WWF does, or I should say doesn't, do it again
By Barry Kent MacKay
Well darn. My friends all laughed (they can be mean) when I
optimism. David Miller, former mayor of Toronto, had been appointed head of
World Wildlife Fund Canada. "That could be good," I argued. "They
change!" My friends kept giggling.
You see, among world conservationists Canada is, well, subject to derision,
a country where the federal government actively opposes environmentalism and
environmentalists. And among conservation organizations the biggest, the
World Wildlife Fund, is, well, let us say seen as a small "c"
hyper-conservative, don't rock the boat kind of organization, good when it
comes to having big bucks to spend on research and studies, but terrified of
being associated with anything that might hurt the status quo. There
exceptions: WWF (aka World Wide Fund for Nature) certainly was on the side
of most of us on the blue-fin tuna issue, advocating for a ban on commercial
trade (it didn't happen). But as a broad generality they try so hard
to offend the powers-that-be. What they don't want to do, it seems,
hurt potential future partners, government or industry. Government and
industry thus loves them and their panda logo. The panda, meanwhile,
continues its slow march to extinction.
Consider Coca Cola. WWF and Coca Cola had a great thing going, Coke
the literally iconic polar bear, or a digitalized facsimile thereof, in
their ads, promising to give money to WWF to protect the species.
And what is being done? Well, we have a "national polar bear day" on
February 27. Oh good. AND...recognizing that climate change is what
threatens the polar bear, WWF is attacking its root cause.
As WWF-Canada proudly states: "We've identified a resilient stretch of ice
that is projected to remain when all other large areas of summer sea ice are
gone. We're calling it the Last Ice Area, and it's part of our solution for
conserving life in the Arctic. This is a place where we have the chance to
get it right by planning for a healthy Arctic future. It's an opportunity to
make sure that Arctic ecosystems are valued by communities and businesses in
the North and around the world, that this resilient region will support
people and wildlife for generations to come. With your support, we are
making sure this opportunity isn't lost."
Does that make sense to you? Me either. It's not that they aren't fighting
climate change at all: we did have national sweater day, that was February 6
(I'm not making this up), when we all were urged to wear a sweater, and turn
down the heat in our homes. I guess we're the guilty ones, eh? Yes
I've done my conservation duty and gee, that hardly hurt at all.
Anyway, a while ago I was asked by a concerned citizen if Canada would
consider doing an ivory crush. We know that any "legal" elephant ivory
present fueled the illegal poaching of elephants, with massive declines in
elephant populations. As a result countries in Africa, starting with Kenya
in 1989, have destroyed stockpiles of ivory, instead of selling them for
funds they could assuredly use. The U.S. recently did the same,
instead of burning, which would contribute to air pollution, they literally
crushed it to worthless powder....and that included confiscated art objects
and souvenirs, buttons and piano keys plus whole tusks.
I laughed (but quietly, kindly) and said I didn't think Canada would join
the effort to conserve elephants, but my correspondent persevered, and quite
understandably wrote to WWF-Canada, asking the organization to sign on to
David Miller wrote back: "Thank you so much for your support and active
interest in stopping the illegal trade in ivory.
"We are proud of the role WWF and Traffic have played in this effort over
many years, including in Canada, and we work very closely with Canadian
enforcement authorities and routinely consult with them, including providing
expert advice and support.
"I am advised that the Canadian ivory stockpile is very low and secure
against becoming part of the illegal trade. While we appreciate the possible
symbolic value of such a gesture, we will be unable to sign the letter as
our efforts are focused on the illegal trade itself rather than legal
However he added that WWF gave "expert advice" on a recent persecution of
narwhal tusk smuggling (hey...it's made of ivory) and at the bottom we are
reminded that Loblaws Company Limited presented National Sweater Day, when
we "Turn down the heat and put on a cozy sweater to show your support for
action on climate change and energy conservation."
Take THAT, Stephen Harper, and shove it up your pipelines.
Miller's response is surprising, given that Carter Roberts, president and
CEO of WWF in the U.S., said, "By crushing this ivory stockpile, the U.S.
government is sending a signal. If we're going to solve this crisis we have
to crush the demand, driven by organized crime syndicates who are robbing
the world of elephants and stealing the natural heritage of African
Nations." See the difference? Roberts continued, "It's a global
phenomenon. So we hope this encourages other governments to take bold,
decisive steps to curb the demand for illegal elephant products."
Even Prince William...what a radical guy...has proposed the destruction of all
ivory held in the royal collection, some 1,200 items, including an
ivory-decorated throne form India.
Come, David, get with it. Take the same radical route as various
governments, Carter Roberts and Prince William and advocate on behalf of
destroying Canada's ivory. Then go home, turn down the temperature, put in
a cozy sweater and save the planet your way, having briefly succumbed to
radical discontent in the interest of just maybe saving the world's largest
living land animal - isn't that what WWF is supposed to be doing?