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Polar bear

Newsday, September 26, 2013

Exiled Polar Bears Converge on D.C. to Rally for Action on Climate

Join Alaska Native Leaders, Conservationists, Others to Protest New Drilling in the Arctic Ocean

Washington, DC (PRWEB) September 26, 2013

After making stops in communities across the country to draw attention to the effects of climate disruption already being felt nationwide, fifteen costumed polar bears joined Alaska Native leaders, conservationists and dozens of other concerned Americans at a rally in front of the White House today. The group delivered more than 500,000 public comments in opposition to plans to drill in the Arctic Ocean, plans that would unlock twice as much carbon pollution as will be saved with President Obama's new vehicle fuel efficiency standards. The group called on the President to put the Arctic Ocean off limits to drilling, adding their voices to those of more than one million Americans who have spoken up in support of saving this special place from the devastation of dirty fuel extraction.

"Climate change is felt very acutely in and around Kaktovik, Alaska, on the coast of the Arctic Ocean. It is the land of my ancestors, where my Mom now lives. The idea of adding resource extraction to an already delicate environment doesn't make sense for the continued livelihood of the Iñupiaq people. We have been living off the land and sea for thousands of years and we hoping to continue to do so for the thousands of more years, passing on our ways of life to our descendants," said Allison Warden, Iñupiaq inter-disciplinary artist.

Sponsored by the Sierra Club, Alaska Wilderness League, Greenpeace, the Center for Biological Diversity, Earthjustice, The Wilderness Society and Care2.com, the rally comes just before the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is expected to release its latest report on climate disruption.

“Thousands of Americans are asking the administration to keep offshore oil exploration out of the Arctic,” said Jessica Ennis of Earthjustice. “Our leadership should be listening to the scientists and voters instead of corporate interests.”

“Even if we were able to retrieve every technically recoverable drop and keep every gallon for domestic use, risking all of our lives by accelerating climate in order to access just three years of oil seems like a bad joke. Risking the lives and livelihoods of the people that live in the Far North for the profit of a few massive multinational oil giants is an American tragedy in the making. The Administration must listen to the experts – the elders, the scientists, the public – who want to protect this beautiful part of the planet,” said Gustavo Ampugnani, Greenpeace Arctic Campaign Director.

The Arctic ice cap acts like a refrigerator for the planet. Less Arctic sea ice means a warmer planet and a change in climate patterns, creating a cycle that will further speed climate change across the country.

"Oil drilling in the Chukchi is akin to a death sentence not only for the polar bear but also for the entire Arctic ecosystem, for stable hemispheric weather patterns, and for planetary climate sanity," said Bill Snape, Senior Counsel with the Center for Biological Diversity.

“President Obama has the opportunity to decide whether or not the Arctic will become the next ground zero for dirty fuels,” said Cindy Shogan, Executive Director, Alaska Wilderness League. “We can make an impact on climate change by limiting our use of fossil fuels, and choosing not to drill in sensitive environments, like our Arctic Ocean. It is time that we truly protect our Polar Bear Seas and say no to any new Arctic drilling.”

Exiled due to melting ice, the "polar bears" met local people already feeling the effects of climate change on their way to D.C--warming salmon streams in Oregon, heat waves in Illinois, drought in New Mexico, rising seas in Florida and super storm Sandy in New Jersey. You can follow their journey online here.

"We're already seeing the effects of a changing climate and they extend far beyond the Arctic and polar bears losing their home," said Dan Ritzman, Sierra Club Alaska Program Director. "If President Obama is serious about fighting climate change the administration must not only address carbon pollution from emitters like coal plants, but also keep major new sources of pollution in the ground. That means putting the Arctic Ocean off-limits to drilling."

 

Copyright © 2013 Newsday.

This article originally appeared here.

Photo © Paul S. Hamilton