1/3 of the polar bear population could be wiped out within the next decade...
Still doubt climate change? Well, you can’t deny statistics, or the impact humans’ unsustainable habits have had on the planet. Unfortunately, it may now be too late for certain species. In a recent report issued by the US government, it was revealed that the polar bear population may decline by a third by the year 2025 due to human-caused threats such as greenhouse gases.
On Wednesday (July 1, 2015), the US Geological Survey announced that projections discerning the effect of pollution on the polar bear population are less than optimistic. As the current state of the planet is enabling rapid melting of sea ice, an element vital to the animals’ survival, it is likely that 1/3 of the polar bear population could be wiped out within the next decade.
Already an endangered species, there are currently only 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears left in the world. For this reason, they were put under the protection of the federal Endangered Species Act in 2008.
Scientists who adamantly believe climate change is related to global warming have been predicting a massive decline in this species’ numbers for years. The main problem is that global warming is quickly melting floating sea ice, a platform that the polar bears use as a tool when hunting for fish or seals. Ice is also essential for the polar bear for mating and traveling great distances without expending large amounts of energy or wasting time.
Shockingly, the most alarming part of the report is not that the polar bear population will decrease by a third within the next decade, but that the population will continue to decline throughout the next century. Experts looked at the projections that went as far as way 2100 and still could not see any kind of rebound in the polar bear population.
The biologists from the US Geological Survey came to these conclusions by using an updated model predicting how the levels of green house gases will evolve in the next decade if the current situation is not resolved.
Two possible scenarios caught the attention of the biologists: how the polar bear population would fare if greenhouse gas emissions stayed as they are right now (without progressing any further), and how the polar bear population would fair if greenhouse gas emissions kept continuing to increase.
What they concluded is that even if the levels of greenhouse gas were to stabilize, the arctic animals would still be highly affected by the damage that’s already been done. And both of the above-mentioned scenarios revealed that the polar bears living in Norway, Russia, and Alaska would all begin to lose members somewhere between the years of 2025 and 2030.
“Substantial sea ice loss and expected declines in the availability of marine prey that polar bears eat are the most important specific reasons for the increasingly worse outlook for polar bear populations,” said Todd Atwood, lead author and USGS research biologist from Alaska.
On a positive note, the lead author did conclude that the species would most likely not go extinct, but their numbers will decrease drastically.
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