Al Gore says the polar bears are being extincted by global warming. Those on the ground say it ain’t so. Who you going to believe, Al or your own lying eyes?
I knew I was in trouble when the biologist from the Manitoba Conservation Department sat down next to me. “The bears look good,” he said. “I haven’t seen them this fat in years.” We’d both been hanging around the tiny town of Churchill, Manitoba, ground zero for everything having to do with polar bears. Every fall the town is overrun with bears waiting for Hudson Bay to freeze. The bears, in turn, are trailed by herds of tourists, tour guides, scientists, green-leaning types and B-list celebrities—all looking for communion with The Most Important Animal of Our Time.
What worried me wasn’t what the biologist had to say, but what the woman who had occupied that same seat three minutes earlier had said about the very same bears. A publicist for an environmental advocacy group, she shook her head ruefully. “It’s just so sad,” she exhaled. “They all look so skinny that it’s hard to look at them.”