Wednesday, December 15, 2010

BBC 'Science' Reporter Insists Polar Bears In Trouble

I think it is time for the BBC to get a new science reporter. Today's breathless headline proclaims Polar bears can be saved by emissions cuts, study says.

Well that is all fine and dandy except for the fact that the polar bears don't need saving. Their population has been growing over the last decade.
From 2007:
In the Davis Strait area, a 140,000-square kilometre region, the polar bear population has grown from 850 in the mid-1980s to 2,100 today.

"There aren't just a few more bears. There are a hell of a lot more bears," said Mitch Taylor, a polar bear biologist who has spent 20 years studying the animals.

And then there is this story from Jan of this year with anecdotal evidence.
In the Western Hudson Bay area, where harvest quotas were reduced by 80 percent four years ago, communities are complaining about the number of polar bears. “Now people can look out the window and see as many as 20 polar bears at the ice-flow edge,” Flaherty says.

During a public hearing last September focusing on the polar bear population in the Baffin Bay region, hunters reported more sightings of females with three cubs. The normal litter is one or two. Flaherty, himself a serious hunter, says the abundant food supply – primarily baby ring seals – in the area is responsible for the bigger litters.

The on-the-ground reports, if accurate, seem to contradict the official story of the beleaguered polar bear. According to the standard theory, warmer temperatures (caused by human CO2 emissions) are shrinking the ice floe, the polar bear’s main hunting ground, forcing populations to compete for a diminishing food supply. Warmer temperatures also are to blame for the loss of thicker “multi-year ice.”

The BBC writer also seems to be worried about polar bears breeding with grizzlies, and while that might be of some concern if you were to stumble across one of these monsters I wonder if the author is harboring some sort of racist thinking. Can't have those white bears breeding with the brown ones after all, we all know what happens next.
Dr Brendan Kelly of the US National Marine Mammal Laboratory, and colleagues, write in a separate comment piece about the possibility of increased cross-breeding between the polar and grizzly bears.

A polar bear with patches of brown fur was shot by hunters in 2006 and this year, a hunter killed a polar bear thought to be the offspring of a polar-grizzly hybrid.

Dr Kelly suggests that as the ice cap melts and polar bears go ashore, the natural barrier between the bear populations will fall, and such hybrids, dubbed "pizzly bears" by some, might become more commonplace.

But hey, don't let real facts get in the way of your religion, er science.

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