Monday, January 29, 2007

Itinerant Polar Bears

Itinerant Polar Bears

Itinerant Polar Bears (2007)

We've been feeling this heat for some time -- in spite of BushCo's repeated oil profits blinders about global warming and having their heads buried in the remaining Arctic ice sand. From the Harvard University Gazette in 2001:

While politicians argue, polar bears slowly starve.

A 1999 study of polar bears on Hudson Bay showed that rising temperatures are thinning the pack ice from which the bears hunt, driving them to shore weeks before they've caught enough food to get them through hibernation.

One of those trying to give the polar bears a break and settle the argument is James McCarthy, Alexander Agassiz Professor of Biological Oceanography and an internationally known authority on climate change. McCarthy was among a handful of top scientists who coordinated a remarkable report by the world scientific community this year that said global warming is real, it's here, and it's going to be worse than we thought.

"We already see effects that [indicate] the change in climate has occurred," said McCarthy, who also serves as director of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, head of the concentration on environmental science and public policy and Pforzheimer House master. "And the projection of some of those [effects] into the future are not a pretty scene."

More recent studies seem to lend further credence to McCarthy's observations. From the Washington Post (7-7-2005):

As the pack ice that is the bedrock of their existence melts because of global warming, polar bears are facing unprecedented environmental stress that will cause their numbers to plummet, according to a report by a panel of the world's leading experts on the species.

In a closed meeting here late last month, 40 members of the polar bear specialist group of the World Conservation Union concluded that the imposing white carnivores -- the world's largest bear -- should now be classified as a "vulnerable" species based on a likely 30 percent decline in their worldwide population over the next 35 to 50 years. There are now 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears across the Arctic.

"The principal cause of this decline is climatic warming and its consequent negative affects on the sea ice habitat of polar bears," according to a statement released after the meeting. Scientists from five countries, including the United States, attended the meeting.

"All of the evidence is heading in the same direction, and the trend is dramatic," said Scott Schliebe, who led the Seattle meeting and is polar bear project leader in Alaska for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "In a shrinking ice environment, the ability of the bears to find food, to reproduce and to survive will all be reduced."

Detail of: Itinerant Polar Bears

Upper left corner detail of Itinerant Polar Bears

And just last year -- from CNN.com:

And with sea ice vanishing, polar bears are starting to turn up drowned. "There will be no polar ice by 2060," says Larry Schweiger, president of the National Wildlife Federation. "Somewhere along that path, the polar bear drops out."

So much environmental collapse has at last awakened much of the world, particularly the 141 nations that have ratified the Kyoto treaty to reduce emissions. The Bush administration, however, has shown no willingness to address the warming crisis in a serious way...

I suppose the only way the emission-lovers at BushCo will stir from their dreams of oil drums sugar plums is if and when corporate profits are finallly threatened...

Death goes better with...

"You're talking about a president who says that the jury is out on evolution, so what possible evidence would you need to muster to prove the existence of global warming?"
--Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. in Salon

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UPDATE:

Well, melt my floes. Is the lapwatchdog press, awakening in winter caves, rubbing the sleep of catapulted propaganda from their eyes? From yesterday's Yahoo News:

Federal scientists have been pressured to play down global warming, advocacy groups testified Tuesday at the Democrats' first investigative hearing since taking control of Congress.

The hearing focused on allegations that the White House for years has micromanaged the government's climate programs and has closely controlled what scientists have been allowed to tell the public.

"It appears there may have been an orchestrated campaign to mislead the public about climate change," said Rep. Henry Waxman.

[...]

At the House hearing, two private advocacy groups produced a survey of 279 government climate scientists showing that many of them say they have been subjected to political pressure aimed at downplaying the climate threat. Their complaints ranged from a challenge to using the phrase "global warming" to raising uncertainty on issues on which most scientists basically agree, to keeping scientists from talking to the media.

The survey and separate interviews with scientists "has brought to light numerous ways in which U.S. federal climate science has been filtered, suppressed and manipulated in the last five years," Francesca Grifo, a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told the committee.

[...]

At [Senator Barbara] Boxer's Senate hearing, her predecessor as chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Sen. James Inhofe [R-OK] had his own view of the science.

There is "no convincing scientific evidence" that human activity is causing global warming, declared Inhofe, who once called global warming a hoax. "We all know the Weather Channel would like to have people afraid all the time."

"I'll put you down as skeptical," replied Boxer.

It's Repugs like Inhofe that have me afraid all the time -- not Storm Stories. When will such toadies skeptics go into permanent political hibernation?

Maybe my civics is rusty, but isn't governmental arm-twisting of intellectuals to "filter, suppress, and manipulate" public information a characteristic of...fascism?

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