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Archive for Thursday, December 16, 2010

Scientists: Not too late for polar bears

December 16, 2010

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— Two groups of scientists are suggesting a sliver of hope for the future of polar bears in a warming world.

A sow polar bear rests with her cubs on pack ice in the Beaufort Sea in northern Alaska in this undated file photo. If the world dramatically changes its steadily increasing emissions of greenhouse gases, global warming can be slowed enough to prevent a total loss of critical summer sea ice for the polar bears, according to a new study in the journal Nature released Wednesday.

A sow polar bear rests with her cubs on pack ice in the Beaufort Sea in northern Alaska in this undated file photo. If the world dramatically changes its steadily increasing emissions of greenhouse gases, global warming can be slowed enough to prevent a total loss of critical summer sea ice for the polar bears, according to a new study in the journal Nature released Wednesday.

A study published online Wednesday rejects the often used concept of a “tipping point,” or point of no return, when it comes to sea ice and the big bear that has become the symbol of climate change woes. The study optimistically suggests that if the world dramatically changed its steadily increasing emissions of greenhouse gases, a total loss of critical summer sea ice for the bears could be averted.

Another research group projects that even if global warming doesn’t slow — a more likely near-future scenario — a thin, icy refuge for the bears would still remain between Greenland and Canada.

A grim future for polar bears is one of the most tangible and poignant outcomes of global warming. Four years ago, federal researchers reported that two-thirds of the world’s polar bear habitat could vanish by mid-century. Other experts foresee an irreversible ice-free Arctic in the next few years as more likely.

The new study, which challenges the idea of a tipping point, says rapid ice loss could still happen, but there’s a chance that the threatened bears aren’t quite doomed.

“There is something that can be done to save polar bears,” said lead author Steven Amstrup, the former senior polar bear scientist for the U.S. Geological Survey in Alaska. “The problem is not irreversible.”

His research, published in Nature, shows there’s a steady relationship between greenhouse gas emissions, sea ice and polar bear habitat. As emissions rise, sea ice and polar bear habitat decline. But unlike previous research, there’s no drop-off tipping point in Amstrup’s models.

Essentially, until all sea ice is gone permanently in the summer, there is still a chance to prevent the worst case, if global warming is stopped in time, Amstrup’s research shows.

“Such a tipping point would mean that future reductions in greenhouse gas emissions would do little to save the polar bear,” said Amstrup, who is now chief scientist for the conservation group Polar Bears International. “It seems clear that if people and leaders think that there’s nothing they can do, they will do nothing.”

Comments

Liberty_One 4 years ago

What if you hate bears? Those things will kill you, you know?

4 years ago

Then you make rugs from them.

Besides, polar bears cause global warming anyway: http://elborak.blogspot.com/2009/12/kill-polar-bears.html

lounger 4 years ago

What if you hate humans? Those things will kill you, you know?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

"Essentially, until all sea ice is gone permanently in the summer, there is still a chance to prevent the worst case, if global warming is stopped in time, Amstrup’s research shows."

The latest election results indicate that global warming will not be stopped.

devobrun 4 years ago

Definition: Hubris. Humans changing the climate via elections.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years ago

Definition: logical disconnect: see above post.

Flap Doodle 4 years ago

Didn't Barry declare that the oceans would start going down when he moved into 1600 Penn Ave.?

4 years ago

Cappy is correct. What he said was "this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow" http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=d912vd200&show_article=1

"Began to slow" is not the same as "start going down." What do you think the guy is, a miracle worker?

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