Friday, March 09, 2007

 

Have a Beer, Save a Bear


The Fish and Wildlife Service is sending two employees to international meetings on the Arctic. One, Janet Hohn, will attend a meeting in Norway on conserving Arctic animals and plants. The other, Craig Perham, an expert on polar bears, will go to the Siberian coast to advise villagers on how to avoid polar bears. The bears have shifted their migrations closer to inhabited areas as warming trends have altered the sea ice.

The Service has provided guidance regarding what the two should discuss while in Norway and Russia. One memo from agency director H. Dale Hall says they “will not be speaking on or responding to questions about climate change, polar bears and sea ice….” A second memo from Mr. Hall says Mr. Perham “understands the administration’s position on climate change, polar bears and sea ice and will not be speaking on or responding to those issues.”

Mr. Hall stressed that it has been a longstanding practice to require strict adherence to a set agenda. While no agenda has yet been established for the polar bear meeting, it presumably will focus on humans avoiding being eaten by polar bears rather than polar bears per se or other no-nos like sea ice or climate change. If a polar bear is after you, you really don’t care why.

The meeting in Norway apparently does have an agenda, as Tina Kreisher, spokeswoman for the Interior Department, parent of the Service, said that climate was “not the subject of the agenda”. She did note that Mrs. Hahn would be free to talk about climate change “over a beer”. There are polar bears in Norway, and they could apparently also be discussed over a beer, but the meeting is about conserving Arctic animals in general, so there will be no reason to get hung up on just one animal.

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