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Polar bears might be cute and fluffy, but they’re facing a grim reality. While they are often pictured in articles on topics of endangered species and climate change, the general public isn’t paying attention to their plight because most people don’t live close to these majestic bears. They inhabit 19 different Arctic regions, including Canada, Russia, Greenland, Norway and the United States. However, they mainly keep to themselves.
Whenever possible, consider donating to the causes you care about. Whether this is indirectly by buying products whose proceeds go to the organization, or directly on their website, your donation makes it possible for conservation efforts to keep going. For example, if you’re interested in ocean conservation, you can purchase a shark bracelet that supports marine life, or a polar bear bracelet that helps protect polar bears in the Arctic. Through some wildlife organizations, you can even “adopt” a polar bear, which will allow you to track their footsteps and watch their progress.
It can be hard to comprehend exactly what is going on with the polar bear populations, especially when all you see in newspapers and magazines are images of healthy white bears surrounded by pristine snow. Below, we discuss what you should know about the plight of polar bears.
As a direct result of climate change, there is an estimated 750 billion tons of polar ice lost per year. This loss of sea ice is greatly affecting polar bear populations. According to a recent study conducted in the Chukchi Sea region, the polar bear population had lost 75% of their habitat due to sea ice degradation. The sea ice is not only their home, it’s also the place they find food to survive.
Polar bears primarily feed on ringed seals by passively waiting by the edge of sea ice until they surface for air. As more and more sea ice melts, especially in the summer, it makes it harder for the bears to find food. When they can’t find food nearby, the bears need to go further and further away from home to hunt. As they use a massive amount of energy to travel, the polar bears often become weak before they even get the chance to hunt. Due to this, adult polar bears now weigh less on average than they did ten years ago.
As many polar bears struggle to get the adequate amount of calories, their health is suffering. This is leading to reduced rates of reproduction as well as an increase in cub deaths. When the cubs aren’t able to get enough nutrition from their mothers, they starve to death. There is a 70% chance that polar bear populations will decrease by over a third in just a few generations, according to scientists.
While climate change seems like an insurmountable problem to tackle, we can all do our part to help the polar bears before their entire population becomes extinct. The polar bears need you, so take some time to help out by doing some of the following activities.
By reducing the amount of energy you expend at home, you’ll quickly lower your carbon footprint. You can conserve energy through a number of measures including the following:
There are many great organizations working to protect polar bears in the wild, like Polar Bears International and the World Wildlife Fund. Check out the volunteer opportunities and see if you can schedule a trip and get involved.
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