Social Action Now!

An objective view to worldwide social issues

THE UNCERTAIN FUTURE OF POLAR BEARS

Charles Monett became a well-known scientist, when he showed to the world his shocking studies about the increasing number of polar bears that were drowning in the Arctic Ocean due to the global warming. He was also a great promoter of the movement against the climate change. Five years later, the situation has not improved; on the contrary, it has been getting worse. This is the reason why more experts such as Andrew E. Derocher or Brenda Ekwuezel of the Union of Concerned Scientist have joined his cause to make a worldwide protest so as to try to save these animals.

According to Derocher, the harsh reality is that the global warming is altering the conditions of the ocean ice, which affects polar bears in many ways. To begin with, they have more difficulties to capture their prey, sadly, that is not their only problem, indeed, as the area covered with ice is constantly reducing, they have less space to built their burrows, what is more, pup survival also becomes almost impossible. All this contributes to a general decrease in the rate of survival of the species in general.

12imagesWhere their diet is concerned, polar bears are the most carnivorous among all the species of bears and the feed mainly on seals. This is becoming a great problem, since seals depend on sea ice to breed and moult, so if we take into account that the ice is melting, we reached the conclusion that both polar bears and seals will become extinct in a period of 100 years or so, according once again to Derocher.

Regarding the habitat, the effects of the climate change contribute to the loss of bears´ habitat. Indeed, based on scientific research, there is a decrease of 1.5% per decade in the maximum extent of sea ice during winter. Besides, if ice conditions keep getting worse, polar bears could be replaced by other high-level predators such as killer whales, which are excluded from the ice-covered seas.

So despite the general uncertainty, polar bears are not going to respond well to a change in its distribution northward. The increasing number of drowned bears in the coasts of Alaska and even cases of cannibalism among the species are becoming more and more common. This means that male adults seem to be desperate enough to behave in such a foolish and dangerous way. Damian Carrington, of The Guardian, oso_tempanostated the following:

The polar bear is not on the very brink of extinction, but hanging on to an icy ledge by its claws alone. The 178 nations gathered here in Bangkok had a fig leaf for deciding to do nothing at all. Even Canada accepted the vanishing of a third of all polar bears is most likely.

All in all and taking into account that humans are solely responsible of the global warming and all its consequences, it seems fair enough to make amends and try to “fix what we have broken” because we still have time, although not much:

The polar bear has been sending us a desperate S.O.S. The world no longer has any polar bears to spare — certainly not to end up as a rug in front of a trophy hunter’s fireplace. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., NRDC Senior Attorney

MAIN SOURCES

1-Zac Unger (December 12th, 2012), The truth about polar bears. Canadian Geographic. Retrieved December 26th, 2013 from http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/magazine/dec12/polar_bears.asp

2-Damian Carrington (March 7th, 2013), Polar bears: politics trumps precaution every time. Damian Carringtons’s Environmentalblog. Retrieved December 26th, 2013 from http://www.theguardian.com/environment/damian-carrington-blog/2013/mar/07/polar-bear-ban-canada-us-cites

3-Andrew E. Derocher. Los Osos Polares y el Cambio Climático. Actionbioscience.org. Retrieved December 26th, 2013 from http://www.actionbioscience.org/esp/ambiente/derocher.html#fullbio

4-Derocher, A.E., Lunn, N.J. and I. Stirling. 2004. Polar bears in a warming climate. Integrative and Comparative Biology. Retrieved December 26th, 2013 from http://intl-icb.oxfordjournals.org/content/44/2/163.full

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