Monday, January 01, 2007

More on Polar Bears and Global Warming

This week the Bush administration proposed that polar bears be placed on the endangered species list as a “threatened” species because of global warming. But as Investor's Business Daily (Dec. 28, '06) put it, “The only thing endangered about polar bears is the truth.”

Three environmental groups—the Center for Biological Diversity, National Resources Defense Council, and Greenpeace—had sued to force the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to designate the bears as “threatened.” But a 12-page report to the U.S. F&WS from Mitch Taylor, a government polar bear biologist in Canada, states: “No evidence exists that suggests that both bears and the conservation systems that regulate them will not adapt to the new conditions.” In the Toronto Star in May, Taylor wrote: “Of the 13 populations of polar bears in Canada, 11 are stable or are increasing in number. They are not going extinct, or even appear to be affected.”

The current polar bear population is said to number 22,000 to 25,000, but a half century ago there were only 8,000 to 10,000. Polar bears evolved from grizzly bears about 250,000 years ago and became a distinct species about 125,000 years ago, when the climate changed. In just the last few thousand years they have survived far greater climate changes than they face today, as shown in our chart of four-thousand years of temperature records from ice-core samples in Greenland.

If polar bears are losing weight, as has been reported, it may be because of increased populations competing for the food supply—a condition that may be improved by global warming. Reduced ice cover creates better habitat for seals, the bears' main food. It also means more sunlight, which produces more phytoplankton, thus increasing the supply of other food sources.

The proposal to list the polar bear as “threatened” mentions areas of open water in the Arctic that were frozen solid 30 years ago. But these same areas were reported as open water by explorers in the early 20th century. These areas subsequently froze during several decades and have now merely returned to their previous condition.

Last week the media widely reported a large ice sheet had broken off from a glacier on Ellesmere Island and was evidence of global warming. The ice chunk was said to be the size of Manhattan Island. Big deal. Huge ice chunks have been breaking off for centuries. Nautical records have routinely listed such occurrences for at least 200 years. In 1954 or 1955 the U.S. Navy reported that an ice mass the size of the state of Connecticut had broken off from Antarctica. That was before the big increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide and the worldwide proliferation of factories and automobiles that occurred in the past half century—and before the environmentalist groups and the media were trying to scare the public with propaganda about global warming. So the Connecticut-size ice chunk wasn't newsworthy. Now tell me how the puny ice cube that recently broke off is newsworthy and shows man-made global warming.

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