Friday, March 20, 2009

Bear facts ... and barefaced fiction

The latest exercise in climate change dogma versus The Real World is currently unfolding in the debate over labelling polar bears as an endangered species. Despite the Inuit maintaining that the population has actually doubled over the past few decades, environmental organizations continue to demand a ban -- or severe restrictions -- on hunting the bears and governments of Arctic countries (including Canada) are actually giving it serious consideration.

The "vanishing polar bear" has been used by groups like the World Wildlife Fund as a "hook" for its advocacy in the name of combating climate change. It's the warm-fuzzy tug at the heartstrings of every grade school child south of the 60th parallel to make them persuade mommy and daddy to persuade their MPs or Congressmen to do something about climate change and -- in so doing -- protect the polar bears.

But the Inuit say their conservation efforts are helping preserve and expand the polar bear population, the species is not endangered, and the bears have become a nuisance in some of their villages. Sticking by their ages-old practices of hunting what they have to and letting the rest live, they say, will not drive the species to extinction.

Nevertheless, Whitey knows what's best, apparently, as it appears the environmentalists will get their way and the politicians will once again be able to Show They've Done Something.

Sad. For a Christian, looking at how God has intended us to have dominion over every creature on the earth, it appears the Inuit have this one down pat. "Dominion" comes from the Latin dominus, which means "Lord". We are supposed to be "lord" to Creation, the way God is Lord to us -- protecting, providing for and managing Creation. Proper managers -- like a proper gardener -- know that you don't let a garden run wild, or the weeds will choke off the good growth. Some things have to be culled, sometimes for the sake of the species as a whole. "Replenish the earth and subdue it," was God's Commandment to us, and the Inuit have this one all worked out.

It reminds me a little of the Clayoquot Sound controversy on Vancouver Island in the mid-90s. Environmentalists were demanding protection of the old-growth rainforest north of Tofino, which was in the cross-hairs for a clearcutting spree by logging companies. The environmentalists appealed to the local native nation to support them -- maybe exert some kind of land claim on the area or something. After lengthy discussion, the natives decided to hold a conference at Ahousaht with as many experts as possible to come in and share some ideas on how to use the forest commercially without necessarily logging it to shreds.

There were some interesting ideas -- from eco-tourism to Merv Wilkinson-style sustainable logging to economic opportunities other than conventional forestry. To make a long story short, the natives formed their own logging company and went to work. I believe the overall result has been considerably better than simply letting Macmillan Bloedel or Weyerhaeuser storm in their and start sawing away, but I also got the distinct impression that (a) the natives felt, at the end of the day, that none of the great ideas that came up really benefited them, and (b) the greens were caught in their own delusion that the Noble Savage was simply going to roll over and preserve the trees the greens wanted to worship.

As an aside, CBC's treatment of the story this morning ended with a rather bizarre assertion, which betrayed the bias of both the reporter -- for making the statement -- and the editors and producers -- for not saying "what in blazes are you saying?" In closing her story about the debate between the WWF and the Inuit, the reporter said, "this has become another battle between science and tradition". How about, "between propaganda and reality"?

Can you say, "whitey patronizes natives again," boys and girls?

I knew that you could.

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