Polar Bears in the Limelight
For the first time since 1981, the contracting parties to the agreement for the conservation of polar bears are holding an official meeting in Tromsö in the Norwegian Arctic.
The agreement was signed in 1973, when over-hunting was the biggest threat to polar bear survival. These days, the survival of the polar bear species is endangered by the far more complex phenomenon of climate change.
Today, there are between 20- and 25,000 polar bears living around the north pole, in territory belonging to the USA, Russia, Norway, the autonomous Danish island of Greenland, and Canada. These numbers could be reduced by as many as two thirds in the foreseeable future unless the Arctic sea ice can be preserved.
WWF has great polar bear photos and info on their site, including this link, where you can follow the polar bears they are tracking:
Following polar bears with WWF
The IUCN polar bear group has been the main body involved in publicising and protecting polar bears.
IUCN dossier on polar bear as Red List endangered species
Geoff York is WWF’s polar bear coordinator. I called him up to find out how he and WWF view the current status of polar bears and what they expect from this conference. Listen to his views for yourself:
DateMarch 16, 2009 | 12:37 pm
Although I’ve been to the Arctic a few times now, it hasn’t lost any of its excitement. A lot of people find it hard to understand why I want to spend some of the summer in the “frozen North”. Maybe it’s coming from a country like Scotland with its “challenging“ climate that accounts for my attraction to snow and ice. Not that we ever had -40°C there, which is the kind of temperature I sometimes find myself in on “Ice Blog” kind of trips. Mongolia in February is the coldest experience I remember. Travelling in the Arctic in spring and summer is mild, by comparison.
I first visited Spitsbergen in 2007, before the days of the Ice Blog. The climate issue is more worrying than ever, especially given the widespread lack of interest and increase in scepticism amongst the general public since the Copenhagen debacle and the negative publicity given to some of the climate scientists. Then comes the realisation that it will be very difficult to reach a binding agreement of any substantial nature in the next round of UN climate talks.
DateApril 9, 2008 | 2:21 pm