Thank you to Ms. Magazine for publishing my article,
Dr. Stephen Petersen, head of conservation and research at Leatherdale International Polar Bear Conservation Centre, has only one word of advice for the environmentally conscious this week: “Vote.”
The Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg, Canada, which currently houses 10 polar bears, is home to the Centre where Petersen helps polar bear cubs orphaned in the wild adjust to life in the zoo, where they have far greater chances of survival.
On the same campus, visitors can explore the Journey to Churchill exhibit, where they’ll see snowy owls, caribou, musk oxen and seals, as well as his cubs—and do their part as citizen scientists to help him monitor the bears through whisker print patterns. Petersen’s research has focused on Arctic marine mammals like narwhals, killer whales, polar bears and beluga whales; his other projects at the Centre include a ringed seal-tagging map.
Polar bears are at the top trophic level of the food chain, and climate change is having a massive impact on their lives. As their environments evolve, Petersen is calling for more marine protected areas and doing work to protect the denning areas where polar bears have their babies. But there are many species that need to be protected—birds in Papua New Guinea, orangutans in Indonesia and polar bears in the Arctic among them.
Professor Petersen’s family has one car, and it’s a hybrid. Apps like Oceanwise, from the Vancouver aquarium, help him figure out which companies and products are invested in sustainability to guide his shopping, and he looks for items with reduced plastic packaging. (If a plastic container comes into his house, his family makes certain to have at least two more uses out of it before they recycle it.)
“Little choices create a big signal,” he told Ms. “Each choice, from who you vote for to how you select your food, creates change. Lots of people doing small things will make a big difference. You can start by picking one thing to try, from biking to eating local to active living, and be on the lookout for new ways to do things better. It all makes a difference to the bears.”
Petersen recommends that activists interested in supporting work like his, and the bears and wild populations he serves, contribute time or money to environmental research, education and advocacy organizations like Polar Bears International and World Wildlife Fund—but his initial call to action, he says, stands as the most important way we can have an impact.
“Vote for people who care about the environment,” Petersen urged. “Polar bears cannot vote, so you need to.”
Lisa Ellen Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has been to 100 countries. Her website, We Said Go Travel, was read in 222 countries in 2017; her videos have over 2 million views on Roku, Amazon Fire TV and YouTube. Lisa has written for AARP, Sierra Club, Delta Sky, Smithsonian, and Robb Report and talks travel on KTLA-TV, but you can often find her underwater SCUBA diving, in her art studio making ceramics or helping people find their next dream trip.
Read and watch all of my Churchill Wild Adventures:
Part One: Do You Want to Walk with Polar Bears?
Part Two: Are You Ready for an Adventure? Walk with Polar Bears
Part Three: How Do You Get To Churchill Wild?
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Lisa Ellen Niver
Lisa Ellen Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 101 countries and six continents. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, she worked on cruise ships for seven years and backpacked for three years in Asia. She is the founder of the website WeSaidGoTravel which is read in 235 countries and was named #3 on Rise Global’s top 1,000 Travel Blogs. With more than 150,000 followers across social media, she has hosted Facebook Live for USA Today 10best, is verified on Twitter and listed on IMDb, and is the Social Media Manager for the Los Angeles Press Club. You can find Lisa Niver talking travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, Satellite Media Tours, The Jet Set TV and Orbitz travel webisodes as well as her YouTube channel, where her WeSaidGoTravel videos have over 1.5 million views. After three months on TikTok, Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels and YouTube Shorts, she had over 500,000 (1/2 million) views. As a journalist, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors and been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. She has been a judge for the Gracie Awards for the Alliance of Women in Media, and has run 15 travel competitions on her website, publishing over 2,500 writers and photographers from 75 countries. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards. Niver has published more than 2000 articles, in more than three dozen magazines and journals including National Geographic, Wired, Teen Vogue, HuffPost Personal, POPSUGAR, Ms. Magazine, Luxury Magazine, Smithsonian, Sierra Club, Saturday Evening Post, AARP, AAA Explorer Magazine, American Airways, Delta Sky, enRoute (Air Canada), Hemispheres, Jewish Journal, Myanmar Times, BuzzFeed, Robb Report, Scuba Diver Life, Ski Utah, Trivago, Undomesticated, USA Today, TODAY, Wharton Magazine, and Yahoo. Awards National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards 2021 Winner: Book Critic: Ms. Magazine “Untamed: Brave Means Living From the Inside Out” 2019 Winner: Soft News Feature for Film/TV: KTLA TV “Oscars Countdown to Gold with Lisa Niver” 2019 Finalist for: Soft News, Business/Music/Tech/Art Southern California Journalism Awards 2021 Winner: Technology Reporting 2021 Finalist: Book Criticism 2020 Winner: Print Magazine Feature: Hemispheres Magazine, “Painter by the Numbers, Rembrandt” 2020 Finalist: Online Journalist of the Year, Activism Journalism, Educational Reporting, Broadcast Lifestyle Feature 2019 Finalist: Broadcast Television Lifestyle Segment for “Ogden Ski Getaway” 2018 Finalist: Science/Technology Reporting, Travel Reporting, Personality Profile 2017 Winner: Print Column “A Journey to Freedom over Three Passovers”