“The Indifference of Polar Bears,” by Alpha Unit

Svalbard is the northernmost part of Norway. This archipelago lies midway between mainland Norway and the North Pole. About 60% of the area is glacier. The only permanently populated island on the archipelago is Spitsbergen.

Polar bears are a symbol of Svalbard. They are one of the main tourist attractions, in fact. Anyone traveling outside the settlements is required to carry a rifle at all times. Tourists are warned about the danger and unpredictability of these animals. You can forget about outrunning a polar bear.

A 17-year-old British boy is dead this weekend after a group he was camping with on Spitsbergen Island was attacked by a polar bear. He was part of an expedition run by the British Schools Exploring Society.

The group, most of them between the ages of 16 and 23, were hunting for fossils, taking part in environmental experiments, and clearing beaches of debris. They split into smaller groups to head out to more remote areas. The boy was in a group of 13 people who were attacked. Others were lucky enough to survive it, at least so far. Some of them are in the hospital with severe injuries.

The polar bear is dead, too. One of the campers shot it. There are people just as outraged over the death of the bear as they are over the death of the boy. They point out that the polar bear is endangered. People shouldn’t be invading this animal’s habitat and then killing it when it acts on instinct. These expeditions need to stop.

I don’t know if the expeditions will stop. They are clearly of value to many people. But I do know that conservationists around the world, including here in the U.S., are acting to protect the habitat of polar bears, filing lawsuits when they deem it necessary, to stop any kind of interference with the habitat of polar bears.

The polar bears will go on doing whatever polar bears do to survive, including killing humans who come into their habitat when the bears are looking for food – and those humans are the only food available.

Is there any such thing as peaceful coexistence when polar bears and humans are in the same space? Something or someone is probably going to die. If people die, as this 17-year-old did, it’s a tragedy. It’s no less a tragedy if bears die, some insist.

It’s only humans that can care either way. The bears are indifferent to human suffering. They don’t care much about the survival of their species, either.

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12 thoughts on ““The Indifference of Polar Bears,” by Alpha Unit”

  1. I’m on the polar bears side. It’s a bias …. but I can’t say that I would know beforehand to forbid my son from going on such an exhibition, so … no one wants to let their child and friends die in spite of their ignorance.

    1. Hi, Justin. Thanks for your comment. These questions about how humans should interact with these kinds of animals don’t always have easy answers, that’s for sure.

  2. Humans need to give animals some space. Polar bears and other animals show remarkable restraint and rarely attack people, however it is best for humans to respect the living spaces of these animals not only out of respect for the animals but also to avoid any potential danger if the rare occurrence were to occur that a animal were to attack someone.

    In the incident mentioned in this story this was clearly a case of humans being in the wrong because they should not have been there, I feel bad for the boy who died though and my prayers are with him and his family as well as being with the polar bear who died and his or her family(not sure if the polar bear was a male or female)

  3. Damn, I love polar Bears; I like white people. Both are “endangered”. White people need to be less crazy, that’s all.

    1. White people need to be less crazy, that’s all.

      Eh, I wouldn’t say less crazy, but certainly less weird.


      I actually wouldn’t mind white people being a little crazier/angrier every now and then.

      Right now, they are way too damn soft and wussified. I mean, c’mon! There’s no way there would have been any of this “genderless” crap 60 years ago.

      1. Granted, the vast majority of white parents are not demented like that. But all of those demented parents are white.

        You will NEVER see a “genderless” child raised by a black, Hispanic, or Asian couple.

        In the case of “Storm,” I think he/she/it would be better off being raised by a polar bear. 🙂

        1. Yea, white people are funny with things like that. They need to put limits on those minds of theirs. I still think they’re crazy, though. Only crazy people would raise a “genderless” child. It’s puzzling — if you ask me — how they can be so crazy with everything else but utter pansies when around people.

  4. The bears get a raw deal they are predators and that is their home. We continue to invade their space destroy their habitat and greenhouse gasses have destroyed the ice and the bears are starving because their normal pray is seals. What I found out about this bear he wasn’t a old bear and that goes back to what I was saying habitat loss. You don’t feed a dog and if that dog can he will eat one way or another. It is a tragedy what is happening to these animals, they are beautiful and they don’t deserve to be under the stress they are under.

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