Give and Bear It

You think you have trouble getting Congress to pay attention to your problems? Try being a polar bear. Yeah, polar bears are cute and if a bear has the good fortune to be born in a Berlin zoo lots of teenage girls will line up to take his picture and purchase t-shirts bearing his likeness but for the average bear hunting seals in Alaska, the outlook is grim. And his congressional representation isn’t helping.

Subprime lending may have caused humans a few problems, but thanks to global warming polar bears have their homes literally melting around them. Sure we’ve got foreclosures on every block but we’ve only taken a bath metaphorically. A polar bear can’t go get breakfast without taking his life into his paws.

As if that wasn’t bad enough for the bears their Senator, Ted Stevens of Alaska, is not very fond them. I know, I know, he hasn’t even met them! If he had I’m sure they’d get along great but unless they’re carrying checks for $2,300 in their paws I don’t see that meeting happening.

And if it did, there would be some awkward pauses. Because he’s trying to kill them.

Stevens is actively opposing the listing of polar bears as an endangered species, because he thinks it’ll impact drilling for oil on Alaska’s North Slope and put new restrictions on development that might harm the polar bear habitat. Despite vocal protests from environmental protection groups and experts on endangered species protection (bears: be sure and send them a thank you note) he’s convinced that the pursuit of oil is more important than saving the habitat of the dwindling bears. And if you think that decision has nothing to do with the money the oil companies have poured in his campaigns for re-election over the years, then I’ve got a snow cave in Florida to sell you.

Since 1989, Senator Stevens has received over $400,000 in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry – part of the over $200 million the industry has given to Congress in that time period, in addition to the over $500 million they’ve spent on additional lobbying—according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The Center reports no donations from polar bears themselves.

Bears, it’s time to take it up a notch. Until we pass the Fair Elections Now Act in Congress and cut the cord between special interest money and our candidates for elected office, money is the only way to get your voice (err, growl) heard. Unfortunately for you, your allies at places like the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, and World Wildlife Fund aren’t wealthy enough to compete with Shell, Chevron, and BP in the campaign money game. It falls to you to raise the money you need to get Senator Stevens’ attention and save your homes, and your fellow polar bears, from further harm.

Cough it Up: Give for habitat protection!Cough it Up: Give for habitat protection!

You’ve got to get your paws on some cash to donate to Stevens and hire a few lobbyists. Sell seal meat at an ice-side stall. Teach tourists to ice skate. Recreate that little dancing number from the Coca Cola commercials and sell tickets. I’m sure you’ll find a way to raise the money. After all, your very survival depends on it.

Oh, and bears? Failing an aggressive donation and lobbying strategy, if I were you I’d start looking for new housing options. Perhaps Senator Stevens has room for you in the backyard of his Girdwood, Alaska home – recently renovated with the assistance of Veco Corp., a company that provides services to oil companies in Alaska.