International Polar Bear Day

International Polar Bear day is organized by Polar Bears International on February 27th to help raise the awareness of the impact of global warming.

Polar Bear on snow, Alaska
Polar Bear By Alan Wilson – www.naturespicsonline.com

Global warming is caused by the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The greenhouse gases works like a blanket that keeps earth warm and makes it habitable, but over the last two centuries there has been an increase of greenhouse gases due to growing carbon dioxide (CO2) emmissions which is working like a second blanket and raises the temperature little by little.

Pie chart showing human sources of carbon dioxide.
Source: Le Quéré, C. et al. (2013). The global carbon budget 1959-2011.

The biggest source(87%) of the excess CO2 comes from the burning of fossil fuel like coal, natural gas and oil. 9 percent come from deforestation and change of land usage and 4 percent come from industrial processes such as cement manufacturing.

We have already begun to see some of the effects of the global warming. Ice is melting worldwide, especially at the Earth’s poles. This includes mountain glaciers, ice sheets covering West Antarctica and Greenland, and Arctic sea ice. Some species of butterflies, foxes, and alpine plants have moved farther north or to higher, cooler areas, but other animals like the Adélie penguins on Antarctica can’t move to a more suitable habitat, there is no cooler place to go. The Adélie penguines numbers have fallen from 32,000 breeding pairs to 11,000 in 30 years.

Adélie penguin on snow
Adélie penguin by Reinhard Jahn, Mannheim

Because of the melting ice the arctic sea ice is rapidly diminishing and the entire arctic ecosystem is threatened. Polar bears hunt their preffered food of seals from the edge of sea ice often live off fat reserves when no ice is present. The diminishing sea ice has resulted in reduced access to food for the polar bears which in turn gives a drop in body condition. Since the bears are in a bad condition there is a lower cub survival rate and there has been an increase in polar bears drowning. The bears are no longer able to access their denning areas since the ice reduction stops them from travelling. Hunger has increased the amount of cannibalism seen among them.

The size of the polar bear population is estimated to be about 20000-25000 animals and has been upgraded on IUCNs Red List to vulnerable since they are predicted to decline with 30% in the next 30-45 years. Polar bears live on ice. No ice means no polar bears and the only way to stop the ice from melting is to mitigate the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

 

 

Everyone can help!

No cost at all.
Reduce CO2 emmissions.

Adopt a polar bear and help support research on polar bears.

Polar Bears International

WWF

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