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HOW MANKIND'S "MISTAKES" THREATEN POLAR BEAR SURVIVAL Author: Tanya Bunge It started with unrestricted hunting and progressed from there. Now, polar bears are facing extinction.Global warming and pollution have reached the stage where polar bears could become extinct by 2100. It is already estimated that there are only 22 000 - 31 000 polar bears left in the world, although it was only late in 2008 that polar bears officially made the U.S. endangered species list.
This is partly due to the pesticides and excessive heavy metals contained in the blubber of the seals they consume, which can cause miscarriage, low birth weight and weakened immune systems in the bears. At this point, even the food they are eating to survive is damaging them.
The other huge threat is the decline of the Arctic ice fields due to climate change. Polar bears depend on the ice to travel long distances, hunt, rest, mate and give birth. Mother bears dig in the sea ice to make maternity dens for their cubs, and the bears hunt for seals by waiting patiently next to gaps in the ice for their prey to pop up. These "new age disasters" are caused by man's lack of care for the planet. Awareness is the best way to combat these problems. People need to change their habits and behaviour to try and remedy the situation and to reduce things like plastic pollution.
During the last decade, high concentrations of plastics and microplastics have been found all over the Arctic, including in the sea ice and deep-sea sediments. Even the beaches are "decorated" with trash, and you can see bears pawing through the rubbish in search of food.
Their hunger has become so overwhelming that at the beginning of this year, a group of 56 polar bears wandered into the Northern Russian town of Ryrkaypiy to eat garbage, searching for food anywhere they could find it. Bears have been known to wander into towns and villages before but never in a group this size. The problem is reaching epic proportions.
However, there are ways that we can help to reduce the impact of global warming and plastic pollution. These are some of the ways you can help the situation by changing your habits: Ways you can help to reduce plastic pollution:
Stop using disposable plastics – take your own reusable bag to the store, and purchase a reusable straw and a travel mug. Be aware of the nature of the containers you purchase takeaways in and go for the biodegradable options instead.
Stay away from microbeads – They may seem harmless, but their tiny size allows them to slip through water-treatment plants and look like food to many marine animals. Buy beauty products without microbeads and instead use natural exfoliants like salt or oatmeal.
Buy second-hand – new gadgets come with a lot of packaging. Shop around the thrift stores and save money by purchasing used items where excessive packaging is unnecessary.
Ways you can help to combat global warming:
Turn off electronic gadgets – simply switching off your T.V. and computer, among other things, reduces carbon dioxide emissions.
Plant a tree – one tree absorbs over a ton of carbon dioxide during its lifetime.
Adjust your thermostat – a slight difference of two degrees down in winter and two degrees up in summer can save 2000 pounds of carbon dioxide per annum.
Climate change, plastic pollution, pesticides and reduced natural habitat are all problems that affect our planet and the creatures living on it. Sadly, all these problems are caused by Man, and we are the biggest threat to life on Earth. Therefore, it stands to reason that it is up to Man to do something to counteract these threats. Simply creating awareness will go a long way toward helping the plight of polar bears and other endangered species. Please share this article with your friends and family. Let's work together to save our world.
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Xtinct Magazine is a global collaboration of people dedicating their lives to saving the planet from extinction.