December 14, 2007
Abstract- There are a number of facts about polar bears that Al Gore and other alarmists haven't shared with us. Polar bears are not disappearing, are very mobile, and have survived through much warmer periods thana we are experiencing today.
Al Gore- “The melting of the ice represents bad news for creatures like polar bears. A new scientific study shows that, for the first time, polar bears have been drowning in significant numbers.”
Marlo Lewis- “I found the study. The study found four drowned polar bears in one month of one year after an abrupt windstorm. Have been drowning—that suggests an ongoing problem. Significant numbers suggests that it’s enough to affect the overall population dynamic. That’s an exaggeration.” Also, the sighting occurred in an area where polar bear numbers are increasing.
We’ve all seen the heartrending photo of a lonely bear apparently stranded on a melting ice floe. It’s become the poster centerpiece for environmentalists and the media. Time magazine chose this mammal as the cover boy for one if its issues (April l3, 2006) declaring: “Be Worried. Be Very Worried,” and Al Gore offered a computer-generated bear flailing about for icy salvation in his movie.
In April 2007 Time added, “With sea ice vanishing, polar bears—prodigious swimmers but not inexhaustible ones are starting to turn up drowned.” “There will be no polar ice by 2060,” says Larry Schweiger, president of the National Wildlife Federation. “Somewhere along that path, the polar bear drops out.”
Let’s look at some facts that Al Gore and Time either missed or conveniently forgot to share with us. It’s true in Baffin Bay, one or possibly two subpopulations of polar bears out of twenty are declining. However, here’s the rest of the story-- more than half are known to be stable, and two subpopulations are actually increasing around the Beaufort Sea. In addition, the overall bear population has increased from about five thousand in the 1960s to twenty-five thousand today. But here’s the real kicker that you haven’t heard from our doomsayers—the two populations in decline come from areas where it has actually been getting colder over the past fifty years, whereas the two increasing populations reside in areas where it is getting warmer.
Here are some more facts about the region where bears are ‘declining.’ The best studied polar bear population, living on the western coast of Hudson Bay has seen its population decline 17 percent, from 1,200 in 1987 to under 500 in 2004. This is the group that has gotten most of the press. Yet, have you heard that the population of this group was only 500 in 1981 and that 300 to 500 bears are shot each year?
And speaking of shooting polar bears, in the Davis Strait of Nunavit, this topic is on the agenda because of too many bears. Nunavit is home to 12 of Canada’s 13 polar bear populations totaling an estimated 14,780. Dr. Mitch Taylor reports, “There are maybe even too many bears now. That’s not theory. That’s not based on a model. That’s observation of reality.” With this increase, folks could be looking at the possibility of increasing hunting quotas.
Talk to some Churchill, Manitoba residents, the so-called Polar Bear Capital of the World, and you also get a different view than Al Gore and Time present. These folks base their opinions on personal experience rather than fancy charts and computer models put out by scaremongers. And getting back to famous photograph mentioned earlier of the polar bear teetering precariously on an Arctic ice-floe in the depths of winter. Seems that the doomsayers forgot to mention that it was taken three years ago during the height of summer. Clearly, when the rest of the story is examined, the relationship between polar bear populations and temperature is the opposite of what we’ve been hearing.
Polar bears are also known to be very mobile. They wander thousands of miles every year on paths in enormous private northern arcs. At least one bear has been tracked pacing the ice 3,000 miles from Alaska to Greenland, then back. So, if one part of their territory is changing, they are quite capable of changing their routes and moving elsewhere.
One last item. Recent discovery of what may be the oldest known remains of a polar bear have been discovered in the Arctic. Professor Olafur Ingolfsson from the University of Iceland says this confirms that the polar bear was a morphologically distinct species at least 100,000 years ago. Between then and now there’s been at least one interglacial period (Eeemian) and it was much warmer than our present Holocene. Existence of polar bears today is proof that they survived long periods of time when the climate of the Arctic was much warmer than at present. So why didn’t they go extinct? A World Climate Reports suggests the most likely explanation is that they modified their behavior to adapt to the changing conditions, probably by spending more time on land foraging, hunting, and denning. There is evidence that these are precisely the kinds of adaptations that bears are making to best cope with today’s warmer climate. So instead of perishing, polar bears will be quite capable of adapting.