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A Possible Future Without Polar Bears

Every day our planet is rapidly changing, which is a cause for concern. Global warming has been a concern due to its impact on climate change. Humans are directly involved in the changing climate. Even though there are several alternatives, we continue our path of destruction. Not only does climate change affect the lives of humans, but it also affects many species worldwide. Humans have a significant impact on the environment, and often, we don’t know the harm we cause daily. Burning fossil fuels, deforestation, raising livestock for human consumption, transportation, and the accumulation of plastics and other waste products are the most common causes of global warming. The only factor that makes each reason like one other is human activity. 


There are approximately 22,000 to 31,000 Polar Bears left in the wild. Polar Bears are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), and in May 2008, Polar Bears became protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Under these, it prohibits people from killing, disturbing, and taking Polar Bears out of their natural environment for purposes other than safety. Polar Bears are listed as a “vulnerable” species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with climate change being one of the major threats. 


Climate change is severely putting Polar Bears at risk. Although other threats affect the lives of Polar Bears, global warming is pushing them further and further toward extinction. Polar Bears are magnificent and unique creatures. They depend on sea ice for survival, but with increased temperatures, the ice is slowly melting and disappearing entirely. The sea ice habitat is crucial for hunting, mating, traveling, and resting. With sea ice melting at high rates, access to prey becomes difficult, causing Polar Bears to suffer. 


study conducted by Anthony Pagano, a researcher at the Washington State University’s School of the Environment and the U.S. Geological Survey, studied the movement of Polar Bears in the Southern Beaufort Sea where sea ice was melting. The results showed the Polar Bears using excess energy to travel to other locations where sea ice was present or inland to find alternative food sources. Between 2001 and 2010, the population of Polar Bears in the Southern Beaufort Sea decreased by 30% and their bodies were also found to be in poor condition. Researchers plan on continuing to monitor Polar Bear populations and gaining insights into how they are coping with the loss of sea ice. 


We, as humans, can work together to create a better future for Polar Bears and our environment. First, all countries around the world can work toward eliminating the use of fossil fuels and work on switching to more renewable energy sources like solar, wind, or tidal power. Members of society can learn more and maybe invest in electric cars and aviation companies can reduce the amount of air travel if possible. Individuals can move toward a vegan diet or reduce the amount of meat and dairy consumptionPreventing deforestation and the use of plastics can help protect our forests and oceans. These are just a few steps we can take to create a better future for all wildlife and the environment, not just Polar Bears.  


Edited by: Whitney Edna Ibe

Photo by: Roy Mangersnes

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