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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Day 303: Where Does A Polar Bear Live When There Is No Ice?

http://edition.cnn.com/2013/02/20/opinion/sutter-polar-bears/index.html?hpt=hp_c3

Here's a seriously depressing question:
If a polar bear no longer has ice to stand on and must have his "bear kibble" (that's a real term; more on it soon) airlifted to the Arctic by helicopter, is he still a polar bear? Or is he some sort of zoo-like experiment -- a sad but perhaps unavoidable consequence of an era of melting ice and warming climates?
I posed a less-wordy version of that question to Andrew Derocher, a biologist and polar bear expert at the University of Alberta. He recently published a paper outlining several emergency actions that likely will have to be taken soon to save the Arctic bears.
Among Derocher's scenarios is using helicopters to airdrop food on polar bears as their icy habitat continues to melt -- at a cost of $32,000 per day for the "most accessible" bears. (The hope is that such interventions would last days per year, not months).
"It's a lot better to have some animals in the wild even if they are being supplemented in their food. If we were basically the sole food source for these animals, then we're going to have some very serious issues. Then it won't really be a polar bear anymore," Derocher said on the phone. "It will be a semi-wild, semi-captive, free-ranging carnivore. And it probably wouldn't do that well even if the ice started to come back" since the bear would become so dependent on the airlifted food that he may forget how to hunt.
(Sigh). It's really come to this.
Derocher's paper, which appeared in the journal Conservation Letters, has been getting lots of attention because it outlines several last-ditch ideas for saving the polar bears, including feeding them bear chow, which, as one commercial website describes it, contains "ground corn, porcine meat meal, fish meal (menhaden), dehulled soybean meal, corn gluten meal, ground soybean hulls, porcine animal fat preserved with BHA, dried beet pulp, soybean oil, taurine, salt" and a bunch of stuff I can't pronounce. It's packaged sort of like cat food.
His other ideas: Moving the bears northward, where the ice is less likely to melt; euthanizing some of the bears, which he writes "may be the most humane option for individual bears in very poor condition that are unlikely to survive"; and moving some of the polar bears to zoos.
None of those options is easy to stomach -- and not just because of the "porcine meat meal." Derocher knows that. He doesn't want to have to feed the polar bears, much less euthanize them. After 30 years of researching the Arctic bears, he's just being realistic.
As the planet warms, thanks to our gas-guzzling cars and power-producing factories, the polar bear's frozen habitat is disappearing. Arctic sea ice has been declining at a rate of 13% per decade since 1979, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Many scientists expect summer sea ice to disappear in a matter of decades. Polar bears live and hunt from sea ice. If it's gone, they can't catch seals, which tend to stay far from land. And if the bears can't catch seals, they can't survive. There's no other way around it.
Unless, maybe, you airdrop some food on them. - CNN

I wrote a blog a little while ago about how the natural habitats in South Africa are being destroyed to make way for farmland. The melting ice is no different, only that this consequence is more of a by-product rather than a direct result of our war mongering ways. When I say war mongering, I am including the raping and pillaging of the Earth.

When you are next in a city street during business hours, take a look around you. You will see hundreds of cars, buildings, signposts, robots, stores, items of clothing and jewelry and all sorts of gadgets. How much of what we see in a day was once within the bowels of the Earth? How much of what we see was stripped from it's place of origin, with only thoughts of profit? How much of what we see is now a part of our lifestyle at the cost of another's freedom, choice and life?

"It's sad", we think. Yes it is. It is sad that the rhino is now racing toward extinction, along with countless other species as yet unknown. It is sad that, even though we have included these causes in our lives and thoughts, there is no change happening for these beings. It is sad that we a\know and have seen the horrors inflicted upon others, but will forget as soon as some new trinket catches our attention and then not think on it again. It is sad that our first thought in the morning and last thought at night is all about "me and my concerns". It is sad that the children of today cannot even fathom thinking of anything but themselves.

I don't know how many more ways this can be said: we are destroying and abusing the gift of life and it must stop. At this point it really doesn't matter how it stops, as long as it does. I feel like a broken record, looping the same words over and over. One day we will look back on this time, if we still exist, and curse our stubborn stupidity.

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