According to a recent report, polar bears may soon go extinct if global warming continues at the current flabbergasting rate. And about one third of the furry animals face risk of extinction in no more than ten years, the report also showed.
Study authors said that reducing the rate of climate change may save polar bears on the long run. Other methods of trying to shield them from an ever warming ocean and dwindling food stocks have only short-term effects, researchers explained.
As ice sheets continue to melt, polar bears are forced to retreat inland to find something to eat. While that may be a temporary solution during winter time, in summer months the move is no longer viable.
Loss of sea ice, which the bears use in their hunt for prey, and fewer food sources both inland and out in the sea are two major factors that may force polar bears to soon go extinct. But there are also some other threats including oil rigs, new diseases and trans-Arctic vessels. Yet these factors only pose a “negligible” threat on polar bear populations, study authors wrote in their report.
The hidden enemy, authors claim, are greenhouse emissions. In an attempt to assess their effects on the bears’ habitat loss, scientists employed two models. In the first model, emissions were at the current levels we all experience. The second model tried to simulate Arctic conditions if those emissions were lower and climate change more stable.
The first model showed that at the current pace of sea ice loss and food stock reduction some polar bear populations would soon reach a dramatic decline by 2025. In the second model, the scenario emerged roughly 25 years later.
Yet both models shared the same conclusion – some polar bear populations may soon go extinct. Even though we may reduce harmful gas emissions by that time, populations would still be affected, scientists said,
The US Fish and Wildlife Service has already an action plan in place to help the furry animals escape extinction. The main target is to abate global warming, said local project manager Jennifer Kohout. The plan will also include a better management of the bears’ food stocks, and better ways of preventing conflicts with humans and keeping bears safe from dangerous oil spills.
But the federal agency explained that saving bears cannot be done by one state alone. Other countries should join in the efforts. US Geological Survey recently said that sea ice loss required “global policy solutions” that would need years to be translated into action.
Image Source: Wild Aid