-Bear Grylls and the President of the United States adventured in the Alaskan wilderness to highlight the effects of climate change.
Over a century ago, President Teddy Roosevelt met in secret with the naturalist John Muir under a grove of sequoia trees in the Mariposa Grove, which then remained under the state’s control. John Muir pushed for national park designation for Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove for a significant part of his life. Muir considered Yosemite the earth’s cathedral. A tyrannical Protestant father, who forced him to learn the bible by heart, raised him. Muir felt closer to God upon his first look at the majesty of Yosemite than he ever felt learning the bible out of fear his father would beat him. For two or three days the two men camped in the grove, discussed other parks for national park designation, as well as protecting the unprotected land of Yosemite. Roosevelt spoke the next day in Sacramento about “the greatest day” of his life camping in Yosemite Valley. Soon, the land returned to federal control and became part of Yosemite National Park.
Running Wild with Bear Grylls and President Obama probably won’t accomplish what Roosevelt’s time with Muir accomplished, but the spirit of the thing’s similar.
-Bear entered the terrain via helicopter. He landed on high ground and then he repelled down a rock-face to meet the president. Bear usually waited for the first rope repel, but one assumes that the President’s handlers shook their heads “no” if Bear pitched him and the President repelling down a sheer, steep rock-face. Obama leisurely walked from his helicopter through a grove of trees. He and Bear met in the wide open Alaska wilderness, surrounded by lovely mountains and verdant, green trees.
-So, what are the chances a bear pursues Bear and Obama? Bear explained how to scare away birds. They touched on the common rules for walking in bear territory. Back out of the bear’s territory; make loud noises and be ferocious if the bear enters your campsite. Bear Grylls and Les Stroud have a long history of tearing nearby threats in whatever location they’re at. Les fled from a jaguar in an episode. Bear—I don’t know—eluded wolf packs. Neither ever, on camera, experienced a jaguar or wolf fight.
-The duo arrived at Exit Glacier, which is part of the Harding Ice Field. The ice field shrunk by 1200 feet since 2008. The President wanted to show Americans the physical effects of climate change. He thought the image would affect more than a paper full of facts. Of course, people see whatever they want to see. One’s ideology will supersede whatever contradicts that ideology. Conservatives reject climate change. I presume some liberals reject it too. New Jersey governor Chris Christie said, “America’s not the world” when explaining why climate change isn’t his problem nor the Republican party’s nor the country’s. “America’s not the world” may be the stupidest thing I’ve heard from a politician since the George W. Bush era. Sure, America’s not the world, but America’s part of the world. The great naturalist former president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt, believed preserving the natural wonders of the world—nature itself—for ages and ages to be of the upmost importance. Roosevelt wanted to protect the trees and the landscapes from industrialists. He saw the Grand Canyon and claimed people would only mar what nature sculpted over centuries and centuries. People could never do better than nature. Once it’s gone…it’s gone.
-Obama and Bear discussed climate change more, particularly how to combat it. The President mentioned solar power energy, electric cars, as solutions to controlling and reducing the effects of climate change. They knelt at a rivulet. Obama felt the water, noted its coldness, and Bear explained that soot from the collapsing rocks (caused by the receding melting glacier) would, eventually, give one diarrhea. Bear said they could drink it, but a substantial amount would make them ill. One hundred years ago—and definitely two hundred years ago—no soot greyed the water.
-Between the climate change conversations, they took selfies, and Bear asked about Obama’s daughters. One thing viewers who’ve never watched Running Wild before should know—viewers who may’ve tuned in to find more reasons to hate the President or who may’ve wanted to see how he did in the wild—is: nothing especially interesting happens on Running Wild. Bear’s old show, the classic Man Vs. Wild, was great adventurous fun. He huddled inside a camel’s stomach, he used a wolf carcass to make a toboggan, etc., etc. Running Wild largely works as a publicity vehicle. It humanizes the celebrity while promoting their brand. This episode with the president is the same. It humanized the Commander-in-Chief while promoting his Climate Change agenda. Obama’s asides showed his sense-of-humor, his regular joe-ness, and so on, as well as his further orations about the importance of working to protect the earth.
-Bear and the President made camp. They built a small rock wall to protect the fire. Obama successfully sparked the fire. At camp, Bear digs into the personal side of his guest. So, him and Obama discussed the First Lady’s regard for nice sheets, how he balances being the leader of the free world and being a father, whether he got lost in the White House (he didn’t; he explained that it’s an old capital that lacks the grandiosity of other political buildings), his first visit to the White House, with a human interest reminder that he’s the child of a single mother (and he made it to the White House). The President asked for Bear’s life story. Bear told him about following his father and his love for the outdoors. Bear asked him what he’d like his legacy to be (giving healthcare to millions of Americans that lacked it, restoring an economic on the brink of global collapse, and climate change).
-For lunch, they ate salmon half-eaten by an unseen bear.
-The President made Bear a S’more. Bear brought up drinking one’s own urine during the dessert portion lunch. Petitioners wanted Obama to drink his own pee. Now, I’ve watched Bear and Les Stroud drink their own urine multiple times. The key is distillation.
-Overall, it was the tamest/safety episode of Running Wild. I expected as much. Bear did the craziest thing—repelling--before he met Obama. They walked through a dense forest, but the forest near my house looks more dense than the forest they walked through. Bear mentioned bears frequented the forest in large numbers, but no bears came near them. They ate two small slabs of grilled fresh meat, S’mores made from store bought products, and then Bear leisurely walked the President back to the secret service.