Two arctic adventurers talk climate change, their books

Samantha Hill

The North and South Poles are melting and two locals are asking the Livingston community, “What does the future hold?”

Local authors Jay Mennenga and Bill Edwards are doing a book reading and discussion at the library Thursday on the subject of what is hapxpening to the earth’s climate and what residents can do about it.

Although Edwards’ book, “Blue Eyes and Other Poems” came out a few years ago, he still feels like many of the poems he wrote are still very relevant to the idea of climate change concerns.

“There has been a big movement of books talking about the subject of climate change, “ he said.

Edwards said one of his favorite and most topical poems is called “The Polar Bears are Angry,” talking about what the melting Poles are doing to animals such as polar bears, seals and penguins, “who are also angry.”

For Edwards, discussing the subject of polar bears is very personal because he has seen them up close before.

Part of a research trip he was on several years ago, took him up to the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, specifically Cornwallis Island, far north of Canada. One night, his team was alerted of a polar bear at the dump nearby.

They scrambled to get pictures but unfortunately made the animal feel a little trapped, almost causing an altercation.

“One man had a camera and a gun, and before he could point one or the other, the bear ran off,” Edwards said.

He realized the bear at the dump was a bad sign because normally they would be eating seals and other animals.

“Whatever they are eating at the dump was probably not good for them, they need fat to survive,” Edwards said.

He said many seals have left the area because there are not enough ice sheets to perch on, resulting in polar bears not having a good food source.

The other author, Mennenga who wrote “A Tale of Two Urgencies: Saving the Planet and Saving Your Soul,” also went to the arctic through the Sierra Club a couple years ago.

He explained that seeing those animals struggle is similar to canaries in a coal mine, because like those birds, the bears are aware of some bad that is yet to come.

“A Tale of Two Urgencies” is a fictional account of a couple of researchers struggling with the elements, relationships and faith. However, the facts used in the books are very real.

“I wanted a way to present the data but in a more readable way,” Mennenga said.

In the end of the book, he has ways for people to help to reduce their effect on the earth. This includes an energy audit of ones home and carpooling or walking places instead of driving.

Although Mennenga said the book ends on a positive note, he is cautiously optimistic for the future and believes everyone has a long way to go to prepare for climate change.

At the reading Mennenga and Edwards will also discuss the effects of climate change in Montana.

“The Polar Bear Are Angry: What Does the Future Hold?” talk and reading will be from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Livingston-Park County Library.