The Policy & Practice of Climate Change & Water

The Adventures of Polo the Bear: A Story of Climate Change

This guest blog was written by Alan Hesse, author of the forthcoming book ‘The Adventures of Polo the Bear: a story of climate change’

Polo says hello
My name is Polo, and I’m a polar bear. I’m an unusual sort of polar bear, because I can speak and understand human languages, I can walk on two legs, I wear a captain’s cap, I know how to sail a boat, and I use rational thinking to get me places.

You’ll hopefully all get to know me soon, and my adventures around the world, thanks to this new book I appear in. It’s actually a comic book, and it’s called ‘The Adventures of Polo the Bear: a story of climate change’.

My creator, Alan Hesse, is one of those guys who’s not really sure what he is, or where he’s from. I’d like to add he also doesn’t know what he’s doing sometimes, but that wouldn’t be a very useful comment right now. What I do know about Alan though is that he cares passionately about the natural world – polar bears and our Arctic home included. I also know he is a wildlife conservationist and cartoonist. You may think this is a very odd job description, I certainly think so. What does conservation biology have to do with cartoons, right?! But Alan is very adamant about the two things actually going really well together; he says that in ancient times, art and science were joined, and that modern people have segregated them too much. He says he believes that there is also way too much information out there these days, that because of it, people actually get swamped and tend to shut down to important information, like on climate change for example.

That’s why he created this book, and me as the main character.

I really hope you get the book, I think you’ll enjoy it. I start out as just a normal polar bear out hunting on the sea ice off Greenland. My piece of ice breaks off from the main floe, and I find myself drifting out to sea, stranded on my melting piece of ice. The currents take me southwards, and soon – in the middle of a storm – the ice has melted so much that I can’t stay on it. That’s when something incredible happens: I find myself right next to this rowing boat with a couple of fishermen in it. No idea what they were doing there, but I wasn’t asking any questions! I basically ‘took possession of the boat’, as the author puts it, and away I went, drifting with the currents ever southwards. On my way I made many landings, always with the idea of getting food and somehow getting back to my home. In this way I met Inuits and other polar bears in Canada, I was saved from a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico by the US Coast Guard, I met a small black bear with spectacles in Colombia who was really depressed about his forest getting chopped down and some problem with water not being as abundant as before. On my journey around the world I met all sorts of crazy and interesting people, plus a lot of animals too. In China I met some smart students and a farmer who told me loads of stuff about greenhouse gas emissions, and how China is making great progress with alternative energy like solar and wind power. I learned more about all of that in India, too, and before that I met this really excitable marine biologist in the Marshall Islands. He was scared of me at first – a lot of people were – but eventually he told me all about coral bleaching and warming seas. Those pushy mockingbirds and the fisherman in Galápagos also carried on an awful lot about that, and about rising sea levels. As a matter of fact, those climate refugees from Kiribati I met before I got to the Marshall Islands were upset about that, too. They said rising sea level is already so bad that it’s literally destroying their island nation – those I met had already lost everything, and I thought I heard them say something about seeking jobs in New Zealand or somewhere. I hope they get lucky, because otherwise where else can they go? Same thing for those migrants I helped rescue in the Mediterranean – except they come from countries destroyed by other problems as well, like famine, drought and civil war. I also visited the Himalayas and met the Dalai Lama! He was really sweet and wise, and he even asked me to forgive the humans for what they’re doing to the planet.

But my journey was pretty tough too: in the middle of the Pacific Ocean my boat got smashed into pieces by Chinese fishermen who captured me to sell to the zoo! Luckily I escaped that one! In the Himalayas I got thrown around by this huge, hairy beast called the Yeti, then I fell into a melting glacier and got swept down torrential rivers and waterfalls into this steaming mangrove swamp called the Sundarbans where I talked to this tiger and her infernal cub. Oh that brat! The way he purposely tore at my cap, which he’d miraculously found floating in the river! Why are tigers always so gruff and unfriendly? Same with lions, like that clownish pair I met in Kenya weeks later. Anyway, the tiger – and the lions later on – all had the same complaints about humans destroying their habitat, and global warming making it all worse. The lions in parts of Africa also get shot at by rich white tourists: I got shot at too! Actually that was the second time some human tried to kill me: the first one was this crazy bearded fellow with a twisty knife and his snake, in that temple in India. I still don’t know what all that was about, so if you figure it out reading the book, get in touch!

What with all these problems in the world it’s a good thing there are so many people also trying to do something about it. A lot of these are people who have lost nearly everything… yet they are adapting, and offering hope to millions of people across the world. I met some pretty famous folks too, I can tell you! The best part is that they invited me to become a UN Wildlife Ambassador! I don’t know what UN is and I don’t really understand what I’m supposed to do, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out!

I could go on and on telling you my adventures, but people say I talk too much for a polar bear, or any sort of bear for that matter! I’d love it if you got the book and then wrote to me with any questions. The book has only just gone to print but I think it will be out in the new year on this website:, and you can also write to Alan, the author, at or Jo, the publisher

Polo paw print
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