[extropy-chat] global warming, with ice

Michael Lawrence Michael at videosonics.com
Sun Dec 31 11:17:10 UTC 2006

-----Original Message-----
From:	extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org on behalf of spike
Sent:	Sun 12/31/2006 3:34 AM
To:	'ExI chat list'
Subject:	Re: [extropy-chat] global warming, with ice

> bounces at lists.extropy.org] On Behalf Of Damien Broderick
> > > >Perhaps the hothouse skeptics will have a view on this report?
> > it's anthropogenic is another matter. Spike's recent posts suggested
> > that at least some such claims of warming are probably bogus...

> Blaming that on global warming does a lot of damage to the Kyoto treaty 
> crowd.

I would not worry, it is in good company. Blaming global warming has never been so popular:

"Got a problem? Blame global warming!

>From allergies to maple syrup shortages to yellow fever: apparently every contemporary ill is caused by climate change."

Yup, for a full list of absurdities go to - 


> I can easily imagine the scenario where the arctic polar ice disappears
> completely in the summer, which of course is bad news indeed for polar
> bears.  We could move a few of them to Antarctica, but of course this would
> be bad news for the penguins.  If you haven't seen the 2005 film March of
> the Penguins, that is a good one.  Hollywood should be doing more of this
> sort of thing.

Sadly the polar bears have a more pressing problem than AGW (come to think of it, so do we):

(No link available at time of writing this email)

The Sunday Times
December 31, 2006
The bears are in trouble, but they’re not on thin ice 

Reports of the imminent extinction of polar bears are exaggerated, says Stuart Wavell, while another threat is ignored.

Tony Blair huffed and Europe puffed, but in the end President George W Bush was a pushover for polar bears, whose plight persuaded him that global warming was harming the environment. By calling for the species to be added to the endangered list last week, the White House appeared to signal a commitment to cut the greenhouse gas emissions that threaten the bears’ melting habitat.

But the imminent extinction of ursus maritimus has been somewhat exaggerated. The bottom line, according to the IUCN World Conservation Union, one of the world’s leading environmental bodies, is that the world’s population of 22,000-25,000 polar bears could decline by 30% in the next 45 years. They could face extinction by the end of the century, when the human race itself might be in deep water.

They face a more immediate and less publicised threat that contributes to falling birth rates. High levels of chemical pollutants such as PCBs from Europe and east Asia account for the alarming phenomenon of androgenous polar bears with both male and female sexual organs, according to the Norwegian Polar Institute.

The same phenomenon has been noted in the Canadian Arctic, home to the world’s largest polar bear population, where Inuit hunts have reported troubling abnormalities, not only in polar bears but also in seals, walruses and small whales. Some take the form of round wounds in the skin, similar to burns.

Climate change in the Arctic is happening without a doubt, but the way the message is disseminated needs to be put into perspective. Some of the loudest cries about global warming come from Churchill on Hudson Bay, whose economy is heavily dependent on planeloads of tourists intent on seeing the 900 local polar bears.

Due to Churchill’s proximity to international airline hubs, it’s a more convenient and cheaper place to study and film bears, so it has become the de facto polar bear capital of the north. Most of the images we see of polar bears are from Hudson Bay.

This gives the misleading impression that the region’s bears are typical. But in two respects they are quite distinct. The town lies at the southern edge of the polar bears’ range and therefore the effects of climate change are different from the High Arctic, where most polar bears live. The Hudson Bay bears are unique in another way: they fast during six to eight months in a state of “walking hibernation”.

If polar bears disappear, the tragedy will impact most on Inuit communities, where they play an important cultural, spiritual and economic role. Inuit and bears, the world’s two pre-eminent hunters, are in competition for seals, whose birthing lairs can be found in pressure ridges that comprise only 2% of the sea ice. Drawn together by necessity, encounters between the predators are inevitable. Men hunt bears and bears hunt men.

Bears are also a source of food and clothing — the meat tastes like pork and polar bear storm trousers are significantly more durable than caribou furs. Each springtime, Inuit settlements allocate part of their bear quota to rich trophy-hunters whose fees boost the subsistence economy.

Polar bears might be more adaptable to climate change than supposed. Their almost-human intelligence and ingenuity has astonished observers. Glenn Williams, a former wildlife officer who monitored 2,500 bears in the vicinity at Arctic Bay on Baffin Island, recalled: “You can see them thinking all the time, like people. When you follow a bear’s tracks along a ridge, he’s always on the downwind side. Every time there’s something higher, like rough ice or an iceberg, he always goes up it to look around. They use maybe eight different methods to catch ringed seals. They’re just amazing animals.”

So perhaps we shouldn’t write them off just yet.

Stuart Wavell’s novel Trails to Heaven, set in the Arctic, is published by Robert Hale



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