A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Polar Bears in the Arctic from Being a Burden to the Planet

And for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick

There is nothing truly more despondent than the general plight of the noble Polar Bear, whose home and very livelihood is now threatened with utter extinguishment due to the Northern Pole soon to become entirely devoid of ice. Ice which, and in particular the marine variety, being so instrumental in the residence and hunting of the Polar Bear that the ice’s disappearance will deprive it of both sustenance and safe harbor.

But what is surely the most lamentable effect of these circumstances is that Ursus maritimus’ loss will mean a tremendous blow to his waiting commercial benefactors, right at the moment when we could most expeditiously exploit him for his furs and meats. For the relentless and catastrophic thaw of the Arctic ice (apart from the coincidental inundation of our great coastal cities), will open up hitherto unprecedented mercantile possibilities for the intrepid capitalists who would plunge vigorously into virgin Arctic territories. And it seems a crime against God Himself that humanity be thus denied a wondr’ous new opportunity for the development of a hitherto untapped resource that would surely better the human condition, most tragically on the very eve of its total exploitation.

But the plight of the bear, and the unhappy repercussions on disheartened mercantile interests, need not be for naught. For it is lately described in great detail by a certain Saskatchewanian rancher and hunter of no small renown (and whom I trust I need not insult the reader’s intelligence by naming) that the remaining 25,000 some odd Polar Bears need not face almost certain and calamitous extinction, but could – with only small discomfiture and expense – be reliably transported in total, tribe by tribe, into the mainland of the North American continent.

Therein, as he has delineated, this noble creature could be well kept for both sport (for the zealous hunter of large game) as well as for industry (towards the full realization of its destiny on the tables of discerning diners) quite happily and with the utmost convenience in equally divided populations across the upper belt of the United States (which, he feels, as a polity would be more certain in its allowance of the full commercialization of the breeding stock). Thus tamed, the Polar Bear could at last be put to its proper purpose in the service of mankind and the advancement of our economy – which as of late has seen great detraction from investors both domestic and foreign, and has thus a great need for such a novel, rare and unique export (which will be ever so more valued for our own nation’s utter lack of comparable competitive exports in the markets of the world).

Yet, it would seem to me that such a scheme has but one significant deterrent – that being the maintenance of the bears’ diets. Such noble creatures as they are, they still must be kept well fed, and being so uniquely disposed to the consumption of rich, fatty foods (being in their home environment nigh solely composed of seal and whale blubber) it has struck many that this Saskatchewanian scheme may ill-prevail in the hard realities of the free and entirely unsubsidized agricultural market. That a mature bear eats on average near five pounds of fat per diem is no mean sum, and when weighed against the total population (of whom no small number are now undernourished) it must be accepted that the full liability of provender may total upwards of 20,000 tons of good rich flesh per year. And I admit this one point to the gentle reader, as I seek to make a credible account herein, and gain your full trust that I have given total consideration to the measure which I here propose.

For as I see it, I humbly submit that I have struck upon the missing piece to this grand solution to the Polar Bear Question, which will assuredly secure the general acceptance of the scheme in question, and see a wonderful benefit of return on investment to those who would greatly gain from its pursuit. For such a rare (if perhaps unpalatable) delicacy would fetch top market price on the plates of the leisured classes, and make a handsome profit should a goodly, cheap and plentiful feedstock be found for the bears.

As perhaps the most plentiful rich flesh in our nation be not that of cattle, swine or fowl – or any other beast either wild or domestic, but that of the very human antagonists to action to prevent the loss of the Arctic Ice upon which the Bears will soon no longer reside. It would seem easy. logical to recognize them as the most fortuitous feed for the sustenance and development of the Polar Bear herds. Why, when one considers that a median specimen of that set trends strongly with age (being more likelier than his sympathetic counterpart to be of greater years) in the same manner as the blessing of obesity – it would seem a truly happy concordance that such as are in our population that are most obstinately opposed to even the most passing action against the loss of the Bear’s natural homes have the most to offer to the feeding and growth of our new Polar Bear economy.

I have it on good authority from a resident of the Nevada mountains that a neatly dressed carcass of even one antagonist could provide upwards of 50 pounds of good fat, plus another 75 pounds of well marbled flesh – enough to keep a Bear happ’ly fed for a month. One adult bear would likely need thirteen or fourteen some odd meals for its proper nourishment over the year, with perhaps an extra meal or two for pregnant mothers. For the whole population to be thus well supported, a mere 300,000 bodies a year might be needed to keep the adults, cubs and unborn in good supply of fatty meat. And as the middling age, lethargic constitution, and general heaviness of the most obstinate members of the antagonist stock make them slower prey – it would be easy enough to allow the Bears to graze upon them as befits their appetite: the cost of culling and butchering the Polar Bears’ meals would thus be greatly diminished, if not nearly become completely marginal.

Concerning the availability of such a feed stock, it is easy to deduce that with about four in ten adult souls in our great nation faithfully doubting the irretrievable loss of the Polar Bear’s habitat, and with perhaps seven in twenty most obstinately opposed to the will of the majority to undertake some actions (if perhaps even small and cautious) towards the conservation of this valuable commodity’s capacity to make its Godly way in the world – that we have no lack of available fodder for the surely starved Bears. Nay indeed, we are safe enough to keep this new cattle’s population constant for a century or more, if not even entertain ambitions about growing it to ensure the most fortuitous profitability from this noble venture.

And towards the future of this endeavor, it is easy to imagine many ancillary benefits to such a wonderful plan, for in addition to a new and profitable export, we could simultaneously reduce by increasing degrees the burden on the Publick posed by appropriations for expenditure on undue and indefensible welfare which has now become quite vexious. In matters of the cost of health, which is of most burning concern to the nation’s mind, I would humbly submit that our citizenry could expect nigh on four hundred fifty millions of dollars in savings per annum from the elimination of health expenditures now required of us by our most prodigious and obese neighbors.

Food stuffs would surely cheapen as well, as demand dropped both in aggregate and per capita – equaling some three hundreds of dollars per year for us as individual citizens in the first year, and perhaps as much as double that amount at the maturity of the enterprise. But even all of this pales in comparison to the assured drop in outlays directly from our common Treasury towards charity and welfare afforded to this conglomeration upon their retirement from productive life, which would total no less than ten billions of dollars per annum, and is more like to see a return to us of fifteen billions if we evenly consider their specifically higher demands for pecuniary sustainment. I would conservatively offer that our nation could proudly see returned to our own pockets an amount not less than a hundred of billions dollars cash in the first ten years alone.

Who among us would be so wanton as to discredit a scheme that would return nigh one hundred fifty billions of dollars in savings to the Publick at large? And shameful besides, when in such evil times as these that we live in, when every family sees their future mortgaged to the general sin of the public debt, and ensconced so close to fiscal despair that each penny betwixt their fingers be counted dear indeed.

Thus, let us clearly put an end to any arguments of the value of the bears to our imperiled nation, vis-à-vis the flesh of the antagonist that will soon sustain them. For who could speak of any so dear amongst that number that generate six hundred thousands of dollars of value per annum, before their actual marketable value be realized! For indeed, each mature bear would return such an amount on value before even gracing a table as an entrée, or a floor as a magnificent snowy white rug, or the Oriental bazaars for their viscera and organs (as the such places are well-known for their appetites for exotic creatures for medicines and aphrodisiacs). The innumerability of jobs thus created, and the overall increase in economic fortune, could surely not be placed in an equal exchange with any hominid antagonist against the preservation of the Arctic Ices and our precious Polar Bears – who when compared merely serve as liabilities upon our ailing economy, when even employed at all!

Now, while there as yet seem some for whom the notion that the devouring of hundreds of thousands of men and women for the sake of the economy might be unconscionable, despite how fair, humble and logical the offering – I would, with honest and simple speech, bring to bear that tens, if not hundreds of millions of our stoic citizenry are every year fed quite efficiently into the hungry engine of our mercantile and capitalist system for its sublime preservation. As to why a pittance of that number be so singled out as to be deserving of special protection, welfare or entitlement is beyond my most patriotic sensibilities. In makes neither plain sense, nor does it indeed serve the spirit of Justice Herself that we would dispense inequitably the burdens of responsibility for the maintenance of the nation’s insatiable appetite for productive bodies – or indeed defer our capacity to recover our foundering economic condition. To suggest a thing is to throw the whole of our great system of industry, production, wealth, privilege, status, corporate power and the individual’s right to amass as many riches as they so set their pecunious desire upon into the most tumultuous and dangerous disorder. It is naked anarchy and antisocial disdain, and no right-thinking proud patriotic citizen of this nation could possibly support such an irresponsible approach.

I can think of no one objection that will possibly be raised against this proposal, unless it should be urged that it create as great a fiscal boon to our nation through the reduction of welfare and the increase of employment. This I freely own, and ’twas indeed one principal design in offering it to the world. I desire the reader will observe, that I calculate my remedy for this one individual species of Bear, and make no claims as to the countless other species mammalian, avian, piscine and other that will surely come to their own individual cessation as result of the near off termination of all ice of the Arctic year-round.

Therefore let no man talk to me of other expedients: such as the increase in renewable energy sources: or the improvements of energy efficiency: or the localization of power production: or the utilization of ancient and responsible agricultural practices: or the promotion of local industry and crafts: or the taxation of finite and polluting fuels: or of the expectation the citizenry restrain their avarice: or that sloth not be fully indulged: or that limits be placed upon the generation of noxious and dangerous gases: or that mercantile interests great and small be asked to behave responsibly: or that there be levied on any individual or communal expectations of sacrifice, change, transformation or forbearance on any activity, vice or self-destructive behavior that now commonly be held by the people at large – no matter how great an incentive may be placed before them, or how great the inducement may be from the certainty of the calamitous nature of their consequences.

Therefore I repeat = let no man talk to me of these and the like expedients, ’till he hath at least some glimpse of hope, that there will ever be some hearty and sincere attempt to put them into practice.

But, as to myself, having been wearied out for many years with offering vain, idle, visionary thoughts, and at length utterly despairing of success, I fortunately fell upon this proposal, which, as it is wholly new, so it hath something solid and real, of no expense and little trouble, full in our own power, and whereby we can incur no danger in disobliging these United States of America.

And, at the last, I would urge the reader to consider this all whilst knowing that your humble author has nothing he can possibly gain from this venture, being in utter lack of any indoor ice-making facilities within which Polar Bear herds might be raised, or even having a walk-in refrigerator to my name. So let no critic accuse me of personal gain in proposing this venture, or there be any doubt in the mind of you, dear reader and fellow citizen, that I could possibly hope to gain from this in any way. For surely such a venture would benefit first the wealthy, then the rich, then the privileged, then the well-placed, and then only lastly the rest of the common folk, upon whose backs will be placed the honorable burden of feeding and raising the bears. And being none of the former, I most assuredly reside decidedly amongst the latter and would must be patient indeed to see any direct return or reward for this modest proposal.

Dr. Jonathan A. Thule is an Associate Professor, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, at the University of Alaska in Anchorage. Read other articles by Jonathan.