Monday, 9 April 2012

The Polar Bear has become "the canary in the coal mine"

In 2004 a scientific analysis of a rare polar bear fossil indicates that the large, iconic animal of the north evolved in the relatively recent past from common brown bears. The discovery suggests polar bears' ancestors migrated toward the North Pole in response to global warming approximately 150,000 years ago, and adapted quickly to their new Arctic habitat. Could recent climate change once again be forcing this large carnivore to be forced to adapt to different ways of survival?

Dramatic changes, caused by global warming, are taking place in the Arctic that threatens the survival of the Polar Bear. Global warming is melting the polar ice caps, robbing the bears of the ice floes they need to hunt prey. As the sea ice melts, now months faster than in recent history, polar bears are forced ashore to spend longer periods of time in the summer fasting on land.

If the Arctic ice cap continues to melt sooner and form later, polar bears will become too thin to reproduce and if they do not adapt will become extinct by the end of this century if they do now repeat a reversal of the adaption they were once forced to undergo.

The polar bear’s home – the Arctic – is experiencing the effects of global warming more than any other place on the face of the earth. Temperatures in the Arctic are rising at almost twice the rate of that of the rest of the world, and it is threatening to place the entire Arctic ecosystem in jeopardy.

Since 1979 the extent of summer ice has declined by about 30 percent – sea ice that not only provides hunting ground for polar bears, but shelter and transportation for seals, walrus, arctic foxes, and the Inuit people. The underside of the ice also provides a surface for algae that supports cod, char, beluga, and narwhal.

While that may seem insignificant to you sitting in front of your computer in your urban dwelling thousands of miles away from the arctic; consider this! The white sea ice also has a cooling effect on your climate by reflecting light away from Earth’s surface. As the ice melts, global warming advances even more quickly. This residual effect will have dire consequences on our drinking water, local wildlife that the health of you and your family.

The polar bear is now unfortunately the proverbial "canary in the coal mine" of the serious threat global warming poses to wildlife species around the world, unless we take immediate and significant action to reduce global warming pollution.

So, we are headed north, if you have been following my blog you see that four of us are travelling to the arctic circle to raise money to help fight climate change and do what we can to increase awareness of the issue… through photos, interviews, discussions, articles, you will hear our personal impressions… no scientific speak, no ulterior motive… just the findings in laymen terms.

You can follow Kevin Pepper, Ethan Meleg, John E. Marriott and Tim Vollmer. You can interact with us and engage in the conversation while we are in the Arctic Circle. We are planning on leaving in May of 2013 to go on our expedition… and until then we will be discussing the topic on this blog and on twitter.

Thanks for reading…

Kev