Global warming: Polar bear lies refuted

On the path to extinction. PHOTO BY USGS/STEVEN AMSTRUP.

The future looks dim for Arctic predators

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — A recent story about the travails of a federal researcher who is being investigated after documented drowning polar bears drew a record number of page views for Summit Voice — more than 75,000 in two days, which isn’t too bad for an 19-month-old news blog with a full-time staff of one, plus a handful of volunteer citizen journalists.

The scientist, Charles Monnet, is being investigated by the Interior Department’s Inspector General, supposedly for integrity issues and for his management of contracts related to an ongoing polar bear study. This means, of course, that the whole issue instantly became highly politicized in the context of the polar bear’s status as the first animal to be put on the endangered species list because of global warming, and the ongoing economic pressure to drill for more oil off the coast of Alaska.

The story also drew a number of interesting comments, and one of the most interesting themes that emerged was that there appears to be some belief out there that polar bears are just fine; that there are more polar bears than ever before and that there’s no need to do anything to protect them.

It’s a sheer, bald-faced lie. I’d have a lot more respect if those folks just said they don’t care about polar bears, and that being able to buy cheap gasoline is more important to them than protecting an endangered species. I know a lot of people feel like that; I just haven’t met too many who are willing to come right out and say it.

Of course, none of those comments had any references to studies or reports that would back up those claims. As these things go, there’s probably a tiny kernel of truth somewhere deep down.

Perhaps one researcher documented an increase in a local polar bear population in one particular spot. Maybe people are seeing higher concentrations of polar bears in smaller areas because their habitat is shrinking so rapidly. From that evolved the wild claims of exploding polar bear populations. It’s almost as if  the people making those claims hope to convince everyone else just by the the sheer volume of repetition.

Most reasonable people know better. Monthly and seasonal satellite measurements clearly tell the story of the Arctic ice pack, and those cameras don’t lie. The ice pack is inexorably melting away, and with it, the habitat the polar bears have evolved with. And it’s happening at a speed far beyond the realm of natural climate variability because we continue to pump heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

You don’t have to take my word for it. Scientists in many disciplines have been working on the same questions, and while there are some slight differences in projections of ice melt and the related loss in polar bear habitat, the end result is the same. The very best we can hope for are some remnant populations that will need to be protected from impacts like potential oil spills. Then, perhaps someday if the ice starts to recover in a few centuries, those populations will once again be able to spread out across a wider range.

Here are some of the most recent conclusions with links to the relevant studies.

A USGS survey that looked at carrying capacity estimates that total carrying capacity in the southern Beaufort Sea (near Alaska) will decline by 7 to 10 percent in the next 45 years, and by up to a third in the next 100 years. In some sub-regions, the carrying capacity is likely to decline by half. Globally, total carrying capacity across all ecoregions was projected to drop 10-22 percent from present levels by year 45, 22-32 percent from present levels by year 75, and 20-37 percent from present levels by year 100.

Under models projecting the most ice loss, bears could be completely extirpated from some of the polar ecoregions in half a century. The authors of this particular report explained that their projected rates of of habitat decline and carrying capacity are actually slower than the changes observed during the past two decades.

The bottom line is that two-thirds of the world’s polar bear population will probably be gone by mid-century. At least 42 percent of optimal polar bear summer habitat will be lost in that same span. The largest reduction in habitat is is expected in spring and summer. Sea ice will reform in the winter, but the ever-larger retreats of sea ice during the warm season may prevent bears from returning to onshore denning habitat. Read the executive summary here.

Polar bears are on the fast track to extinction, and all the hot about about record polar bear numbers is only hastening their demise.

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21 Responses

  1. All scientists are liberal, leftist Communists, along with economists, artists, and trial lawyers. Only America’s CEOs, whose pay is undervalued given the Utopian world their bold leadership has created, can be counted on to tell the truth to the millions of real Americans who are smart enough to bypass the lamestream media and get the fact straight from Talk Radio.

  2. The usual deception behind the ‘polar bear populations are increasing’ lie is to compare numbers now to those before the end of unrestricted hunting in the 1960s… when polar bears were on the brink of extinction.

    This, of course, ignores the fact that polar bear numbers have now reversed course again and are declining along with the loss of their habitat. Hunting is only a problem when it is not properly controlled. If a population is declining hunting quotas are scaled back until it stabilizes. However, that isn’t helping with the current declines because hunting isn’t the cause. Ice retreat is.

  3. It’s a bald face lie! Out of sight, out of mind, is more to the point I think. The political spin misters have been brainwashing the public for years, since the 70′s, about the Earth running out of Oil. What they didn’t tell the public was the easy to get at oil was running out. The oil today is getting harder to get at, but that doesn’t mean the Earth is running out. Needless to say, the consumer has been conditioned to think that they will have to go back to the horse & buggy days if the O&G Industry doesn’t get their way. You could call it extortion, which probably it is, but the human reaction that they are more important than Nature is, well, look around, as the Industrial conglomerates continue destroying the habitat, we will reach a point where the Earth can no longer function. Where do the humans go to live if the land is poisoned? The hand writing is on the walls so to speak, but the attitude of “damn the torpedo’s, full steam ahead” in this quest for carbon based energy is so short sighted, yet the people have been conditioned to go with the party line.

  4. [...] Global warming: Polar bear lies refutedSummit County Citizens VoiceThis means, of course, that the whole issue instantly became highly politicized in the context of the polar bear’s status as the first animal to be put on the endangered species list because of global warming, and the ongoing economic pressure to drill …Global Warming Theory Faces Sudden Collapse Fox News (blog)Global Warming Hysteria Caused By ‘Save the Polar Bear’ Scientist Is Silly The StirPolar Bear Population Much Higher Than in 20th Century: Is Something Fishy … International Business Times Media Matters for America  - The Associated Press  - Democracy Nowall 129 news articles » [...]

  5. Anytime I see the terms ‘computer models predict’ in the same sentence regarding global warming I instantly roll my eyes and hit the ‘Back’ button. Time and time again, these models have been proven to be completely off, if not fabrications (see Mann’s model) to prove AGW. Take a look at the latest NASA study that shows the earth’s atmosphere does not retain the amount of heat previously predicted. This variable alone is a large variable in those computer models, which use many more unknowns in creating their ‘models’.

  6. Polar bears live a risky life. It was never uncommon to see a Polar Bear that had drowned wash up ashore. Just ask an Eskimo. This is not proof that they died because of Global Warming. And, even if they had died from Global Warming, that does not prove that man had anything to do with it.

    What part of the word ‘theory’ do Liberals and the mainstream media not understand. It has not been concluded that man caused Global Warming, that man can prevent or reverse Global Warming, or that Global Warming is anything other than a normal, cyclical change in the weather that will one day prove to be a benefit; just as Global Warming must have when it put an end to the (supposed) Ice Age.

    • Wow, it would be great news if global warming sort of stopped at a level that created a more benign climate for agriculture, etc, but that’s not what most of the models predict. As far as “theory,” I think we’re beyond that, and it’s generally acknowledged that greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are heating the land and oceans at a much greater rate than any natural cyclical climate variations.

  7. No matter have convincing the science, global warming denial (and for that matter…distrust of science) will always have an article/study come along that despite being a minority will “again, discredit global warming.” Why is it that some of you just don’t like science…is it plain ignorance? Is it because it doesn’t fit your agenda, politically or from religious viewpoints?
    The same old, tired nonsense. Mainstream media? Hello…the mainstream media is corporately funded and has no interest in exposing the downside of fossil fuels. “Liberals” don’t understand. Why must so many of you hide in the world of “pigeon hole” those who don’t share your flat earth views? Polar bears are being threatened by loss of ice. Simple. The loss of ice is due to a warming earth. Simple. We are burning fossil fuels that are responsible. Get over it.

    • John, I lean toward agreement with your position stated here; it’s fairly straightforward as far as polar bears, but at least the last few comments on this were fairly civil, quite different from the near-hateful and/or spiteful comments I often get from global-warming deniers.

  8. Yes, at least a civil dialogue. At times…I have been actually threatened. I refuse to back down…a teacher of science for 30 years…I start year 31 this fall: we must give people facts. Enough of the name calling/reliance on misinformation. If you disagree: give facts and the ability to agree to disagree/or better yet: learn and even change your position. What happened to that?

  9. Bob,

    The Hudson Bay has a large population of Polar Bears, yet is ice free every summer for three months. It is quite clear that Polar Bears can live without ice in the summer.

    Walt Meier at NSIDC in Boulder says that there were ice free summers across the entire Arctic between five and fifteen thousand years ago. The bears survived that just fine.

  10. Excuse me for claiming that ‘us denailists’ are rejecting science. Science is based on fact not a group imposing their will on the general population.

    The polar population is quite stable and this website refutes various arguments proposed by the alarmists.

    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/monckton/goreerrors.html

  11. Roh, interesting group your link takes one to. It seems certain pages don’t load, through some error on the part of the site. Personal opinion, another deniers site. Also, some of the names cited as Scientists have been debunked already in other publications. You should consider the fact that you will be thrown under the bus when those who finance these sites are done with you. Or perhaps your one of those Democrats who believe “O” is still in their corner, you know, the ones who still believe his dream scam?

  12. http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/08/05/polar-bear-kills-one-injures-four-on-british-expedition-to-arctic/?test=latestnews

    Apparently there is no shortage of Polar Bears here: “VON POSTBREEN, Norway – A polar bear attacked a group of British students camping on a remote Arctic glacier as part of a high-end adventure holiday, killing a 17-year-old boy and injuring four other young people Friday before a trip member fatally shot the bear.

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/08/05/polar-bear-kills-one-injures-four-on-british-expedition-to-arctic/#ixzz1UDDBafED

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