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A Reexamination of Climate Change Issues

Article Excerpts from 'Polar Bears on Thin Ice, Not Really!'

 November 18, 2009

This article contains excerpts from a May 17, 2006 report by the "National Center for Policy Analysis" (NCPA) describing the current state of Polar Bear populations, showing that only small groups of bears are declining while the others are stable or increasing.


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.

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