“The ice melted, and mom disappeared,” is the line that will now echo forever in my head when I think of global warming. I met this little guy, “Sora,” in a Teddy Bear museum we found while wandering around Yamanashi Prefecture at the base of Mt. Fuji (I’ve shared more on that adventure in a separate post, but I felt Sora deserved a post all to himself). I picked him out of the masses of teddy bears, because of the solitary tear glistening beneath his right eye. “How can a teddy bear be crying?” I thought.
The reason for his sadness is illustrated in a children’s book about global warming, that stars Sora (そら）and his big brother, Bear (べあ). Basically, Sora and Bear are polar bears that are separated from their mom when the temperature in their hometown rises and the ice begins to melt. They end up floating around on a rather small patch of ice, and encounter an arctic seal, who asks them why they are crying. This is when they come out with, “The ice melted, and mom disappeared,” and my friend and I practically start crying in the small Teddy Bear museum. The cute arctic seal asks them what good crying will do, and suggests they do something more effective to deal with their sorrow. They decide to go out looking for their mom again in hopes their family can still be reunited.
Sora and Bear have become the mascots of the “Sorabear Foundation,” a non-profit organization that promotes climate change awareness among young children, and uses money raised to purchase solar panels for preschools. Sora means “Sky” in Japanese, but it also sounds similar to the Japanese pronunciation of “solar.” The foundation also promotes the idea, as in the storybook, that instead of just crying about it, everyone needs to pitch in and do something. My “something” of the day was to buy a small Sora bear, since a portion of the proceeds go to benefit the foundation. My other “something” is to write this post, so all of you can hear the story as well!