by Tessa Owens, Grade 7
Last year, in humanities class, my peers and I took part in the Royal Commonwealth Essay Competition. This sounded very scary to us, as we hadn’t had much experience in writing essays. There were several different topics writers could choose to write from; I chose to continue on the sentence, “The day was perfect for a swim.” I am very conscious about climate change, and leaped at this opportunity to awaken awareness among my classmates about this global crisis.
After we handed in our essays, Mr. Foenander told me that my essay had been chosen to move on to the provincials. This was such an honour for me, as there are many extremely talented writers in my grade. Somehow, a few weeks from being sent on, I received the news that my essay was awarded first place in my age category. I went with my family to Vancouver, to the award ceremony. It was there that I learned that this competition was international, and thousands upon thousands of essays were sent in each year, from countries (both developed and developing) all over the world. Although my essay was chosen to be sent to London, I never expected any further recognition.
Recently, I happened to stumble upon the RCS website, where I found the essay link, and clicked on the results for Group D (my age group), merely out of curiosity. I read the winning essays, and thought that they were quite good. Scrolling down the page, I came across a section that titled, “Specially Commended as Runners-up” and spotted my name amongst eight others. This meant that although my essay was not a top finisher, it was among the best thirteen in the world. I became really, really excited, and phoned Mr. Foenander.
Overall, this was a very unique experience for me. I’m very grateful to the Royal Commonwealth Society for hosting this competition; encouraging aspiring young writers to write!
The day was perfect for a swim. There was not a single cloud in the exquisite sunny, blue sky. One thing marred this perfect scene: Fæða (pronounced fi-tha) was 75 km from the nearest landmass, and she’d been swimming for hours.
All around, as far as the eye could see, was an immense ocean of deepest blue. Gone was the familiar ice pack; melted into the warming waters. White-furred limbs, heavy with exhaustion, dragged painfully through the water. Her lungs screamed in agony, and she gulped the air greedily. Her stomach had been aching for days. Wouldn’t it just be easier to give up, and sink below the treacherous waters? No, she couldn’t let that happen to her, she wouldn’t give up. Even though she had nothing left now.
Grief ripped through her body as she remembered her lost cubs. They were beautiful cubs, with pure white fur covering them and innocent dark eyes. The first born cub was different, but she still loved him dearly. He was smaller, with one shriveled paw kept tucked against his chest. Because of this, he couldn’t move as quickly as the other cub. It pained her to see him hobbling around on three legs.
One day, a few weeks after emerging from her winter den, Fæða and her two cubs were roaming the land, searching for food. She was frantic for the tiniest hint of prey; her fat reserves were alarmingly diminished, and she could no longer provide much milk for her hungry cubs. Out of nowhere, she caught a whiff of something that instantly put her on guard. Hastily she nudged her cubs in the opposite direction of the scent. Too late. A male polar bear spotted them, and lumbered closer, growling. Fæða broke into a run, with the cubs following. Exhausted, the crippled cub stumbled, and crumpled into a heap upon the snow. Fæða wheeled around and streaked toward the cub, desperately trying to reach him before the male. She never made it. Blood spattered the snow.
One month later, Fæða and her cub were unknowingly drifting on a chunk of ice that broke from the main piece. Unbeknownst to them, their ice floe was melting quickly. Fæða was puzzled and famished, where were the seals? Then a seal surfaced in the water right next to her. Without thinking, she launched herself after the seal. A flick of its powerful tail and it was gone. Disappointment filled Fæða’s heart. She dragged herself onto the ice floe, to realize there was hardly any ice left!
Following Fæða’s instincts, she reluctantly pushed her cub off the ice. They swam, seeking land. Forced to swim, the cub drowned quickly.
Fæða was left alone, broad paws and powerful arms propelling her through the water.
In the vast ocean of fathomless indigo, there was no ice to be seen. There was only one tiny speck of white, that would eventually, like the ice that it was seeking, dissolve into the Arctic Ocean.
The plight of the polar bears is not only restricted to their species. Countless species are being eradicated due to habitat loss, pollution, global warming, and innumerable other reasons. If these problems aren’t confronted, we humans will ultimately face extinction.
“All across the world, in every kind of environment and region known to man, increasingly dangerous weather patterns and devastating storms are abruptly putting an end to the long-running debate over whether or not climate change is real. Not only is it real, it’s here, and its effects are giving rise to a frighteningly new global phenomenon: the man-made natural disaster.”