If this picture of an emaciated polar bear doesn’t motivate your students to do something about climate change, then you may be in serious trouble.
The photograph was snapped by Kerstin Langenberger and shared in September 2015 on her Facebook page. Langenberger took the shot in the Arctic Ocean’s Svalbard region.
For years now, scientists and environmentalists
have warned that the polar ice caps are melting and seas are rising as the earth’s temperature goes up. For the bears, this means less ice and the disappearance of their hunting ground. Some speculate that wild polar bears will be extinct by 2050.
Langenberger made the following comment on her Facebook page: “I realised that the fat bears are nearly exclusively males which stay on the pack ice all year long. The females, on the other hand, which den on land to give birth to their young, are often slim. With the pack ice retreating further and further north every year, they tend to be stuck on land where there’s not much food.
“Many times I have seen horribly thin bears, and those were exclusively females – like this one here. A mere skeleton, hurt on her front leg, possibly by a desperate attempt to hunt a walrus while she was stuck on land.”
Langenberger added that she had also seen several dead bears.
The senior director of conservation at Polar Bears International, Geoff York, says such pictures should alarm everyone on the planet. “Loss of sea ice is largest in the Barents Sea region, where the summer ice-free period is now 20 weeks longer than when records began in 1979.”
The environment of the region in 2015 stands in stark contrast to the environment 30 years ago, says York.
“As someone who spent 14 consecutive seasons out on the sea ice, and who has focused on Arctic work for nearly 20 years now, it was rare to see reports of dead bears in the wild in the 1980s and 1990s,” he adds. “During these stable periods of sea ice, if they survived the first few years, adult polar bears were deemed nearly immortal. That seems to be changing in some regions and merits close monitoring.”
Category: Summer 2015