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All but a few populations of polar bears found in the high Arctic could be extinct by 2100 due to the drastic loss of sea ice across their range, according to a study in the Journal Nature Climate Change published Monday. There are 19 distinct subpopulations of polar bears across the Arctic from Alaska to Siberia and all but one face being wiped out due to the loss of sea ice. Without ice, polar bears must survive on land, long distances from their food supplies, causing them to go hungry. Ironically, the Interior Department in its study of the environmental impacts of drilling in the U.S. Arctic found that it would not harm polar bears, which are already forced to build their winter dens and birth their cubs on land instead of ice.
The New York Times reported that the lead author of the study, Peter K. Molnar, a researcher at the University of Toronto Scarborough, painted a grim picture, saying: “There is very little chance that polar bears would persist anywhere in the world, except perhaps in the very high Arctic in one small subpopulation” if globally we remain on the current trajectory for greenhouse-gas emissions. The best estimate is that there are only about 25,000 remaining polar bears in the Arctic. Their main habitat is sea ice, but because of the rapidly increasing warming in the region, the amount of summer ice has declined by roughly 13 percent per decade compared to the 1981-2010 average. The researchers looked at climate models and ice-free days projections and assumed that the warming would continue in the business as usual path. They found that for most polar bear subgroups, because of the loss of sea ice the bears would not be able to find enough food and thus starve.
by Julia Fine, ODP Contributing Writer Due to the impact of the pandemic, poaching has “surged” in Uganda, as Dina Fine Maron reported last week in National Geographic. Using illegal wire snares and steel traps, poachers are able to catch unsuspecting animals such as antelopes, giraffes, and lions. According to National Geographic, “thousands” of these […]
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which is the global authority when it comes to whether a species is at risk of extinction, yesterday added the North Atlantic Right Whale of the eastern U.S. to its list of Critically Endangered species (elevated from Endangered) that are on the brink of extinction. The IUCN also “upgraded” 13 different species of lemurs to the Critically Endangered list along with 20 other lemur species at risk of imminent extinction.
Why This Matters: These species are on the verge of going extinct not because of anything they did, but rather because of us humans.
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