Above photo: Protesters stand outside the White House. | Courtesy Center for Biological Diversity
It’s nearly Christmas, and Frostpaw the Polar Bear is coming to town. To Oahu, that is.
The Center for Biological Diversity’s chief mascot, Frostpaw, has followed President Barack Obama on various vacations and to other high profile events, using the costume to draw attention to the organization’s anti-Keystone pipeline message. The next stop is the First Family’s upcoming Christmas vacation in Hawaii, where Frostpaw will stand in stark contrast to the beaches and palm trees.
“We want to keep the issue in front of him and the American people,” said the Center’s co-founder and Director of Policy Peter Galvin. “People really respond to the polar bear. [It] is one of the most potent symbols of climate change and it introduces a visual element to the issue and gets people to think about it. The contrast in certain locations, like Hawaii or Nebraska, is really effective.”
The Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity works to protect endangered animals and advocate for other environmental issues, boasting about 625,000 members and online activists and 15 local chapters. Activists working with the center have followed the president to over a dozen fundraisers and other media-heavy events in the last year, capitalizing on the groundswell of crowds drawn by the president to magnify the organization’s message about climate change and to push its anti-tar sands message.
“If polar bears — and the rest of us — are going to have a future on this planet, we need to address the climate crisis head on. Keystone may be thousands of miles away but the effects of climate change will be felt right here in Hawaii,” said Valerie Love, the Center’s Keystone campaigner, in a written statement.
The First Family won’t have to worry about its vacation being ruined, however; the center isn’t protesting Obama specifically, just trying to keep their message gets some airtime.
“We have no intention of disrupting the holidays for the President and family, we just want to make sure he knows that Americans from all states and all walks of life want a livable future. The actions will be fun and light, in the spirit of the season,” Galvin said. “The president has got a real, real decision to make on this. A lot of his agenda items are blocked by Congress, but the keystone pipeline is his decision alone to make.”