By Jason Bittel
Twenty years ago, polar bears made people think of Coca-Cola. Ten years ago, the bruins became the face of climate change because their melting Arctic ice habitat perfectly captured the dangers of a warming world. More recently, as a direct result of the bears' environmental poster child status, science deniers have begun using them in attempts to turn the argument for climate science on its head. But now, there's no way to talk about polar bears without talking about one particular viral video.
By Julia Conley
A video of a starving polar bear led to calls for climate change denialists to confront the real-world effects of global warming this week. Taken by a Canadian conservationist and photographer and posted to social media, the video offered a stark visual of the drastic impacts of climate change that have already begun taking root.
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The bill could advance with only 51 votes in the Senate instead of the usual 60 as it complies under Congress' budget resolution instructions for 2018.
The Trump administration on Wednesday approved a plan submitted by Eni US to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean, setting the stage for a devastating oil spill in one of the most biologically rich areas in America's Arctic.
The company, a U.S. subsidiary of the Italian oil and gas giant, has sat on its leases in the Beaufort Sea since acquiring them more than a decade ago. The leases would have expired at the end of this year if Eni did not act on them. The Trump administration provided the public only 21 days to review and comment on the exploration plan and only 10 days to comment on scoping for an environmental assessment under the National Environmental Policy Act.
Polar bears are increasingly threatened by rising temperatures in the Arctic. As sea ice melts, the bears are losing their habitat and finding fewer bases from which to hunt for seals, their main food source.
Check out this video from BBC Earth, where a starving polar bear attacks a seal, but is quickly forced to pursue her prey underwater. Narrator David Attenborough explains how climate change is draining bears of their reserves, creating a crisis that "can't go on forever."
The live cameras are being hosted with nonprofit Polar Bears International, which is dedicated to conserving polar bears and the sea ice they depend on. Frontiers North Adventures, a long time ecotourism partner will provide views from its Tundra Buggy Lodge.
The polar bear cams will utilize a live network to document the polar bear migration to Churchill, Manitoba (the polar bear capital of the world), undisturbed, in their natural habitat.
Explore.org's cameras are both solar and wind powered with energy being stored in fuel cells. The wind swept frozen tundra landscapes makes the polar bear live event a technical marvel.
Explore.org and Polar Bears International will host live chats with educators and experts live from the banks of the Hudson. Explore.org's new snapshot feature allows fans to become citizen scientists by taking pictures of bears and recording live video moments to share with researchers.
The groups created Polar Bear Week five years ago as a way to rally educators and people everywhere to learn about the plight of the bears.
"The Arctic is one of the most magical, pristine and vital environments in the world. Observing a polar bear up close and personal is indescribable," Explore.org's founder Charlie Annenberg said. "If you watch them and participate in our live talks and snapshot features, I promise you will develop an emotional connection with them that will change your life forever. Being an environmental steward begins with falling in love with the world again. Take the first step and join us this season."
Watch these live polar bear cams:
Polar Bear Cam: Tundra Buggy