Polar Bears Could Use Your Help

The United States has five percent of the world’s population, yet produces about 25 percent of the world's carbon emissions. What we do – and don't do – to change that equation will tip the balance of the planet's future.

Want to make a difference in Seattle? Check out Seattle Climate Action Now.

Here are some tips and resources on ways you can make a difference in the fate of polar bears and the future of the planet.

  • Support polar bear advocacy. Contribute to a wildlife organization of your choice, such as the World Wildlife Fund or Polar Bears International.

  • Tell your politicians what you think. A handwritten letter or telephone call is a great way to reach your elected officials. To find contact information for your elected representatives go to the “Take Action” section.

  • Be a catalyst in your community. Many states, counties, and cities are already taking cost-effective efficiency measures, such as purchasing fleets of hybrid vehicles or ones that run on renewable fuels. Read what U.S. mayors suggest as best practices.

  • Establish a personal benchmark. Understand your own carbon imprint. Take a comprehensive look at where you can make a difference.

  • Use less gasoline. A person who buys a less efficient SUV rather than an average passenger car will, over the course of a year, use more energy than if they left the refrigerator door open for six years. You can also car-share to reduce gas consumption.

  • Think efficient. Most state and regional energy companies will conduct a free energy audit of your home. You can also do it yourself or with help from the Environmental Protection Agency.

  • Switch to renewable energy sources. Many utilities allow you to pay a little more for "green" power, often wind-generated. With tax breaks and improved technology, systems such as solar collectors may quickly pay for themselves. Learn more at the American Solar Energy Society.

  • Buy smarter, consume less, reduce, reuse and recycle. The "to-do" list here is long, from buying locally grown fruits and vegetables in season to taking fewer airplane trips and planning vacations closer to home. Buy items in bulk or packaged in containers that can be recycled, and buy recycled products. Check the energy rating of any appliance you buy. And consume less. Almost everything you buy requires energy to manufacture and transport.

  • See how the little choices we make everyday can have a big impact on our planet. Order your copy of Wake Up and Smell the Planet: The Non-Pompous, Non-Preachy Grist Guide to Greening Your Day, published by The Mountaineers Books in collaboration with Grist.

  • Be an informed voter. Support leaders with the courage to act and let them know what you think. Join a conservation organization, learn about the issues, and lobby elected officials for change. The single most important action we can take is to pressure our leaders to address global warming now.

  • Use electricity wisely. Electricity generation is the number one cause of global warming pollution. We can reduce emissions by millions of tons a year by switching to efficient bulbs and appliances. We can turn off lights, computers, and televisions when they are not being used. And we can limit the use of heat and air conditioning in our homes, schools, and workplaces.

  • Support clean-energy innovation. The solar power, wind power, and hybrid-car industries generate new jobs and help reduce carbon emissions. Ask elected representatives to redirect our tax support to new sustainable-energy solutions.

  • Think globally.We can lead by example. If the entire world population were to use the same amount of carbon-based energy as the typical American home, it would require the resources of five planet Earths! We can all make daily decisions as if they affect the whole planet—because they do!
A polar bear sow and her cubs on the tundra (coastal area, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge)
Photograph by Steven Kazlowski