Polar Bears Near Starvation Due to Slower Freeze
The Hudson Bay in northern Canada froze up later than normal this year, delaying polar bears’ hunting season by two to three weeks, a nonprofit polar bear conservation organization found.
When the bay’s ice is thick enough, Hudson Bay’s polar bears can migrate onto the ice to hunt seals. This is the end of a long, months-long fasting that starts in the summer and ends when the ice is thawed. It usually lasts until November. Polar Bears International reported that the ice didn’t form until December 2021. The conservation group maintains a tracker of polar bears that shows the locations and movements of several females from the Western Hudson Bay subpopulation.
“Two to three weeks doesn’t sound like a lot but it can be,” said Alysa McCall, a staff scientist with Polar Bears International. “A couple of weeks more of not being able to eat, relying on their own body fat and not being able to find food, meanwhile expending their energy walking around. It really does add up for these bears.”
Last year was the second-latest Hudson Bay record freeze up after 2010. McCall stated that she anticipates more late freeze-up years as the climate warms.
Polar bears can fast for 180 days before starving to death. McCall stated that bears used to fast for 140 to 150 days in the past. But this year, McCall stated that they have reached 169 days and are closer to that fatal threshold.
“We have a lot more to learn about those limits. But we know where we’re pushing them,” McCall said. “We’re getting them right to the point where their bodies just are not going to be able to handle these really extended fasts.”
Parts of an Airplane, a Kite, and a Ship Bound for America
Centuries ago, ships traveled the ocean powered only by the wind. Wind is making an appearance this year. It partially powers a commercial vessel, which transports goods across Atlantic.
A huge kite will be used to drag the French cargo ship. Ville de BordeauxIt will travel across the Atlantic Ocean ferrying parts for Airbus planes between France and America over the next few months. This is to test the new technology. The Seawing, a kite measuring 10,700 square feet, was developed by Airseas in France. It can be unfolded and adjusted to maximize wind power as it flies 1,000ft in the air.
According to Airseas, the kite can reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions by 20%.
“It’s very significant in terms of carbon emission saving and very significant in terms of reduction of costs for shipowners, in terms of reduction of fuel,” said Airseas corporate secretary Stéphanie Lesage.
She said that the Seawing’s cost is confidential but that the product will pay for itself in three years.
While Lesage believes that wind propulsion will eventually reach all ocean-going vessels, it is not the only solution to decarbonizing the industry. She stated that sustainable fuels, energy efficient routes and other changes are essential to the transition away from fossil fuels.
“It’s not wind as used to sail a century ago,” Lesage said, “it’s really, you know, another age.”
Bugs and the License Plate Testing
Initial data suggests that flying insect populations have dropped by around 80 percent in certain parts of the United Kingdom.
Those findings come from data collected by citizen scientists who submitted photographs of their car license plates showing how many bugs were squashed on the plate’s surface during a trip. Buglife, an insect conservation group in the U.K., collected data from over 5,000 participants who submitted photos via Bugs Matter app. The photos were taken from 6,000 trips across the country.
Paul Hetherington from Buglife’s director of communications and fundraising said that the group will have more concrete findings by March when they have sorted through all of the data. However preliminary analyses show that the number squashed bugs has fallen by about 75 to 85 per cent compared with the 2004 baseline data.
“The results are terrifying, really,” Hetherington said.
He stated that there are many reasons why insects are declining, including habitat loss, pesticide usage, and climate change. Buglife will continue to collect data from U.K. car license plates each summer. Once there’s at least five years of data, Hetherington said, the group can start seeing what areas are most in trouble, and what areas are showing improvements in insect populations.
“If we’ve got a massive decline in flying insects, we’re also going to have a similar decline in most other species, because virtually every other species on the planet is dependent,” Hetherington said. “So everything is going to disappear if we lose our flying insects.”
Soaring Heat Boosts Homeless ER Visits
A new study has found that people experiencing homelessness are more likely to visit the emergency room in San Diego during heat waves.
Researchers from the University of California San Diego examined nearly 25,000 emergency room visits by homeless people between 2012 and 2019. Researchers claim it is the first epidemiological evidence to show that people who are homeless are more vulnerable to heat-related health effects than the general population.
They found that middle-aged people were more vulnerable than people who were between the ages 18 and 44. Unhoused patients who needed psychiatric care while they were in the emergency department were also more at risk, indicating that mental conditions can also increase vulnerability.
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Average summer temperatures in San Diego County have trended hotter over the last few decades. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the city had the fifth highest number of unhoused residents in the country in 2019.
Senior author Tarik Benjaminnia, an associate Professor at UC San Diego, recommends cities have concrete plans to care and house their residents during heatwaves. He focuses on the most vulnerable residents, younger and older, and those with mental illnesses.
“I think each community and each neighborhood should have their own action plan and their own actions towards individuals experiencing homelessness,” Benmarhnia said. “This is not a one size fits all. We can’t address that in a kind of comprehensive way. I think it has to be in relation to existing community-based organizations that are already working with individuals experiencing homelessness.”
Write, and Drive Home a Message to Kids about Climate
Richard Faith drives a school bus during the school year. The Bookmobile is the vehicle that Richard Faith, a retired general contractor, drives in the summer. And in his spare time, he writes children’s books, hoping to teach kids through rhyme and writing not only lessons on honor, perseverance and courage, but also what they need to know about the planet they are inheriting.
The South Boston native recently published his latest children’s book, Bee Scared, which tells a story about a hive of honeybees working to understand why so many of their fellow bees are disappearing. Faith explained that he balances the need for children to be informed about the future of declining bee populations and inspires them to find solutions.
He works as a bus driver and Bookmobile driver, and is often with children of all ages every single day. This helps him to be honest with them about their future without being overwhelming.
“I wrote it in a way that it’s not going to frighten them that there’s a problem, but just become aware,” Faith said. “And the earlier they’re aware, the better we’ll be, because they are the future.”
Source: Inside Climate News