Study Says Polar Bears Could Face Extinction (washingtonpost.com): "The sea ice in Hudson Bay, Canada, now breaks up 2 1/2 weeks earlier than it did 30 years ago, said Canadian Wildlife Service research scientist Ian Stirling, and as a result female polar bears there weigh 55 pounds less than they did then. Assuming the current rate of ice shrinkage and accompanying weight loss in the Hudson Bay region, bears there could become so thin by 2012 they may no longer be able to reproduce, said Lara Hansen, chief scientist for the World Wildlife Fund.
'Once the population stops reproducing, that's pretty much the end of it,' Hansen said.
Arctic residents have already detected changes in polar bears' behavior. Jose Kusugak, president of the Canadian Inuit political association, said at a news conference that within the past two years he witnessed a polar bear 'stock up on caribou' because it was deprived of seals. Hudson Bay residents now complain the bears are coming onto land more often, forced to seek sustenance in a habitat where they are less well adapted. Polar bears are not the only Arctic animals in trouble. The ringed seals that bears eat, and that humans hunt, are also dependent on the sea ice to rest, give birth, nurse and feed. "
WAIT, AREN'T YOU BEARS SUPPOSED TO BE GOING SOMEWHERE?!
ESA LISTING NOT NEEDED FOR POLAR BEARS: Environmental activists have presented only one academic study that shows any negative effect of warming temperatures on polar bears, and only anecdotal evidence of bears drowning and eating each other, says H. Sterling Burnett, senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis.
Other, more comprehensive research suggests the plight of that one population does not reflect the polar bear population trend as a whole:
Since the 1970s, while much of the world was warming, polar bear numbers increased dramatically, from roughly 5,000 to 25,000 bears -- a higher polar bear population than has existed at any time in the twentieth century.
Scientists believe polar bears thrived in the past in temperatures even warmer than at present -- during the medieval warm period 1,000 years ago and during the Holocene Climate Optimum between 5,000 and 9,000 years ago.
Dr. Mitchell Taylor, a biologist with Nunavut Territorial government in Canada says the polar bear population in Canada alone has increased 25 percent from 12,000 to 15,000 during the past decade, with 11 of Canada's 13 polar bear populations stable or increasing in number.
Labels: global warming, man-made global warming