Category Archives: Life Musings

Musings, reflections, thoughts, links and other academic related materials.

Dr Ian Stirling on Polar Bears and Climate Change

Seeing as I live a pretty wild and crazy life, especially on the weekends, I decided to attend a lecture hosted by The Vancouver Institute that featured by Dr Ian Stirling speaking on the topic of polar bears and how climate change is impacting them.

polar bears

Dr Ian Stirling has been studying polar bears for 50 years and he knows his topic very well. He speaks in an easy to understand and very frank manner about polar bears and how climate change is impacting them.

It was interesting to note that most of the people in the UBC lecture hall had hair as white as polar bears. However, Dr Stirling did not see that as a “problem”. In fact, he emphasized that while elementary school age children are very powerful agents of change, he added in that the more elderly members of society can also play an important role in “saving the world for polar bears”.

Elderly members of society are better able to meet with politicians and bureaucrats and the people who make the policies that may save the polar ice caps and the polar bears.

Elderly members of society can make investment choices, choose what types of cars they drive, how often they drive, and they can control the thermostat in their homes. Dr Stirling said that as a matter of principle he keeps the thermostat set at 17 degrees in his home and if anyone is cold in the house, they are told to put on a sweater. Or another sweater. He said we all have small things we can do to slow climate change.

polar bears

As for elementary school age children – Dr Ian Stirling said that they get the problem – the polar ice around the Arctic is melting which means that polar bear habitat is shrinking. Very quickly.

In the last 30 years the polar ice around the Arctic shrunk from something like 8 million square kilometres to just under 4 million. It has shrunk by more than half in less than 30 years.

And kids get it; if there is less polar ice, there is less habitat for polar bears. And when kids get it, from a very early age they begin making changes and questioning the way that things are done. They are the future agents of change and disruptors of the status quo.

After Dr Stirling’s lecture and incredible slide show of images of polar bears, there was a question and answer session. He was asked if “polar bear tourism” is having a net positive or negative impact on polar bears.

He openly admitted that he does some work in the polar bear tourism field but he did say that all things considered, people coming to view polar bears is a positive because of the awareness that it brings to more people. He feels that the more people who are aware of the plight of the polar bears, the more people who will be advocates for slowing climate change.

The primary difficulty that polar bears are having is that they hunt ring seals from the polar ice. As I said above, the less polar ice there is, the less hunting grounds for polar bears. As a result, some polar bears have been exploring new food sources and one of those new food sources is the community of Churchill, Manitoba.

With the growing numbers of polar bears coming into Churchill, the conservation officers were having to shoot and kill the bears. They quickly realized this was not the way to handle the situation.

So now, rather than shooting and killing the bears, they are now being kept for months without being fed, in an old decommissioned Canadian Armed Forces base.

Huh? Yes! Polar bears do not need to eat for months on end (they can live for months and months off the fat that they build on their bodies) so they are kept, without being fed, in an enclosure on the decommissioned military base.

As the bears get to the point where they are going to need to eat to replenish their fatty layer, they are taken from the enclosure and transported further north.

This new system of “handling” polar bears that are coming into contact with humans in Churchill has reduced the number of polar bears being shot in Churchill from 30 down to one or two a year.

At the end of the lecture Dr Ian Stirling did emphasize that although it is getting quite late, there really is time to change the path that humans have taken the natural environment on.

Our choices do matter.

The Dead Raccoon; the Final Chapter

The final chapter in the dead raccoon saga. The raccoon moves on.

On the dead raccoon; after coming home and finding there was still a large dead raccoon in my driveway I realized that it was time for action.

Dead Raccoon
Dead Raccoon

In the morning at 0630hr I called the 24 hour Emergency Services for Water, Sewer and Roads. Ryan was the happy voice of our city who had the pleasure of taking my call.

In a very stern voice I simply said, “Ryan. I justed wanted to let you know there is a large dead raccoon on the side of the road in front of my house. (Notice I did not say “in my driveway”) My address is Blah-Blah-Blah Crescent. There are no outward signs of trauma on the raccoon and he is not bleeding out. But he is definitely dead. Will you let your people know so they can come and get it? Thanks.”

When I got home from work the raccoon had moved on.

However, shortly after that call, I was sitting and looking out the window watching the rain falling and wondering about the raccoon’s life when a teenage male came slouching up the street, head down, hoodie up. He got to within three feet of the raccoon before he saw the dead beast.

Now I have to admit, the raccoon was quite fierce looking. He had all his teeth bared and his little feet with claws exposed were rather ominous. He appeared ready to rip someone or something to shreds.

When the teenager got to within three feet of that coon he made eye contact with it. And once he made eye contact you knew he was not going to make any physical contact. He turned around as quick as a wink and ran, arms flailing, fists pumping, legs taking massive, awkward strides while his coat and hoodie flew off his head. He was more like a cartoon figure than any cartoon figure I have ever seen.

Shit, it was the funniest thing I have ever seen.

The Dead Raccoon

This is one of the most popular blog posts I have ever written. It is actually a three part series, so here is the first part of the dead raccoon saga.

So I have very large and very dead raccoon laying in my driveway and I have no idea what to do about it.

Dead Raccoon
Dead Raccoon

Just for the record, the large rock near the dead raccoon’s head was placed there as a warning to other beasts (and crows) of what might befall them if they come too close. It was in no way involved in his death.

Being the kind of guy who likes to take care of things like this as soon as possible, I raced back in the house and told my Sweetheart to do something about the dead raccoon in our driveway.

My Sweetheart is also the kind of person who likes to take care of things like dead raccoons right away so she phoned the SPCA. When they heard we lived in the suburbs they just said, “We don’t come out there.” They said call someone in your own city.

Sweetheart calls City of Coquitlam Animal Shelter. “We don’t deal with stuff like that. Just put on double rubber gloves and a hazmat suit that is impermeable to claws, in case he comes alive, and double bag him in a garbage bag then put him in your trash can.”

Well I’m not letting my Sweetheart do something as dangerous as that. No way. So I told her to keep calling other agencies while I Googled what to do with dead raccoons in your driveway.

BC Wildlife was the next call. As soon as they heard it was dead they lost all interest. I suppose they didn’t hear me in the background saying, “It’s not dead yet, it’s just sleeping!” They didn’t care. All I heard was a “click.”

Thankfully it is not too warm outside or he might be getting kind of stinky. Tomorrow I will load him into a cardboard box and take him down to Coquitlam City Hall to get the definitive answer of what I am supposed to do with him.

Updates tomorrow I suppose.

Gaining Pinterest Followers

Against my better judgement I have entered a friendly competition with another blogger to see who can gain the most Pinterest followers.

At the start of the competition we both had about 50 Pinterest followers. She-who-I will-not-name now has 70 followers and I have 66 Pinterest followers. Clearly, she has taken an early lead.

My Pinterest feed is primarily about food with some stuff about teaching and some about leather working. But the good stuff…lots on that!!

Can you help a guy out? If you are on Pinterest, give me a follow? If you want to find me, I  am Stacey Robinsmith at Pinterest.