This Exhausted Polar Bear Wandering a Siberian Suburb Is the Latest Face of the Climate Crisis
Update, June 20: The starving polar bear who has been wandering around the Siberian city of Norilsk for four days was captured Thursday by wildlife experts from the Royev Ruchey Zoo, The Siberian Times reported. She is in a "dangerous state" after eating human garbage and will be flown to the zoo tomorrow for treatment, experts said.
When the bear was first sighted, some speculated she had traveled from the Arctic seeking food. Royev Ruchey experts now say that might not be the case: it is typically males who travel long distances, and her coat is cleaner than would be expected after such a journey. Instead, they think she might have been caught by poachers as a cub and raised in or near Norilsk for her pelt. Stronger punishments for polar bear poaching were put in place last year, which may have prompted her captors to release her, the experts said.
An exhausted, starving polar bear has been spotted wandering around the Siberian city of Norilsk, Reuters reported Tuesday. It is the first time a polar bear has entered the city in more than 40 years.
The bear was first seen Sunday evening in an industrial part of the city's northeast, environmental services official Alexander Korobkin told AFP.
"He is still moving around a factory, under observation by police and the emergency services, who are ensuring his safety and those of residents," Korobkin told AFP Tuesday.
Both BBC News and Reuters identified the bear as female.
The bear had wandered hundreds of miles from its Arctic habitat to reach Norilsk, an industrial city known for nickel production. More polar bears have gone on land to search for food as the climate crisis has been shrinking the sea ice they depend upon. Parts of the Russian Arctic are melting twice as fast as they were 10 years ago, a 2018 study found. This has led to more interactions between bears and humans.
In February, Russia's Novaya Zemlya islands declared a state of emergency after polar bears entered the settlement of Belushya Guba to scavenge for food. Around 52 bears were counted near the settlement starting in December, and they were not afraid to enter human homes or buildings.
What man is doing to the planet: polar bears on a rubbish dump in Novaya Zemlya, Siberia. How dispiriting. pic.twitter.com/NwBHDmg82l— PeterMurtagh (@PeterMurtagh) February 10, 2019
In 2016, polar bears besieged five scientists at a Troynoy Island weather station in the Arctic, interfering with their work and killing one of their dogs, BBC News reported.
Local wildlife expert Oleg Krashevsky told Reuters he wasn't sure why this particular polar bear had entered Norilsk, but said it was possible she had gotten lost, because she showed signs of poor vision.
The bear lay on the ground for hours at a time Tuesday, standing only sporadically to sniff for food. Her feet were covered in mud.
State wildlife experts will arrive in the city Wednesday to examine the bear, but Krashevsky said he wasn't sure what could be done for her, since she appeared too weak to return home.
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
In another win for climate campaigners, leaders of 12 major cities around the world — collectively home to about 36 million people — committed Tuesday to divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in a green, just recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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