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October 2010 > Distance Learning: From Texas to the Tundra
Distance Learning: From Texas to the Tundra
Posted: 10/7/2010 7:01:12 AM by Steve Pine

Thanks to Polar Bears International (PBI), we're reporting directly from the Arctic tundra this week during a Communicators Leadership Camp in Churchill, Manitoba, observing polar bears in the wild, and most importantly, studying the effects of accerlerating climate change on the environment. 


Another day of learning on the tundra on the banks of Hudson Bay about the plight of the polar bear and the fragile state of the Arctic Sea. But, with timely action and the concerted efforts of everyday conservationists, like you and me, we can make progress in reducing our carbon footprint. That's a tall order but it's what were charged with today, by the future generation of concerned students and by the president of Polar Bears International, Robert Buchanan.


We conducted another distance learning class with an elementary school in Herrera, Texas, via Skype. We communicated with them about life in Manitoba, for campers in the Tundra Buggy Lodge, but more urgently, for the endangered polar bear struggling with melting sea ice and shorter hunting seasons. The students left us with some words of encouragement but were concerned that the polar bears would be safe for years to come.


Robert Buchanan, the enigmatic, dedicated president of PBI, also talked about our responsibility to dive deeper into own conscience--"look in the mirror"--and not waste any more time if we are serious about taking actions to reduce our carbon footprint. How are we going to respond? He challenged us to let go of our ususal way of thinking about ecology and that talking about it is not enough. He reminded the assembled educators and communcators that "you are mentors for the next generation of conservationists."


After the energizing morning of long-distance education, and educating, two polar bears came within a few feet of the Lodge, reenforcing the urgency of our conservation messages. In the wild, polar bears can be snow white or appear out of nowhere covered in kelp stains, with muddy paws from stomping through the tidal flats. They gather in Churchill, in the vicinity of Hudson Bay, waiting for ice to form so they can push out to sea and look for ringed seal, their primary source of nourishment. But the evidence, and the science behind it, is straightforward:


Here's a video to help you understand some of the issues behind the science of climate change:


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john miniutti
We just saw a wonderful IMAX on Alaska showing polar bears in that environment. There were also black and brown bears, each of which hibernate. Do polar bears hibernate? If so where, since they seem to be in nothing but snowy areas? We also wondered why the seals don't retreat with the ice in the summer toward the areas where the bears are?
11/3/2010 11:10:54 AM
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