Cows have exterminated polar bears

How do you picture a polar bear? Probably like a majestic animal, one of the most fascinating creature in the whole world, able to instill an incredible sense of fear to who is looking at it.

The image of the white bear which is inside everyone’s head soon will be a distant memory.

The polar bear has been a victim of global warming: the WWF report “Climate changes and the sixth mass extinction” describes us a terrible prevision according to which in 2050 two thirds of polar bears could be extinct.

This phenomenon is caused by the ongoing effects of climate change, that are causing a reduction on the sea ice in the Arctic, natural habitat of the polar bear.

But if in the Arctic the situation is dramatic, in Antarctic we cannot say the situation is better. According to the WWF if the average global temperature should increase by two degrees the 75% of the Adeliè penguin population will be at risk. The forecast is catastrophic: a true mass extinction. This could be the sixth mass extinction of the History of the World, but, unlike the previous ones, it will not be generated by natural geological phenomenon but will be caused by man.

Not only polar bears and penguins, but all the animals living in cold environment are at risk.

So, in Italy we risk that all our steinbocks, ermines, chaffinches, snow grouses will be gone forever.

But this is not all…there are animals which take advantage by the ongoing climate change: for example mosquitoes and jellyfishes…not exactly the most pleasurable creature on Earth!

The rise in the average global temperature is cause by the increase, due to human activity, of the concentration of warehouse gases in the atmosphere, among which there is carbon dioxide. The increase in the concentration of warehouse gases is mainly due to three factors: generation of energy from fossil fuels (oil, carbon and natural gas), deforestation and intensive farming. These are three topics which are complex and hard to address in a blog post, we know it: for this reason we will just list some alarming data.

In 2017 there was again an increase in global CO2 emissions, after that for 3 years the increase was 0. This situation is even more worrying because it happened just a few months after the Paris conference on climate (December 2015). In that occasion 195 governs have adopted the first universal and boundary agreement on global climate, according to which every government is obliged to, among other things, reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Another cause of global warming is, as we mentioned, deforestation. Between 2012 and 2017 deforestation in Amazzonia has increased by 75%. And if Amazzonia can be perceived as a place far away from us, a report by the European Commission states that from 1990 to 2008 Europe has been responsible for the deforestation of 9 million hectare of forest, an area as big as Ireland.

Finally, we come to the less expected cause: intensive farming, a topic which we have already addressed in this blog. Livestock releases methane through the microorganisms responsible for the digestion: flatulences of cows are therefore one of the main causes of nitrogen in the air. To this fact we need to add the nitrous oxide generated by the decomposition of manure. We need to add also the environmental impact of all the resources used (like water, energy and lands) for animal farming (cows, but also pigs, chicken, and all the animals that we farm for food).

Controversially and in a simplistic manner we can conclude that cows have exterminated polar bears?

Clearly it is a provocation we make, but if it can seem too daring, unfortunately it is not far from the truth.


Data related to the extinction of animals are taken from the WWF report “Climate changes and the sixth mass extinction”.

Data on emission are taken from the 2017 report presented to the World Meteorological Organization (Wmo).

Data on deforestation are taken from the 2017 “Study “The impact of EU consumption on deforestation”.