16 August 2013

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How You Can Help Save The Polar Bear

About a week or so ago, an article appeared in the news and was rapidly shared around other networks and social media. It concerned a 16-year old polar bear found in Svalbard, an Arctic island archipelago. The bear, it seemed, had starved to death, despite being seen in perfect health only a few months before by Norwegian researchers. The prevailing idea was that this bear had been driven far from its native hunting grounds by the loss of sea ice, so finding food had become far more difficult. Unfortunately, its desperate search was unsuccessful. Now this bear was a bit special, being an adult at the peak of its strength, and found by a research team whose photo of its tragic final pose went instantly viral. But as global warming intensifies, so the annual reduction in ice cover at the Arctic worsens every year, meaning the fate of this polar bear will soon be much more common... [...]


About a week or so ago, an article appeared in the news and was rapidly shared around other networks and social media. It concerned a 16-year old polar bear found in Svalbard, an Arctic island archipelago. The bear, it seemed, had starved to death, despite being seen in perfect health only a few months before by Norwegian researchers.

The prevailing idea was that this bear had been driven far from its native hunting grounds by the loss of sea ice, so finding food had become far more difficult. Unfortunately, its desperate search was unsuccessful. Now this bear was a bit special, being an adult at the peak of its strength, and found by a research team whose photo of its tragic final pose went instantly viral. But as global warming intensifies, so the annual reduction in ice cover at the Arctic worsens every year, meaning the fate of this polar bear will soon be much more common.

As their habitats decrease in scope of course, the bears are forced to travel further to hunt food, often bringing them into human populations where to prevent loss of life they have to be either chased off, sedated and moved, or worst-case scenario, killed.

It’s a tragic situation all-round really, this king of the Arctic, an animal recognised around the world, may soon only be found in zoos. As such, the polar bear has now become an iconic symbol of the twin battles to stop climate change, and prevent the exploitation of the Arctic for its underground resources.

If you’d like to get involved in the campaign to save the polar bear, here are the main actions you can take:

Reduce your own emissions. Our dependence on fossil fuels is the primary driver of climate change, and even though your driving a bit less or switching to a green energy supplier won’t make a massive difference in itself, you’ll be joining a huge number of people who do the same, and added together, this could swing the balance.

Campaigning. There are many organisations fighting to save the Arctic and its inhabitants, among them Greenpeace. By donating money, or getting involved in other ways such as direct action, you can have a definite impact on the battle.

Boycotting. As the Arctic ice continues to melt, companies are lining up to exploit its hitherto untapped resources, particularly the oil thought to be found there. Now it’s true our society and economy remains heavily dependent on oil, and can only wean itself off gradually, and its also true that supplies are running low and we need to find more. But the problem is, if a spill happens in such a hostile environment as the Arctic, it may be next to impossible to clean it up. Companies unwilling or unable to display a coherent risk reduction strategy should be pressured to do so before they can begin work.

Write to your MP. Let them know this issue is of concern for you, and ask them to get involved. If they won’t, use your democratic right and come election time campaign for a politician who will.

Spread the word. If it matters to you, it will matter to your friends and family as well. Share information on social media and encourage them to get involved as well.

Travel responsibly. Many companies now offer cruises into the Arctic to observe this pristine environment close-up. There are various reasons, such as Adventure tourism, research trips, wildlife photography - but unfortunately not all operators treat the area with the respect it deserves. If you want to go on Alaska tours, or to other regions of the Arctic, and hopefully learn about the issues in more detail, then travel with a company with solid sustainable credentials.


About Today's Contributor:
Rob is a huge fan of exploring wilderness areas and the natural habitat of the polar bear however, he always tries to travel as responsibly as possible.


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