Melanie, who works in our Anchorage office, justed emailed to tell me that was a (rather depressing) headline from the Anchorage Daily News last week. The news story was prompted by a US government study that paints a grim future for the world's largest land carnivore. From the article:
The loss of sea-ice habitat will be so profound for bear populations that regional efforts to protect them, such as restricting subsistence hunting or arctic oil and gas development, will not be able to prevent their disappearance, the government scientists said.
Moreover, the bears’ doom is irreversible, the study said. Even a dramatic effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would not be enough to halt the near-term warming trend and save the coastal bears. The species might manage to survive in its remnant outposts if long-term warming trends are reversed, scientists said.
“Things could be turned around so that they don’t disappear completely,” said Steve Amstrup, the biological study team leader for the USGS. On the other hand, Amstrup said, climate-warming models chosen for the study tended to be conservative, so the bears might disappear faster than predicted.
“As the sea ice goes, so goes the polar bear,” Amstrup said.
The article is too defeatist for me. I'm not ready to give up on polar bears yet, but it does point out that we need to act right now. Even if it is starting with small steps.
Update: Just noticed the story is also at BoingBoing with a great photo and some interesting comments, especially this one.