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Oh no, not this rubbish again: “Recent projections suggest polar bears could be extinct within 70 years”

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Watts Up With That
Sunday, September 13, 2009

Count the number of ifs, mays, and coulds in this story, then look the rebuttal and other supporting information. The Telegraph is repeating alarmism.

File:Polar Bear 2004-11-15.jpgPolar Bear at Cape Churchill (Wapusk National Park, Manitoba, Canada) Photo by Ansgar Walk

From the Telegraph By Kate Devlin, Medical Correspondent

Polar bears face extinction in less than 70 years because of global warming, scientists have warned.

Melting ice is causing their numbers to drop dramatically, they warn. Others also at risk include ivory gulls, Pacific walruses, ringed and hooded seals and narwhals, small whales with long, spiral tusks.

One of the problems is that other animals are moving north, encroaching on their territory, spurred by increasing temperatures, pushing out native species.

The animals are also struggling with the loss of sea ice.

“The Arctic as we know it may soon be a thing of the past,” said Eric Post, associate professor of biology at Penn State University, who led the latest study, published in the journal Science.

“Recent projections suggest polar bears could be extinct within 70 years.

“But we think this could be a very conservative estimate. The outlook is very bleak for them and other creatures such as ringed seals.”

He added: “The rate at which sea ice is disappearing is accelerating and these creatures rely on it for shelter, hunting and breeding. If this goes, so do they.”

Read the complete story in the Telegraph here

OK now for the other side of the story:

A few countering reports:

Christian Science Monitor, May 3rd, 2007 – Despite global warming, an ongoing study says polar bear populations are rising in the country’s eastern Arctic region.

Science Daily May 10th, 2008 – Federal Polar Bear Research Critically Flawed, Forecasting Expert Asserts

National Post March 6th, 2007 – Polar bear numbers up, but rescue continues

WUWT May 9th 2009 – The “precarious state of the U.S. polar bear population”

Dr. Mitchell Taylor, a biologist with Nunavut Territorial government in Canada wrote this letter (PDF) on April 6th, 2006 to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

Some excerpts:

At present, the polar bear is one of the best managed of the large arctic mammals. If all the arctic nations continue to abide by the terms and intent of the Polar Bear Agreement, the future of polar bears is secure.

Polar bears are believed to have evolved from grizzly bears during the Pleistocene era some 200-250,000 years ago (Amstrup 2003). Polar bears were well developed as a separate species by the Eemian interglacial approximately 125,000 years ago. This period was characterized by temperature fluctuations caused by entirely natural events on the same order as those predicted by contemporary climate change models. Polar bears obviously adapted to the changing environment, as evidenced by their presence today. That simple fact is well known and part of the information contained in the reference material cited throughout the petition, yet it is never mentioned. This fact alone is sufficient grounds to reject the petition. Clearly polar bears can adapt to climate change. They have evolved and persisted for thousands of years in a period characterized by fluctuating climate. No rational person could review this information and conclude that climate change pre-destined polar bears to extinction.

The petition admits that there is only evidence for deleterious effects from climate change for one polar bear population (Western Hudson Bay [WH]) at the southernmost extreme of polar bear range (Fig. 1). The petition argues that the likelihood of change in other areas is reason enough to find that polar bears should be regarded as a species at risk of imminent extinction. I hope the review considers the precedent set by accepting this argument. Climate change will affect all species to some extent, including humans. If the likelihood of change is regarded as sufficient cause to designate a species or population as “threatened,” then all species around the world are “threatened.”

Some data. With hunting no longer allowed, bear populations have increased 4-5 times:

polar bear numbers

Fig. 1. Circumpolar distribution of polar bear populations. The Western Hudson Bay population (WH), for which data on negative impacts of climate change exist, is highlighted. Polar bears of WH comprise approximately 4% of the world total population polar bears.

This article was posted: Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 5:59 am

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