In the middle of November, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) declared that the biggest threat to polar bears is climate change. It predicted that within the next 35-40 years, we can expect to see a 30% drop in their population, if the rate of climate change carries on as expected.
The WWF have already adjusted their extinction risk to 'vulnerable', and they estimate that there are only 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears left in the world. That means to say, that if all humans were polar bears, the amount of polar bears left in the world could all live in the small Cornish town of Newquay in the southwest of England.
Right at the top of the food chain, the job of polar bears is to check the overpopulation of seals. Seals are massively overpopulated, with about 7.4 million individuals currently on Earth.
Their diminishing numbers are all the more surprising because polar bears only have one known predator − humans.
Why are they disappearing?
Polar bears live in the North Pole – The Arctic. The Arctic is arguably being affected by climate change twice as hard as the global average because it is warming twice as quickly.
The ice is melting and that means polar bears have to hunt, feed, sleep and breed in a much shorter period of time. They have to go without food for longer periods of time− making them lose weight – and the amount of energy they have left for survival is significantly diminished.
This all means that the polar bears – or "sea bear", as it is translated in Latin – have to move inland for protection and food. They could wander into populated towns, which they frequently do in Canada.
However, it's also legal to kill polar bears in Canada. If one wanders into town, they are first scared away with firecrackers. If it returns, it is shot dead.
How can we help?
Scientists at Polar Bears International (PBI) have stressed that climate change is their main concern. They come up with a quite extensive checklist for lowering your carbon footprint.
PBI want to educate people on how the melting ice is really affecting polar bears, aside from articles such as this one. So, they have actually tracked 14 polar bears since October 2013, and plotted their movements. Now you can see here how the decreasing amount of ice has actually affected their life.
There is another option, and that is of course to donate. Anything bought from the gift centre at PBI is put directly back into helping the polar bear cause.
And just look at these guys below − who would not want to help?