The polar bear is in danger of extinction, experts have been warning for some time of the problem that this species faces, but it was not until 2008 when the United States decided to include the polar bear or white bear in its list of animals in danger of extinction .
According to sources from the North American country, climate change is destroying their habitat in the Arctic Ocean and thereby reducing the number of species on our planet by leaps and bounds. In the following EcologiaVerde article we will talk to you about why the polar bear is in danger of extinction , as well as some actions to help them and prevent their disappearance.
How many polar bears are left in the world
Scientists from the United States Government think that within 50 years two-thirds of the current population of polar bears will be extinct. This is about 25,000 copies. The decision had been expected since January, but the Interior Department said it needed more time to study some proposals from members of Congress and environmentalists.
This measure has not seemed correct to everyone. Several environmental policy experts at the Heartland Institute have called this decision “alarmist” because “although temperatures have risen in the last 10,000 years, polar bears have not disappeared.”
Polar bears are between 2 and 3 meters in length and can weigh up to 700 kilos depending on their age. According to WWF data, there are only about 20,000 polar bears left in the world , making polar bears a species that may disappear in the next century if the current warming trend in the Arctic continues.
Most of these specimens live in western Alaska, northern Alaska, Greenland, and Siberia. And although it may seem that they are far from the pollution of cities and civilization, they are in clear danger of disappearing. Sad news for all of us who love these and many other animals who do nothing but try to be happy wherever they are.
The latest global reevaluation of white bears by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has included this species in the category of “vulnerable and declining population” on its Red List of threatened species. The new reevaluation took into account changes in the sea ice sheet, since thawing is the main threat to its conservation and the results have not been optimistic. Quite the contrary, it is concluded that the global polar bear population is very likely to decline by more than a third in the next 35 to 40 years.
Why the polar bear is in danger of extinction
Among the main causes that explain why polar bears are in danger of extinction is the great pollution that exists throughout the planet, as well as the pesticides that are exposed. To this must be added that the fat of the seals, their main food, is full of toxins that eventually end up in their body. What causes all this is that they suffer a large number of miscarriages, puppies are born with very little weight and with a very weak immune system. In other words, polar bears are not only disappearing because they die, but because they have trouble reproducing.
However, the great threat to polar bears is global warming . The thaw and loss of their habitat means that in many areas they are running out of food and either dying or having to migrate to areas for which they are not prepared. In addition, it must be added that the oil industry is moving north, which means that its habitat is being increasingly destroyed.
Despite the fact that since 1973 polar bear hunting has been prohibited except as a subsistence measure, in countries like Russia there is a clear lack of regulation that becomes a fertile ground for poaching to grow.
Causes why the polar bear is in danger of extinction
- Recent studies show that climate change “will continue to seriously endanger the survival of the polar bear in the future,” says Inger Andersen, IUCN Director General. Indeed, the fate of the polar bear is the same as ours, since the advance of climate change threatens to lead it to extinction, and the thawing of the Arctic would also represent a point of no return for humans that would imply an environmental disaster. unprecedented planetarium.
- Other threats to the species are the growing pollution and the exploitation of resources that is also on the rise as a result of the melting of the poles , including oil drilling, whose main problems are oil spills, the deterioration of the ecosystem and greater interaction. between bears and humans.
- Poaching , although it does affect the population of white bears, is not the main threat to the species, called Ursus maritimus , with the populations of North America, eastern Russia (Chukchi area) and Greenland being hunted based on of quotas that worldwide are less than a thousand. They are mostly hunted by the Inuit on American and Canadian soil.
How we can prevent the extinction of the polar bear
If something is clear, it is that the polar bear is not in danger of extinction because it wants to, each and every one of the causes that have led it to that point have the human being as a point of union. And if the human being is the one who has led him to the danger of extinction, only from human action can the white bear be saved .
Obviously, a global change is required at the governmental level, with environmental policies, the strict prohibition of hunting and the prohibition of exploiting oil rigs that are in their natural habitat. But what can we do beyond pressuring governments to act responsibly with our vote? Well, there are a series of measures that we can adopt, not only to prevent the extinction of the polar bear , but to improve the general health of our planet:
- Do not use the car so much.
- Save on electricity.
- Save on gas. Here we leave you the 10 keys to save energy .
- Consume local products.
- Be part of organizations that fight for natural conservation.
At the global level, stopping climate change depends above all on the political will shown by countries when it comes to fulfilling the promises contained in the much-celebrated Paris Agreement , which was reached at the COP21 meeting. Although it is in force, the reality is that it is not a binding contract and the deadlines to act effectively are short and require a forceful reaction in reducing emissions that is not taking place.
On the other hand, the action at the local level necessary to stop the extinction of bears can be summarized in the request made by Greenpeace, so far without success. Although social and institutional awareness is significantly higher, the truth is that the protection of the Arctic remains a pending issue. Let us remember Greenpeace’s campaign for the protection of the Arctic, in particular its increasing pressure on the OSPAR commission, the body in charge of coordinating international cooperation to protect the marine environment of the Northeast Atlantic. Their campaigns are sounded in their annual meetings, in which there have been banners at headquarters, which read phrases such as “OSPAR: protect the Arctic. Here. Now” or, among others, “OSPAR, the Arctic cannot wait” or replicas of polar bears.
Actions to protect the Arctic
The objective is to achieve an action plan to protect the waters of the future Arctic sanctuary, since the Arctic Ocean is the most unprotected on the planet. Specifically, Greenpeace demands that the international waters of the Arctic Ocean be declared a Global Sanctuary to protect them from industrial exploitation.
However, even making progress in this regard, since majority support was achieved in the request to protect the Arctic, it is still insufficient. But on the other hand, currently, the OSPAR Convention is the only legal tool that can protect a part of the Arctic sanctuary, specifically 10 percent. Beyond this small, key but insufficient portion, the arctic protection and, with it, the preservation of polar bears requires a commitment by the Arctic states, as well as the international community for the creation of a sanctuary in international waters around the North Pole.
While we wait for the next OSPAR meeting, having an action plan that protects the Arctic, or at least a part of it, remains a goal to be achieved for humanity. Polar bears will continue to be one of Greenpeace’s main claims for its global campaign in favor of the Arctic, since it is a symbolic animal. Not surprisingly, protecting them is impossible if your home is not protected, and that means safeguarding the Arctic. It depends on us, still.
Find out more about the Arctic with this other AgroCorrn article on the Polar Ecosystem: characteristics, flower and fauna , among which is the polar or white bear.
Conclusions on the future of the polar bear
These conclusions have led to the current classification of the polar bear as a “vulnerable” species on the Red List. At the same time, according to research by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, there is a 71 percent probability that there will be a reduction of more than 30% over three generations.
According to the study, in figures, this means that the current population of about 25,000 specimens would be reduced to 9,000 between 35 and 41 years.
The effects would be disparate, since polar bears live in a series of subpopulations that are not uniformly distributed in the Arctic and, on the other hand, there is very limited data on some of them, especially those located in the Russian Arctic, basically for issues of live capture and tagging for tracking.
Its approximate estimate, as we have pointed out, is around 20,000, although some populations are little known and approximate estimates are made by the Polar Bear Specialist Group, belonging to the IUCN.
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