Are Grolar Bears a Sign of Things to Come?
Cross-breeding, also known as hybridization, occurs in nature when two distinct yet genetically similar species breed and share traits. Due to warming global temperatures, grizzly bears in Alaska and Canada have migrated north and have mated with polar bears. The offspring dubbed the "grolar bear" or "pizzly" is an example of natural hybridization. These animals look like polar bears; however, they have larger feet, typical of grizzly bears who walk on land instead of ice.
Over millions of years, these hybrid "grolar bear" populations may create an entirely new species that are better suited to survive in warmer climates where ice is scarce. This process would likely mean the extinction or drastic decline of both polar and grizzly populations.
Hybrid animals can also be created in laboratories. Experts debate the ethics and efficacy of man-made hybrid animals to address the future threats of the climate crisis. Evolutionary biologist Andrew Whitehead, tells The Guardian that "we’re fools to think that we can genetically engineer a future-proof creature."
Sadly, the hybridization of animals, either in nature or in a lab, could indicate the looming extinction of many animals who simply cannot withstand the planet’s soaring temperatures and subsequent droughts, wildfires, hurricanes, floods, and lack of vegetation and prey caused by the climate crisis.
We must urgently address the causes of the climate crisis to stop the steady decline of biodiversity occurring around the world. The unsustainable use of our planet’s resources by an ever-growing human population, along with the unprecedented use of greenhouse gas-emitting fossil fuels, has decimated the world’s habitats and freshwater sources, leaving other animals struggling to survive.
We are living through the sixth mass extinction event, but unlike previous extinction periods caused by natural phenomena, humans are the direct cause this time — and remediate action by us is the only solution.
"Humans are the only species capable of manipulating the biosphere on a large scale. We are not just another species evolving in the face of external influences. In contrast, we are the only species that has conscious choice regarding our future and that of Earth’s biodiversity," according to Robert Cowie, a biologist from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and the French National Museum of Natural History, who along with a team of scientists, published a study examining the sixth mass extinction in the journal Biological Reviews.
Animals shouldn’t need to seek refuge from deteriorating habitats, nor should they be created in laboratories. We must do what we can — both collectively and as individuals — to stop the destruction of the climate crisis.
Too many humans combined with our subsequent reliance on animal agriculture and the transportation sector are primary drivers of the climate crisis and are responsible for the deaths of billions of vulnerable animals every year. Begin to take actionable steps towards a solution by leaving animals off of your plate. Download your free Veg Starter Guide today.