When we hear or read about the disastrous effects of climate change on our environment and our wildlife, it seems distant and abstract, but it quickly becomes real when we see what it does on animals like polar bears.
There is no proof that polar bears are starving to death from climate change, but there is plenty of evidence to suggest that warming is causing sea ice to shrink, and it is their main hunting ground.
According to a 2015 study, the polar bear population in the southern Beaufort Sea had declined by 40% due to loss of sea ice, and another study conducted in 2017 by the US Geological Survey and the The University of Wyoming has shown that bears are also spending more energy walking across a “treadmill” of drifting sea ice caused by warming, so they need more food to compensate.
When photographer Paul Nicklen and filmmakers from conservation group Sea Legacy arrived on Somerset Island—near the larger Baffin Island—in the Canadian Arctic in late summer, they came across a heartbreaking sight: a starving polar bear on its deathbed.
“We stood there crying—filming with tears rolling down our cheeks,” he said.
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My entire @Sea_Legacy team was pushing through their tears and emotions while documenting this dying polar bear. It’s a soul-crushing scene that still haunts me, but I know we need to share both the beautiful and the heartbreaking if we are going to break down the walls of apathy. This is what starvation looks like. The muscles atrophy. No energy. It’s a slow, painful death. When scientists say polar bears will be extinct in the next 100 years, I think of the global population of 25,000 bears dying in this manner. There is no band aid solution. There was no saving this individual bear. People think that we can put platforms in the ocean or we can feed the odd starving bear. The simple truth is this—if the Earth continues to warm, we will lose bears and entire polar ecosystems. This large male bear was not old, and he certainly died within hours or days of this moment. But there are solutions. We must reduce our carbon footprint, eat the right food, stop cutting down our forests, and begin putting the Earth—our home—first. Please join us at @sea_legacy as we search for and implement solutions for the oceans and the animals that rely on them—including us humans. Thank you your support in keeping my @sea_legacy team in the field. With @CristinaMittermeier #turningthetide with @Sea_Legacy #bethechange #nature #naturelovers This video is exclusively managed by Caters News. To license or use in a commercial player please contact [email protected] or call +44 121 616 1100 / +1 646 380 1615”