Climate change and polars bears: it may kill them soon.

Climate Change May Kill Off Polar Bears Even Sooner Than We Thought

Climate Change May Kill Off Polar Bears Even Sooner Than We Thought

The Slatest has moved! You can find new stories here.
The Slatest
Your News Companion
July 1 2015 8:44 PM

Climate Change May Kill Off Polar Bears Even Sooner Than We Thought

460189612-one-year-old-polar-bear-nela-plays-with-a-traffic-cone
Polar bears are historically some of zoos' most popular charismatic megafauna. It's not hard to see why!

CHRISTOF STACHE

Polar bears may be even more threatened by climate change than scientists previously realized, according to a new study led by the U.S. Geological Survey. The bears rely on floating sea ice to mate, travel, and hunt. But thanks to climate change, this ice is melting quickly, forcing polar bears onto land, far away from their typical prey—namely, seals. Without seals to eat, many bears starve to death.

If major polluters do not cut their emissions soon, polar bear populations will plummet within the next 25 years or sooner, potentially bringing the bears to the brink of extinction. Bear populations in Alaska, Russia, and Norway could start falling sharply by 2025. Even if polluters do curb emissions, polar bear populations are still expected to drop as more bears starve due to melting sea ice. 

Advertisement

A recent ten–year study found that polar bear populations in Alaska and Canada have declined by nearly half. The United States declared the bears an endangered species in 2008.

Mark Joseph Stern is a writer for Slate. He covers the law and LGBTQ issues.