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Time Running Out for Polar Bears

WASHINGTON— A new report on the fate of polar bears in a world of rapid climate change predicts disaster for one of the world's most charismatic species, World Wildlife Fund said today.


“We now have U.S. government confirmation that the largest living land predator is heading toward regional extinctions in the next 45-75 years if climate change isn’t stopped,” said Dr. Lara Hansen, chief scientist, WWF Climate Change Program.


Prepared to inform the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s consideration of whether to list polar bears as threatened, the report by the U.S. Geological Survey predicts that changes in sea ice will result in the loss of about two-thirds of the world's polar bear population by 2050. This prediction is almost certainly an underestimate of the impact because sea-ice loss is consistently underestimated in currently available models by about 25 percent.


“While the world’s still discussing whether to take action against climate change, the Arctic wilderness is disappearing and the great white bear may be on its way to extinction throughout much of its range,” said Dr Hansen.


To keep warming well below the dangerous level of 2°C, industrialized countries must reduce their emissions by at least 30 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels.



Editors’ notes:

•         The full report 

•          High resolution photographs and beta video are available to accompany press stories mentioning World Wildlife Fund or WWF. If used, appropriate credit must also be given to the photographer.

About World Wildlife Fund

Known in the United States as World Wildlife Fund and recognized worldwide by its panda logo, WWF leads international efforts to protect endangered species and their habitats and to conserve the diversity of life on Earth. Now in its fifth decade, WWF, the global conservation organization, works in more than 100 countries around the world.