Climate change is rapidly changing the Arctic, and its implications are global. More oil to burn would only fuel the climate crisis and put the Refuge and everything living within it at risk from toxic spills and mishaps. Now is the time for bold action that permanently protects the Coastal Plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Every fall, the Ryrkaipiy polar bear patrol, with the support of WWF Russia, works to protect the community and prevent human-wildlife conflict. Tatyana Minenko has been leading the patrol team since 2006. That’s when the climate crisis increased conflict in her village.
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is located in one of the largest remaining natural areas on the planet: Alaska. The species that call the refuge home have been protected from the risks of unsustainable development for decades, but now the US government is moving forward with plans to open the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge to allow for oil and gas drilling.
The Arctic Refuge has been a place undisturbed by development. But in 2017 Congress approved opening the Coastal Plain of the Refuge to allow for oil and gas drilling. WWF has been vocal in its opposition for a host of reasons, and there is one significant bit of logic even Fish and Wildlife agrees with—the climate crisis makes the future of the region uncertain. Oil and gas development only compounds the problem.
In some areas of the Arctic, female polar bears are more frequently choosing to build their maternity dens on land, rather than sea ice. The land provides the stability and security that sea ice no longer can—at least until human activity comes into the picture.
It’s the second-worst winter for sea ice in the Arctic. As this rapid warming trend continues, entire ecosystems are unraveling and the consequences are impacting daily life in the Arctic as well as life in coastal communities thousands of miles away.
In 2007, nine polar bear conflicts were registered in all of Greenland. By 2017, there were 21 conflicts between August and December in the village of Ittoqqortoormiit alone. In almost all of the 21 cases, the local polar bear patrol was called to ensure that the bears were scared away from the community and kept under observation.
January 2018 brought record-low sea ice cover to the Arctic, according to new data released by the US government. That’s bad news for the ocean, wildlife, and local communities that rely on both for survival.
The Arctic Ocean—the pristine home to bowhead whales, gray whales, polar bears, walruses, and other magnificent wildlife, along with many indigenous communities—could potentially lose crucial protections from risky offshore oil and gas drilling.
The Polar Bear Conservation Management Plan, which focuses on actions for the two U.S. subpopulations in Alaska, stresses the importance of climate change mitigation in curbing the loss of the polar bear’s sea ice habitat.
Just one week after scientists warned of unprecedented change brought on by warming in the Arctic, President Obama announced permanent protection for 115 million acres of federal waters in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. Including previous presidential withdrawals, today's action protects nearly 125 million acres in the offshore Arctic from future oil and gas activity.
Who doesn't love the big, burly white bears of the north? Polar bears—at the top of the food chain and vital to the health of the Arctic marine environment—are important to the cultures and economies of Arctic peoples.
When WWF polar bear expert Elisabeth Kruger was organizing a workshop to brainstorm new designs for polar bear tracking devices, she wanted to make sure the event generated the most interesting, unexpected, and—hopefully—groundbreaking designs possible.
We now have the opportunity to keep offshore drilling out of the Arctic Ocean. Every five years, the US government draws up a five-year planning outlining where oil companies can drill. The Arctic’s Beaufort and Chukchi seas are on the line. We have a chance to persuade our government to remove these pristine places from their list.
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