Today is International Polar Bear Day! So whats the deal with these giant white bears anyway? You can call these bears: ursus maritimus, sea bear, ice bear, nanuk, white bear, Lord of the Arctic (my personal favorite), white sea deer, and many other seemingly ridiculous, yet completely real names. Besides all of their oddly given nicknames, these bears have some really cool adaptations for living in such a harsh environment plus a few fun facts:
- They have black skin. Last time you were wearing black in the summer, did you feel like you were about 10x hotter than you should be? That is because black pigmented things absorb the light, which helps the polar bears during the harsh winter months
- They have clear fur. Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up. Their fur is also hollow, so when the light reflects out of the hollow fur shaft, it appears white.
- They are fat. Their layer of fat can measure up to 4.5 inches think to help insulate them when its freezing cold out (about -30 degrees to be exact)
- Their paws are made for walkin’….on ice. Between little grippy things on their feet that help them not slip, to the fur in between their toes, not to mention their 2 inch long claws, and dinner plate sized paws; Polar bears are perfectly adapted to walk in the snow/ice, and swim in the frigid waters.
- They greet by touching noses, because what else is cuter than two polar bears touching noses? Absolutely nothing.
- There is a such a thing as polar bear jail. In Churchill, Canada there is a holding facility for bears who come too close to town during their migration in the fall.
- Coca-cola lied to you when they showed polar bears and penguins hanging out together. They literally live on opposite ends of the earth (The Arctic and the Antarctic), and they would never meet each other in the natural world.
- For the 19 populations of polar bears here is the conservation breakdown: 4 are on the decline, 5 are stable, 1 is increasing, and 9 have insufficient data. Predictions say that if the trends continue that polar bears will be extinct by the end of the century.
So all of these adaptations are for living in the icy, cold climate’s near the sea. They have to be near the sea ice to hunt seals. So why are polar bears endangered? With climate change comes melting sea ice, which provides a whole host of problems for polar bears including: low survival rates for cubs, not enough access to food, increased instances of drowning, increased instances of cannibalism, etc.
So how can the young, eco-friendly, and fabulous help the polar bear?
- Be a good driver! Research has shown up to a 30% difference in MPG due to good driving habits such as: driving the speed limit, maintaining a steady speed (hello cruise control!), and accelerating slowly and smoothly. If you want to save the polar bears, don’t drive like you’re the next star of the fast & furious!
- Carpool, ride your bike, get it on the internet (amazon is life). And the golden rule is, if it is only a mile or less: get your ass up and walk there.
- While you’re away turn down your thermostat and water heater. Also, unplug everything, if no one is there to use it than why leave it plugged in?
- Get some energy efficient light bulbs. Get water conserving toilets and shower heads. Get energy star appliances, windows, electronics, pretty much everything. Energy star = good.
- In the office, double side print, don’t print at all, bring your lunch (instead of driving), open up your windows, and turn off all unnecessary lights.
- In general: buy local, don’t waste food, and stop your junk mail
Just a couple of overarching themes throughout all of these tips and tricks:
DRIVE AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE, because honestly who wants to be driving with all the crazies if you don’t have to
USE LESS PAPER
ENERGY STAR ANYTHING IS ALWAYS A GOOD THING
for more information about polar bears and reducing your carbon footprint visit: