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The polar bear in this video is dying from starvation. Fortunately, most aren't…yet

The polar bear in this video is dying from starvation. Fortunately, most aren't...yetAfter landing on Baffin Island, Canada, wildlife photographer and environmental activist Paul Nicklen captured video of a frail polar bear — dying and foaming from the mouth — as the weak animal collapsed to the ground. The bear will soon be dead — if it isn't already.  On Dec. 5, Nicklen posted the grim video to his Instagram account, and since then, it's been stirring  emotions around the web. Polar bears are, for better or worse, a symbolic species when it comes to global warming, and many are seeing this video as a new warning sign.  Fortunately, however, the condition of this bear is not representative of most polar bear populations — at least not yet.  SEE ALSO: Trump shrank 2 national monuments by nearly 2 million acres. He can't do that to Yellowstone. There are 19 different populations of polar bears in the expansive Arctic. The dwindling sea ice here — which these predators need to hunt fat-rich seals — is now affecting different groups of bears in different ways. "It’s tough to see a disturbing image like that and not feel sympathy for the animal," U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) polar bear biologist Todd Atwood said in an interview. "It’s also tough to see an isolated image extrapolated to some kind of population level effect." The actual cause of the bear's death will remain unknown, but Atwood doubts there's one specific cause. "It’s probably a combination of things — it could be an old animal — but it also could be that if it’s still on land, that there’s not enough sea ice," he said.  My entire @Sea_Legacy team was pushing through their tears and emotions while documenting this dying polar bear. It’s a soul-crushing scene that still haunts me, but I know we need to share both the beautiful and the heartbreaking if we are going to break down the walls of apathy. This is what starvation looks like. The muscles atrophy. No energy. It’s a slow, painful death. When scientists say polar bears will be extinct in the next 100 years, I think of the global population of 25,000 bears dying in this manner. There is no band aid solution. There was no saving this individual bear. People think that we can put platforms in the ocean or we can feed the odd starving bear. The simple truth is this—if the Earth continues to warm, we will lose bears and entire polar ecosystems. This large male bear was not old, and he certainly died within hours or days of this moment. But there are solutions. We must reduce our carbon footprint, eat the right food, stop cutting down our forests, and begin putting the Earth—our home—first. Please join us at @sea_legacy as we search for and implement solutions for the oceans and the animals that rely on them—including us humans. Thank you your support in keeping my @sea_legacy team in the field. With @CristinaMittermeier #turningthetide with @Sea_Legacy #bethechange #nature #naturelovers This video is exclusively managed by Caters News. To license or use in a commercial player please contact info@catersnews.com or call +44 121 616 1100 / +1 646 380 1615” A post shared by Paul Nicklen (@paulnicklen) on Dec 5, 2017 at 8:52am PST After posting the video, Nicklen told National Geographic that "when scientists say bears are going extinct, I want people to realize what it looks like. Bears are going to starve to death. This is what a starving bear looks like." But while the threat to polar bears is real, all is not yet dire for the Arctic predators.  "It’s worth noting that there are some subpopulations that are believed to be stable," said Atwood. Polar bears are listed as a threatened species in the United States, which means that while they're not yet on the brink of extinction, they "are likely to be at the brink in the near future," according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which maintains the list. For polar bear populations that are struggling, it's often due to a lack of sea ice. Polar bears can't hunt seals on the open water. "So as the open water season gets longer, there’s association between the length of the open water seas and body conditions — body conditions decline," Atwood said. But this isn't the full story. The physical condition of polar bears is also dependent upon how much fish is available for seals. So in places with more fish and seals — places that are more "biologically productive" — there will be more food for bears, and they're likely to be better fed.  Unless, of course, there's no sea ice there, either.  There is a clear solution to polar bears' vulnerability — and you undoubtedly know it well: Humanity's commitment to limit global warming, which is caused by fossil fuel emissions. These heat-trapping gases warm both the oceans and the air, resulting in vastly diminished sea ice, particularly in the summer and fall.  "This requires changing our behaviors relative to our carbon footprint," Atwood said. WATCH: The world’s tallest mammal is now threatened with extinction     


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