This week, November 1–7, is Polar Bear Week.
It’s when Explore.org teams up with Frontiers North Adventures and Polar Bears International to raise awareness about the dire straits the majestic, white bears are facing. Climate change is affecting the polar bear population at Earth’s southernmost point in a hugely negative way.
While polar bears might not be the first thing on everyone’s mind on a daily basis, it’s important to give them the recognition they deserve for being truly beautiful, irreplaceable creatures. Here’s what you should know about how they’re being pushed towards extinction.
Since satellite tracking began in 1979, the Arctic has lost roughly 40% of its summer sea ice.
This is a loss slightly larger than all the land east of the Mississippi in the United States.
Sea ice is a crucial part of the Arctic ecosystem.
Polar bears rely on sea ice for catching their prey. Without it, the bears can’t survive.
The polar bear’s main prey, ringed seals, rely on sea ice, too – for giving birth to and raising their young.
Arctic sea ice is also important to our global climate.
The Arctic is called Earth’s air conditioner because the ice helps cool the planet by reflecting the sun’s light and heat back into space.
Less sea ice means a warmer planet and more extreme weather events.
That’s not good for the polar bears or for us.
Without action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions…
The probability of ice-free summers in the Arctic increases significantly from the middle to the end of this century.
As the sea ice disappears, this is what will happen to the polar bears:
They’ll have reduced access to food, they will experience a drop in body condition, lower cub survival rates, an increase in drowning, an increase in cannibalism, and a loss of access to denning areas.
While this little guy is being modest…he really does need your help.
It’s so incredibly important to keep these amazing creatures alive.
We need to do everything we can to raise awareness about climate change and the effect it’s having on our polar bears.
You can watch a live feed from Churchill, Manitoba, where you could catch some polar bears at the water’s edge, or get more vantage points on the website.
While top scientists collaborate in Canada this week, sharing this information and educating the public on the truth and urgency surrounding climate change and polar bears, the best thing you can do is to spread the word as far and wide as you can, too. Knowledge is power, and the more people who know about the status of our melting sea ice, the more people will be inclined to help.
The other best thing to do is donate to help support critical polar bear research, education, and outreach efforts!