by David Minkow, via Climate Access
Polar bears are cool. They thrive in a world of ice. They can beat up a grizzly bear. And their cubs are cute. But even as the polar bear’s world tragically continues to melt away, it’s long past the time to retire them as the most dominant face of climate disruption. The iconic image of a polar bear floating on an ice floe has compelled some people to take action, but the faraway fate of one of the only species that treats human as a food source unfortunately leaves a lot of folks relatively cold. What’s needed is to make the issue personal and that requires a human face—and one that that doesn’t have A.G. as initials.
Whether it’s Gandhi in robes on his salt march or Julia Butterfly riding out a winter storm in an old-growth redwood tree, it really helps a movement for change to have a human face on the issue. People identify with people much more than they do with a spotted owl. And the face doesn’t have to belong to a famous person or an activist: it can be a black woman refusing to give up her bus seat, a dusty and desperate migrant mother out of luck or a Napalmed 9-year-old girl running naked from the horrors of war.
This is not a new idea. There have been books, photo exhibits, documentaries as well as pleas from those most immediately threatened that have all called for putting a human face to climate change. But despite these efforts, when most Americans think about the issue, the first person who still comes to mind is Al Gore.
The face of climate change should be a face that people can relate to and be inspired by, and that rules out politicians no matter how much good they do in and out of office.