The cover story of the Summer 2008 issue of Defenders, The Conservation Magazine of Defenders of Wildlife, is titled WALRUS IN A WARMING WORLD. The article, subtitled The melting of Arctic sea ice poses new challenges for Pacific walrus, is comprehensive and the research reported is alarming.
We who are concerned about global warming and its devastating affects on the planet's animals (we are animals, too) can feel overwhelmed as report after report is released (or worse, censored) describing conditions more dire than thought or predicted by scientists even five years ago. As citizens we must decide which issues fall within our circles of concern and our circles of influence (there's quite a difference). You have to pick your causes and fight your fights commensurate with your time, money, and energy. If not, your passions and whatever positive changes they might effect will shrink like the ice cap.
I've been an activist on behalf of the polar bear and baby Harp Seals for decades now. I still am and will be until my dying day, or theirs. They have been my predominant animal causes that I defined within my own circle of influence.
Now I learn from the Defenders article that last summer thousands of walrus on Alaskan and Russian shores were stranded due to the retreat of Arctic ice. That led to fatal stampedes. Just imagine. And remember we are animals too, prone to mass panic and mob behavior including stampedes, both past and present. The time has come...for me to add the walrus to my circle of concern, which is the reason for this post.
I think it's important to buoy up one another in the face of the serious issues confronting us in the world today. So I'll end this post with a vignette about my mother that just cracks me up to this day:
I was spending the night at her house over a weekend when I was in my 30's, which means she was in her 60's. In her case 60 really was the new 45, for she was young in appearance and spirit. She'd come out of retirement for a high profile community job that kept her busy during the week, and the only way she showed her age was by falling deeply asleep in her recliner in the evenings.
Even when I was a child my mother entertained the family by talking loudly in her sleep and once my step-father was anything but entertained when she "showed" him how a horse she was dreaming about was kicking her as they slept side-by-side in a full bed. In her later years she alarmed Mike and me by getting up and writing bizarre notes to us in her sleep, and even waking to find she had opened the front door during the night. My mother had an active sleep life to be sure.
The weekend evening I was at her house we had enjoyed relaxing in the two recliners in her family room while we watched television. There was a fire in the fireplace and we each were cozy in our robes. I was involved in the TV program when she began asking me, How do I look? How do I look? Only she wasn't enunciating clearly, and instead was pronouncing the words as if her mouth was obstructed. I turned to look at her to find her facing me with her eyes tightly closed and her teeth bucked out over her lower lip as she asked again, Hhaw oo I loog? She was sound asleep and I began to roar, which abruptly wakened her. Although now awake, but holding onto her dreamworld, she looked both embarrassed and somewhat disappointed as she explained:
I dreamed I was a walrus and I was so proud of my beautiful tusks that I was showing them off to everyone who would look at me!