawyers they just move on. If I ever became Polar bear food I am telling you I would not mind.