NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 16, 2006

Environmental alarmists have made much of research claiming the Arctic's polar bear faces extinction from human-caused global warming, says H. Sterling Burnett, Senior Fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis. But, says Burnett, those claims ignore contradictory research, including a new study by David Legates, director of the University of Delaware's Center for Climatic Research.

Legates' new study, published by the National Center for Policy Analysis, points to research showing:

  • Air temperatures at the summit of the Greenland Ice Sheet have decreased by 4 degrees Fahrenheit per decade since measurements began in 1987.
  • The maximum air temperature that Russian coastal stations reported for the 20th century was in 1938, when it was nearly four-tenths of a degree Fahrenheit warmer than the air temperature in 2000.
  • In Alaska, the onset of a climatic shift -- a warming -- in 1976-1977 ended the multi-decade cold trend in the mid-20th century returning temperatures to those of the early 20th century.

Interestingly, says Burnett, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has also written on the threats posed to polar bears from global warming. But its own data on some 22,000 polar bears in about 20 distinct populations worldwide seems to contradict their claims:

  • Only two bear populations are decreasing, and they are in areas where air temperatures have actually fallen, such as the Baffin Bay region.
  • Another two populations are growing, and they live in areas were air temperatures have risen, near the Bering Strait and the Chukchi Sea.

These bears have survived for thousands of years, during both colder and warmer periods, and their populations are by and large in good shape, says Burnett. Polar bears may face many threats, but global warming is not primary among them.

Source: Sterling Burnett, "Polar bears on thin ice?" Washington Times, May 15, 2006.


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