Is Our Canary In The Coal Mine A Polar Bear?

Nature is our teacher. The wisdom she offers tells us who we are, where we came from and where we are going. Observation of the natural world provides insight into human behavior.

With the polar ice caps melting at an alarming rate and an increase in a behavior, 'cannibalism', once rare among polar bears, we would be wise to heed nature's warning. Not only does Science correspondent, Jonathan Amos' article, Polar Bear 'Cannibalim' Pictured, address a critical environmental catastrophe, it also offers insight into the human animal's response to environmental, or even economic collapse. For those of us who have not known war, famine, or lack of life necessities, it may be difficult to comprehend how quickly we could become the 'polar bear'.

Under the pressure of environmental and economic collapse, how will we respond as a society?

Will we eat our young?

Is the polar bear our canary in a coal mine?

Photojournalist, Jenny Ross reports that in the Olgastretet, a stretch of water in the Svalbard archipelago, "intraspecific predation has always occurred to some extent. However, there are increasing numbers of observations of it occurring, particularly on land where polar bears are trapped ashore, completely food-deprived for extended periods of time due to the loss of sea ice as a result of climate change."

This area, once ice-covered throughout the year, now has open water for an extended time in the summer, as a result of retreating sea ice.

Ross co-authored a paper with Dr. Ian Stirling, describing an intraspecific kill in July 2010, in the journal Arctic.