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  • lonesome_polecatt lonesome_polecatt Mar 12, 2014 4:46 PM Flag

    The global warming is threatening polar bears, BS

    Is Global Warming Killing Polar Bears? The Arctic Assessment concludes, "global warming could cause polar bears to go extinct by the end of the century by eroding the sea ice that sustains them." According to the assessment, the threat to polar bears is threefold: changes in rainfall or snowfall amounts or patterns could affect the ability of seals, the bears' primary prey, to successfully reproduce and raise their pups; decreased sea ice could result in a greater number of polar bears drowning or living more on land, negatively affecting their diet (forcing them to rely on their fat stores prior to hibernation); and unusual warm spells could cause the collapse of winter dens or force more bears into less-desirable denning areas.

    Though polar bears are uniquely adapted to the Arctic region, they are not wedded solely to its coldest parts nor are they restricted to a specific Arctic diet. Aside from a variety of seals, they eat fish, kelp, caribou, ducks, sea birds and scavenged whale and walrus carcasses. In addition, as discussed above, Arctic air temperatures were as high as present temperatures in the 1930s and polar bears survived.

    Interestingly, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), an international organization that has worked for 50 years to protect endangered species, has also written on the threats posed to polar bears from global warming. However, their own research seems to undermine their fears. According to the WWF, about 20 distinct polar bear populations exist, accounting for approximately 22,000 polar bears worldwide. As the figure shows, population patterns do not show a temperature-linked decline:
    •Only two of the distinct population groups, accounting for about 16.4 percent of the total population, are decreasing.
    •Ten populations, approximately 45.4 percent of the total number, are stable.
    •Another two populations - about 13.6 percent of the total number of polar bears - are increasing.

    The status of the remaining six populations (whether they are stable, increasing or decreasing in size) is unknown.

    Moreover, when the WWF report is compared with the Arctic air temperature trend studies discussed earlier, there is a strong positive (instead of negative) correlation between air temperature and polar bear populations. Polar bear populations are declining in regions (like Baffin Bay) that have experienced a decrease in air temperature, while areas where polar bear populations are increasing (near the Bering Strait and the Chukchi Sea) are associated with increasing air temperatures. Thus it is difficult to argue that rising air temperatures will necessarily and directly lead to a decrease in polar bear populations.

    Conclusion. Are human activities causing a warming in the Arctic, affecting the sea ice extent, longevity and thickness? Contradictory data exists. What seems clear is that polar bears have survived for thousands of years, including both colder and warmer periods. There may be threats to the future survival of the polar bear, but global warming is not primary among them.

    H. Sterling Burnett is a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis.

    Sentiment: Buy

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