The arctic region is home to some of the world’s most majestic wildlife, but it has also suffered disproportionately at the hands of climate change. The melting of the polar ice caps and rise in temperatures has already caused extensive changes to the ecosystems. The habitats on which many species in this region depend and the extent of these effects is expected to continue rising. As one of the most important charitable causes needing attention today, arctic wildlife, ecosystems, and natural resources are under imminent threat due to climate change need your help, and fast.
The specific threat of climate change to the survival of arctic Polar Bears is particularly devastating. Increases in temperatures have caused the span of arctic sea ice to shrink rapidly, with January 2011 and Winter 2011 showing the lowest levels yet recorded for those parts of the year, and second-lowest levels overall for the year 2011. For a polar bear, living without sea ice means going without food, being unable to hunt or find places to raise offspring, especially in the southernmost parts of the polar bears’ natural habitat, where summer sea ice is practically non-existent. More hazardous and grueling swimming conditions are also a byproduct of this global thaw, as the journey to hunt on nearby sea ice masses, which are continuing to break apart and drift further away as the ice melts, has become more and more physically dangerous. The Polar Bear’s seal hunting season has been cut by a full twenty days over the past twenty years, and the ability of polar bears to sustain themselves through the summer has been greatly weakened. As a result, reproduction rates have dropped, and average body weight has decreased by 15%. Scientists estimate that if current trends continue, two thirds of the arctic Polar Bear population will be gone by the year 2050. [National Wildlife Federation, nwf.org]
The big picture: climate change has wielded wide-ranging, damaging effects on arctic ecosystems. Fish that have adapted to live only in cold water environments, such as salmon and trout, are declining due to warmer water temperatures. Warmer winters have caused many species to suffer a scarcity of food sources, as plant, insect, and small animal populations boom earlier, if at all, while species that store food in bulk to make it through the winter have suffered increasingly spoiled stashes. And since birds, fish, and the polar bears will not be alone in suffering the catastrophic effects of climate change, here are a few good causes you can give to as a way to contribute to a healthier, more sustainable planet.
Every year, Climate Ride hosts a 300-mile, sponsored bike ride from New York to DC. This year’s Climate Ride will take place from May 19-23. Space is limited, so people interested in participating should sign up fast.
Run for the Wild
Hosted by the Wildlife Conservation Society, Run for the Wild will occur on April 28 this year at the Bronx Zoo. Runners/volunteers must raise at least $30 from sponsorship. The WCS supports global conservation work internationally, while also promoting nature education and conservation policies locally in New York City through parks, including the Bronx Zoo, the New York Aquarium, the Central Park Zoo, the Prospect Park Zoo, and the Queens Zoo.
Climate Week NYC 2012
New York City hosts an annual gathering, bringing together some of the best sustainability efforts and environmentally responsible initiatives. The success of Climate Week NYC 2011 this past fall sets a promising precedent for 2012 events.
Fighting Global Warming
Here are a few non-profit organizations who are fighting against global warming. Get involved today --this issue can't wait.
Global Cool Foundation
Stop Global Warming
National Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC)
National Wildlife Federation (NWF)
Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)