Today is #PolarBearday! Help us make it a global day of action

The polar bear is one of the iconic symbols of climate change. It is not insignificant that the name of the boat at the heart of our expedition, Nanuq, means polar bear in “inuit” (the language of the indigenous population in Greenland).

This mammal is on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (International Union for the Conservation of Nature). The key danger posed by climate change is malnutrition or starvation due to habitat loss (ice melting). Insufficient nourishment leads to lower reproductive rates for pregnant females, affect their ability to build suitable maternity dens and lower survival rates in cubs and juvenile bears.

What can we do about it? Half the energy consumed in Europe and in the U.S is used for building heating. Using less energy produced by carbon-based fuels reduces our carbon emissions and can slow and even stop global warming. Therefore, take part in the #ThermostatChallenge by lowering your thermostat today to reduce your carbon emissions and help polar bears.

Polarquest2018 is tackling that challenge every day. Our expedition’s sailboat, Nanuq, is built on passive house principles, which by its design makes the use of a heating system almost needless, capable to withstand arctic winter temperatures up to -40° C in a self-sufficient mode, using only renewable energies.

But warming temperatures is not the only factor threatening polar bears. In fact, these animals accumulate high levels of environmental contaminants. Among them, there is plastic. With an estimated eight million metric tons of plastic waste entering the ocean every year from land, marine species will be living in an ocean that could contain one ton of plastic for every three tons of fish by 2025.

And there’s much more: as many as 51 trillion pieces of microplastics now circulate in the ocean, affecting animal feeding behaviour and moving from the digestive tract into their bloodstream. Also, scientists have found suggestions of hormone disruption in the Arctic mammals because of phthalates – chemicals used in a wide range of common products – leaching out from the plastic bottles. Due to their position at the top of the food chain, polar bears are among the most contaminated among Arctic mammals.

To take action, Polarquest explorers and researchers will sail to the Svalbard archipelago in summer 2018 on Nanuq to carry out the first campaign to assess microplastic contents up to 82° degrees latitude (ice cover permitting), using a Mantanet and drones. We will share our polar adventure with the citizens of the world through a pervasive communication campaign bringing together citizens and scientists and make them collaborate in new ways.

Help us make it a global day of action for the bears by joining Polar Bears International in their efforts to make a significant decrease in greenhouse gas emissions and supporting our microplastics campaign.

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