A mother polar bear snuggles with her young cubs.

A future with polar bears, a stable climate, and an equitable society is possible—and there has never been a more important time to come together in realizing this vision.

© Daniel J. Cox/Natural Exposures

1/27/2021 3:05:22 PM

Resurgence of Hope

By Krista Wright, Executive Director of Polar Bears International 

It’s January 2021, polar bear moms and cubs are nestled in their dens, and the hope I feel for their future is palpable—a hope made even stronger because of your extraordinary commitment to polar bear conservation. Events over the last year disrupted many global systems, upending life as we know it. As we begin to recover and rebuild, we find ourselves in a unique position to reimagine what comes next. A future with polar bears, a stable climate, and an equitable society is possible—and there has never been a more important time to come together in realizing this vision.

At Polar Bears International, our path forward is two-fold, a journey made possible because of you:

PROTECT THE BEAR’S HOME Given that the greatest threat to polar bears is sea ice loss due to human-caused climate change, we will continue to call for climate solutions, policies, and raised ambitions on a global scale—working to protect the polar bear’s future and save ours.

A polar bear on melting sea ice

In the United States—the second greatest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world right now and the largest emitter in history—we’re heartened to see new leadership fully committed to addressing the climate crisis. We will be supporting the administration efforts to work with other nations in going beyond the promises made in the Paris Climate Agreement, accelerating a thoughtful and just transition to renewable energy.

You are a valuable part of this effort—your voice and your votes, at every level of government, in every single election, will help shape the future we want to see.

PROTECT THE BEARS While the world pursues climate solutions that will stabilize the polar bear’s critical sea ice habitat, we are also working to protect as many individual bears as possible.

A polar bear family lit by a sunset glow.

One of the best ways to conserve current populations is to ensure a stable and uninterrupted denning period for polar bear families. Denning is the most vulnerable time in a polar bear cub’s life. As the Arctic becomes more accessible and commercial activity in the region grows, denning moms and cubs are increasingly in harm’s way.

Current industry den-detection tools are limited, and research shows they’ve been missing over half of known polar bear dens. Our scientists and conservation partners are hard at work developing a new technology, Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), to find and map den locations under the snow—a crucial step in ensuring moms and cubs are safe from human activity.

Reducing human-bear conflict is another important aspect of keeping current polar bear populations healthy. Polar bears are bound to sea ice, but as this platform and ecosystem declines, they’re spending more time on land closer to Arctic communities. By developing radar-alert technology and supporting these communities with bear-safety resources, we’re striving to reduce dangerous encounters and keep both people and polar bears safe.

As we step forward into a new year with this work, I have never felt more grateful for this community. Recent trials reinforced just how much we depend on one another and how much we depend on the natural world—our futures inextricably intertwined.

May our next moves be based on unity and an ardent commitment to a path that will support polar bears, people, and all life on this Earth.

Photos: Bear on ice, Kt Miller/Polar Bears International; mom and cubs, Meril Darees/Polar Bears International.

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