Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Working Animals, or, Do Animals Work (For Causes)?

The Environmental Priorities Coalition last week sent out an action alert asking activists to tell the state Fish and Wildlife Commission to approve the state’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. Kerry McHugh who sent out the alert said that the response was one of the best she’s seen. “Wolves are a lightening rod,” she said.

Jo Bailey sent a video link this morning showing a humpback whale rescue in the Sea of Cortez. The subject line said: Humpback Whale gives show after being freed. WATCH THIS!!! Of course, I watched it. It was awesome; made me thankful for the Earth Island Institute’s Great Whale Conservancy.

From past experience I’ve seen Facebook posts and Twitter feeds featuring whales, bears and wolves rack up the hits— while links to policy and politics issues languish. Animals, it seems, are no-brainer attention-getters when it comes to getting your advocacy message up front.

Does the polar bear on the Arctic ice floe ‘work’?

Atlantic senior editor Alexis Madrigal raises an thoughtful point in his blog Fighting Climate Change Is Not About Environmentalism   He contended earlier that President Obama should say that stopping global warming isn’t about nature or ‘saving the planet’ because some kinds of plants and animals will survive but it’s human infrastructure that’s at risk. “We’ve built cities predicated on one climate and now those places have a new one. Climactic chaos is expensive,” he wrote. Life survives because ecosystems, even those stressed by rising temperatures, are resilient.

But: “Human-built environments, on the other hand, are very efficient and very brittle. They function best in a very narrow set of temperature and precipitation conditions....Now start fiddling with the climate of the place. Most of the time things are fine, but when you hit an extreme that you don't normally (floods, snow, heat, etc), stuff starts to go haywire. The infrastructure you built is encountering conditions it wasn't designed to withstand. And so it breaks.

“Somehow polar bears became the charismatic emblem of what was wrong with global warming; I think we should have made it a mayor instead.”

-Mike Sato 

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