Monday, October 7, 2013

Ten Thousand Walrus with Nowhere to Go

It's one of the first threats to nature I ever heard about -- habitat loss.  Somehow it sounded innocuous enough.  I thought, how bad can it be, so the animals just relocate to another place.  Their new home may be even better.  Certainly, I was in denial or maybe just plain dull.

Think about taking away anyone's home, a home that has always been their home, a home that is part of their DNA.  A snake or a honey bee or a walrus.  Without it, where do they rest?  Where do they eat?  How can they relax and be healthy and happy?  Some can adapt but most cannot.    

When I saw this picture, I wasn't quite sure what it was.  Are those ants?

No, these are over 10,000 walruses, a horde, scrambling and huddling on a strip of land in Alaska because  their habitat -- sea ice -- is nowhere to be found.  Their sea ice home has always been there until now. These are refugees of an overheated planet because humans burn fossil fuels to run our vehicles, TVs, and factories.

Awhile ago I read about a polar bear that swam huge miles.  Turns out polar bears are amazingly strong swimmers but even they cannot tread water forever.  They need sea ice to live on and raise their young.  Next time you hear about an unprecedented polar bear swim, ask why the bear had to swim that far and long.

Thing is, it doesn't have to be this way.  We can do it differently and better.  There are technologies and options and growing awareness.  Let's stop making nature a climate refugee and extend a helping hand to that exhausted polar bear.  

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