Polar Bear World - The Fight To Protect The Arctic Continues

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The polar bear world is shrinking. Whether from the results of global warming or from intrusion from humans and the search for resources such as oil, the endangered polar bear is becoming a target of our changing environmental and economic pressures.

Because it has been projected that by the middle of this century we will no longer have year-round Arctic sea ice, the polar bear may vanish from the wilderness. Climate change and thinning ice has already shortened, by a few weeks, the time mother polar bears have to feed and build the fat that nourishes them and feeds their young.

Leading scientists believe that the rapid rate of climate change (global warming) underway in the Arctic will produce reverberating outcomes. In addition to expected changes in ocean and atmospheric circulation patterns, impact on the endangered polar bear is likely to be more immediate and can already be observed in a thinning of the weight of polar bears and also in the birth and survival rate of the cubs.

Exceedingly vulnerable to disturbances, oil exploration impacts the endangered polar bear in many ways. For instance, when oil exploration equipment drives too close to the dens, it sends shock waves through the ground as it searches for oil and gas reserves, making the polar bear mother abandon her den and her cubs, disrupting her hunting patterns. Since the cubs do not leave the den until they're 3 months old, when abandoned, they will die.

So far 1 bear has died from consuming a toxic substance, due to the constant release of contaminants from petroleum exploration, production and support activities in active oil fields on Alaska's North Slope. That's 1 bear too many!

While most Americans concur that there isn't adequate oil in the Arctic Refuge to be worth the loss of this place, its people and its wildlife, unfortunately the fight to protect the Arctic carries on in this, the polar bear world.

As more people move to these areas, they will acquire garbage and, naturally, some polar bears will move in too near when hunting for food, and be killed. The polar bear habitat is shrinking. Extinction of these magnificent creatures, so unparalleled in our world, is probably a foregone conclusion.

The combination of pollution moving to the Far North from origins thousands of miles away, along with oil development and global warming, could impact not only the polar bear world but also the entire ecosystem. Thinning sea ice, greenhouse gas emissions, climate change--these factors and more are bearing on the future of this and many additional endangered arctic species. The endangered polar bear is possibly our generation's "canary in the coal mine." Its demise could predict even larger environmental dangers to come. Polar bears are a national treasure, and their survival depends on us!

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