If Canada still plans on changing their national emblem to the polar bear, they better do it quick before the bears are gone. Global warming is expected to wipe out two thirds of the world’s polar bear population within the next 20 to 30 years, a leading expert warns. Warmer weather in the Hudson Bay region in Ontario and Manitoba will make the region inhospitable for the bears by the middle of this decade.
“It’s not speculation,” the aforementioned expert, Ian Stirling of the University of Albert, told The Toronto Star. “By the middle of the century, we’re likely to have lost two thirds of the world’s polar bears.”
This is due to the loss of Arctic ice, which the bears use to hunt their preferred meal – the ringed seal. The ice is melting at a 10% per decade rate since 1979, much faster than any scientists had predicted. But polar bears won’t just go quietly into the night – if they aren’t able to hunt for seals, they will search for food elsewhere.
“Large carnivores don’t just lie down under a tree like an Arctic hare and die when they’re starving,” Stirling explains. “They go searching for an alternate food source, and that’s mainly going to be human settlements.”
60% of the world’s 25,000 polar bears live in Canada, making them a true emblem of the country, whether it is officially declared so or not. But are Canadians willing to fight to save their bears?
“They’re a fantastic part of biodiversity of the planet,” Sterling laments. “If Canadians don’t care about what’s happening in the Arctic in general and polar bears in particular, then why should the rest of the world care?”