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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
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Did Climate Change Kill a Polar Bear?

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By now you’ve seen the video: an emaciated polar bear staggers along an ice-free Arctic shore, skin and fur hanging loose from its bones. At the bottom of the screen, as the bear struggles to keep its hind legs from collapsing, the words “This is what climate change looks like” appear.


The footage was shot by National Geographic photographer Paul Nicklen in July, as part of his work with a group called SeaLegacy. Initially posted to Nicklen’s Instagram and Facebook feeds, it was published onlineby NatGeo on December 7 and quickly went viral.


Questions and pushback—and pushback on the pushback! —soon followed. (In my social media feeds, there were as many responses to the bear video as there were to The New Yorker’s “Cat Person” short story.) On December 9, in response to questions tweeted at him by a graduate student, Arctic wildlife biologist Jeff Higdon offered some context and criticismabout the video. Higdon noted that bear populations in the region where it was shot are considered stable and that seasonally absent ice in that area is normal. (The images were taken on Somerset Island, in the Canadian territory of Nunavut, although the NatGeo post attributed the footage to Baffin Island, slightly further east, resulting in some confusion.) He speculated that the bear in the video might have had an aggressive bone cancer. The bear has not been seen since.


“What the SeaLegacy crew should have done was contact the [government of Nunavut] conservation officer in the nearest community and had this bear put down and necropsied,” Higdon wrote. “The narrative of the story might have turned out quite different if they had.”


Two days later, on December 11, CBC Radio’s national current-affairs program As It Happens aired an interview with Nunavut-based polar bear monitor Leo Ikakhik. Ikakhik was skeptical of the implicit link between the bear’s condition and climate change. “These things happen,” he said, also suggesting that the bear was likely sick or injured. “I wouldn’t really blame theclimate change.”


SeaLegacy’s Cristina Mittermeier, one of the photographers who saw the dying bear, responded to the CBC interview with a provocative statement: “Inuit people make a lot of money from trophy bear hunting,” she wrote, according to As It Happens. “Of course, it is in their best interest to say that polar bears are happy and healthy and that climate change is a joke, because otherwise their quota might be reduced.”


Ikakhik never suggested that climate change was a joke. But Mittermeier’s response represented the latest example of a long history of tension and outright hostility between Inuit communities and Canadian environmental groups with an interest in the Arctic. The conflict nearly always stems from the ongoing Inuit practice of hunting and eating seals, whales, walrus, and polar bears. (Greenpeace Canada recently issued an apology for the impact that its decades-long campaign against the seal hunt has had on Inuit communities.)


“I wasn’t surprised” by the response, said Madeleine Redfern, the mayor of Iqaluit, Nunavut’s capital. “These organizations often have a playbook, certain ways of spinning this issue. When Inuit or northerners speak up and counter their misinformation, they go on the offensive. It was an offensive attack on our people and our culture and our way of life.”


Environmental nutjobs running their speil about climate change and resulting in name calling when that doesn't work.

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