The New York Times believes Arctic-dwelling polar bears are “climate refugees,” fleeing for their lives from melting sea ice caused by man-made global warming.
Polar bears are migrating away from their traditional hunting grounds and toward areas in Canada, Russia, and Alaska, The NYT wrote Sunday, because sea ice is melting at a record pace.
Polar bears may seem healthy and at ease in their environments, the paper noted, but those that travel inland “are climate refugees, on land because the sea ice they rely on for hunting seals is receding.”
Their extinction does not appear to be as eminent as The NYT implies.
Environmentalists have worked for years to place polar bears on the CITES’ “Appendix I” list, which includes animals considered threatened by immediate extinction.
But regulators have continued to balk at the campaign earlier this year, when they announced polar bears would remain on “Appendix II”– a list declaring a species to be endangered but otherwise fine for the time being.
Polar bears are protected by the Endangered Species Act because they could potentially be harmed by global warming.
The NYT even admits that the species may not be that close to extinction, as only three groups of the 19 polar bear populations in the Arctic are considered at risk.
“But six other populations are stable,” the paper notes. “One is increasing. And scientist have so little information about the remaining nine that they are unable to gauge their numbers or their health.
Many of The NYT’s claims, of course, are based on the belief that global warming is man-made, not cyclical, yet data collected earlier this year indicate natural variations play a larger role than previously assumed.
Antarctic sea ice, for instance, has barely changed over the last 100 years, according to a study conducted in November, which compared current climate data to that compiled by researchers in 1917.
The researchers estimated sea ice in the South Pole ranged from 3.3 and 4.3 million square miles and continued to grow throughout the 1950s.
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