Friday, April 06, 2007

Greenpeace sideswipes the Inuit! Huh?

“Whether it be seals on the East coast or forestry on the West coast, well-funded international environmental and animal-rights groups are threatening the sustainability of Canada's rural economies in order to win political battles in their own jurisdictions and raise their profiles. The misery that this has caused to Canada's fragile hinterland communities is incalculable and simply must stop.”

This final paragraph, in an article published in the National Post on April 5th, is a prime example of manipulation. The entire article, titled Greenpeace sideswipes the Inuit , is crafted in such a way as to make the reader feel guilty if they don’t agree with this point of view. Why would anyone want to force the Inuit into poverty and despair simply to save a few Polar Bears? After all they’re not in trouble; there are thousands of them simply wandering around the Arctic ice cap. Think about it, it would be morally and ethically wrong to deny a trophy hunter his trophy fur.

The idea of hunting tags being issued to Inuit hunters is a way to first, preserve the Polar Bear population and second, to preserve the Inuit way of life. The Inuit have been hunting Polar Bears long before the Europeans arrived in North America. The fact that 56 tags where issued last year doesn’t mean that the Polar Bear population is exploding. I’m sure there are more than 56 families in Nunavut. Given that the majority of people living in Nunavut are Inuit, there is a real possibility that a majority of the families would like to continue this tradition. So, who is going without?

The argument that it is environmentalists and animal rights groups that are threatening the sustainability of any community, or rural economic group is just silly. Those who lack understanding with respect to sustainability always overreact and lash out at the “enemies of capitalism”. We cannot simply continue to abuse nature and the environment. Environmental and animal rights groups have a simple goal, to promote the sustainability of the environment and nature for future generations. Continuing to hunt without regard for the well being of any species is immoral and irresponsible.

This same argument can be used for a number of different issues, from clear cutting forests to drag net ocean fishing. Any time resource management comes up against big business and huge profits, attempts to sustain the resource will be hampered by those holding the purse strings. In the end there will be few forests, few fish and few if any Polar Bears left to keep the economy going. So, what will we do then?

For the record:
- Polar Bears, Ursus maritimus, are my favourite "animal", actually a mammal.
- The fact that there is a limit on the number of bear tags shows that there is an attempt to promote sustainability.
- The Nunavut government is solely responsible to manage the resources within its territory.
- If an Inuit hunter is willing to sell his tag rather then hunt, that's his decision to make.
- It is possible to find a balance between making a profit and sustaining the resource necessary to maintain that profit.
- This isn't an all or nothing fight.
- If we don't do something about Global Warming, this argument will be moot. whether we can hunt Polar Bears for fun, profit or sustenance will be the least of our worries.


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