Which species are close to becoming endangered?
Updated: Jan 19, 2018
National Geographic | Polar bears have long been unwitting mascots for the effects of climate change. As animals that live only in Arctic regions, they're often the first to feel the impacts of warming temperatures and rising seas.
By telling the story of one polar bear, Nat Geo photographer Paul Nicklen and filmmakers from conservation group Sea Legacy hopes to convey a larger message about how a warming climate has deadly consequences.
"When scientists say bears are going extinct, I want people to realize what it looks like. Bears are going to starve to death," - Paul Nicklen
In 2002, a World Wildlife Fund report predicted that climate change could eventually lead to polar bear endangerment or extinction. Even then, the report found that polar bears were moving from ice to land earlier and staying on land longer, unhealthily extending the bears' fasting season. By the end of summer, most bears studied by the World Wildlife Fund showed signs of starvation.
Fifteen years later, polar bears' icy hunting grounds are in even worse shape. The National Snow and Ice Data Center, which tracks sea ice cover annually, has regularly noted record lows in sea ice coverage—a decline that is expected to only get worse. (Read more about drastic predictions for dwindling sea ice.)
A study recently published in the journal Biosciences looked at how climate science is often falsely discredited. The study found climate deniers are able to downplay the threat of climate change by discrediting the threat facing polar bears.
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