Thursday, September 24, 2009

Want to Rescue a Polar Bear?

From yesterday’s whine about autumn to today’s rant against global warming took about three seconds in this racy brain, which found itself in a doctor’s office reading National Geographic on the shrinking ice cap.
A Swainson’s thrush dashed itself against my sunroom window and broke its neck the other day. I heard the unmistakable thud and went outside immediately, in what I hoped was a rescue operation. It had happened before; I had saved an unconscious hummingbird from the curiosity of my cat and dogs.
This time, the silky olive-brown body was warm, and the bird’s eyes were open: I had hope. I stroked its soft, speckled breast, but its head flopped like a rag doll’s, and its chances looked slim. But hope is hardy and hard to crush, so I wrapped the thrush in a towel and put it safely on the patio, where it could recover and fly away in peace if that should be its fate. And a miracle happened: It didn’t have a broken neck at all! It regained consciousness and flew away.
The accident reminded me of a moment last winter, when I found a cedar waxwing at the foot of the patio door. The waxwing’s body was cold, and there was no hope for recovery. I held it and examined the red waxy points on its wings, caressed its black bandit mask, admired its yellow tail stripe. It was the first time I had a close look at the beautiful birds that come every winter and strip my pyracantha bush of its fat red berries. I can tell you it is much more satisfying to watch the cedar waxwings strip my pyracantha than to hold a dead one in my hand.
I was sorry for my part in its demise; it was my mirror-like door that tricked it into thinking there was sky beyond. It occurs to me there is a link between these birds and the dire future of polar bears: human intervention.
The only polar bear I have ever seen was at the Seattle zoo. In an underground room one could watch the bear swim in its private pool, and I watched in awe as that gorgeous creature stroked past the window.
It won’t be long before two-thirds of the world’s polar bears die off because of the shrinking Arctic ice, said a recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey. By 2050, the bears will have lost more than 42 percent of the range they need to live in.
In just the past few years, the ice has shriveled by more than 350,000 square miles. The 16,000 current polar bears are getting squeezed already.
I want to do my part to rescue those of God’s creatures that are in dire straits. So I read about the small things I can do to reduce global warming. Here’s one: I’m told that if every U.S. family replaced one regular light bulb with a little fluorescent one, we’d eliminate 90 billion pounds of greenhouse gases, the same as taking 7.5 million cars off the road. Maybe it isn’t much, but it’s a beginning. We replaced three. Where there’s life, there’s hope.

Song of the Arctic

The Arctic is screaming,
a scientist said.
The blanket of ice
on top of the earth
is fraying so fast,
some summer soon
the walrus and wolf,
the white bear and seal
will have no ice to wander.

They are not walkers on water.
They are not Christ.
They cannot redeem the world.
They must have their ice.

We read this in the paper
sipping lattes on Sunday:
take note for a moment
like a twinge in a tooth
but it passes we forget
we are a bowling ball
hurtling down the lane
at a bevy of pins
we soon will shatter
and they are living beings
screaming in the Arctic.

Chris Alba © 2009 Photos courtesies: Cedar waxwing Regent Science Class; polar bear on burg AmeNaevra(Norway); resting bear


Gin said...

If everyone just did a little and did their part it would make a huge difference. I try very hard to do my part and to see that it does make a difference no matter how little. Beautiful post.

big Jenn said...

Global warming is one of the reasons I stopped eating meat. Raising livestock for food causes more damage than cars.
Aren't Cedar Waxwings beautiful? We have many creeks nearby and they like to flock near water. I get to watch them often.

Tall Kay said...

How beautiful, when you let go and let God, the bird recovered. Very powerful message.

Syd said...

Oh boy, do I ever get this. I replaced all the bulbs in our house. If we each do our part, we do make a difference. The poem is sad. But it speaks a great truth.

Dulce said...

God help us save this planet...
Beautiful and sad reminder.
Thank you so much

lakeviewer said...

Ah, you hit the right cord with me on this one. Lovely.

Steve E. said...

Yes, Let go, let God...and we can all stay sober, and maybe recover from other crap also.


the walking man said...

As the ice goes so does the humanity that helps to melt it.

I am of a mind it is now or never for the artists, poets, musicians, and writers of today to shout from the forums and street corners. If we fail there is no more line of resistance tot he madness of greed.

Just Be Real said...

Since I am a bird person (two birds I own myself) this touched me. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful message. ♥