By Fredrica Syren:
I have a thing for bees and polar bears, and whenever I get started on why we need to save them, people tend to look at me as if I just escaped from the nut house. I have to say that I understand their reaction because a long time ago, I would have thought it was sad but of no concern to me. What most people might not know is that the endangerment of polar bears is an indicator of how our environment is doing and, yes, that affects us all.
The polar bear lives largely within the Arctic Circle, where they spend most of their lives on the sea ice of the Arctic Ocean. According to data collected by the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group, the populations are in decline, and there is an estimated high risk of future decline due to climate change.
Polar bears have an important role in the overall health of the marine environment. Over thousands of years, polar bears have also been an important part of the cultures and economies of Arctic peoples. Warming temperatures due to Global Warming are melting the Artic ice, which is the natural habitat of polar bears. The bears rely on the ice in order to reach for seal, their main food source.
But the Arctic sea ice is rapidly diminishing due to a warming Earth, affecting the entire Arctic ecosystem, from seals to walruses and polar bears. According to Polar Bears International, sea ice losses mean the following problems for polar bears:
- Reduced access to food
- Drop in body condition
- Lower cub survival rates
- Increase in drowning
- Increase in cannibalism
- Loss of access to denning areas
- Declining population size
The polar bears have a hard time adapting to what global warming is doing to their habitat; and it’s estimated that, at the present rate of global warming, polar bears might face extinction within 70 years. This makes them one of world’s most threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in May 2008.
So, yes, if things are looking bleak for the polar bears, it does affect us: it’s a sign that our planet is in bad shape. We did it and now we need to clean up our act. If this is not a wake up call to fight global warming, I don’t know what is. There are millions of sites that have resources for what each one of us can do to save the planet. On both Polar Bears International’s and World Wild Life organization’s sites, you can learn more about what you can do to help save the polar bears and our planet.