CHURCHILL, CANADA – October 28, 2022 – Polar Bear Week is almost here, taking place October 30 – November 5, 2022. Polar Bears International (PBI), the only nonprofit organization dedicated solely to wild polar bears and Arctic sea ice, hosts this event to celebrate the Arctic, educate people around the world about polar bears and their melting ecosystem, and inspire people to get involved in sustaining their future.
“We love sharing the Arctic with everyone during Polar Bear Week, talking with people around the world about polar bears and this unique ecosystem,” says Alysa McCall, Polar Bears International Staff Scientist and Director of Conservation Outreach, adding, “Even from afar we can protect polar bears, and in turn the greater Arctic and Earth, by supporting community carbon-reduction projects and voting with the climate in mind. Every vote, at every level of government, matters as we encourage leaders to reduce emissions, creating a better world for polar bears and all of us.”
Polar Bear Week was created by Polar Bears International to coincide with the annual gathering of polar bears near Churchill, Canada, who wait for Hudson Bay’s sea ice to freeze so they can return to the ice to hunt seals. The bears are on the front lines of climate change, as the greatest threat to polar bears is sea ice loss due to human-caused climate warming.
Polar Bear Week is just ahead of the COP27 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Sharm El Sheik, Egypt, where global leaders will discuss reducing global emissions and other efforts to slow climate change. Polar Bears International will host a series of experts through its Tundra Connections live chat series from Churchill and from COP27 in Egypt. This chat series provides education and inspires people to get involved at every political level and election, and to make their voices heard.
Dr. Flavio Lehner, chief climate scientist at Polar Bears International and assistant professor in Earth and Atmospheric Science at Cornell University, comments on the importance of collective, systemic change: “During the pandemic, the whole world shut down and people stopped driving, flying, and made other changes in behavior. Yet total emissions dropped by only about 5%, showing how much emissions are baked into the systems that keep everything running: agriculture, factories, heating and cooling, and transportation. Individual action is not pointless, and collectively can help bring about shifts in social norms, but we need a systematic change towards producing energy and goods in carbon-neutral ways to reach our goal of stabilizing the climate.”
While climate change is the greatest overarching threat to polar bears, Polar Bears International is working to protect the world’s existing polar bears. Due to disappearing sea ice, polar bears are forced to stay on land longer. They are therefore fasting for longer – and looking for food in substances like human waste, leading to more human and polar bear interaction. During this year’s annual Polar Bear Week, Polar Bears International is focusing on coexistence solutions for polar bears and people. The nonprofit asks people to support its “Detect and Protect” initiatives, which include developing “Bear-dar” Artificial Intelligence radar systems to alert towns of approaching bears, a technology currently being tested in Churchill, Canada. Polar Bears International also supported the town of Churchill in establishing the world’s first polar bear-safe community, with a goal of minimizing negative encounters between people and polar bears so both can thrive, and continues to work with the town bear-safe measures.
Polar Bear Week is focused on protecting polar bears and people, with Polar Bears International developing coexistence technology and conducting field research projects this fall:
“Protect and Detect Polar Bears” bear-dar development: Polar Bears International continues to test and train the “SpotterRF” artificial intelligence radar system to detect bears and alert the community, along with other “Detect and Protect” ground-based radar systems to assess their potential in alerting authorities day or night if polar bears approach the town. If successful, these systems could help communities reduce human-polar bear conflict.