Polar Bears Inch Toward Extinction As Summers Lengthen

A study published this week on polar bears (Ursus maritimus) suggests that these mammals are not ready for global warming. While it would seem that the polar bear is well adapted to seasonal ice melt, it is not prepared for ever-lengthening periods of summer, a time in which food is short in polar regions of our planet earth. If our planet continues to warm the way it has been over the past few decades, the polar bear won't be around for long.

The researchers behind the study published this week in the journal Science suggest that these "ice" bears do not function as well as warm-weather bears closer to the equator. Brown bears and black bears, for instance, are able to minimize energy loss by hibernating through the winter months.

Polar bears don't really employ the same strategy when summer comes. They do well in the winter – their bodies are made to live in harsh polar climates.

In the summer – the ever-lengthening summer – these researchers report "gradual, moderate declines in activity and body temperature of both shore and ice bears in summer, resembling energy expenditures typical of fasting, nonhibernating mammals."

Polar bears are very gradually dying.

While the study does not give a timeline for the end of the polar bear species, they do heavily imply the notion that they won't be around forever. If we continue to bring up the temperature of the planet with pollution, of course.

You can learn more about this subject in the paper "Summer declines in activity and body temperature offer polar bears limited energy savings" by authors J.P. Whiteman, H.J. Harlow, G.M. Durner, R. Anderson-Sprecher, S.E. Albeke, E.V. Regehr, S.C. Amstrup, and M. Ben-David in research journal Science under code DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa8623.

Above comic via Mike Thompson