Polar Bears on Thin Ice24:30

This article is more than 11 years old.

They’re faster than Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt.

As majestic as any creature on Earth, with their glorious white fur.

Able to cross the 3,000-plus miles of the Arctic ice cap in a single season — as long as the ice cap is there.

Now the ice cap’s in trouble, and so is the polar bear. Defenders have warned it could be gone in a generation. Just a story we tell our grandkids.

As the Copenhagen climate talks stumble, that fear only grows.

This hour, On Point: a natural history of the polar bear, and the future the great white bear of the North is facing right now.

You can join the conversation. Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.Guests:

Juliet Eilperin, national environmental correspondent for The Washington Post reporting from Copenhagen.

Richard Ellis, author of "On Thin Ice: The Changing World of the Polar Bear" and a dozen other books relating to the marine world, including "Tuna: A Love Story" and "The Empty Ocean."
You can read the introduction to "On Thin Ice" at Also see "Top Ten Facts About Polar Bears" drawn from the book.

This program aired on December 17, 2009.