Why are we so obsessed with polar bears?

Why are we so obsessed with polar bears?

May 30, 2019

Climate change conjures up a mental image of a polar bear, precariously balancing on a slither of ice amidst a vast ocean. How much has this socially constructed image completely deterred from the ghastly human cost of climate change. Without engaging in a speciesism debate, the human cost of  climate change is continually overlooked. This article attempts to reposition the debate around the human cost for this climate emergency.   

Climate change will impact our physical and mental health.

Climate change will affect food insecurity and malnutrition.

Climate change will impact our water supply.

Climate change will affect every aspect of our everyday lives

Polar bears make this chaos seem distant and abstract, but it is affecting people today. People, mostly in the Global South, are being impacted now through interconnected risks such as declining water availability, flooding and landslides, the spread of vector-borne diseases in altitude and latitude, and decreased food production and food quality. The people being most affected, are those who are among the least responsible for emissions of greenhouse gases. We believe this is an injustice.

We need to properly represent this issue and change the narrative. Climate change is a human disaster. For the first time in human history, the world’s atmosphere has reached over 415 ppm of CO2. We are not prepared for a planet like this. It’s time to stop wringing our hands about the fate of polar bears, and change the narrative to a more human focussed approach. We need to recognise that justice and equity are vital to respond to climate chaos.

As part of the Environmental Leadership Programme with UpRising, a social action group has formed to raise awareness of the human impacts of climate change through migration. They are called Displaced, and you can find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more information about this issue. You can also sign the Environmental Justice Foundation’s petition to demand that EU leaders protect people impacted by the climate emergency.

Want to find out more about the human impacts of climate change? Then come along to Displaced event on 11th June. A film screening of Disruption, followed by a panel discussion, and a participatory art project to create change.

If you would like to attend this event, please sign up on eventbrite

Photo by Annie Spratt