Polar Bears live in an area more susceptible to changes of climate than others. They have therefore achieved an iconic status in the discussion on climate change. Polar bears have survived previous warm inter-glacial periods over 10s of thousands of years. There is concern that if the sea-ice they rely on as a base for seal hunting is reduced below previous levels they are at risk of extinction.

The evidence suggests that before the International Agreement on Polar Bears of 1973, bear populations were much lower than today, possibly only 20% of today’s levels. This was due to unregulated “harvesting” (a euphemism for hunting).