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Lifestyle

February 10, 2013

Polar bear book will heat things up

For sure, it was a case of Cute Overload in black-and-white.

Nobody could’ve set up a shot that adorable: two pure-white polar bear cubs, romping in the snow with Mama Bear looking on with a watchful eye. They looked yummy, like you could scoop those babies up. The picture made you want to go hug something.

What will we do if global warming causes polar bear extinction? Author Zac Unger wondered that, too, and in his new book, “Never Look a Polar Bear in the Eye,” he shares his ice-cold journey to find out.

Cannibalism.

It’s horrible to contemplate, so when Unger read a report claiming that hungry polar bears were resorting to cannibalism, he was repulsed and intrigued. Could global warming be at the root of the phenomena? A tree hugger from way back, Unger became “obsessed” with finding out.

Not everyone agrees with global warming, of course. Some scoff at the idea, while others think that melting polar ice caps is a man-made, imminent disaster. Unger tried to get an audience with researchers who fell into the latter camp, believing like they did that the planet was in danger and polar bears were doomed.

Polar bear scientists – the ones he called the “Heavy Hitters,” however, didn’t return his calls. Instead, Unger found himself in Churchill, Manitoba, at the side of a tenured professor from New York City who’d been studying polar bears for 40 summers. Churchill, you see, is where the bears are.

Every year, just before the Hudson Bay ices over, polar bears congregate near Churchill to wait for the ice. They’ve eaten little to nothing over the summer and though it’s known that bears will eat more than just seals, the animals are hungry. That means danger for any human foolish enough to be around when the bears are moving.

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