Polar Bear Populations Are Declining & This Is Why It Matters For Humans

Photo: Paul Goldstein/Exodus/REX Shutterstock.
A report by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature has found that the polar bear population could drop by 30% in the coming decades. Global warming is the biggest threat to polar bears, whose current population stands at 26,000. The report also supports polar bears' status as a vulnerable species on the IUCN Red List.

The retreating ice levels in the Arctic Sea and resulting destruction to the bears' habitat is to blame. Alarmingly, some Arctic areas are projected to be ice-free for up to five months at a time by the middle of the 21st century, causing lengthy fasts for polar bears that will lead to increased reproductive failure and starvation. The increased temperatures can also put their primary prey, ice seals, in danger of disease that, in turn, put polar bears in harm's way.

According to the IUCN, the global polar bear population stands to drop by 30%, to only 8,000, over the next 35 to 40 years. That would greatly impact the entire arctic ecosystem and, as the report puts it, the livelihoods of indigenous peoples in the area.

"Based on the latest, most robust science, this assessment provides evidence that climate change will continue to seriously threaten polar bear survival in the future,” Inger Andersen, IUCN Director General, said in the report. “Climate change impacts go far beyond this iconic species, and present a threat our planet has never faced before. Governments meeting at the climate summit in Paris later this month will need to go all out to strike a deal strong enough to confront this unprecedented challenge.”

Conservation efforts are in place to help protect polar bears, including the Circumpolar Action Plan. That strategy aims to reduce threats like oil spills, pollution, and hunting. Whether or not that will be enough to turn the tide for this beloved species remains to be seen.

More from Global News

The bill lowers the age at which children can receive a prison sentence from 14 to 12, for involvement in “acts of terror,” which are described as “murder...
In case you had gone too long without remembering that women are unreasonably punished for not being amenable and interested in men at all times, here's an...
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may be everyone's favorite woke bae, but there's a tiny royal who was not exactly impressed by him last weekend. ...
I want to continue to support female activists, and hope that by starting with a small, singular task like refusing straws, I can encourage each one of you...
A ruling last month by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stated that Iranian women could not ride bicycles because it "attracts the attention of men and exposes the ...
“It’s a special school for me because I was a student there. But I don’t think I can see a way back there now,” she said
For many refugees, the struggle to survive doesn't end after fleeing war-torn Syria. With the help of 17-year-old Khaldeya, we're taking you straight to ...
(Paid Content) 2016 is shaping up to be the hottest year on record. How many thousands of studies will have to be published before everyone is on board ...
Here's your daily cry: A little boy from New York is inviting a Syrian child his age to come and live with him in safety. “We will give him a family, and ...
Natasha Maimba, 14, and Minahil Sarfraz, 15, do a lot of the same things any teen girls do. Maimba plays the guitar. Sarfraz likes to mug for the camera...
Emma Watson addressed the U.N. General Assembly again Tuesday, delivering a powerful speech calling for the reform of campus sexual assault policies. ...
Michelle Obama appeared at one of Broadway's landmark theaters Monday, taking the stage along with some of the industry's biggest stars. No, FLOTUS isn...
International human rights lawyer Amal Clooney and her client Nadia Murad are teaming up to sue ISIS. Murad, a Yazidi woman who says she prayed for death ...
Kim Kardashian blasted deniers of the Armenian genocide in a full-page ad in Saturday's New York Times. Kardashian has been a passionate advocate for ...