Will Polar Bears Go Extinct By 2050?

Conservationists have warned that by 2050, two- third of the world’s polar bears will go extinct due to the rapid depletion of the Arctic. Since polar bears are dependent on the sea ice for their survival, the rise in temperature due to climate change is making them vulnerable. Based on estimations made by scientists, approximately 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears live in the northern hemisphere in areas covered with sea ice for longer periods. Sea ice in the southern end of polar bear range in Canada’s Hudson Bay melts during summer.  Due to this change, polar bears are forced to survive on the land with insufficient food until the ice refreezes. If climate change continues to increase the sea temperature, bears in this region will be the first to go extinct.

Polar bears hunt for fatty marine mammals under the sea ice but climate change has resulted in the ice retreats going far from the shoreline due to which they are not able to get sufficient food.  Since the ice is melting steadily, many bears will have to swim for long exhausting hours to reach back areas where there is enough food. Bears not able to swim long distances will remain stranded in areas with less prey and eventually die. According to geologists, polar bears, the largest terrestrial carnivores are able to survive in case of minor environmental variations. However, too many changes will lead to a considerable reduction in their reproduction.

Due to the rise in carbon footprint, the frequency of hurricanes and droughts has increased across the globe. In the last few years, drought related forest fires have also gone up due to which dens of polar bears in dense forests are also getting affected. Many such dens have been dug deep over centuries by generations of polar bears, but once the forest is burnt, these permafrost dens collapse. So, what is to be done to stop polar bear extinction? Experts believe that the survival of this specie depends heavily on human activities. Immediate reduction in greenhouse gas emission is required from companies as well as individuals so that polar bears continue to survive in their natural habitat.