Global Warming Puts Polar Bears On Thin Ice
In anticipation of the new Warner Brothers documentary To The Arctic coming out April 20th- Hope people will take notice!
Polar bears could be extinct by 2100. These majestic Arctic mammals are being threatened by global warming, and, if current trends continue, two-thirds of the world’s polar bear population will be gone in the next 50 years.
The rising temperature of the globe is causing the melting of the polar ice caps. Polar bears, unfortunately, rely on ice to live, rest, breed, and raise their young. Alaskan polar bears use pack ice as their primary summer habitat. Snow cover is necessary to make dens to provide protection and insulation for bear cubs. Additionally, polar bears do most of their hunting from the ice. Areas of shore fast ice attract seals and thus provide polar bears with ideal hunting grounds. It is difficult for bears to catch seals in open water, so ice is an essential part of their feeding.
Due to global warming, however, sea ice has been decreasing by about 8%, or 386,000 square miles, per year – an area equivalent to the size of Texas and Arizona combined. Polar bears are quickly losing their territory. With fewer ice drifts, bears are forced to spend more time on land or swim for many miles, both of which are detriments to the bears’ well-being. Travel on slushy land is difficult for the bears, and their primary food source, seals, are water creatures.
Spending more time swimming is not an acceptable alternative to ice lifestyle either. Polar bears store fat to enable survival in cold weather, but swimming longer distances uses this fat up. As a result, have less energy and need more food to survive. In 2004, for the first time, four polar bears were documented as having drowned trying to swim from land to distant ice. Many polar bears have also died of starvation, or have fallen victims to cannibalization by other starving bears.
Jeffrey Flocken, the DC Office Director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, recommends the following steps that make a difference: “1- reduce, reuse, recycle; 2- save energy; 3- cut wasteful travel, walk or take mass transit instead; and 4- encourage others to change.” By doing these four simple things, you can help save the polar bears and other animals that are being threatened by global warming.
A new book release titled; Wildlife Heroes, featuring 40 leading conservationists committed to saving animals has been compiled by IFAW’s Jeff Flocken and Julia Scardina. One person dedicated to climate change and the animals affected is Kassie Siegel. Siegel commented, “Solving the climate crisis will require real change – not changes around the edges. And change is hard, but incredibly exciting.”
If you want to get a close up and personal look at the incredibly beautiful polar bear in their natural environment, three-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep narrates, To The Arctic, a new documentary following the life of a mother polar bear caring for her cubs in the arctic. The movie is scheduled to hit IMAX theaters in late April.
“Of all the truly wild places left on earth none are as majestic as the Arctic. Today this unforgiving landscape has grown nearly impossible to inhabit, but for the families that live here its home,” says Streep in the To The Artic trailer.
For more information on how to help the polar bear visit: ifaw.org.