Thursday, 26 April 2007

The wisdom of Inuit elders

CBC NEWS: Polar bear numbers rising, Inuit elders tell wildlife board
Inuit elders in Nunavut's western Hudson Bay area say more polar bears need to be hunted, as their populations are rising — contrary to scientific data that suggests a decrease. Elders and hunters from the territory's Kivalliq region told the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board on the first day of public consultations Tuesday in Arviat that they and others have noticed more encounters with polar bears in recent years...

The government is concerned that polar bear population is declining, citing data from the Canadian Wildlife Service indicating the number has dropped below 1,000 bears, as their health and survival are being threatened by shrinking ice... But Johnny Karetak, an Inuit elder from southern Nunavut, told the hearing panel that Inuit don't agree the bear population is decreasing, and he doesn't want to see anyone get killed because there are more bears than people may think. Many elders at the meeting gave examples of frightening encounters with the bears — encounters they say are happening more often...

Just thought you should know. By the way, which word do you think best fits that polar bear above: "frolicking," or "drowning"?


  1. This is the dillemma of the postmodern policy maker.

    Given that all truth telling systems are of equal value (or equally valueless) the "opinion" of a "scientific" study is equivalent to the anecdotal experience of hunters (who have a vested interest).

    Once the oppressive aspect of "western" science is taken into consideration I'm sure the decision makers will reach a conclusion (for further policy discussion).

    Ideas have consequences. Science is good. French sophists are bad.

  2. I've heard from one other more scientific source that polar bear numbers are increasing. I think it was Richard Lindzen on a podcast, who is of course a climate skeptic, which is irrelevant to the factual question of bear numbers, which makes me wonder why I am defending him (in anticipation of ad hominems I guess - "oh, he doesn't believe in GW, so he couldn't possibly count white furry mammals").

  3. I saw an interview with a wizened old Inuit who was talking about the fact that the ice was so far away now. The interviewer asked him if he felt this was a bad thing. The old inuit looked at him like he was talking to a retard. His answer was basically "No, we don't have to spend som much on heating. The fishing is easier." He was all for it.

  4. Brian Smaller, the singular of Inuit is Inuk.


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