Wednesday, 20 February 2019

What polar bears in a Russian apartment block reveal about the climate crisis


Arctic bears are being driven off their normal migration routes and into human habitation. We should feel pity – and fear
Mon 11 Feb 2019 15.08 GMTLast modified on Mon 11 Feb 2019 20.09 GMT
Polar bears prowling around a children’s playground. Polar bears lumbering along the corridors of apartment blocks and offices. Polar bears descending on a sleepy Russian town in their dozens.
To state the obvious: polar bears should not be wandering into human habitation, and certainly not in these numbers. That they are doing so in Belushya Guba shows how they are being driven off their normal migration routes and hunting trails by a changing climate. This has long been predicted – with the Arctic heating twice as fast as the rest of the planet, winter temperatures are rising and the sea ice – which is the primary habitat of polar bears – is shrinking.
In this small town in the Novaya Zemlya archipelago, authorities have declared a state of emergency (a reasonable precaution after spotting an unprecedented 52 polar bears). Fences have been erected around school playgrounds and locals have tried to drive them away with warning shots and explosions. All to no avail. Many residents are afraid to leave their homes. Workers are reportedly being bused to their offices in military vehicles.


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