• picture
  • picture
PRI's Environmental News Magazine

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of November 20, 1998

This week, facts about... Polar Bears.

Transcript

CURWOOD: Fifteen years ago this week, Canada, Denmark, Norway, and the United States signed a pack to protect polar bears and their habitat. So far the treaty has failed to stem habitat loss, although a hunting ban has helped to increase the bear population to about 30,000. By this time of year, pregnant polar bears have finished digging their dens, getting ready for cubs to be born. Tiny, blind, and hairless, the young will suckle their hibernating mothers until spring. Researchers in Norway recently found alarming levels of polychloride biphenyls, or PCBs, in polar bears. They also discovered some female polar bears had developed vestigial male sex organs, which may be a response to exposure to PCBs. Even though PCBs were banned in 1970, these chemicals persist in the environment. Over the years they have migrated thousands of miles to the Arctic from industrial sources Scientists are now studying the chemical's effect on the bears' immune and reproductive systems. One thing they do know: the PCBs tend to concentrate in mother's milk. So next spring, polar bear cubs will probably start life with heavy doses of the stuff. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.

 

 

Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

P.O. Box 990007
Prudential Station
Boston, MA, USA 02199
Telephone: 1-617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Newsletter
Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Major funding for Living on Earth is provided by the National Science Foundation.

Committed to healthy food, healthy people, a healthy planet, and healthy business.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live.

Kendeda Fund, furthering the values that contribute to a healthy planet.

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary hummingbird photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.