When it comes to climate change, polar bears are like canaries in coal mines: the creatures that die first because of a growing threat. Only we're not talking about a small bird in this case; we're talking about majestic animals that can weigh up to a 1,000 pounds.
Polar bears need firm sea ice to hunt. Too many are starving to death as the ice caps shrink and melt, foreshadowing the dire consequences to humans if global warming continues unabated. If the greenhouse gases continue to rise in our atmosphere, North American polar bears could face extinction within 50 years.
Polar Bears International (PBI) is dedicated to saving these snowy white seal hunters. And it has a strong friend in the LA-based Annenberg Foundation, which is supporting its work with a $1 million grant through the end of September 2019 to support multimedia efforts to raise awareness and participation in conservation worldwide.
Polar bears aren’t the only animals severely threatened by global warming, but they are the most charismatic. How much personality does coral have? In 2011, Annenberg gave PBI a $50,000 grant to install cameras in Canada to capture the annual November migration of the largest polar bear concentration in the world, some 1,000 bears in Churchill, Manitoba, as they made their way across the tundra to the Hudson Bay when it froze. Viewing the trek proved to be very popular.
PBI has partnered with scientists and biologists to study and document the plight of the polar bears. It supports scientific research into the degradation of the Arctic habitat. The organization disseminates only peer-reviewed studies on the impact of global warming and does its best to separate fact from fiction.
PBI is swimming upstream to accomplish its goal, but it's optimistic: “We envision the long-term survival of polar bears and the unique part of the world they call home. We see this iconic species roaming the sea ice for generations to come. Our mission is to conserve polar bears and the sea ice they depend on.”
Saving the polar bears hasn't much excited the foundation world, and PBI has attracted little major foundation support beyond Annenberg. But this is an issue that moves individual funders, and PBI has also found corporate sponsors.
The Annenberg grant is aimed at supporting PBI’s advocacy, which seeks to engage people about the Arctic environment and to educate the public through the media about why that environment matters.
The Annenberg Foundation does back efforts at climate change prevention and has selected some national and international efforts to support, but most of its grantmaking is concentrated around its Southern California home.