A recent Newsweek story about the US Navy having no “rules of engagement” to deal with polar bear encounters leads with alarmist misinformation.
Photo credit Cmdr. Christy Hagen/U.S. Navy
Author Max Strasser (April 30, 2013), in his recent article in Newsweek (“As the World Warms, Navy Strategists Plan for an Arctic Rush”) [h/t D. V]
“Approximately 25,000 polar bears live in and around the Arctic Circle. Climate change has put the majestic ursines, a longtime favorite of children’s books and Christmas cards, in peril. In 2008, the United States listed them as a “threatened species” under the Endangered Species Act, and populations have been on the decline since then.”
Sigh. Not so Max, totally not so.
Global polar bear numbers have been stable for the last 30 years, as the graphs below show. The proposed ‘threat’ to polar bears is a future decline in sea ice predicted by computer models. The future, Max, is not now.
Polar bear populations are currently doing very well (see my post on the most recent status update report here). On top of that, note that the bears are well distributed throughout available Arctic habitat — one of the accepted hallmarks of a healthy species.
Figure 1. Upper graph uses totals reported in PBSG status tables, with min/max; Lower graph uses the same figures, but adds back in the so-called “inaccurate” estimates dropped 2005-2013. The 1960 figure * is a ballpark estimate.
See previous post here.
OK, with that error corrected, back to the point of the Newsweek story…