Can We Learn from Bears?
from Wildlife Promise
Hibernating bears have been an overlooked phenomenon for too long. If we could isolate and reproduce their chemistry, it would be a huge leap for health and science. Fortunately, scientists have begun studying bears for the benefit of human health; however, due to climate change, our research time may be cut short.
Recently, all hibernating bears have either drastically shortened their hibernation period or neglected to hibernate at all. Although seemingly minor, this change in behavior leads to many problems. When bears come out of hibernation early, the reliable food supply they are expecting is nowhere to be found. This forces them to either make an unhealthy shift in diet, ravage premature plants and animals before the population can grow, or worst of all, die of starvation.
Scientists attribute this behaivor shift to global warming, suggesting warmer winters entice bears to delay hibernation and encourage them to wake up earlier.
We have a perfect opportunity to stop this crisis before it happens.
On Thursday, October 1st, concerned Americans will be calling their U.S. Senators, urging them to dedicate funding to protect wildlife and natural resources in the The Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act–a bill designed to curb the impacts of climate change and invest in clean energy technologies.
Scientists have only just begun answering the mysteries surrounding hibernating bears. How do they convert toxic urea into protein, enabling them to not urinate for months? (If humans held it for that long we would die!) How can bears reduce their heart rate to 1/5 its normal rate during hibernation without causing brain or heart damage? (Humans would have heart failure.) How is it possible for bears to remain immobile for months and wake up good as new without muscle or bone loss? If a human is bedridden for the same amount of time, his bones will become brittle and he’d loose enough muscle mass to make walking extremely difficult. If these questions are answered, the medical resources and potential cures for human medical conditions are innumerable.