Photo: Mike Dunn / NOAA Climate Program Office, NABOS 2006 Expedition
The Arctic is melting faster than ice in a fryer. Residents are noticing warmer temperatures all around, and weather-related phenomena is occurring in all corners of the world. At present, 97 percent of scientists believe in the notion of climate change. With all this in mind, the big question is, “Why must something as big and drastic as the Paris Agreement come to fruition before we take necessary action?”
Probably because there are still so many non-believers in the world. Additionally, there are those that seem to acknowledge the existence of climate change, but are unable (or don’t feel compelled) to take a proper, defensive stance against growing threats. A recent example occurred when two dozen federal biologists of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service met in Anchorage, Alaska. With the Arctic disappearing at an alarming rate, scientists can only assume the worst for polar bear populations, and acknowledge their extinction as real and potentially forthcoming. A recovery plan was soon born at the hands of those meeting.
The problem is the Fish and Wildlife Service bears no jurisdiction over greenhouse gas emissions, and as long as climate change is labeled the primary factor behind their destruction, the group is unable to take necessary action, even though representatives claim to offer proof of a direct link between emissions and a melting Arctic. In the end, the plan offers protection against hunting and oil spills, but leaves climate change completely out of the picture.
“Short of action that effectively addresses the primary cause of diminishing sea ice, it is unlikely that polar bears will be recovered,” the document explains.
Many are left feeling disappointed. Climate science director for the Center for Biological Diversity Shaye Wolf says the program is useless without tactics for halting the Earth’s altering climate.
“A recovery plan should lay out the steps that the Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies should take to allow a species to recover,” she states. “That includes, in this case, rapid cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, and it should be the cornerstone of this recovery plan.”
Polar bears have been endangered since 2008, while ringed seals, their primary food source, have been under threat since 2012. The U.S. Department of the Interior has finalized its own plan to save Alaska’s remaining ursine residents, but no mentions of emissions cuts are ever made, while populations are given room to fall by 85 percent. 30 percent of polar bears are likely to vanish by the year 2050 granted carbon levels remain the same.
“Recovery plans work,” Wolf comments.” But only if they truly address the threats to species. Sadly, that simply isn’t the case with this polar bear plan.”
Warmer temperatures are also affecting insects’ abilities to breed. As juveniles, most insects remain satiated and hidden beneath the dirt. Virtually immobile, they’re unable to escape the sweltering heat. It won’t kill them, but it can cause irreversible damage to their reproductive organs.
“Lots of insects in their juvenile stage can’t move very far because they are larvae or because they are small nymphs,” says Dr. Rhonda Snook of the University of Sheffield. “They are smaller and they do not have wings… They are not as mobile, so they’re stuck where they are. I think that this is going to be a very common effect, a very common phenomenon across insects.”
Dr. Snook’s experiments involving fruit flies ultimately led to her primary analysis. The insects were exposed to temperatures exceeding 5.5 degrees Celsius for a period of ten days, which caused permanent damage to their reproductive abilities. While fruit flies were chosen for experimentation, Snook believes heightened temperatures are non-discriminating, and can have the same effects on all six-legged species. As the planet experiences further climate spikes, bug populations are inherently doomed to suffer.