Skip to comments.Thin Polar Bears Called Sign of Global Warming
Posted on 05/17/2002 8:45:25 AM PDT by cogitator
Thin Polar Bears Called Sign of Global Warming
WASHINGTON, DC, May 16, 2002 (ENS) - Hungry polar bears are one of the early signs that global warming is impacting Arctic habitat, suggests a new study from World Wildlife Fund. The report reviews the threats faced by the world's 22,000 polar bears and highlights growing evidence that human induced climate change is the number one long term threat to the survival of the world's largest land based carnivores.
Global warming threatens to destroy critical polar bear habitat, charges the report, "Polar Bears at Risk." The burning of coal and other fuels emits carbon dioxide (CO2) and other gases that blanket the earth, trap in heat and cause global warming.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), climate change in the polar region is expected to be the greatest of anywhere on Earth.
"The WWF report shows that polar bears in Hudson Bay are being impacted by climate change," said Lynn Rosentrater, coauthor of the report and climate scientist at the World Wildlife Fund's (WWF) Arctic program. "The polar bear's basis for survival is being threatened by the reduction of the sea ice."
"Since the sea ice is melting earlier in the spring, polar bears move to land earlier without having developed as much fat reserves to survive the ice free season," Rosentrater explained. "They are skinny bears by the end of summer, which in the worst case can affect their ability to reproduce."
Increasing CO2 emissions have caused Arctic temperatures to rise by five degrees Celsius over the past 100 years, and the extent of sea ice has decreased by six percent over the past 20 years. By around 2050, scientists now predict a 60 percent loss of summer sea ice, which would more than double the summer ice free season from 60 to 150 days.
Sea ice is critical to polar bears' survival because it is the platform from where they hunt their primary prey - ringed seals and bearded seals. Diminishing ice cover and longer ice free periods limit the time the bears have on the ice to hunt and means that they have fewer fat resources to survive during the longer summer season.
Lower body weight also reduces female bears' ability to lactate, leading to fewer surviving cubs. Already, fewer than 44 percent of cubs now survive the ice free season.
As early as 1999, Canadian researchers noticed that polar bears in the Hudson Bay region were having trouble finding enough seals to eat due to the earlier breakup of sea ice. The scientists from the Canadian Wildlife Service found that weight for both male and female polar bears was declining, and female bears were having fewer cubs.
The impacts of global warming come on top of problems that polar bears already face from hunting, toxic pollution and oil development in the Arctic. The Arctic region is contaminated by pesticides and other chemicals carried by air and condensation from industrialized areas far to the south.
The pollutants enter the food chain, and animals at the top of the chain, such as polar bears, can carry tremendous body burdens of toxic chemicals. Research on polar bears has shown a link between high contaminant levels and reduced immune system function.
Due to the rapid pace of change in the Arctic, there is no time to lose in reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, WWF argues. The group says major reductions can be achieved by using existing technologies to increase the energy efficiency of homes, businesses and automobiles, and by using renewable energy sources instead of fossil fuels.
Bipartisan support has grown in Congress for a renewable portfolio standard that would ensure that 20 percent of U.S. energy comes from renewable energy by 2020. However, President George W. Bush has opposed the proposal.
World leaders will discuss a similar proposal at the World Summit for Sustainable Development in South Africa this summer. The WWF is calling on President Bush to support this initiative in Johannesburg.
"Arctic nations that are home to most of the world's polar bears should be leading the charge against global warming," said Jennifer Morgan, director of WWF's climate change program. "Instead, the United States - the world's largest global warming polluter - is essentially ignoring this problem. All eyes will be on President Bush at the upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa this August to test his commitment to sustainable energy solutions for climate change."
The WWF has created a new Web site: http://www.panda.org/polarbears with extensive information about polar bears and their Arctic domain. The site includes satellite tracking of two female bears, Louise and Gro, as they roam the ice pack in search of prey.
The United States isn't exactly an "Arctic" nation, sweets (parts of North Dakota and Maine excepted).
Any Canadians care to comment?
No, its a sign that they need more, preferably chubby, tree-huggers to visit.
I hadn't thought of that solution. Good plan.
One day Chicken Little was walking in the woods when -- KERPLUNK -- an acorn fell on her head
"Oh my goodness!" said Chicken Little. "The sky is falling! I must go and tell the king."
Well, the problem with the Churchill (Manitoba) polar bears has been known for a couple of years; I saw TV shows about it a couple of years ago. But the Hudson Bay polar bears are a subset of the entire polar bear population, so to extrapolate the condition of these bears to the whole population is certaintly stretching the data. They are, like most top predators, suffering from food-chain concentration of environmental contaminants, but I think other species (such as St. Lawrence belugas and Puget Sound orcas) are in worse shape.
Any chance they are adapting to the warmer weather we had this year and need less fat ?
Last January, a population of 27,000 bears was reported, along with a 66% error in counting: Higher Nunavut polar bear numbers lead to hopes of increased hunting trade
IQALUIT, Nunavut (CP) - A new survey has found 66 per cent more polar bears in an area of Nunavut than was previously estimated, raising hopes for more visits from American hunters. Nunavut's is estimated to have 16,000 bears - more than half the entire global population of 27,000.
This link sheds some light on that.
"Eighty per cent of the adult bears in the Churchill area have been tranquillized, handled, tagged, tattooed, weighed and measured, had blood drawn, teeth checked, their behaviour and life history recorded, many more than once."
"The scientists have found that for every week the ice breaks up earlier the bears come ashore 10 kilos lighter."
This article also notes that the Manitoba/Hudson Bay population is the best-studied polar bear population anywhere.
Too many factors other than global warming.
Also in the article was a claim that the average temperature in the Arctic has never been lower than it is right now.
I'm so confused...
Perhaps this tranquillizing and handling has hurt the bears health? You can't make measurements without effecting what is being measured.
Whose to argue with the World Wrestling Federation?
It boils my blood when they repeat such statements as proven facts. Maybe increased solar activity caused the increase. Maybe inaccurate thermometers caused the increase. Maybe the stove in their research station caused the increase. Maybe their imaginations caused the increase.
By around 2050, scientists now predict a 60 percent loss of summer sea ice
What kinds of scientists? How many scientists? What of the political agenda of these scientists? I'm a scientist of sorts and I predict a 60 percent increase of summer sea ice. I need one other scientist to agree with me so I can issue the opposite statement of theirs. Any takers?
I hope you're planning on being around in a decade. I know I expect to be.
I predict that by 2012 a lot of these suggested trends will turn out to have been quite accurate predictors. It's kinda like the current situation about the harbingers of the September 11 attacks: there was a lot of suggestive evidence of what might happen, but nobody was able to put it together because it was too diverse. Nonetheless, when examined in retrospect, the potential for a major attack of some kind was obvious (despite the difficulty of recognizing the actual mode of attack and the targets).
There are a lot of indicators right now in the environment that do not tell us what is going to happen, but they all bode toward a worsening of the current situation. Borderline populations of organisms, i.e., those living closest to the "edge" of the conditions to which they are adapted, will be the most stressed by environmental change. Therefore, trends in those populations will be most indicative.
Thus, we shall see.
These 'scientists' use computer modeling to predict the weather. They can't accurately and reliably tell me what the temperature will be in my hometown tomorrow...but they use the same computer modeling to predict the temperature on a global scale 100 years from now? Come on.
Just because 'everybody' thinks a certain way, doesn't make it true. Everybody thought that the world was flat, at one point in time.
Don't get me going on Global Warming.
Oh please take me up on that. I have at least $10K I would put down against the wacko-environmentalist worst-worst-worst case computer similations being anywhere close to correct.
What is the sourse on that claim? That sounds like an outright lie.
The "Lost Squadron" that ditched in southern Greenland in 1942 was found buried under 268 feet of ice in 1992. How can the glaciers be advancing even as the globe is warming? Hmmmmmmm?!?!?!
Ummm...this is bad?
Yeah, a 5 degree C increase in the tropics would be bad. But a 5 degree C rise in arctic temperature still leaves it too !@#$%%^ cold to be habitable.
I'm sorry, but here at the 45th parallel (give or take), a little warming makes for milder winters, a longer growing season, and generally better living. Let's think about humans first, polar bears second.
No...in the worst case, you just need to marinate their steaks a little longer, and make sure you don't overcook them.
Ha ha ha. The phrase 'suggested trend' should not be conflated with 'accurate predictor' IAC. Two entirely different things.
I've been saying for years that a modest amount of global warming exists (how much is manmade is quite conjectural), as well as pointing out that 90% of it will be at high latitudes, during the winter and at night, something the IPCC is just starting to officially admit. A corollary of this effect is that cyclonic weather patterns which drive hurricanes and tornadoes will tend to diminish in strength, although average precipitation will probably increase slightly.
Average global warming will amount to only one or two degrees Celsius by 2100, and ocean levels will not rise by more than about six inches, and probably less than that, which is far less than average tidal variations. Look for the envirowhackos' doom and gloom guesses to converge to these predictions over time.
Actually, I look for the predictions to get worse. They are lying now and will lie even more because nobody is listening to them. There might be a couple of honest modelers out there, but they will soon lose funding. The IPCC is a corrupt organization whose sole foundation is spreading lies.
Well, if one was to bet on a subject like this, one would have be quite specific about the terms, and the determination of whether or not a predicted outcome had been realized. Now, you are proposing to wager that none of the "worst-worst-worst case computer simulations" will turn out to be close to correct. I think that's a pretty safe bet! Thus, I (or anyone) would be pretty dumb to take you up on it.
Now, here's a clearer statement of my prediction. If you can figure out how to quantify it, then I'd put a 12-pack of Blue Ridge Amber Lager on the line. To make it fun.
"A variety of indicators exhibit trends as of year 2002 that if continued would support the observtion of a basic decline in global environmental quality. By the year 2012, these trends will be clearly more indicative of declining environmental quality than in 2002. While a few of these trends may be reversible via concerted action, the majority of the trends will not reverse by 2012."
I'd suggest proposing 15 indicators that have a defined trend over 1992-2002. I'd predict that by 2012 a majority (8) of these indicators will have a more pronounced trend in the same direction as current.
So, if one wanted to use the Hudson Bay polar bears as an example, we'd need to have data showing a decreasing trend in average weight or average fat rating (the article linked describes that assessment). I'd make two predictions that could be assessed on this indicator: a) that the population of Hudson Bay polar bears will decline 2002-2012; and b) that the remaining population will have a lower average weight and fat content in 2012 than in 2002.
But the 5 C figure is a magical one to global warming theories. That is the size of the difference between ice ages and the present. It was the size of change predicted by the first theorists of CO2 induced warming 100 years ago, when they knew precious little about the subject. It was the size of change predicted by the initial mid 1970s computer models, with large known errors since found in their assumptions. The real source of ice ages, long-scale variations in earth's orbital eccentricity, was rediscovered and became widely understood only in the 1970s, soon after the first global warming computer models.
The 5 C figure remains the key prediction of the UN climate modeling group, no matter how many extra mystery power terms they have to add, when CO2 changes are shown to be unable to produce effects that large. One wag called it "Planck's constant" - a law of nature. The theory can change, but the prediction never. Because the whole thing originated in an attempt to explain ice ages, and so is tied to predicting a change of the same scale as ice ages.
Ever since we found out what really causes ice ages, all such theories have "overexplained" them. Meaning, if such theories were right ice ages should have been twice as intense as they actually were, because they are independently explained twice over. This is one of two basic problems with all the existing CO2 warming theories.
The other basic problem is they predict the wrong scale of temperature response from the power terms they find for greenhouse effect of increased CO2 concentration. The power expected from the scale of changes seen in the past is on the order of 1 watt per square meter, while that for projected future changes, up to doubling of atmospheric CO2, are around 2-2.5 watts per square meter.
But they only arrive at large scale predicted temperature changes from those by the mistake of a linear predicted response between power and temperature. When the well known physical law in the matter is that the power needed to maintain a higher equilibrium temperature goes as the fourth power of the temperature (in degrees kelvin). So even on the highest projections of CO2 effects, they are missing 3/4ths of the power they need.
The real scale of expected effect from observed CO2 variations is in 10ths of 1 degree C. Which fits the data better than their own models. Since they must save the 5 C prediction to maintain the scare mongering interest and policy implication aspects of the whole affair, they just wave their hands and pretend there must be positive feedbacks somewhere that quadruple the power effect, for some reason only of CO2 variations, without amplifying every other variation in the system. Which is just an epicycle hunt. They have no reason to expect such things physically, and can't even name the power source.
Whenever they are asked for one, they wave their hands and invent some possible mechanism without any evidence. When it is checked by serious physicists, the sign is usually in the wrong direction or the wrong order of magnitude or both. For instance, for a long time they hope to find such amplifiers in cloud effects. But clouds are net coolers, and cloud cover has shown a small net increase since the CO2 spike, making it a damping force not an amplifying one.
The global warming emperor has no clothes. They engage in this sort of popular-opinion astrology instead of explaining where the missing power is supposed to come from because they can't do the latter, while the former is as easy as prophesying doom due to unfavorable omens. Which is all it amounts to, until they produce a non-mystical power budget explaining what is supposed to keep the "lights" on in their predicted future.
It takes an enourmous amount of power operating continually to keep a big object glowing even slighter hotter indefinitely. Just like an electric stove, unless the power is still on, any warmer body just cools off again rapidly by radiating away its heat energy in the infrared. Any allegation of a higher equilibrium temperature therefore requires a power budget to explain where the sustaining power is coming from.
They don't have one. Yes, atmospheric greenhouse from CO2 can contribute a continually operating power source for this, but it is an order of magnitude too small for the scale of effects they are predicting, and can only account for 10ths of a degree C temperature changes. It is easy to see why.
CO2 is a trace element in the atmosphere, far below 1% of its composition. Changes on the order of double or half in its concentration are therefore changes on the same order - less than 1% of the atmosphere. And CO2 acts only slightly differently than other gases, due to different sensitivities to this or that color of light. Second order changes in 1000s of parts of the atmosphere, therefore. And the atmosphere as a whole is only the third factor in global temperatures, behind sunlight heating and rotation cooling. Neither of which changes with atmospheric concentrations of anything.
Small changes in marginal effects of trace elements in the third cause of earth mean temperature do not produce enourmous changes in earth mean temperature.