A new study from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) shows that the world’s polar bear population could see a decline by the year 2025 due to the effects of global warming.
According to the Associated Press, via ABC News, the study is part of a draft recovery plan created by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The report concludes that greenhouse gases are the reason behind the vanishing sea ice, with experts predicting that things will get gradually worse for the polar bear population through the year 2100.
Todd Atwood spearheaded the study and serves as research wildlife biologist for the USGS in Alaska. While Atwood didn’t give an exact number, he is predicting that even though the polar bear population will decrease by 2025 or 2030, there will still be some around.
“That’s not to say that we’ll lose polar bears completely out of the area, but we think that they’ll be at a greatly decreased distribution than what they currently are.”
In total, there are between 20,000 and 25,000 polar bears around the world, according to Yahoo! News. The ones that occupy Alaska, Russia, and Norway will likely feel the effects of global warming first. The polar bears in Canada and Greenland are expected to see a decrease starting in the year 2050.
The sea ice is the primary resource for polar bears, which they use for feeding, mating, and giving birth. When summer rolls in, the sea ice diminishes and the polar bears are forced to come to land. But the sea ice levels have continuously dropped over the last eight years, and scientists don’t see any future improvements unless something can be done.
Secretary of State John Kerry weighed in on the climate change issue earlier this year at the Arctic Council meeting in Canada. During that meeting, Kerry said there needs to be a reduction in greenhouse gases, specifically methane and black carbon, that have been big contributors to the warming of the Arctic.
“These pollutants are a threat to everybody.”
In its draft recovery plan, the USGS stated that in order to curb the reduction of polar bears, there needs to be an address on what is causing the sea ice to disappear.
“The single most important step for polar bear conservation is decisive action to address Arctic warming. Short of action that effectively addresses the primary cause of diminishing sea ice, it is unlikely that polar bears will be recovered.”
Earlier this year, the Inquisitr reported that with the reduction of the sea ice, polar bears in Canada have begun to find permanent homes in the High Arctic Islands. While the polar bears may be able to find more food in the new location, it also could mean the species could become extinct if the bears remain isolated.
[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]