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Global warming driving polar bears to extinction


04 May 2006, Polar bears are set to become one of the most notable casualties of global warming unless drastic action is taken, says WWF.

The impact of climate change is increasingly felt in polar regions, where summer sea ice is expected to decrease by 50–100 per cent over the next 50–100 years. Dependent upon arctic sea ice for hunting seals and highly specialized for life in the Arctic’s marine environment, polar bears are predicted to suffer more than a 30 per cent population decline in the next 45 years.

According to IUCN’s recently released Red List of Threatened Species, the polar bear is listed as a “vulnerable” species that is threatened with extinction.

“Knowing that over our lifetimes we sat there while the polar bears became extinct is really quite an immoral legacy to leave for future generations,” said Dr Peter Ewins, WWF-Canada’s director of species conservation.

According to a recent WWF study, a quarter of the world’s species will be on their way to extinction by 2050 as a result of accelerating climatic changes directly linked to human use of fossil fuels. The latest findings indicate that the Earth is warming faster than at any time in the last 10,000 years and climate change in the Arctic, where polar bears live, is expected to be among the greatest of any region on Earth.

“Climate change represents one of the most pervasive threats to our planet’s biodiversity,” said Julia Langer, WWF-Canada’s director of global threats.

“Climate change is happening now and greenhouse gas emissions are the main culprit,” said added.

“Cutting existing climate change programmes in Canada while claiming that the country cannot meet its Kyoto targets is disingenuous at worst, and a self-fulfilling prophecy at best. Canada must do its duty to help avoid the dangers of climate change.”


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