In celebration of Earth Day, I did a bit of research on climate change and how it's affecting the polar bear population in Canada's northern territories.
When we think of the Arctic, we tend to think of pristine wilderness, blue horizons, ice fields and glaciers and the magnificient species known as polar bears. We've seen them roaming the ice fields on tv and in movies. We shouldn't take this for granted, as one day these giant bears may cease to exist.
Information on the World Wildlife Fund's Canadian website states that "due to climate change, Canada's Arctic is warming faster than any place on Earth." Because of global warming, the majestic polar bear is facing extinction. However, all hope isn't lost if people work together to reduce the impact of climate change on our planet.
Can you imagine future generations only recognizing these magnificient creatures as a species that was extinct before they were born? A sad outlook, isn't it? But that could well happen.
In the past 50 years, parts of Canada's Arctic have seen temperatures increase 3 to 4 degrees Celcius. (That is 37.4 to 39.2 Fahrenheit.) One quarter of the Arctic sea ice has vanished since 1979. This causes a serious threat to the polar bear population. Some bears have to swim as far as 100 kilometers (62 miles) to find sea ice on which to hunt seals. Without the ice, polar bears can't hunt seals and this is their main food supply. Some polar bears drown in rough seas in their search for the ice, while others succumb to hypothermia and exhaustion.
We each need to take reponsibility for slowing climate change. No one person can do it alone, but if we all join together, we can make a difference. Here are a few ways you can help:
* If you don't have a high efficiency furnace, consider having one installed. Not only does it cut greenhouse gas emissions, it will save you considerable money over the course of the year, especially if you live in a northern climate.
* Add extra insulation to your attic, basement and the exterior walls of your house.
* Buy a programmable thermostat for your air conditioner and furnace. This will allow you to program energy according to your lifestyle.
* Sign with a power company that provides energy through renewable sources, such as wind.
* Install low-flow taps, showerheads and toilets.
* Install ceiling fans in order to reduce air conditioning costs or to eliminate the use of the air conditioner when outside temperatures are moderate.
* Hang clothes on the clothesline instead of using the dryer. This saves energy, which will put money in your pocket and the fragrance of clothes dried outdoors is fantastic.
* Scrap old refrigerators, stoves, washers and dryers and replace them with new energy saving models.
* Wash clothes in cold water.
* Do dishes by hand and avoid using the dishwasher whenever possible. Dishes can be handwashed once a day with about 3 gallons of water. If you do this 7 times a week, that is a total of 21 gallons of water, compared to approximately 15 gallons every time you use your dishwasher. Therefore if you use your dishwasher every other day, you would use 52.5 gallons of water per week to wash dishes. That is a huge difference. To calculate your water useage, click Here!
* The next time you buy a car, purchase one that is fuel efficient.
* Walk, ride a bike, take public transport or carpool.
I could go on and on, but you get the idea. The polar bear isn't the only species that is in danger of extinction because of global warming. Make everyday Earth Day and help keep our planet safe.