Day 3 of polar bear protest at the Capitol Building

by Carroll Muffett

September 19, 2008

I'm with the bear!Yet another beautiful sunrise over the Capitol greeted our steadfast polar bear and his support team this morning as the bear entered Day 3 of his vigil in front of Congress. At 8:00 a.m., our early morning crew got a fresh infusion of company and energy when the dayshift arrived with donuts, bananas, new games to play, and just someone new to talk to. The bear was, as ever, friendly but reserved. Very much the strong, silent type.

The morning also brought news: the US Minerals Management Service revealed that 49 offshore oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico were destroyed by Hurricane Ike. Even a week after the storm, most of the remaining 3,800 oil rigs already in the Gulf remain shut down — by which we mean, of course, that they aren’t producing oil. If you recall, most offshore oil rigs in the Gulf were shut down way back in August before Hurricane Gustav (remember Hurricane Gustav? Time flies doesn’t it.) That’s three weeks and counting that more than 90% of our country’s oil production has been offline as a result of hurricanes.  

It’s ironic but important news as the Senate considers the nation’s energy future, because hurricanes have been getting more frequent over the last decade. The best science tells us that storms like Gustav and Ike have been getting more intense, almost certainly as a result of global warming. Which leads to a very important question that Congress has seemed reluctant to consider:  

If a single hurricane can destroy dozens of offshore oil rigs — or more than a hundred, in the case of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita — and virtually shut down energy production across 600,000 square miles of ocean; and if both the number and intensity of hurricanes is increasing; and if the best science tells us these storms will get even worse as a result of global warming; then how, exactly, does building more offshore oil rigs increase our energy security?  

The answer, of course, is that it doesn’t. Opening more of our oceans to oil drilling won’t make us more secure, just more dependent on oil, and more vulnerable to the next big storm. And the next one after that. And the one after that. We can’t solve either global warming or the energy crisis by drilling more, but only by using less. We agree with the bear, the world needs more ice, not more oil.

The last few days have brought out lots of other people who agree as well — as evidenced by all the “I’m with the Bear” photos accumulating on the website. Our coolest group of visitors so far today has been a bunch of military photographers on assignment for a class at a local military installation. They were all snapping away happily at the bear, and had lots of great comments about it. None of them wanted their own picture taken because it might cause them trouble with the military brass. Still, it was great to meet them all.

What’s been even better is all the people who stop by having already heard about the homeless bears. For instance, a guy who had just arrived yesterday from California told us his professor had talked about in an art class. Another guy had read about it in his hometown paper in Australia. It’s been great to see word of this spread so widely, and generate so much excitement. And so much awareness of the polar bears and their plight.

To read more, view photos and video, follow the entire story on the blogs, and view our Twitter feed, which our activists were updating in real time during the protest, click here!

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