By Bill Steigerwald
“Polar bear democracy”
Of all the animals the Inuit traditionally hunted, Nanuk, the polar bear, was the most prized. Native hunters considered Nanuk to be wise, powerful, and “almost a man.” Some called the bear “the great lonely roamer.” Many tribes told legends of strange polar-bear men that lived in igloos. These bears walked upright, just like men, and were able to talk. Natives believed they shed their skins in the privacy of their homes.
– Polar Bears International
TASIILAQ, EAST GREENLAND
The town meeting was bubbling with excitement as 400 polar bears sat on the uncomfortable metal folding chairs set up on the floor of the Southeast Greenland High School gym.
“My plan is quite simple,” began Grandpa, standing at a podium in front of the assembled bears. Next to him was a large nautical map that showed Greenland, the Labrador Current and the East Coast of the United States. Mother and Junior sat to the side of the map on folding chairs.
“I intend to travel to Washington,” Grandpa said. “I’m going there to convince the politicians that global warming poses no threat to us and that we do not want to be placed on the Endangered Species list.”
Everyone began talking excitedly. Grandpa held up his hand to silence them.
“I will ride on an iceberg most of the way. And then ….”
“You can’t possibly ride an iceberg to Washington,” interrupted the Mayor, who sat at a long table with the town’s five frowning council members. Each of the officials had been darted and captured by wildlife scientists at least once and each wore matching radio tracking collars and yellow metal tags with serial numbers in both ears.
“Icebergs make it as far south as New York City all the time,” Grandpa replied, stabbing the map with his pointer. “In 1926, an iceberg reached Bermuda. And as you can see, the Labrador Current hugs the coast all the way to North Carolina.”
“But surely, with global warming, your iceberg will melt long before you get there,” the Mayor said skeptically.
“It’ll get us close enough. Then we’ll swim. It shouldn’t be more than 200 miles.”
“ ‘We’? ” the Mayor asked suspiciously. “Who is ‘we’?”
“My daughter and my grandson,” Grandpa said, nodding toward Mother and Junior. “I want the politicians pushing this foolish law to see exactly who will be harmed the most by it – our children and grandchildren who will lose their freedoms.”
“But you can’t just walk into the United States Senate,” said the Mayor. “You’ll be arrested. Or shot.”
“I’ve already solved that problem, Mayor,” said Grandpa, raising his voice over the murmuring crowd. “I’ve been communicating with a senator by e-mail. He’s invited me to appear on Dec. 18 as an expert witness during the hearings on the Endangered Species bill. I plan to leave in three days.”
Suddenly, Principal Jane Hansen stood up in the crowd and pointed at Grandpa.
“Sir, you are ignorant and backward. You are an embarrassment to all progressive polar bears. How can you deny what Al Gore and other great climate scientists have proven? We are in mortal danger from humans and the climate change they are causing. The global temperature data clearly shows that ….”
“Sit down, Hansen,” a bear hollered. “We don’t believe you or your phony computers. Garbage in, garbage out.”
“We cannot permit this, this, this … stupid old yellow bear to speak for us in Washington,” said Principal Hansen, who was so hot under her radio collar she collapsed in her chair.
“Why should we pay for your risky and quixotic scheme?” the Mayor asked Grandpa.
“I’m not asking taxpayers to pay a cent,” Grandpa said. “All I ask is that you let the citizens decide. I believe they will entrust me to faithfully represent their best interests in Washington.”
The gym exploded with cheers and thunderous applause. When a vote was taken, nearly every bear raised a forepaw in support of Grandpa. The only nay votes came from those wearing radio collars and yellow metal ear tags. The losers grumbled and growled, but there was nothing they could do.
The bears had spoken. G.P Bear was on his way to Washington.