Palin’s polar-bear pin a prickly issue for environmentalists

Because she was wearing a white pin on a white blouse (after Labor Day no less), TV viewers may have missed it, but at a campaign stop Monday in Hampton Roads, Va., Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin once again trotted out her popular polar-bear brooch.

GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin sproting a polar bear pin. (Image/

GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin sproting a polar bear pin. (Image/

It’s a curious fashion choice, critics claim, for a state chief executive who has sued to stop the federal government from listing the bears as endangered, which it did in May. Palin sides with oil and gas industry and other business interests looking to block the “Alaska Gap” exemption that would hold development to higher standards than other states because of the bears.

Many conservationists and scientists have presented a compelling case that global climate change caused by man-made greenhouse gas emissions is rapidly melting the polar ice cap and degrading prime polar-bear habitat. Palin isn’t as convinced about the causes of global warming.

“I’m not one to attribute every man — activity of man — to the changes in the climate,” Palin said during her vice presidential debate with Sen. Joe Biden earlier this month. “There is something to be said also for man’s activities, but also for the cyclical temperature changes on our planet.”

Biden quickly jumped on that statement.

“Well, I think it is man-made. I think it’s clearly man-made,” he said. “If you don’t understand what the cause is, it’s virtually impossible to come up with a solution. We know what the cause is. The cause is man-made. That’s the cause. That’s why the polar ice cap is melting.”

In an Oct. 3 Colorado Independent story, the president of a Golden-based Astroturf group (an industry-backed nonprofit claiming grass-roots support) called Americans for American Energy admitted to doing some work in Alaska on energy issues and polar-bear “education.”

“We’ve been involved with polar bears and other types of issues that have been taken into the netherworld of politics as opposed to science, and so we’ve commented on those issues, and we’ve discussed what’s available in terms of possible energy reserves that are supported by the state of Alaska,” AAE president and CEO Greg Schnacke said.

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About the Author

David O. Williams

is an award-winning reporter who has covered energy, environmental and political issues for years. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Denver Post. He's founder of Real Vail
and Real Aspen.

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