By Bible Speaks
A POINT OF NO RETURN? ? ❄️?
Is the earth headed for a point of no return? Some scientists feel that the effect of changes can be difficult to predict. Because of this, they are concerned that we might be approaching “tipping points” where sudden and unanticipated climate changes could bring disastrous results.
A polar bear on a small mound of ice
Consider, for example, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Some believe that with sustained global warming, there is a point where the melt of this ice sheet could be irreversible. This is because ice cover naturally reflects the sun’s rays. But as the ice sheet thins and shrinks, the ocean below, which is less reflective, is eventually exposed. The dark ocean surface absorbs more heat, which in turn leads to greater melting. A self-feeding, runaway cycle could be created. The resulting rise in sea levels from the meltwater could spell disaster for hundreds of millions of people.
Regarding the remarkable changes the Kingdom will bring, God declares: “Look! I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:5) Does this mean that God will replace the earth with a new one? No, for there is really nothing inherently wrong with our planet. Rather, God will do away with those responsible for the planetary crisis, “those ruining the earth,” that is, the present-day human system with its governmental structure. This will be replaced by “a new heaven and a new earth”—a new heavenly government, God’s Kingdom, ruling over a new earthly society.—Revelation 21:1.
To eliminate the ecological debt caused by man, God will rebalance the ecological budget, so to speak. Describing what God will do, the psalmist was inspired to write: “You care for the earth, making it abundantly fruitful and very rich.” With a regulated climate and, above all, God’s blessing, the earth will become a paradise yielding plenty of food.—Psalm 65:9-13.
The creation account in Genesis concludes with the words: “God saw everything he had made, and look! it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31) Truly, the earth is far too precious to end up in environmental bankruptcy. We are comforted in knowing that our planet’s future rests safely in the hands of our loving Creator, Jehovah God. He promises: “The righteous will possess the earth, and they will live forever on it.” (Psalm 37:29) May you be counted among “the righteous,” who will call earth their eternal home.
This week I posted a video of a starving bear. It was difficult to film, and even harder to watch, as evidenced by the reactions it elicited. The truth is hard, but photojournalism is more than pretty pictures. It can be a difficult job. Journalism exposes—raw and without bias—the world’s issues in the interest of transparency, honesty and, I believe, change for the better. At @Sea_Legacy, we want to break down the walls of apathy and move people to change. We went to the Canadian Arctic to document the effects of climate change. We found the good, the bad and the ugly, but mostly just beautiful animals and landscapes we want to protect. We will continue to share it all with you in the interest of creating positive and lasting change.
Thank you for helping us in #TurningTheTide. @Sea_Legacy with @CristinaMittermeier.
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Thank Jehovah for the Polar Bears!
By Guest Nicole
In September 2009, after a summer of warm weather and dwindling ice, a young polar bear slipped into the frigid waters of the Beaufort Sea and began to swim.
She didn't stop for food or rest until nine days later, when she finally encountered a slab of sea ice large enough to sustain her. The journey was some 250 miles.
That female polar bear was one of more than 100 monitored by biologistAndrew Derocher, a researcher at the University of Alberta who spent six years tracking bears in the waters off the northern coasts of Alaska and Canada. He found that, as sea ice in those areas fractured and melted away, the bears were making longer and longer swims across the open ocean — journeys that taxed their already limited resources and proved perilous to vulnerable cubs.
"Ice is changing so quickly that we’re finding the bears are getting caught in places where they’re finally coming to the realization, 'I just can’t stay here,' " Derocher said in a phone interview. "... These kinds of long-distance swims are not what they evolved to undergo."
The results of Derocher's study, published in the most recent issue of the journal Ecography, show a dramatic increase in the number of polar bears paddling across vast expanses of ocean to find suitable ice to stand on. In 2004, just a quarter of the bears monitored performed a long-distance swim (defined as more than 50 kilometers, or about 31 miles). By 2012, that proportion had ballooned to 69 percent.
The number of bears making such a swim was directly proportional to the loss of sea ice in the area, Derocher said.
These journeys are hard on polar bears. Though they're good swimmers, they're not adapted to long trips and can only paddle about 2 kilometers an hour. A 30-mile journey to find new ice takes an entire day, during which the bears can't eat or rest. Adult bears are likely to lose weight, and their cubs tend to get hypothermic. In 2009, a mother bear who swam for nine days straight off the coast of Alaska (who was not part of Derocher's study) lost 22 percent of her body weight, biologists with the U.S. Geological Survey reported. Her year-old cub died during the journey.
"With cubs, if they have to undergo a long distance swim, it's basically a death sentence," Derocher said.
Mothers with cubs were much less likely to swim, he found. Instead, "they will walk for hundreds of kilometers to keep their cubs out of water."
In part because of the difficulty of monitoring bears (collars can fall off or malfunction, bears seem to drop off the map), the amount of data Derocher and his colleagues collected varied from year to year. But the trend is pretty clear, Derocher said. In the 1980s, when he first began studying polar bears, it would have been unheard of for any bears to make a long distance swim, let alone dozens. In those days there was no need — the Beaufort Sea and Hudson Bay (the two areas covered by the study) were clogged with ice even in the height of summer.
That's changed now, especially in the Beaufort Sea above Alaska and the Yukon, which has seen an especially large decline in sea ice compared with the Hudson Bay. Satellite images taken earlier this month show that the ice there is already beginning to break up. That's bad news during prime hunting season for polar bears, which rely on sea ice as a platform from which to dive for seals and other prey.
"None of this is what I would call a smoking gun as to what is happening with polar bear abundance, but the signs are all pointing in the same direction," Derocher said. "We're seeing bears with lower body fat, fewer cubs, changing hunting behavior."
Pair that with a 2014 study that found that the polar bear population in the southern Beaufort Sea dropped between 25 and 50 percent from 2001 to 2010, and the picture becomes pretty clear.
"The Beaufort population is one of the ones that will more than likely be extirpated probably by mid-century," Derocher said.
The best-case scenario is that these bears will travel south and find a way to hunt on land during the summers, the way some of their Hudson Bay cousins do. So much depends on their ability to adapt.
"We’re really changing the rules on the bears with the warming that we’re observing," he said.
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