My ode follows these few words. The fate of these great creatures is precarious, to say the least. There are maybe 26,000 remaining in the northern world, their habitant ever-shrinking. They are the largest terrestrial predator on Earth. Accordingly to Professor Peter Molnar, from the University of Toronto, who has conducted several studies, “Polar bears are already sitting at the top of the world; if the ice goes, they have no place to go.” He calls them “The poster child of climate change.”
Sea ice is declining at a rate of about 13% per decade since satellites first start capturing images in the late 1970’s. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimate that the bears are most vulnerable due to climate change and the diminishing ice mass curtailing their ability to hunt for seals and sustenance. The U.S. Geological Survey has predicted that two thirds of the species will disappear by 2050. There is grave concern that these mammals will disappear from the world by 2100.
Their home and range for a million years and more,
Drifting on slabs of ice and frozen salty sea;
Ever-seeking to dine upon as carnivore
The flesh and hide of the seal the waters did reveal;
Ursus maritimus they be known; sea bear they be called;
Nanook to the Inuit; standing near twice the height of a man
And ten times the weight; ever strong and never bald;
It’s coat as thick as ship’s hull and tough as cast iron pan;
From Hudson Bay to Russia and Norway and Alaska they roam,
Boundaries not required the entire Arctic Circle is their home.
Solitary and lonely creatures they be
Except to gorge with others on a fleshy sea-borne meal;
Or to march and hunt when a cub or two or three
Are in tow and mother’s senses operate with extra feel;
Danger is forever about there can be no doubt,
Hungry randy males are sometimes a threat
To the young ones but mother is keen and stout;
To repel and safeguard; protect and keep;
Nanook’s life is not long lived, twenty years or so,
Harsh they mostly be and this bear does not for the winter sleep.
Their partner, the ice floes, are shrinking by commission;
Alas, the air and sea are getting warmer – their future is bleak,
Some fault of this goes to the humans, who by omission,
Seek an economy of growth and capital and do not seek
To spend the effort and wisdom to conserve a world for the bears,
And other species rocking precariously in the cradle for them
Not made to nurture and preserve their progeny and heirs;
In a natural world stained and constrained by pollutants and emissions;
A child here and well today who lives to the next century
May indeed see a world where the polar bear is extinct.