Polar bears are under threat. Photo by Hans Jurgen Mager on unsplash

By Seneca Oehrle, age 12 and IndyKids Staff

A study published in July on Nature.com found that almost all polar bear subpopulations are facing major habitat loss. Human contribution to global warming has led to declining levels of summer sea ice. This forces polar bears, who depend on the ice, onto land and further away from their food sources.

The big snowy bears are different from most other animals. There are roughly 40,000 polar bears left in the world. Most polar bears live in the Arctic Circle and North Pole, but can also be found in Canada, Alaska, Russia and Greenland. They are able to swim up to 100 miles in search of food and land. Underneath their iconic reflective fur, their skin is actually black to help them absorb heat, keeping their bodies at 98 degrees Fahrenheit.

Polar bears usually store fat and conserve energy for long periods of time. However, because of their melting habitats, they are forced away from their food sources for even longer, according to National Geographic. With starvation, polar bears have less energy, making it hard for them to hunt, and even harder for mothers to raise their cubs. Recent data shows only one subpopulation is calculated to still be safe if nothing changes by 2100.

Global warming is a worldwide problem, but we can each do a little to help out. The best way to make a difference is to try to use less energy and create less waste each day. Presidential candidate Joe Biden announced that if he was elected, he would support a plan that would decarbonize the United States power grid by 2035, according to The Hill. This, along with the creation of a climate change agency, could ultimately save many of these amazing creatures from extinction.

 

Glossary

Subpopulation: A specific portion or part of a larger population