Anyone Spotted those Polar Bears?
This polar bear (Ursus maritimus), is pictured on the pack ice in the Arctic circle. The photo is from WWF.
(c) WWF / www.JSGrove.com
I read a story about a whole group of polar bears, said to be swimming for their lives off the coast of Alaska. I asked my colleague Emily Schwing in Alaska if she had any more background. She agreed to send us her own guest blog entry. Here it comes:
On August 16th, nine polar bears were sighted swimming in the open waters of the Chukchi Sea off the northwest coast of Alaska. Federal observers were conducting aerial surveys when they spotted the bears swimming more than 15 miles off shore. One bear was sighted nearly 65 miles off the coast and some of the animals were reported swimming north.
Environmentalists argue the recent sighting could indicate that polar bears are opting to take longer, more dangerous, energy demanding swims in search of land or stable sea ice. Sea ice coverage in the Artic was reported at a record low in 2007 raising serious questions about the extent of polar bear habitat available to the marine mammal. Polar bears depend on sea ice as a way to hunt ringed seals and other prey.
Between 1987 and 2003, only 12 bears were observed swimming in open water. But in 2004, 51 bears were found swimming in the open ocean. That same year, four polar bears were found drowned in the Beaufort Sea following a storm. The fate of the nine bears sighted last week is unknown.
According to biologists with the US Geological Survey, polar bears are very strong swimmers, but distances of 50 to 100 miles could be exhausting for the animal. Scientists and environmentalists alike speculate that as sea ice continues to decline, events like this could happen more often
Federal marine contractor, Science Applications International Corp was conducting the aerial surveys for the Minerals Management Service, which leased 2.76 million acres offshore for future oil and gas development in February. The surveyors were looking for whales and other marine mammals when they spotted the polar bears.
The US department of the Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne listed the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act in May of this year, after a large body of scientific information indicated that arctic sea ice will continue to decline.
The state of Alaska, under Governor Sarah Palin is currently suing the US Federal Government over the listing of the bear citing a lack of strong scientific data and information that relies on too broad a timescale.
And if anyone hears any more about those bears, please let us know. You can put the comment on the blog or send a mail to email@example.com
Emily found this interesting bear story on the reuters website and promises more on US and Canadian attitudes towards polar bears in the near future.
DateAugust 28, 2008 | 3:01 pm
Catching up with the Comments
I’ve just finished putting together a little audio-collage about climate-saving projects being run by young people. It makes me optimistic.
Listen to the young climate activisits
Now I still have two “blog jobs” on my conscience for today.
Beth Lunsford from the USA says she likes the blog,and that the whole world has to work together on climate change. Thanks for that Beth, I think you’re absolutely right.Beth’s comment was prompted by the pictures of the “polar bears” at the Brandenburg gate in Berlin. But she’s sceptical about the aims of Barack Obama’s world travels and thinks they were only just for photo opportunities. It’s good to hear what people in the USA think about all this. I really enjoyed being in the USA for 4 weeks this summer.
(This has got to be one of favourite radio station buildings, discovered while travelling on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington State. If anybody from the station reads this, please drop me a mail, I’d have loved to meet you and have a look round!)
Apart from seeing some beautiful landscapes, as a British-born European based in Germany, it was great to get a feel for the US lifestyle and follow some of the election campaigning. A lot of us here in Europe feel that there could be a positive development in the climate policy of the USA after the election. But I share the view of those experts who think our expectations might be so high, we’re bound to be disappointed. I’d be interested to hear from anyone who has an opinion on this issue.
And while we’re on the subject, I’d like to thank Andreas Eister, who actually took the pictures at the Brandenburg Gate for WWF. And let me tell you here, Andreas, that the close-up of the “bear” is one of my all-time favourites.
Marie Laure, who runs a project called “Cool Mountain”, aimed at getting people to use less water and power in ski resorts, has asked whether she can post something on the blog. Sure Marie Laure, I’d be delighted to pass on some info about your project. I’d put up a web link, but I haven’t actually found this particular project on the internet. Look forward to hearing from you!
DateAugust 13, 2008 | 2:39 pm
World Youth Day – Good for the Climate?
It’s World Youth Day today. I know, it’s always the World Day of Something. But this is one of the ones I find potentially influential – especially since the motto is “Youth and Climate – Time for Action”. Couldn’t agree more.
(“Young ambassadors” from the Climate Change College finding out about climate change and its effect on the Inupiat in Arctic Alaska.)
UN Secretary-General put out a message (how many of you young visitors to this blog have actually seen it?) calling on young people to come up with brilliant ideas and put a major effort into securing the future of the planet. Of course you don’t need to be the head of the UN to see that the younger generation are going to have a tough job on their hands dealing with the effect of climate change caused by human behaviour.
I’d like to use World Youth Day as an opportunity to draw your attention once again to some of the young folk who are concerned about the climate and running their own projects to do something about it.
Here’s a link to the Climate Change College.
Youth in Action to Save the Climate
There’s some great new stuff on the website. Some of these dedicated young professionals will also be making an (audio-) appearance on our environment programme this week, talking about their projects.Young Climate Activists on Living Planet
And another effect of these “World Something”-Days is that our current affairs colleagues are also running a story about all this.
Youth for Climate Campaign on Newslink
DateAugust 12, 2008 | 3:37 pm
Obama, McCain, Oil Reserves – and Paris Hilton?
Would you really want to give up areas like this:
To get more of this – at all costs?
Polls show that the economy and the high price of gasoline are the most important issues for American voters in the run-up to the Presidential election on November 4th. And the oil issue really seems to have taken over the campaigns of both candidates. John McCain has been pushing nuclear energy and more offshore oil drilling. Barack Obama has been doing the opposite – except that he seems to be bowing to pressure somewhat by saying he would agree to some drilling after all. Come on Barack, stick to your principles! Meanwhile, John McCain has livened up the debate – and attracted a whole new group of voters to the climate and energy issue – by drawing Paris Hilton into it all. He used pictures of her and Britney Spears in a television spot, aimed at attacking the “celebrity” cult around his rival Obama. Paris Hilton has had her “revenge” in her own spoof election ad – with her campaigning for President.
The New Candidate (just for fun)
On the serious side, the issue of expanding drilling is getting increasingly worrying. Polls suggest two-thirds of Americans would support lifting the current federal moratorium, which has been in place for 27 years. President Bush has called on Congress to lift its ban on drilling in the outer continental shelf and the Alaskan wildlife reserve. The problem is that people are looking for a quick way to reduce their fuel bills. Short of reducing consumption, there is none.
DateAugust 6, 2008 | 7:54 am
Polar Bears at the Brandenburg Gate
How do you like this version of a classic American poster? (And Obama’s campaign slogan).
Barack Obama mentioned the need for global action on climate change during his speech in Berlin last night. During the day, tourists and other visitors to the famous Brandenburg Gate met some unexpected characters – WWF campaigners dressed up as polar bears.
(Photos taken by Andreas Eister for WWF).
In a recent study conduced by WWF, the USA takes last place amongst the G8 countries in a climate policy ranking list.
There are high hopes that things will change after the election in November.
I’m putting a link here to the WWF Germany article on this. Unfortunately, it’s only available in German. Dear WWF, things like this are of wider interest, and Obama’s trip is making headlines around the world. Wouldn’t it be worth having your account and photos of a campaign like this available in English?
WWF Germany sends “polar bears” to welcome Obama
DateJuly 25, 2008 | 9:20 am