Polar problems

by December 9, 2019 0 comments

It is certain that climate change forced 60 Polar bears into a Russian village. It will lead to more human-animal conflicts

The small Russian village of Ryrkapiy on the shores of the Arctic Ocean faces enough problems as it is, particularly with bitterly cold winters. But over the past week, it has emerged that over 60 Polar bears have descended on this village, which is home to over 500 people, because their traditional hunting grounds are off the limits. The bears, which usually live in Wrangel Island, move out into the Arctic Ocean on the thick Arctic Sea Ice that forms every year and hunt for seals. But with the frozen sheet melting faster, becoming thinner and taking longer to form, the bears find it impossible to go hunting. Instead, now they go scavenging near human habitations. Thankfully, there are several seal carcasses in the vicinity that have kept them preoccupied. But since last time a Polar bear killed a human in the town in 2011, leaders are taking nothing for granted and have shut shop, cancelling all public functions. The problem with the Arctic Sea ice is a result of rising temperatures, which have heated the world’s oceans. And while this example might be an extreme one, the Polar bear has indeed become the face of the climate change crisis as its habitat has been  particularly impacted by rising temperatures. Certainly, we should be expecting more behavioural aberrations. Rising temperatures and its results — less oxygen in the sea, for example — are already playing havoc with the coral reefs across the world. At the same time, several species that have evolved to be in very specific conditions, are threatened with habitat loss. All thanks to increasing human encroachment and the loss of plant and prey species. While humans might be unconcerned about all this, consider the dramatic decline in honeybees for a second. It’s not the loss of the honey they produce which is the biggest problem but honeybees are the biggest pollinators in the planet. Without them global food supplies could collapse.

Climate change is already responsible for increasing extreme weather phenomena across the world. The raging bushfires that are threatening to consume the suburbs of Sydney, for example, and the floods across East Africa, thousands of miles apart, are manifestations of a shared problem. We have realised that the challenge is a massive one and that we should look towards solving it.  Yet, politicians continue to dig their heads in the sand and not do anything. They are aware that when the crisis finally hits home, they will no longer be on this planet, so why bother? We cannot carry on like this. We have to drive change now if we have to save the human species and the rest of the planet as well.

(Courtesy: The Pioneer)

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