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Oct 13, 2023

Assignment Question

Polar bears and climate change: What are the five most critical issues or pieces of evidence that you will delve into in your essay? Climate change is changing polar bears diet, changing migration patterns, polar bear cubs most at risk of survival, conflicts with humans as polar bears are forced to move inland, toxic heavy metals into the Arctic Ocean as the ice melts. WHY?



Climate change, driven by anthropogenic activities, has profound and far-reaching impacts on ecosystems and species worldwide. Among those most affected are polar bears, iconic inhabitants of the Arctic region. This paper explores five critical issues related to the impact of climate change on polar bears and their environment, spanning the years 2017 to 2022. These issues are: (1) the alteration of polar bears’ diet due to changing sea ice conditions, (2) shifting migration patterns, (3) increased vulnerability of polar bear cubs to survival challenges, (4) escalating human-wildlife conflicts as polar bears are forced inland, and (5) the introduction of toxic heavy metals into the Arctic Ocean as a result of melting ice. This essay seeks to illuminate the mechanisms and consequences of these issues, providing insights into the urgent need for mitigating climate change for the conservation of polar bears and their unique ecosystem.

Changing Diet Patterns of Polar Bears

Polar bears, as apex predators in the Arctic, have traditionally relied heavily on seals as their primary food source. These seals are primarily hunted on sea ice platforms. However, the impact of climate change is drastically altering this landscape. The receding Arctic sea ice reduces the availability of their primary hunting grounds, forcing polar bears to spend longer periods without access to food. This situation creates a severe challenge for polar bears in meeting their energy requirements and maintaining their health (Smith et al., 2017). The implications of this dietary shift go beyond just hunger. Polar bears that do not obtain sufficient nourishment may face health issues, reduced body condition, and impaired reproductive success. This, in turn, becomes a major concern in polar bear conservation efforts. Ensuring that polar bears have access to an adequate and consistent food supply is vital for the survival of the species.

Shifting Migration Patterns

Climate change continues to have a profound impact on polar bear migration patterns, as the Arctic sea ice undergoes significant transformations. Research conducted by Laforest, Lunn, and Rode in 2019 highlighted the extent of these alterations and their potential consequences. Polar bears are being compelled to change their age-old migration routes, bringing about a host of challenges. As sea ice diminishes, polar bears find it increasingly difficult to locate food resources and suitable mates. Moreover, they must adapt to unfamiliar environments, which can be physically and behaviorally demanding. The shifts in polar bear migration patterns have far-reaching implications not only for the bears themselves but also for the entire Arctic ecosystem.

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