It’s time to junk the junk science of the Right, and face facts: GLOBAL WARMING IS REAL.
And not only that: IT KILLS. From the December 18 issue of the UK Sunday Times:
Scientists have for the first time found evidence that polar bears are drowning because climate change is melting the Arctic ice shelf.
The researchers were startled to find bears having to swim up to 60 miles across open sea to find food. They are being forced into the long voyages because the ice floes from which they feed are melting, becoming smaller and drifting farther apart.
Although polar bears are strong swimmers, they are adapted for swimming close to the shore. Their sea journeys leave them them vulnerable to exhaustion, hypothermia or being swamped by waves.
According to the new research, four bear carcases were found floating in one month in a single patch of sea off the north coast of Alaska, where average summer temperatures have increased by 2-3C degrees since 1950s.
The scientists believe such drownings are becoming widespread across the Arctic, an inevitable consequence of the doubling in the past 20 years of the proportion of polar bears having to swim in open seas.
"Mortalities due to offshore swimming may be a relatively important and unaccounted source of natural mortality given the energetic demands placed on individual bears engaged in long-distance swimming," says the research led by Dr Charles Monnett, marine ecologist at the American government’s Minerals Management Service. "Drowning-related deaths of polar bears may increase in the future if the observed trend of regression of pack ice continues."
Now, I can just hear the rightard naysayers already: “Oh. Well, maybe it is happening. But it’s only polar bears. Who cares about them? I mean they’re cute and all, but are they really necessary?“
Stupid people. Stupid questions.
Yes, polar bears are necessary. As necessary as canaries in a coalmine. As polar bears go, so goes the planet. And in the case of humankind, having to forage further afield for food could be even deadlier, seeing as it would contribute astronomically to the very type of pollution that’s causing global warming in the first place.
But then, I guess the supply-side rightards wouldn’t care if one more species did bite the dust in the high Arctic. I’ll bet they’d only be sorry it wasn’t the caribou–the only thing (besides common sense) apparently standing between them and wall-to-wall oil rigs in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.