Wednesday, August 08, 2007

"Arctic Tale" Shows How Global Warming Endangers Polar Bears

Entertaining and educational documentary for the whole family opens nationwide Aug. 17th

Global warming threatens to dramatically change the world we live in, and the first ones to feel the heat are those living in glacier country. For example, scientists fear that polar bears in particular will become extinct by the end of the century if current trends persist and their habitat continues to melt.

"Arctic Tale" is a new movie from the makers of "March of the Penguins" that shows what is happening to the animals who have lived for millennia on the frozen tundra, and how drastically changing conditions could spell the end of their very existence. The story, narrated by Queen Latifah, follows two individuals -- Nanu the polar bear and Seela the walrus -- from infancy through childhood, adolescence, and finally parenthood, showing the challenges each faces along the way.

While life in the Arctic has always been tough, it's getting much harder for these animals as the landscape literally transforms before their eyes, severely testing the age-old survival skills passed down from generation to generation and straining their ability to adapt to the rapid changes.

Viewers of all ages will come to care deeply about Nanu and Seela as they witness what each must do to survive as predator and prey. Both need a lot of help from their families to get by: Nanu from her solitary mother, Seela from a whole extended multi-generational clan of siblings, cousins, aunts, and grandparents that sticks together for life. The range of emotions they express -- from joy and love to fear and grief -- shows how much humans share in common with other species, increasing the audience's identification with their struggles. The movie also features a full cast of colorful supporting characters, from birds, seals, and narwhales to a couple of crafty arctic foxes.

Polar bears' and walruses' very survival depends on the ice being thick and strong enough to hold their weight. In recent years, the ice has taken longer to freeze each year as global temperatures rise, making them search longer for places to live and hunt. In the film, Nanu faces starvation when the ice takes three months longer than usual to freeze, rendering the hunting skills her mother taught her useless, and forcing her to venture incredibly long distances in search of sustenance. Sadly, global warming is turning polar bears, walruses, and many other arctic species into environmental refugees in competition for shrinking resources: their plight could be a precursor for what humans face when arable land dries up and water supplies start to run out.

At the end of "Arctic Tale," much like the closing of "An Inconvenient Truth," viewers are reminded that global warming was caused by humans, and therefore we can stop it. As the credits roll, some suggestions for ways to take action are offered, like turning off lights, recycling, and buying hybrid cars. Yet amazingly, the number one cause of global warming -- the meat-based diet -- is not even mentioned.

It's hard to believe that the filmmakers are unaware of last year's United Nations report showing that the animal agriculture industry emits more greenhouse gasses than all the motorized vehicles in the world combined. So why do mainstream environmentalists still ignore the fact that factory farming is destroying our planet? People who sincerely want to save polar bears, walruses, and other arctic animals deserve to know that going vegan is the most effective action they can take to reverse global warming.

What You Can Do:

- Go see "Arctic Tale" at a theater near you when it opens nationally on Friday, August 17th (note that it is already playing in select theaters). Before you go, print out copies of IDA's new flyer, "Meat's Contribution to the Environmental Crisis," to hand out in line.

- Contact National Geographic, which produced "Arctic Tale," and ask them to add "eat less meat" to the "Ten Cool Tips for Saving the Arctic" on their website.

- Global warming seriously threatens polar bears' long-term survival, yet a loophole in U.S. law allows American hunters to continue killing polar bears in Canada. Please "Take Action" to ask Congress to close this loophole by co-sponsoring and supporting the Polar Bear Protection Act.


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