As we get ready to head to Svalbard, where polar bears outnumber people, we are preparing by studying up on polar bear safety. While I am wishing more than anything that we do have a chance to observe these Kings of the Arctic in the wild, I am also keenly aware that the polar bear is the world’s largest land carnivore and can be extremely dangerous.
Occasionally, encounters with polar bears are deadly – for the people, or the bear, or both. Scientists expect human-polar bear encounters to increase as the sea ice continues to melt and hungry bears are driven ashore. Climate change is expected to cause serious problems for polar bears. It is predicted that ice cover surrounding the North Pole will disappear in summer this century and that the period each winter in which new ice forms – the ice that covers the fjords and areas around the islands that provide polar bears with their prime hunting ground – will get shorter.
So what can we do? February 27th is International Polar Bear Day. Did you know that by turning down your thermostat just two degrees, you can help reduce carbon emissions and save polar bears? “Reducing our carbon footprint can slow and even reverse climate change, which causes sea ice to melt,” says Kathryn Foat, vice president of conservation and stewardship strategies at Polar Bears International (PBI). “Polar bears rely on the sea ice for reaching their prey. By taking part in this initiative, we can each show our commitment to a healthier planet.”
PBI scientists have put together a list of the most impactful actions that you can take on International Polar Bear and everyday to help reduce your carbon footprint and help save the sea ice and polar bears.
Also consider adopting a polar bear! You symbolic adoption helps support the conservation of these Kings of the Arctic.
So I challenge you to help by turning down your thermostat two degrees tomorrow. Bundle up in your favorite winter sweater or snuggle up with a loved one to keep warm. If you participate, leave us a comment or even share your “bundle up” photos on our Facebook page!