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What’s white, fluffy and wants to eat you for lunch?

Polar bearEnvironmentalists won a victory this week – they jumped in their RV’s, 4WDs, SUV’s and CUV’s, stepped on planes, plugged in laptops, pressed the flesh, and they won. Yes, they waved their hands in triumph from their their CO2 emitting vehicles over the fact they got the big bad US government to recognise global warming.

Ok, not officially.. indirectly. Under siege from Armani-wearing lawyers (who wear birkenstocks when at home), the US Dept of Interior finally said it was going to list the polar bear as ‘threatened’ due to ‘global warming.’

Before a gathering of elite journalists, Interior secretary Dirk Kempthorne made this authoritative statement:

“Although the population of bears has grown from a low of about 12,000 in the late 1960s to approximately 25,000 today, our scientists advise me that computer modelling projects a significant population decline by the year 2050. This, in my judgment, makes the polar bear a threatened species.”

How about that… the polar bear population as a whole is increasing, but.. what the heck, modelling 42 years down the road suggests it might also decline. But trifling details aside, this immediately forces the US to protect all known habitats for polar bears on US soil. That would be Alaska, home to 2 groups of an undisclosed number, but it has to be less than 7,500 because the US’s icy neighbour to the north long ago laid claim to the rest of them. Well, that sure sounds like a threatening low number!

“This decision is a watershed event because it has forced the Bush administration to acknowledge global warming’s brutal impacts,” said Kassie Siegel, in a May 14 newsrelease climate program director at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and lead author of the 2005 CBD petition.

Unsurprisingly, the Inuit people who rely on the polar bears for a living – both culturally and as a source of income from American’s wanting a white furry rug for the fireplace or a snarling head on the wall – were not too happy about this result.

“Our scientists in the field as well as Inuit elders have observed an overall increase in the polar bear population,” said Nunavut Premier Paul Okalik. “It is unfortunate the U.S. decided to disregard the facts.” Whoops, these natives just forecast not white sea ice, but more hardship as American’s can no longer hunt for polar bears.

That article then went on to say the inuit stand to loose $3 million in annual income – can we pass around a hat? If every American donated 1c a year to making up for the lost income of the inuit, they wouldn’t have had to rely on them he-man American hunners in the first place…

CBC news in Canada got some informed criticism of the American science from Ian Stirling, a biologist with Environment Canada, “I think it makes a lot more sense to consider groups of populations that are being similarly affected, and that are at a similar stage, than doing a ‘one size fits all,’ but that wasn’t what they did,” he said.

Interestingly, Ian Stirling was quoted in TheStar.com in November 2007 as saying polar bears were smaller and leaner in an increasingly ice free world. But of the polar bear populations declining? Hunting seems to be the reason. And of the populations stabilising? A result of the Inuit reluctantly reigning in their carnage.

But hang on, didn’t the environmentalists say the polar bear potential future decline was about global warming? If we focus on global warming… won’t that mean the bears will be hunted into extinction before we bring the carbon dioxide emissions down??

Or maybe not… Its mainly American’s that pay to hunt the polar bear and now they are banned because of its threatened status… Phew!

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