Polar bear protest at the US Capitol **Updated!

by Mike Gaworecki

September 17, 2008

Greenpeace polar bear at the US CapitolGlobal warming refugees have been pouring into Washington, DC. Several homeless polar bears have been spotted around the capitol city in recent days, all of them asking desperately for change (in global warming policy). Today one of the bears took his plea for change directly to the US Capitol, and Greenpeace activists are currently on the scene to provide whatever support the protesting bear may need.

“We’re here to help this bear get his message to the Senate as they consider energy legislation this week,” says Nathan Santry, one of the Greenpeace activists on the ground at the Capitol building. “The Park Police were leary at first, but they’ve told us the bear can stay so long as someone hangs around to vouch for him. The polar bear shows no sign of leaving yet, so we’re sticking it out right along with him. The only catch? We have to stay within three feet of him at all times. Gonna be fun.”

Greenpeace Online Action CenterThe solar power-equipped Greenpeace truck “Rolling Sunlight” has just arrived to join the fun and is providing free, clean renewable energy to the team. That means that they’ll be updating us on their vigil every step of the way via the Twitter feed embedded below (also on our homepage). The slideshow you can find here will be updated with photos all night long as well.

Today’s polar bear protest is the latest in a series of street art installations Greenpeace has created in collaboration with renowned artist Mark Jenkins to call attention to the plight of the Arctic polar bear and help people understand in human terms what it means for the bears to lose their homes. Our intent with this project is to communicate how global warming is affecting the polar bear and to highlight the very real connection between the polar bear’s fate and our own.

As with any species down on its luck, the polar bears appealed to the federal government for relief (under the Endangered Species Act), but government action has been way too little and way too late. And rather than stepping in, Congress is piling on. Even as the National Snow and Ice Data Center announced that Arctic sea ice has reached its second lowest annual level ever recorded, the Senate is poised to vote on a bill that would open more of our coasts to offshore oil drilling, which will only prolong our dependence on fossil fuels and make global warming even worse. 

Rather than siding with Big Oil at the expense of the entire planet once again, Congress should focus on passing legislation that cuts tax breaks for Big Oil and returns that money to taxpayers to help offset rising fuel costs; doubles the average fuel efficiency of automobiles to at least 50 miles per gallon; invests in public transportation; and provides incentives for renewable energy investment to help transition us to a clean energy future.

Just as we have delayed action to protect the polar bear, we have delayed action to protect our own species from the threat of global warming for far too long. The window for action is closing rapidly. We hope the polar bear’s protest will help people draw a deeper and more immediate connection to that reality. Click here for more pictures, video, and to read more about the project.

As of 12:46AM EST, protest is still going strong. That Polar Bear is out to prove something, by god. We’ll be with him til the end. Keep watching the Twitter badge below for updates!

Heading into day two. Tweets will stop for a bit while the Rolling Sunlight has to clear out because there is no parking during rush hour, but our activists will be back up and running in an hour or two. Look for another full update blog post soon.


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