Polar Bears and Climate Change

Climate change is destroying polar bear habitats. Read on to learn more.

Jul 18, 2023By Alex Guse
polar bears and climate change

Polar bears have long been known as the Arctic's most recognized mammal. They are majestic predators who have a survival ability that is second to none. However, as the years go on and climate change continues warming our planet, the polar bear population and habitat decrease. The amount of sea ice polar bears rely on is continuing to dimmish at a furious pace. If we continue to burn greenhouse gases and perpetuate climate change, the polar bear's best days may be behind us.

What Effect Does Climate Change Have?

Source: New York Times

Climate change has a lasting effect on the entire world, but the Arctic is one of the places it is most visible. The extent of sea ice that has melted in the Arctic is astounding. The number amount of Arctic Sea ice has been declining steadily since 1979. This is an unwelcome statistic for the polar bear.

Polar bears use the sea ice for nearly every aspect of their everyday lives. Polar bears can swim fantastic distances and for multiple hours; however, calories are burned at a much higher rate than when walking. Polar bears use sea ice to travel, hunt, find mates, and even relax.

Without sea ice, the bears will have to find a way to adapt, and fast. This could lead to the end of many arctic bears.

The continental shelf is a hot spot for bear populations to meet mates and hunt. The ice on the shelf is melting, and some scientists predict that in the near future, we may have a summer where there is no ice on the continental shelf or in the Arctic period.

Temperatures are also a factor in climate change. The warmer temperatures mean the ice is thinner, which can lead to bears falling through the ice or paths that were frozen over to be filled with flowing water.

The conservation of the polar bear's habitat is vital for its survival.

How Does Climate Change Affect the Bears Themselves?

Source: CNN

Habitat loss is the most crucial effect on the polar bear, but there are also some physical and mental aspects that the bear faces.

When there is less sea ice, the polar bear has to find ways to adapt. One of those ways is instead of hunting in water, they have taken to foraging on land. This could be a gateway to seeing more polar bears in human communities.

We all know when large predators enter human establishments, they tend to get killed.

Another type of adaptation polar bears exhibit is swimming longer distances for food. This doesn’t seem like a big deal until you realize they are swimming into uncharted waters they do not really know and have no idea if there will be sea ice to rest on.

A true gamble for survival.

Polar bears do not hibernate but give birth in the middle of winter and house themselves in maternity dens. With the winter becoming shorter, this can change the time polar bears are used to mating and, in some cases, throw off the entire reproductive process.

One of the world's most recognized animals is being put through the wringer by climate change.

What are We Doing to Help?

Source: The Guardian

Climate change deniers are in all avenues of life. So, using it as a jumping point for saving a species is challenging.

The World Wildlife Foundation is one organization that has recognized what is going on and is making strides to help. The WWF and other protection agencies gather funds and help protect the polar bear.

Bringing awareness to the subject has also been a hot topic as of late. Many media outlets have taken to the story of the lonely polar bear on a melting iceberg and ran with it. While they may not uncover all the facts, they are bringing awareness to the situation, which is critically helpful. The more people know, the more people will do something about it.

One thing that individuals can do is to learn about and support alternative energy. Knowing local policies and voting on energy consumption bills will help battle climate change both in your area and in the Arctic.

What Does the Future Look Like for Polar Bears?

Source: Washington Post

If we remain at the pace we are now, the future for polar bears looks incredibly bleak. A group of researchers states that if we continue at the current rate, 30% of the polar bear population will be gone by 2050, with very few polar bears left by 2100.

As we constantly lose sea ice yearly, we will continue to lose polar bears. It is as simple as that. The polar bears themselves will have to try to find ways to adapt, even if that is going through human garbage.

There is no stopping climate change unless we all do something about it; if we do not, we will lose one of the most recognized, dangerous, beloved creatures of the animal kingdom.

Alex Guse
By Alex Guse

Alex is the proud owner of Chester the puggle (beagle pug mix); his first dog was Zion, an Australian shepherd, which translated into a love for animals at an early age. He has since owned many pets, from dogs to reptiles and everything in between. His true passion for animals comes from being an outdoorsman. He finds that nature is where knowledge and respect for wildlife are paramount!