Last Saturday (October 24) was the International Day of Climate Action. Over 180 countries participated in more than 5000 activities around the globe to raise awareness of advances in climate science and to stimulate action regarding climate change. Organizers hope grassroots movements like this will encourage world leaders to develop a new climate treaty when they meet in Copenhagen this December. The day was organized by 350.org.
The Interior Department’s proposal last week to designate some 200,000 square miles of northern coastal Alaska and US territorial waters for polar bears met with criticism from both sides. Alaskan agencies indicated they would challenge the proposal, seeing it as an obstacle to the state’s oil and gas interests; conservation agencies, on the other hand, said it did not go far enough to protect polar bear habitat, which is shrinking due to melting sea ice.
Meanwhile, Andy Revkin reports in The New York Timesthat the Fish and Wildlife Service concluded that Pacific walruses, suffering as a result of habitat loss, should be considered for protection under the Endangered Species Act. Walruses use sea ice as a “floating nursery,” Revkin says, while they hunt for clams on the coastal seafloor; shrinking ice has meant that increasing numbers of walrus come ashore. Recently, walrus stampedes have killed scores of these animals.
On his Dot Earth blog, Andy Revkin includes a dispatch from David Rothenberg, who is sailing on a Dutch schooner with other artists on The Arctic Circle cruise. They wish to explore the “nexus where art intersects science, architecture, and activism,” according to The Arctic Circle project’s Web site. Rothenberg’s description of a few of his colleague’s projects suggest they DO experience the Arctic differently than do average tourists, as Rothenberg asserts (toast, anyone?). The writing calls up bold images, such as this description of bears feasting on a whale carcass: ”Their bloody faces smile as they chew on rancid whale meat.”