How Climate Change Affects Polar Bears
Hello, my name is Ursula. I am a polar bear. While it is flattering to be the poster “animal” for climate change, it just plain sucks to be a polar bear in this day and age. Don’t get me wrong, as I am very grateful to be alive. But life has gotten so much harder than when I was a cub. I was one of three triplets for goodness sakes! Food and mom’s milk was plentiful, and we cubs had plenty of time to play wrestle. When I give birth now, I am lucky if even one of my cubs survives.
The smell of change is in the air. There used to be a clean and cool scent that permeated the Arctic air. I especially liked it when that smell included the faint whiff of newborn seals! Now I sense restlessness, and the air smells foul, which hampers the scent of my prey.
How can humans doubt that climate change is happening right under their noses…oh wait, humans have a poor sense of smell compared to me, that must be why they don’t get it! In any case, climate change affects my every waking moment when the ice is around. Sea ice melts seasonally, but the ice season is much shorter now due to the environment warming. Sometimes the ice is gone before the newborn seal pups are born. Not good for them, and especially not for my tummy!
I love to swim, which is why I am a marine mammal. While I can swim for hours (up to 61 miles/100km), I would prefer not to! It would be nice to have the ice platforms closer together. Then I can conserve my precious energy hunting the fewer seals left! There are fewer seals not just because the ice is melting earlier in the season, but also because humans are overfishing many of the fish the seals eat.
Also see How Seals are Affected by Climate Change
and How Sea Otters Fight Climate Change
For more on climate change and polar bears, visit National Wildlife Federation