Whatever you are planning for Wednesday, February 27, there is one thing you should do in honor of it being International Polar Bears Day: turn down your thermostat. Or, depending on where in the world you live, turn it up a few degrees.
These are suggestions from Polar Bears International. The organization’s Thermostat Challenge is not only intended to raise awareness about how carbon emissions are contributing to the loss of the sea ice and endangering polar bears’ habitat in the process. The Thermostat Challenge is a way to get all of us to directly take part to save polar bears. (You can share how you’re participating — putting on an extra layer or buying or installing a programmable thermostat to show how you’re taking steps to save energy via the My Planet, My Part online community.)
We all can play a part in stopping global warming and we must. Polar bear experts recently issued a report charging that we need to drastically step up efforts to protect polar bears due to the sea ice melting at a far faster rate than previously thought. Scientists have even suggested that we may have to feed polar bears or even — a completely alarming idea — kill them to ensure that some of the species survive.
Here are ten reasons why we can’t let polar bears disappear from the face of the earth:
1) Living in the arctic climate where winter temperatures average -45º C (-50º F), polar bears have more problems overheating, thanks to two layers of thick fur and a layer of fat, than feeling the cold. They cannot manage in temperatures above 50º F.
2) Of all mammals, polar bears have one of the slowest reproductive rates. In the course of their lifespan (which averages 15 – 18 years), females produce an average of only five litters (of 1 – 4 cubs; twins are most common).
3) When born, polar bear cubs weight just over a pound and look like big white rats.
4) The largest polar bear ever recorded weighed 2,209 pounds. The average weight for a male is 775 to 1,200 pounds; for a female, 330 to 650 pounds.
5) Polar bears’ fur is actually transparent; it appears white due to how it reflects the light. As they age, it can turn yellow.
6) Polar bears have a powerful sense of smell and can detect seals (their main source of food) a mile away.
9) Today’s polar bears are partially descended from the now-extinct Irish brown bear. Polar and brown bears have been interbred and produced fertile young, which, by some accounts, means they are from the same species.
10) Polar bears are at the top of the food chain in the arctic. They have only one known predator: human beings.
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