Save the Polar Bears!

Photographer Kerstin Langenberger captures this shockingly emaciated polar bear walking on thin ice.
Photographer Kerstin Langenberger captures this shockingly emaciated polar bear walking on ice.

Polar bears are our furry and friends in the high north. But, what photographer Kerstin Langenberger captured is one bear that leaves us in awe. Why is it that this polar bear has become so thin? Bears need ice to survive and food is unable to be attained in most cases where ice has melted. This photo points out a more serious problem we all should have acknowledged by now: climate change.

Yes, as an environmental science graduate, that is a buzzword that comes up in every class, even ones that are in the humanities. However, it is a buzzword that has so many implications. For one thing, we may lose half of the world species by 2050 including the polar bear. Are you already saddened? There’s much more bad news that is physically incomprehensible because the after effects are to come in several decades to the end of the century. It is imperative we take any action promoting safeguarding the environment.

I say this many times to my friends and family as well as in a few of my posts, but the environment has to be protected and we must do whatever it takes.

When a problem like this is still “small” we should be telling our neighbors and friends:

“Stop consuming too much.”
“Try to not use your car often.”
“Stop using too much water.”
“You can help by spreading the word.”

These may sound overboard, but building a strong community is what we need. We need to work together and cooperate. We may think we are fine, but we are not!

7 thoughts on “Save the Polar Bears!

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    1. Hi, thank you for your comment on this topic.

      Polar bears need ice to hunt their top prey, seals. The reason is they have to take a stealthy waiting approach to catch them. Since bears need to store fat for Summer, they need to have prepared beforehand to store some fat in the Spring. Over time, this will lead to weight loss as the cumulative effect of loss of food worsens the bear’s conditions. For more information, please see http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/the-incredible-shrinking-polar-bear-1651315.html

      Also, this picture appears to be the first one that has gone viral. Now, it may seem like it could just be one bear that happened to be old, but with all the evidence from scientists saying that the polar ice is shrinking and the average weight has decreased over time, it seems more likely the bear has been devoid of food not because of age, but because of loss of intake over time. The thinning process is likely to have been cumulative as mentioned before so it wasn’t something sudden but something that probably caused the bear to not have enough to eat. Moreover, since the Arctic ice has been melting, the average weight has been decreasing as well. I am no expert but I am assuming their fasting cycle and fattening up cycle has been messed up because of the ice melt and the bear just cannot keep up with the situation.

      Also, this may sound weird but if you had a photo of an old person who was thin as well, you would assume he/she could not eat due to financial or health reasons, but most likely not that it was because of only old age. There has to be some reasoning behind it either a disease or something else. Who knows, unless someone investigated the matter closely, the bear could have just had a disease as well, but it is more likely that climate change is showing us just how problematic it can be on the bears.

      I hope to not see more photos like this in the future. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, it does not make sense, as it was a very good ice-winter at Svalbard this year and the reports from the scientists counting polar bears at Svalbard, is praising how fat and healthy the bears are this fall.

        The link you provide is not a source I deem as trustworthy, it is not based on science.

        With old age in polar bears comes loosing of teeth, thus they are not able to break sealskin and get nourishment. Also disease and injury may lead to starving bears. However cause of death can not be concluded without autopsy. That old polar bears are skinny, and die, is not uncommon. Happens every year! Just like with humans πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, it could just be something new to Svalbard that a bear so thin has emerged. However, that bear in Svalbard may point out some new changes in trends that are coming. If bears are healthier, then the photograph shows some deviation from the norm.

        This photo does pose a problem because we may not know the full life history of that bear. Only an autopsy, like you said, would be able to provide a definite conclusion. But, it also means we should be more careful in tracking bear populations. Who knows what else may happen. It could be that the bears in Svalbard are just now experiencing something “different” like the photographed bear.

        Whatever the case, we have to know exactly what is happening to the bears. In general, the bear population is going to decrease because their habitat is ice and that ice is melting elsewhere. If Svalbard is an outlier, it may just be like a “sanctuary” for bears.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Where do you get your information from? Who sais its something new about skinny bears? Starvation is the most common reason for death in the Polar Bears. Have you ever seen a Polar Bear? Do you know where Svalbard is?

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I am just assuming since it is the first photographed emaciated bear to have gone viral on sites such as FaceBook where usually celebrities are the trend. It is weird because people are taking interest in something that should already be common. I have only seen a bear at a zoo and I do not know exactly where Svalbard is. But, I know that less ice = less bears. I learned more about climate change in college and although I haven’t focused specifically on bears, I know that bears need ice but it is difficult to prove that climate change is the cause.

        This is just like the famous hockey stick scandal. Climate is getting out of control but there is no decisive evidence saying increasing CO2 causes climate change.

        It is hard to tell who is correct and who is wrong these days because of politics and scandals. But, I only trust what I have learned and I believe climate change is causing the general bear population to decline and that photographed bear is sending the exact message of climate change.

        It is hard to believe but the trend is based on what scientists say. I am not a scientist, but I believe what scientists like Amstrup say because he is a renowned scientist and interacts frequently with bears.

        Like

      5. Even the photographer herself says this:

        “Langenberger went on to say that although local scientists claim Svalbard’s bear population is stable, she regularly sees skinny or starving females:

        β€œI see the glaciers calving, retreating dozens to hundreds of meters every year. I see the pack ice disappearing in record speed. Yes, I have seen bears in good shape – but I have also seen dead and starving polar bears. Bears walking on the shores, looking for food, bears trying to hunt reindeer, eating birds’ eggs, moss and seaweed. And I realized that the fat bears are nearly exclusively males which stay on the pack ice all year long. The females, on the other hand, which den on land to give birth to their young, are often slim. With the pack ice retreating further and further north every year, they tend to be stuck on land where there’s not much food.” ”

        Yes, starving is the most common reason for death…but the reasoning behind that is because of ice retreating which is due to climate change.

        Why would a bear starve? It cannot obtain food.
        Why cannot a bear obtain food? Something is impeding the bear from doing so.
        What is impeding the bear? Ice, they depend on that ice.

        Moreover, please see this: https://nsidc.org/cryosphere/seaice/environment/mammals_polar_bears.html

        Do you find the NSIDC credible?

        Like

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