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, M.A. Education, is a science teacher and 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. You can find her talking travel at KTLA TV and in her We Said Go Travel videos with over 1.3 million views on her YouTube channel. As a journalist, Niver has interviewed an Olympic swimmer and numerous bestselling authors and has been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. She is the founder of We Said Go Travel which is read in 235 countries and was named #3 on Rise Global’s top 1,000 Travel Blogs. She was named both a Top 10 Travel Influencer and a Top 50 Female Influencer for 2021 by Afluencer and is the Social Media Manager for the Los Angeles Press Club. She has been nominated for the inaugural Forbes 50 over 50/Know Your Value list due out in Summer 2021. She has hosted Facebook Live for USA Today 10best and has more than 150,000 followers across social media. Niver is a judge for the Gracies Awards for the Alliance of Women in Media and has also run 15 travel competitions publishing over 2,500 writers and photographers from 75 countries on We Said Go Travel. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded two Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards. From 2017 to 2021 in the Southern California Journalism Awards and National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards, she has won four times for her broadcast television segments, print and digital articles. Niver won in 2021 as Book Critic and in 2019 for one of her KTLA TV segments NAEJ (National Arts and Entertainment Journalism) award. Niver won an award for her print magazine article for Hemispheres Magazine for United Airlines in the 2020 Southern California Journalism Awards and a 2017 Southern California Journalism Award for her print story for the Jewish Journal. Niver has written for National Geographic, USA Today 10best, TODAY, Teen Vogue, POPSUGAR, Ms. Magazine, Luxury Magazine, Smithsonian, Sierra Club, Saturday Evening Post, AARP, American Airways, Delta Sky, En Route (Air Canada), Hemispheres, Jewish Journal, Myanmar Times, Robb Report, Scuba Diver Life, Ski Utah, Trivago, Undomesticated, Wharton Magazine and Yahoo. She is writing a book, “Brave(ish): It's All About Perspective 50 Adventures Before 50,” about her most recent travels and insights. When she's not SCUBA diving or in her art studio making ceramics, she's helping people find their next dream trip. http://lisaniver.com/one-page/