Global Warming and the Polar bear
It was realized that in 1988 that mankind was transforming the atmosphere of our planet (Pearce, 1). Global Warming is a big concern to scientists aside from pollution and is certainly under way. According to the National Academy of Sciences, the Earth's surface temperature has risen by about 1 degree Fahrenheit in the past century, with accelerated warming during the past two decades. Global warming has risen within the last 50 years because of the result of humans activities. These activities have distorted the chemical composition of the atmosphere through the buildup of greenhouse gases – primarily carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide (EPA, The Climate). What is the cause of global warming and if it serious what is being done to end it. What will be the effects on earth if global warming continues, and last but not least what is occurring around us at this very moment from global warming? Many of these questions are being asked by scientist and are being researched to find more plausible answers and predictions for us.
Global warming is found to be caused by the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect has been described, by the US Vice President Al Gore, as the potentially most dangerous environmental problem facing mankind, with consequences second only to nuclear war (CS, What is the Greenhouse Effect?). The Green house effect is the process in which gases build up thermal energy in the atmosphere by absorbing infrared radiation (NS, p625). This process is naturally occurring, it has kept the earth warm enough for the humans to keep living. The earth is about 60% warmer than it would be without the greenhouse effect. If greenhouse gasses were not present it would make the earth’s temperature much cooler because fewer rays would be absorbed. If there is an effect when there are no greenhouse gasses present, there is an effect if there are too many present as well. When too many rays absorbed it causes the earth to warm up leading to global warming. The current problem with the green house effect is that the process has been even more improved. Technology has played a great role over the past 200 years, it has increased emissions of greenhouse gases over the past 200 years. Examples of this would be factories, automobiles, the burning of fossil fuels, cutting down forests and pilling garbage in dumps. Between now and before there were industries, there has been a rise of 30% concentration of carbon dioxide in some regions. These human practices have already changed the chemical make up of the atmosphere. With so many different gasses in the atmosphere, it is starting to have an impact on the weather. Humans are the leading cause for this phenomenon and our behavior is leading to many problems that are affecting the environment in which we live. If this is what is said could be causing global warming then what is there for the human race to expect in the future?
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Scientist are trying to discover how the changes in the atmosphere will affect the weather. Warming has occurred in both the northern and southern hemispheres, and over the oceans. Confirmation of 20th-century global warming is further substantiated by melting glaciers, decreased snow cover in the northern hemisphere and even warming below ground (EPA, uncertainties). Rising global temperatures are expected to have a big impact on our planet. There will be a change in local climate conditions. Changing regional climate could alter forests, crop yields, and water supplies. It could also affect human health, animals, and many types of ecosystems. Mosquitoes are a major carrier of tropical diseases who will play a great role in our health. They are commonly known for carrying malaria, cholera, and dengue fever. Malaria outbreaks are usually confined to “where the minimum winter temperature reaches no lower than 16 [degrees Celsius],” according to the World Wide Fund for Nature, an independent organization (WWF, Climate Change). They are attributing this to increased temperatures from global warming. Increasing greenhouse gases might interact with melting Arctic sea ice, reducing, or even exacerbating, any changes in rainfall. A scientist named Sewal says the study "highlights the importance of regional changes associated with a distant location". Even though the changes in sea ice between Norway and Greenland were relatively small, they were enough to have a significant impact across the globe. Scientists currently are unable to determine which parts will become wetter or drier, there has been already some climate change in some regions though. British Columbia is already started to see them now. Currently, the West Coast forest industry is facing a huge challenge because of a widespread infestation of the mountain pine beetle. Beetle infestations are normally wiped out by cold winter weather but warmer winters in recent years have enabled the infestation to grow into an epidemic. BC's resource industries, including agriculture and tourism, will be significantly impacted by climate change. (Suzuki David, Impacts of Global Warming in BC).
Global Warming has had a great impact on the polar bears as well. To have a better understanding of how it is having an impact on them we need to understand the polar bear’s ecological niche. Polar bears are known to be the biggest carnivore on land. Polar bears have lots of fur on their body and on their feet, that act as snowshoes. Their creamy-white fur is dense and water-repellent, enabling them to shake dry after swimming. Polar bears have many adaptations that help them survive. They have long curved claws that are sharp to help them cling to the ice. They also have blubber under their skin which insulates them from the cold weather. You will find Polar bears in Polar Regions, these regions include Russia, Norway, Greenland, the United States and Canada. Most of their time is spent near artic ice floes and when they are on shore they remain near the water. Polar bears feed mainly on ringed seals and bearded seals, depending on their location, they also eat harp and hooded seals and scavenge on carcasses of beluga whales, walruses, narwhals, and bowhead whales. What is the Polar bear’s biotic potential, what is the status of the polar bears and why does it hold that status?
First of all, Biotic Potential is the maximum number of offspring that a species could produce, if resources were limited. Biotic Potential is regulated by four important factors, birth potential, capacity for survival, procreation, and length of reproductive life (NS, p 77).The birth potential of polar bears is 1-3 cubs per birth and on very rare occasions they give birth to 4 cubs. One to two polar bears will reach reproductive age. Polar bears mate between March and June once a year and give birth between the months of November to January. Their length of reproductive life is 25 years of age. Abitoic factors that prevent their population from attaining their biotic potential are as followed: weather, unfavorable chemical environment and the amount of light. The biotic factors are as followed: insufficient food, high effectiveness of predators and many strong diseases and parasites (NS, p. 78). Polar bear are potentially threatened species living. The polar bear is likely to become endangered if factors that make it vulnerable are not reversed. What are these factors and what can be done to help them?
The main threats to the Polar Bears’ survival are of environmental nature. According to a study by scientists form the Canadian Wildlife Service the climate is threatening polar bears with starvation by shortening their hunting season. Due to Global warming, the ice masses are shrinking and are affecting the polar bears hunting ground. The ice is breaking up earlier and earlier, therefore the polar bears have less time to hunt for food. It was found that the weight of both the male and female polar bear have declined and the number of cubs have declined as well. If global warming is continuing on this path it is said that the artic ice cap will have completely disappeared by the year 2080. The ice caps melting will cause a big problem for the polar bears and their cubs. It will eventually drive the polar bears to go on land and compete with the brown bears. When worst comes to worst the polar bears will be forced to swim larger bodies of water to obtain their food. This will then affect their sex drive and their ability to reproduce.
Dealing with Climate change is not as easy as it seems to be or sound. To have a healthy earth protected from the effects of climate change, we must have a dramatic reduction of emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. In order for this to be achieved there has to be a change in the way the global economy works. There has to be a shift of uncontrolled fossil fuel use to search for more efficient and renewable sources of energy. Across Canada, , , , , and are taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and raise awareness and understanding of the importance of such actions. (GC, What is Canada Doing?). The government of Canada has a plan for reducing greenhouse gas emission through the Action Plan 2000 on Climate change. The initiative is called the Federal House in Order. The Action Plan 2000 has a federal commitment of $500 million over the 5 years. The companies are working to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from their operations. As the country's largest single enterprise, the Government of Canada is leading by example and getting its own "". There is only one way to stop global warming before it becomes even more serious. Global warming will continue until it reaches its peak unless there is a stop to emitting greenhouse gasses into our environment. Only then will the environmental crisis be solved.