23.9.08

Polar Bears Eat Eachother to Survive

I ran across this stunning headline on CNN.com today, "Polar Bears Resort to Cannabalism as Arctic Ice Shrinks." Things are not well in the Arctic. This past summer, Arctic sea ice shrunk to its second lowest level in recorded history, 30% below the normal level. Scientists have seen a steady decrease in sea ice of 10% per decade, but now they fear that rate has actually increased. In a short time, sea ice is expected to completely disappear during the summer months. 


Obviously human beings cannot survive in the Arctic, but the inhabitants of the sea ice ecosystem are suffering terribly from the increased melt rate. "The Arctic sea ice melt is a disaster for the polar bears," according to Kassie Siegel, staff attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity. "They are dependent on the Arctic sea ice for all of their essential behaviors, and as the ice melts and global warming transforms the Arctic, polar bears are starving, drowning, even resorting to cannibalism because they don't have access to their usual food sources."

This extreme behavior by the polar bears is an indication to humans that the conditions in the Arctic are reaching their breaking point. As sea ice melts, it can no longer reflect the sun's radiation. Instead, the darker ocean waters absorb the heat from the sun, causing global temperatures to increase. These changes will result in unusual weather patterns, adjustments in the jet stream and more. 

Back in May, the U.S. Department of the Interior took steps to protect polar bears and their habitat by listing them as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. What actual protection this listing can provide against global climate change is unknown. Its important to remember that Gov. Sarah Palin opposed the listing of the polar bears because she felt the listing would interfere with the oil and gas industry's operations in Alaska. She also believes global warming is a myth. 

To read the full CNN story on the polar bears and Arctic Sea ice, click HERE

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