Polar bears in Churchill in Manitoba, Canada have to be tranquillised then airlifted north in order to access their natural habitat as the snow is returning later and later after the summer months.
A new report, "Impacts of a Warming Arctic: Arctic Climate
Impact Assessment," is the result of four years of work by 300
scientists. And the results aren't pretty. They tell us that the
Arctic is warming far more rapidly than anyone thought, and at
nearly twice the rate as the rest of the world.
For the first time we're hearing projections of an Arctic
without ice not on a timescale of hundreds of years, but within
What's so cool about ice?
The Arctic ice cap chills the planet's atmosphere, regulates the
ocean currents that feed the whales and keeps western Europe warm,
and holds 5 percent of the world's fresh water supply. Should the
Greenland ice sheet melt completely, we can say goodbye to much of
the world as we know it.
Studies estimate that a 7m (23 foot) rise in global sea level
would result from this melt. Cities at sea level, such as Los
Angeles, London and Amsterdam would be inundated. In the US, the
coastlines of Florida and Louisiana would move inland.
A 6m (20 foot) rise would swamp Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa,
and the entire Florida coastline, in addition to parts of Orlando
and other inland areas. Bangladesh would virtually vanish beneath
the waves. The Nile delta would be a memory.
Save the Humans
If the world has a challenge at this moment, it's to save the
polar bears. Because if we can save them, we just might be able to
Polar bears depend entirely on sea-ice to survive. Many are
stranded on land during the summer months, where they await the
return of sea-ice strong enough for them to travel and hunt upon.
But as the sea ice retreats sooner and returns later, the bears are
facing prolonged fasts before the hunts start again.
If this ice free period gets any longer, it will be most
problematic for female bears who need to store enough fat to last
throughout a pregnancy, as indeed it is already in the southern
part of their range. An ever-decreasing feeding season could
seriously damage the bear's reproduction.
the last two decades, Arctic ice cover has retreated 5 percent and
the ice that has left has lost at least 30 percent of its
thickness; and an average of two weeks have been lost from the
bear's hunting season.
During this lost period the bears are reduced to scavenging
through bins in built up areas and are seen as nuisances by local
communities such as Churchill in Manitoba. Here almost every winter
they have to 'arrest' the polar bears and either keep them
contained until the snow comes or airlift them further north so
that they can start their hunt again.
Countries are meeting this December in Argentina, to discuss the
future of the world's only international effort against climate
change, the Kyoto Protocol. Because Russia has ratified it will
become binding international law on 16 February 2005. We have a
message to them: if you want to save London, Los Angeles, and
Amsterdam, save the polar bears. We want industrialized countries
to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases by at least 30
percent by 2020, and 70-80 percent by 2050. We need a clean energy
revolution. The only answer is a huge switch to renewable energy
and investing in energy efficiency - let's hope we don't leave it
too late - for the polar bears, and our children.
Help us save the polar bears! Give to our efforts to stop climate change: Join Greenpeace today.