Scientists from the USA and Canada shared the alarming news – after about a hundred years, bears may completely disappear from the face of our planet. The blame for everything, as always, is human activity. Readers of our site already know better than anyone else that due to the abundance of greenhouse gases from cars and factories, the air temperature on our planet is rapidly increasing. The consequences of the coming global warming are especially pronounced in the cold regions of our planet, which are covered with permafrost. Because of the warmth, the ice is actively melting, as a result of which polar bears and other animals literally lose their habitats. However, clubfoot predators also remain without a food source – they usually swim on ice floes and attack fleshy seals. Over time, there may simply be no ice floes left in the Arctic and the bears will be forced to starve. According to the researchers, their complete death will not be long in coming.
Where do polar bears live?
The alarming results of a study conducted by American and Canadian scientists were published in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change. According to the researchers, polar bears (Ursus maritimus) live only in the Arctic, and, depending on their location, their population can be divided into 19 groups. In the summer seasons, many of the regions inhabited by bears begin to melt and predators cannot hunt seals. Therefore, for several months, they have to survive, extracting energy exclusively from their fat reserves.
Fats are sources of energy
After all, it is thanks to fats that brown bears living in less extreme conditions hibernate for several months and do not die of hunger. The fact is that fats can be considered “stored energy” – in the absence of other sources, they begin to be processed by pure energy force. And this only happens when carbohydrate stores are depleted because they are processed much faster than fat. The body of polar bears works in the same way, only long starvation provoked by global warming may not survive.
The life of polar bears in the future
To find out how much the ice melting will affect the lives of polar bears from different regions of the Arctic, the researchers recreated the changes in natural conditions inside a computer model. In it, they took into account two important factors:
- number of days with melted ice cover in different regions of the Arctic;
- the amount of fat reserves in males, females, and cubs of polar bears.
According to scientists, with average fat reserves, male polar bears can survive without food for about 200 days. Females without cubs, which need to be fed, will be able to starve for about 255 days without harm to their health. If the females have cubs, the life without food is reduced to 117 days. These indicators can be strongly influenced by the activity of animals – as a rule, during fasting, they try to move less. But, if for some reason the bears have to run, the energy will be wasted very quickly and the duration of their life will be reduced.
If humankind fails to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases released into the air and slow warming, 80% of polar bears could be on the verge of extinction by 2100. The greatest damage will be done to bears living on the Queen Elizabeth Islands, where the ice is melting much more actively than in other regions of the Arctic.
However, even if harmful emissions are reduced, polar bears still risk being on the verge of extinction. The fact is that even under the most favorable circumstances, the population of club-footed predators will still decline. According to their calculations, with the best forecasts, this will happen around 2120. So, the prospects for polar bears are not very good and something needs to be done about it.
It is important to note that even those animals that have been able to adapt to extreme conditions for thousands of years are now on the verge of extinction. For example, could you ever think that such rodents, hamsters, could disappear from the face of our planet? But how can they, as evidenced by the decision of the International Union for Conservation of Nature to add hamsters to the list of protected status CR.