Cute and Cuddly Climate Change Carnivores

By Staff
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Polar bears, those cuddly-looking 1,000 pound carnivores, have been drawn into the center of the world-wide debate over climate change and environmental protection. Not coincidentally, polar bears have also landed starring roles in a recent spate of nature documentaries. The 11-part documentary Planet Earth, the childrens’ film Arctic Tale, and the Leonardo DiCaprio-produced documentary the 11th Hour, have all tried to capture the effects of climate change on polar bears. In an article from the German weekly, Der Spiegel, Martin Wolf sees the movie star polar bears as part of the human obsession to document the destruction of earth. “If the world is to end tomorrow,” Wolf writes, “the best thing we can do is make a film about it today.”

Human fascination with polar bears reflects an easy way that people can relate to the disasters of climate change. Early signs of global warming are currently playing out in the arctic, far away from most civilization. That distance allows people to connect with the situation by latching onto the snuggly-looking animals as little more than childhood teddy bears. In an article for Slate that ran earlier this year, Anne Applebaum wrote that polar bears “arouse deep feelings because they fit neatly into narratives about pollution, endangered species, and…global warming.” The movies, it seems, are tapping into that narrative to try and save the polar bears, and the rest of us. —Eric Kelsey

(Photo licensed under Creative Commons attribution 2.5.)

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