Spiked Online has an excellent article which looks at the curious case of the polar bear, whose status as an endangered animal has increased at the same time that it’s population is rising. The author, Rob Lyons, looks at how the polar bear has become worth more as a symbol or mascot of global warming and allegedly melting polar ice caps than as an animal in its own right.
Most shockingly of all, though, is the cynical maneuvering of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Faced with the possibility of increased protection under the CITES rules on trading animal furs and parts, the WWF said they would OPPOSE any such increased protection. Asked why on earth a charity supposedly devoted to protecting animals would be against a law which gave them greater protection, WWF “wildlife trade policy analyst” Dr Colman O’Criodain mumbled the following “justification” –
“If we were tempted to support it on the basis of trade being a major threat, it is not,” says Dr Colman O’Criodain, WWF’s wildlife trade policy analyst.
“We have to focus on what is the major threat and not distract ourselves with a relatively minor one. We can’t be arguing for the science when it suits us and then ignore it when it doesn’t suit our case,” he added.
What on earth is he on about? Why would one of the best known and wealthiest environmental organisations be risking their reputation by failing to support a law giving greater protection for animals? Beneath all the verbiage from the WWF, Rob Lyons thinks he knows why: cold, hard cash. The money raised from the polar bear as mascot is simply too great to allow anything to distract from that –
Nonetheless, asking people to ‘adopt a polar bear’ seems to be a great vehicle for fundraising, even though WWF says that the money given will be used for ‘raising awareness of the threats of climate change that we all face’ and ‘will also help fund other essential WWF conservation work around the world’. In other words, those monthly donations may only tangentially benefit polar bears.
The claim that polar bears are under threat is a cynical attempt at emotional blackmail, designed to short-circuit debate about climate change while adding cash to the overflowing coffers of multinational green mega-NGOs. WWF alone reported a worldwide income of over €500million in 2011. Given the apparent health of most polar-bear populations, it’s time the whole fairytale about polar-bear extinction was put on ice.
The Orwellian construction of the phrase “raising awareness of the threats of climate change” points to the real use the money will be put to. Donate to save a marine animal, and your money will go straight to funding the propaganda efforts of this multinational organisation with it’s multimillion dollar income.
Thus, as the Examiner noted, at the CITES meeting to decide whether to ban the trade in polar bear furs and parts, there was the bizarre spectacle of the WWF siding with Canada, a country it supposedly has major differences of opinion with over the tar sands –
The ban was opposed by Canada, home to two-thirds of the world’s polar bear population and the only country to allow exports, as well as Norway and Greenland. In a move that baffled many conservationists, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) joined in opposing the ban.
Even the Center for Biological Diversity was disgusted with the cynicism shown by the WWF, putting the money-making potential of the bear as mascot over the chance to protect them against hunting for fur:
But Brendan Cummings of the Center for Biological Diversity, disagreed. “It’s an unfortunate result after an ugly process,” he said. “Countries and organizations that wanted to keep the international trade in polar bear skins going for political reasons had to distort or downplay the science
Given that the WWF Network’s income increased to 593 Million Euros last year (approx. 756 Million dollars, US) you can understand the amounts at stake here. Although perhaps WWF “brand strategists” like the wonderfully named Ms De’ath should consider whether even the millions of dollars in fund raising that the photogenic polar bears generate as poster child for climate change is worth it.