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Environment Magazine September/October 2008


September-October 2015

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Is Global Environmental Activism Saving the Polar Bear?

OVER THE PAST TWO DECADES, THE POLAR BEAR has become a beloved character featured in Coca-Cola's animated TV ads, watching aurora borealis, struggling with Christmas trees, and partying with penguins. In 2011, the nature of these ads drastically changed. Instead of playful clips convincing us of polar bears' love of Coca-Cola, scenes of lone bears and adorable cubs amid the melting Arctic urged us to create a safer future for this species. Later in the year, the Coca-Cola Company turned its signature red cans white. This “Arctic Home” campaign was a collaborative effort with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to bring attention to the plight of the world's polar bear populations–their shrinking home. What these ads did not say was that approximately 600 to 800 polar bears are legally hunted every year–for subsistence as well as sport–and more than half of these are legally traded as hides and trophies in international markets.1

Miriam Matejova is a PhD student in political science, a Vanier Scholar, a Killam Laureate, and a Liu Scholar at the University of British Columbia. Her research interests are international security and global environmental politics. Matejova has written and co-authored papers on international peacebuilding, foreign intelligence, and environmental security in the Arctic.       

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