Un-bearable news

Excerpts: from the Sunday Times: Polar bear is a ‘new’ species

by Jonathan Leake

Polar bears may have come into existence only 150,000 years ago, when trapped brown bears had to adapt to an ice age

http://media.adn.com/smedia/2007/12/14/08/383-ips_rich_content_482-ZooBear.standalone.prod_affiliate.7.jpg

Kissing Cousins? Oreo the brown bear and Ahpun the polar bear play at the Alaska Zoo. Photo from the Alaska Daily News by BOB HALLINEN / Daily News archive 1998

Polar bears may have come into existence only 150,000 years ago, when brown bears were trapped by an ice age and had to adapt quickly to survive, scientists have found.

The suggestion follows the discovery of the jawbone of an animal that died up to 130,000 years ago, making it the oldest polar bear fossil found. The bone has yielded new insights into the origins of Earth’s largest land predator.

One is the possibility that polar bears owe their existence not only to past climate change, including ice ages, but have also survived at least one long period of global warming.

The bone was discovered at Poolepynten on the Arctic island of Svalbard by Professors Olafur Ingolfsson, of the University of Iceland, and Oystein Wiig, of the University of Oslo.

In a paper they said: “Brown bears of the ABC islands may be descendants of ancient ursids [bears] that diverged from other lineages of brown bears and subsequently founded the polar bear lineage.” This view is expected to get support from new research, out this week, based on DNA extracted from the Poolepynten jawbone.

It means polar bears have already survived a global warming that affected the northern hemisphere from 130,000 to 115,000 years ago, when the Greenland ice sheet and the Arctic ice cap were smaller than now. Professor Chris Stringer, of the Natural History Museum in London, an expert in ice ages, said: “Early polar bears would not have had all the specialisations of modern animals and we know nothing about their behaviour.

“Living through a warm period back then does not mean they are resilient to climate change now.”

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156 thoughts on “Un-bearable news

  1. “150,000 years ago, when brown bears were trapped by an ice age ”
    What???
    You mean there was climate change back then too?
    Go figure, maybe all the Cromagnons drove Hummers & generated cave man CO2

  2. “Living through a warm period back then does not mean they are resilient to climate change now.”
    The Prof obviously didn’t get the memo, but as he himself shows great adaptability I’m sure he will survive the upcoming climate-science warming period.

  3. “Living through a warm period back then does not mean they are resilient to climate change now.”
    Sigh, they did it once but “we don’t know” if they could do it again.
    Hogswallow. Still beatin that might/may/maybe dead horse.

  4. Mammals have shown themselves to be incredibly resiliant and adaptive. Oh – and we know that the bears survived just fine through the Roman and Medieval warm periods… Over the past few days we’ve seen quite a few posts showing global temperature variability over 150K years…
    “Living through a warm period back then does not mean they are resilient to climate change now.”
    Yeah, right. Keep on telling yourself that. Who is in denial now?

  5. “Living through a warm period back then does not mean they are resilient to climate change now.”
    But it sure a heck doesn’t mean they are particularly susceptible either. And what about the ability of the bears to survive the Holocene Optimum 8K years ago – a time when forests grew on the shores of the arctic ocean?

  6. “It means polar bears have already survived a global warming that affected the northern hemisphere from 130,000 to 115,000 years ago”
    Quick, somebody call Dr. Mann to disappear that.

  7. “Living through a warm period back then does not mean they are resilient to climate change now.” That’s poor stuff; “might not mean” would be OK; so would “need not mean” or ” does not necessarily mean”. How odd it is that all errors, ambiguities and infelicities of phrasing in “climate science” always favour the climate hysterics. It really makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

  8. “Living through a warm period back then does not mean they are resilient to climate change now.”
    BS
    The point, though, is that bears have shown enormous evolutionary plasticity in the past so that their resilience cannot be questioned.
    “Threatened” only because they make great posters. See Coca Cola.

  9. “Living through a warm period back then does not mean they are resilient to climate change now.”
    And, of course, it doesn’t mean they’re not. The fact that they have survived this long does, however, support the idea that they are not delicate wallflowers liable to wilt at the merest whiff of a change in temperature.

  10. Climate change has been, and will always be a primary driver of evolutionary change. Witness the development of hominids for example.
    Evolutionary success depends on resilience to changes in the environment. To think that the current number of species on planet earth are always “hanging by a thread” , and can be driven to extinction by the slightest change in environment seems absurd.
    The fact that polar bears exist right now is testament to their resiliency and evolutionary success.

  11. “Living through a warm period back then does not mean they are resilient to climate change now.”
    Obligatory hat/tip to AGW?
    DaveE.

  12. “Living through a warm period back then does not mean they are resilient to climate change now.”
    Still in “denial”, I see. Ya gotta love these “flat-earthers”. 🙂

  13. lol at the pun.
    It reminds me of the newspapers getting all mock-worried about how animals would cope with the total eclipse in 2003. In the event the animals basically ignored it but they did manage to find at least one “scientist” who said that they might go insane or start to hibernate.

  14. I always wondered how the “endangered” polar bears survived the Roman and the Minoan warming period, if they are so sensible to warm climate.

  15. Seems to me I watched a special where Polar Bears that bore their young in an ice-free environment had cubs that were brown. As if they are programmed to adapt to whatever the cycle is doing.
    So, do humans revert back to neanderthals in an ice-age?

  16. “Living through a warm period back then does not mean they are resilient to climate change now.”
    Let’s try releasing 100 polar bears into the next AGW conference in Bali and see who adapts best.

  17. Living through a warm period back then does not mean they are resilient to climate change now.
    Living through a cold or a warm period back then does not mean they are resilient to climate change now.
    There, fixed.
    ————————
    As bears are very adaptable [Doesn’t the article imply so?] they will likely do fine regardless of whether the temperature in the Arctic zone goes up or down a degree or two.

  18. Steve Goddard (09:59:05) :
    Polar bears do not hibernate in the usual sense, though the females retire to a snow (or earth) den to bear their young.
    As for how the polar bears survived the last (warmer) interglacial, the fact that they occurred on Svalbard which was as isolated then as now does strongly suggest that they were already adapted to live on the Arctic Sea-Ice. No other way to get to Svalbard really.

  19. 6,000 years back during the early Holocene, Siberian summers were 2-7 deg C warmer than today and the forest line went up to the Arctic ocean. And polar bears did just fine, most probably, since they are till here.

  20. Living through a warm period back then does not mean they are resilient to climate change now’
    This knee jerk statement begins to sound a bit old fashioned.

  21. “Professor Chris Stringer, of the Natural History Museum in London, an expert in ice ages, said: “Early polar bears would not have had all the specialisations of modern animals and we know nothing about their behaviour.
    Living through a warm period back then does not mean they are resilient to climate change now.”
    Yep, today’s polar bears are somehow weakened and dissolute compared to the true wild ones living during the last ice age!
    I’d say Prof Stringer (who is more an expert in early hominids than ‘ice ages’) projects the perceived malaise of Western Culture (degenerate, weakened, soft, not resilient) onto polar bears here.
    It amazes me that natural scientists seem to think that Nature as she is right now, at this particular point of time, is the pinnacle of evolution and must be preserved at all costs – be it in regard to climate or in regard to flora and fauna.
    That is not how evolution works!

  22. Paraphrasing the EPA –
    “The fact that populations have quadrupled in the last 50 years does not mean that they are not going extinct.”

  23. I can bearly stand these stories.
    http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2010/02/the_oregon_zoo_hopes_to_educat.html
    “a typical day at the Oregon Zoo’s polar bear exhibit — a place with a mission that, in this era of melting ice caps, increasingly goes beyond simple care and feeding. Today, keepers use the polar bears to spread the message that stemming climate change begins at home. They try to impress on visitors that small changes anyone can make may help slow or reverse global warming and save wild polar bears’ disappearing habitat.
    But in 2008, according to Polar Bears International, arctic sea ice shrank to its second-lowest level since scientists began satellite measuring in 1979. The bears’ habitat is melting away.
    Zoos offered help, and in the past couple years, keepers have met with field biologists, government agencies, industry representatives and various conservation groups to respond to the crisis.
    Keeper talks now branch out to the basics of sustainable practices: Saving energy means fewer fossil fuels are burned, which means less carbon dioxide — a key source of human-caused climate change — enters the atmosphere.
    Christie explains Earth-friendly lifestyle changes she’s made to show children and their parents how easy it can be: hanging her clothes to dry, for instance, instead of using a dryer. She hands out stickers emblazoned with a polar bear’s face; they read, “Lights out! Fight global warming.” And she asks kids if they always remember to turn their computer games off when they finish.
    “I always try to give them a tool,” Christie says, “something they can do locally to help polar bears in the wild.”
    When keepers finished their hygiene and medical tasks they opened gates to the bears’ outdoor world and tossed them an empty plastic Coca-Cola barrel, still smelling of the syrupy sweet soda. Conrad and Tasul took turns chewing on its edges and trying to crush it, pushing hard with their front paws. The move looks just like one their wild counterparts make when trying to collapse a seal den in the melting ice at the top of the world.”

  24. “Living through a warm period back then does not mean they are resilient to climate change now.”
    __________________
    Ippso facto cocomo…
    people, who also lived through a warm period of two, may not be resilient to climate change now, especially when you remember that we are NOT Homo Sapian ‘Cromagnum’ peoples, we is Homo Sapian Sapian peoples. We have only been around 50-60 thousand years. We have never lived through a complete Ice Age/Interglacial cycle of 120K years.
    In other words –
    Donate Everything You Own To ‘The Cause’ c/o Al Gore. Com
    Then – bend over as far as you can and kiss… goodbye.

  25. Got it. Global cooling created the polar bears. Then global warming failed to kill them. Then it cooled again and that didn’t kill them either. Then it started warming again…. which might kill them again even thought it didn’t last time. Oh wait, there was no warming period in NA, that was confined to Europe. That’s why there’s no polar bears in Europe, the local to Europe global warming killed them. Proof positive that medieval warm period was only in Europe, otherwise they would have polar bears.
    All seem so obvious when you stand back and look at the big picture.

  26. Excerpt from: http://www3.hi.is/~oi/svalbard_geology.htm
    “During early-mid Holo­cene, Svalbard glaciers were probably smaller than at present, and the early Holocene climate was considerably milder. Some of the present cirque- and valley glaciers probably did not exist prior to ca. 2500 BP. Glaciers expanded considerably during the so-called Little Ice Age, which culminated on Svalbard during the first decade of the 20th Century. Since then most glaciers have retreated, probably as a consequence of a considerable summer warm­ing occurring in the period after ca. 1915. “

  27. We can no longer take any article serious that carries the alarmist message of “climate change”. Scrap it. It’s un-bearable.
    We can no longer take any article serious that carries alarmist content like nature being “out of control”. Like this example about the Chili earth quake:
    http://scienceblogs.com/eruptions/2010/02/chilean_earthquake_fallout_msn.php
    And this example about the Haiti flash floods:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8541361.stm
    Buckle up for a hefty season. Out of control weather events are the new bate to hook us up for climate legislation and taxes. The green machine still has not stopped.
    MSM, politicians and the alarmists among the scientific community don’t care about their reputations.
    They rather support the vested interests that will bring us the new, happy, bright and green economy!
    They have not learned a bit from ClimateGate and in response we should go for a zero tolerance policy in regard to all the crap they put into the world.
    If we don’t neutralize these freaks and bring them into the courts, they will regard our failure to address their treason as an encouragement to continue their criminal schemes.
    In short, if we fail to address them know, we will face a much bigger problem in the future. Much, much bigger.

  28. Steve Goddard (10:53:06) :
    Paraphrasing the EPA –
    “The fact that populations have quadrupled in the last 50 years does not mean that they are not going extinct.”

    Excuse me while I clear the tears from my eyes.
    Maybe we should put the EPA on the endangered list: Thier statement activity has quadrupled, but that doens’t mean they are not going extinct.

  29. It appears to me that Stringer is correct. If it is true that early polar bears do not have the specializations of modern polar bears, then it would be erroneous to conclude on the basis of this discovery that the modern polar bear could survive in a warm climate like the one that existed between 115,000 and 130,000 BP. It is quite possibly true that modern polar bears could avoid extinction given a warming of the climate, but it does not logically follow from this discovery so long as the initial assumption of further specialization is sound.

  30. More un-bearable news:
    Global warming Climateers were all caught red-handed trying to shove fake climate data, disinformation, propaganda, and lies down humanity’s throat.
    What the “cyber-emergency” bill is really about and how it relates to Climategate!
    Do we really want to debate these guy’s? We should fight them!
    http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/20505

  31. Steve Goddard (10:53:06) :
    Paraphrasing the EPA –
    “The fact that populations have quadrupled in the last 50 years does not mean that they are not going extinct.”
    *******************************************
    Isn’t it obvious? Today’s bears are rotten bears. Older bears could adapt to climate change because they were more robust.

  32. ““Professor Chris Stringer, of the Natural History Museum in London, an expert in ice ages, said: “Early polar bears would not have had all the specialisations of modern animals and we know nothing about their behaviour.
    Living through a warm period back then does not mean they are resilient to climate change now.”
    Scary comment from someone who is a mucky-muck at a natural history museum, but not so perhaps, if the fudgebucket is an anthropologist. Biological history and its mechanics were never their strong points. Most anthropologists I have met or read were really just sociologists.
    If the current crop of polar bears are scion of the browns, then way back they would have the ice-edge survivability of a brown, expanding their range onto the ice as selection favoured certain traits for those trying to breed there. Traits selected for living on ice are not mutually exclusive of those for living off ice. As modern polar bears have shown, they are not obligate dwellers of ice sheets, but it is a comfortable niche, one their cousins are not so competitive in.
    It might come as surprise to Prof. Stringer that the ice ages didn’t just “happen”. There is a reasonably long timeline betwen advances and retreats. Polar bears will do now as they did then – live the edge with genetic forays that keep them in the competitive sweetspot, as will the browns. Interfertility is both the secret and the key to the survivibility of both. Gene exchange allows the polar bear to remain plastic in an environment that has significant extremes.

  33. DeNihilist
    The most dangerous teaching of Darwin was that species are merely a taxonomic human convenience. We draw lines where often there are none. The hybrid polar/ brown bear shot was fertile. In the old days before the definition of species evolved- this would imply that brown bears and polar bears are the same species.

  34. Just to reiterate in a nutshell: Polar bears have survived the Holocene Optimum, Roman warm period and Medieval warm period and I indicated that today they are thriving; which makes the statement –

    “Living through a warm period back then does not mean they are resilient to climate change now.”

    quite suspect.
    http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/polar-bear-numbers.jpg
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1545036/Polar-bears-thriving-as-the-Arctic-warms-up.html

  35. “Climate change has been, and will always be a primary driver of evolutionary change. Witness the development of hominids for example.”
    This statement is not correct. Climate change is not a primary driver. Evolutionary change has more to do with adaptability through hybrid vigour to the boundaries (for the species) of a stable, or very slowly changing, climate. It is more about niche exploitation in a micro-environment than a macro-environment defined by climate change.
    Hominids developed through processes of competitive exclusion and grossly, reproductive isolation, rather than climate change. Most of the reproductive isolation was geographically driven originally, but ultimately became statistically cultural for the major races.

  36. Living through a visit from my mother-in-law two years ago doesn’t mean that I am resilient to her visiting now.
    Maybe that will fly.
    Yeah, when the antarctic ice sheet melts!

  37. Darwin stated that he thought that whales had evolved from bears that had returned to the ocean. The latest genetic evidence would suggest that that is at least partially correct.
    You have to ask yourself, could all that land-based CO2 returning to the ocean have caused an ice age? I’ll need a £50M grant, tenure and three research students to prove it.

  38. “Early polar bears would not have had all the specialisations of modern animals and we know nothing about their behaviour.”
    ….Or…..
    Modern polar bears may not have all the specialisations of early animals and we know nothing about their behaviour.

  39. It is interesting that many scientists still feel it is necessary to throw in a comment about global warming to be PC. I have lost count of all the science articles, some with sound findings, that will say their findings could relate to global warming. It may have been they would not have received money for the study unless they gave lip service to AGW. And those studies that mentioned that the dire findings could possibly relate to AGW where the studies published on the front page of my hometown paper the SF Chronicle (aka comical). It is no wonder the public is losing trust in what scientist have to say.

  40. I think I got it, polar bears might go extinct because present warming is so unprecedent and so fast and so … antropogenic, that they are all going to die. pooooooor little white bears, they are so cute … hell! where do I have to give money to save them? I need to do something! we have to!

  41. Living through a warm period back then does not mean they are resilient to climate change now
    Nor does it mean you will not have a new bear species with climate change now.
    Is stupidity a contagious illness?

  42. “It appears to me that Stringer is correct. If it is true that early polar bears do not have the specializations of modern polar bears, then it would be erroneous to conclude on the basis of this discovery that the modern polar bear could survive in a warm climate like the one that existed between 115,000 and 130,000 BP. ”
    Bringing it forward to a more recent event, wasn’t there an abrupt change of climate 12,500 years ago when the last Ice Age ended? The modern day polar bear appears to have survived it quite well.
    What was the temperature swing at the end of the last Ice Age compared to best projections for the current period of warming? (Ahem, after we get past the next 2-3 decades of cooling that have been widely predicted.)

  43. All species are migratory unless their wings or legs fall off. A polar bear can live in a forest, on an ice sheet, up a mountain, on a beach or in a zoo in Germany. They are not reliant on freezing weather. They’ll live wherever their needs take them or where they can smell meat.

  44. Maybe the species that use the same space as man or compete for the the same resourses as mankind may suffer, but the ones that live beyond the edge of normal existance, they will be around for as long as they want to

  45. It means polar bears have already survived a global warming that affected the northern hemisphere from 130,000 to 115,000 years ago, when the Greenland ice sheet and the Arctic ice cap were smaller than now.

    I guess that would be global warming as opposed to Global Warming.

  46. 42125 (11:22:36) :
    Actually a lot of Polar Bear evolution seems to have occurred during the present warm interglacial (c. 12,000 years). The Late Pleistocene form Ursus maritimus tyrannus was appreciably larger and in some aspects more similar to the Brown Bear than the modern subspecies (Kurtén, B. 1964 The evolution of the polar bear (Ursus maritimus), Acta Zool Fenn 108, pp. 1–30).
    Let’s hope that this evolution haven’t made them unable to cope with the next ice-age…..

  47. Two scientists from Iceland and Norway make a finding and publish a paper. It involves polar bears and so has some bearing (heh heh) on Al Gore’s Incredible Boiling Planet Hoax.
    So the UK Times sends Johnny Leaky out on a hunt through the pucker brush to find somebody, anybody, that can shoot a hole in the science. They flush out some nobody named Chris Stringer who does not study polar bears but is willing to spout hysterical nonsense that appears to contradict the findings of the real scientists.
    And the MSM wonders why everybody hates them so, and why they going broke in a New York minute.
    Meanwhile the climate alarmist pseudoscientists are in the hotseat on trial for fraud and collusion in science thuggery. The UN and global governators are drowning in the backwash.
    The mess these people have made is going to take years to clean up. We need shovel brigades and a fleet of dump trucks to haul the manure away.

  48. So uh just to go with my own jerky point of view, the Polar bear is a relic of the Ice age, whose continued existence is no more guaranteed than were the wooly Mammoth, Sabre tooth tiger or Giant Sloth.

  49. Jimbo (11:28:45) :
    ‘”I don’t think there is any question polar bears are in danger from global warming,” said Andrew Derocher of the World Conservation Union, and a professor of biological sciences at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. “People who deny that have a clear interest in hunting bears.”‘
    I guess I must have a clear interest in hunting bears. First I knew of it. Derocher: ever considered that they just might not agree with your questionable assertion?
    “Polar bear experts said that numbers had increased not because of climate change but due to the efforts of conservationists”
    I guess alarmists will tell us that those efforts are serving to “hide the decline”?

  50. Ipso de facto exacto Iditerod!
    Anyone who thinks a polar bear is a delicate flower, a veritable hothouse violet of the animal world… Well, hell, what do I know?
    I’m willing to concede that Gore, Hansen, Jones, Mann, Obama et al are my protectors. My question is: Who in the hell is going to protect me from my protectors?

  51. Fred from Canuckistan (09:55:53) :
    ‘“150,000 years ago, when brown bears were trapped by an ice age ”
    What??’
    Yep, along with their food source. Seals

  52. While technically suppose it’s OT on this thread, it really DOES fit so well under the title of this thread: UN-Bearable:
    Al Gore finally comes out of ”hibernation” (at least momentarily), with a major NYT Op-Ed piece titled ”We Can’t Wish Away Climate Change”:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/28/opinion/28gore.html
    Not only un-bearable: UNBELIEVABLE. . . .
    Apparently Reverend Gore thinks his AGW acolytes can still fool all of the people all of the time.
    Earth to Al: The jig’s up. . . .

  53. “Living through a warm period back then does not mean they are resilient to climate change now.”
    I love how they must put that caveat in there. Just because they survived an interglacial much warmer than today’s interglacial does not mean they will survive this one.
    Scientists have known that the polar bear is a recent adaptation of the brown bear for decades. There is really nothing new here. And over the past couple of million years there might have been several different “polar” bear species that have appeared and disappeared.
    For example, say you have a species is trapped during a glaciation. They become cold-adapted, maybe even developing a white coat. Now imagine that the species they adapted from disappears. Now there is an interglacial. The cold adaptations of the new “polar” species don’t give it any advantage in the warm climate. The white coat maybe even making it more visible to prey. So maybe the “polar” adapted species disappears. Then along comes the next glaciation. Maybe this time there is no such species that is “trapped” and no “polar” adapted species emerges.
    The point is that there could possibly have been several different polar adapted bear species over the past few million years that have appeared and disappeared.

  54. I guess the new Pen “arctic explorers” will find out about the bears and all this next season when they take off on another exciting adventure.Stay tuned.
    In other news’ a giant head was found in Egypt. Another giant swelled head (GORE) was just published in the NY Times where he talked about only 2 mistakes in the IPCC report.

  55. 42125 (11:22:36) :
    “.. but it does not logically follow from this discovery so long as the initial assumption of further specialization is sound.”
    And we determine this specialization from a jawbone how?

  56. Seems like a crock, what specialisation did the have before? they adapt to people fine, whatever happens I would say an increase in ice cover, after the food is out of reach, would make their life very hard, that would only happen if we had cooling so the warmists can never consider that.

  57. I have always thought that the plight of the polar bears was one of the over hyped scare stories put out by the AGW lobby. Even a cursory consideration of history suggests that there was no sustance in the scare story. Even if the MWP and RWP were not a global events but limited to the northern hemishpere (a matter of much conjecture and even Phil Jones indicates that they might have been global), it is obvious that a warmer northern hemishpere is not a problem for the polar bear. Nature has a natural instinct for survival/adaption and the polar bears survived both of these periods and there is therefore no reason to presume that they will not once more survive a 2-4C warmer northern hemishpere 9should it so warm).

  58. It’s interesting that while the polar bear population rose from 5,000 to 20,000+ in about 55 years, the seals they chow down on also rose from a population of about 2-3 million to around 10-12 million in about the same period. Despite the fact that a polar bear needs to each chomp down a seal every 8 days, or about 1 million seals a year for 20,000+ polar bears. (The reason that both populations are rising? Simple – reduced hunting/culling of both starting in the 60’s and 70’s.)
    Frankly, I like seals more than I like polar bears. Seals are sorta cuddly and smart. They aren’t cannibalistic like polar bears. Seals don’t annually eviscerate 1 million adult and cute baby seals like polar bears do. A human family can get kinda close to many seals and the worst that happens is that the seals spook and swim away. A human family approaching a polar bear to share a Coke will end up with severe longevity issues after the encounter.
    So if the polar bear populations do get a little stressed from global warming, I’ll be rooting for those seals that avoided ending up polar bear buffets. And maybe, just maybe, my family will see those seals at the beach as we have before. And they might, just might, thank us. You never know.

  59. 42125 (11:22:36) :
    It appears to me that Stringer is correct. If it is true that early polar bears do not have the specializations of modern polar bears, then it would be erroneous to conclude on the basis of this discovery that the modern polar bear could survive in a warm climate like the one that existed between 115,000 and 130,000 BP.

    I can’t see how broad paws and breath-holding ability are going to hurt a polar bear’s ability to rummage a landfill. Bears of any flavor aren’t picky eaters. You’ll see the evolution of Ursus dumpus in a Nanook minute.
    If they want seals, they’ll follow the seals. The seals need ice to haul out on, and if the ice is gone, they’ll haul out on land, which is bad for seals and good for bears.
    At the current rate of extinction, there will only be a million polar bears left by 2160.

  60. As always the “don’t punish me I am faithful” disclaimer: “Living through a warm period back then does not mean they are resilient to climate change now.”
    This stupid homage paying to pc and funding concerns is just so annoying.

  61. The worst issue is sea-level rising.
    First of all, there is none.
    And why isnt there one?
    Because there is no global warming.
    And then if there was a rise of sea-levels, Im sure all mammals would manage to outrun, say, 0.2 deg per century…..

  62. Craig Moore (11:47:40) : “Just wait to they find the “jawbone of an ass” to slay all you denialists! ;~p ”
    Al Gore isn’t through with it yet.

  63. “Al Gore’s Holy Hologram (12:14:42) :
    […]
    A polar bear can live in a forest, on an ice sheet, up a mountain, on a beach or in a zoo in Germany.”
    Affirmative. Next polar bear 60 km from me in the zoo in Hanover.

  64. Monique, I don’t know enough to offer an opinion on the interesting questions you ask. I simply meant to judge Stringer’s statement in context. One news story already omits a part of the argument that he made explicit, namely the assumption of further specialization.
    tty, hopefully they’ll just move to a lower–no, wait, *I* live at a lower latitude!

  65. Keep in mind that with the scarcity of polar bear fossils (only six in total prior to the Holocene era), one of the things we don’t know is how small polar bear populations may have gotten during EITHER warmer or colder periods.
    There is an assumption that a drop below a certain number of individuals dooms the species to extinction – and that we know what that number actually is.
    What we DO know is that despite climate change over the last 100,000 years, polar bears as a species survived well enough for numbers to attain present levels. We DO NOT know how small the population became, whether arctic climate was warmer or colder.
    PS. note that the previous “oldest known polar bear fossil” found around Kent in England is now considered to have been re-classified as a brown bear by someone at the British Museum. Curiously, that reassignment has not been formally published, despite the importance of this specimen to our understanding of polar bear evolution.

  66. rbateman (10:21:59) :
    “Seems to me I watched a special where Polar Bears that bore their young in an ice-free environment had cubs that were brown. As if they are programmed to adapt to whatever the cycle is doing.
    So, do humans revert back to neanderthals in an ice-age?”

    Ugh?

  67. kwik (14:25:35) :
    The worst issue is sea-level rising.
    First of all, there is none>>
    Of course not. Polar bears eat seals. Since the polar bear level is rising, the seal level must be falling. Every time a polar bear pulls a seal out of the ocean it displaces less water and the sea-level also falls. So increases is polar bears must be inverse to both seal-level and sea-level.

  68. It would be most unfortunate for man to ever control the climate to the point there is no variability whatsoever. Don’t like that low temperature? Why, just twiddle the CO2 dial and it will go away! Don’t like that high temperature? Why, just twiddle the CO2 dial the other way and it will go away.
    If they had their druthers, climate anomalies would be a thing of the past and weather (cataclysmic climate anomalies of short duration) will have completely disappeared!
    But if you want to make sure a species loses its resilience to climate change, that’s the best way to do it.

  69. So if we need more polar bears we just convince brown bears to move north again … I read that polar bears actually came into existence about 250,000 years ago — regardless it doesn’t seem like the liberal approach that every thing that is, has always been … Else wouldn’t their still be woolly mammoths and saber tooth tigers still hopping around.

  70. As others have commented, follow the food trail. polar bears follow the seals, which follow….?, which follow…..?
    Nothing survives without a “food chain”.

  71. As far as I know this is (at lest mostly) old news. It has long been known that the two species are closely related and that the speciation is very recent. Perhaps this specific piece of evidence and the timeline given from it are relatively new. Even Wikipedia places divergence from the Brown Bear population at less than 200,000 years. Probably some details in the story are new, but they are minor.

  72. Stinger, on Ingolfsson and Wiig (2010), for the scientific community™
    “Living through a warm period back then does not mean they are resilient to climate change now.”
    So there you have it, you’ve all been ‘debunked’ by science.
    P Gosselin (11:05:36) :
    “2007 IPCC WG3 is now coming under the microscope, and what is being found is far from pretty. Loads of gray literature, and ambiguities made fact.”
    Time for the economists to weigh in en masse.
    “Jeff Alberts (12:23:31) :
    I guess that would be global warming as opposed to Global Warming.”
    :))

  73. I’m pretty sure polar bears can survive by eating climate tourists. It’s odd that people would think the key to the survival of an incredibly versatile and intelligent apex predator is to make sure its environment is a frozen, barren wasteland.

  74. Since we’re talking about evolution of white fur, is it “fair” to bring up the question of blonde, blue-eyed people? When did they split off from the rest of us and why? What advantage is blondness? I think it is equally fair to say it’s not an intellectual one, based on the common occurrence and tenor of blonde jokes.

  75. The critter identified as a “brown bear” in the photo looks like a grizzly rather than what Americans would call a brown bear. (The hump over the shoulders is the giveaway.) Is there a difference in terminology across the pond?

  76. Mike McMillan (13:47:37) :
    “I can’t see how broad paws and breath-holding ability are going to hurt a polar bear’s ability to rummage a landfill. Bears of any flavor aren’t picky eaters. You’ll see the evolution of Ursus dumpus in a Nanook minute.”
    That is classic! My vote for quote of the week.

  77. jack morrow (13:21:01) :
    I guess the new Pen “arctic explorers” will find out about the bears and all this next season when they take off on another exciting adventure.Stay tuned.
    “Do not meddle in the affairs of Polar Bears for you are crunchy and good
    with ketchup!” -unk. paraphrased from” Affairs of Dragons”
    Could it be that the Polar Bear is mainly a subspecies? Color phase?…

  78. It’s funny,looking at that photo,I want to stay far away from the brown bear,but I want to cuddle the polar bear.Both killers,but only one has the bad reputation.All animals are cute when little,but the cuteness ends when they grow up,not so with polar bears or killer whales.That’s what one-sided publicity does for you.AGW is not going down anytime soon.

  79. Polar bears already rummage in dumpsters. Many towns on the edge of polar bear territory have to deal with polar bears walking through town looking for McDonald quarter pounder left overs.

  80. “Since we’re talking about evolution of white fur, is it “fair” to bring up the question of blonde, blue-eyed people? When did they split off from the rest of us and why? What advantage is blondness?”
    I believe that so far it is believe that blue eyes evolved in what is now Turkey but I forget when.
    The pigment melanin is less abundant in lighter skinned people. Light skin produces more vitamin D on exposure to sunlight than dark skin does. The sunlight is less direct the farther North you get. People who produce the most vitamin D with the least amount on sunlight would be “selected in” as others would have health problems that over the generations would allow those what produce more vitamin D to out populate them.

  81. By the same token, people with little melanin would be selected out at lower latitudes as they would suffer in direct sunlight and be subject to all sorts of problems including infections caused by abscessed sunburn blisters.
    So light skin is selected in at high latitude, selected out at low latitude among populations of people “in the wild” over thousands of generations.
    Today’s humans can survive anywhere as we have things that allow us to protect ourselves from over exposure to sunlight or take vitamin suppliments as needed.

  82. And then there are the redheads. We have a defective melatonin gene, and less of it. There are other things related to that defect I can’t go into and still be considered a sober intelligent amateur scientist.

  83. Light skin produces more vitamin D on exposure to sunlight than dark skin does>>>
    Light skinned people also have a different kind of fat than dark skinned people which helps them tolerate cold better, but makes them more sensitive to high temperatures which dark skinned people tolerate better.

  84. The irony of this is unvbelievable … so …… actually ‘bears’ proved themselves to be incredibly adaptive to a big climate change 150,000 years ago …. but for some reason they are in desperate trouble now ….
    These [snip] journalists can’t even spot their own unintended illogicalities.

  85. And then there are grolars (Polar Bears getting together with their close genetic cousins) …
    http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=2624712
    Technically aren’t we in an interglacial in an ongoing ‘ice age’ with the 5 last glaciations following roughly the Milankovitch cycle and prior to that a few 50-50 splits … and given we are cooler (by proxy data) than other interglacials or even other periods in the Holocene, we could enter the next glaciation at any time. There is some that postulate hopefully that the changes in land use precipitated by humans will gives us some more time.
    Anyway, homo sapiens would probably be extinct or never would have developed the way they did without this biological stress of this environment … so I guess we should be just happy to be here 🙂 … and wasn’t that a hockey game! Give Crosby a little room and what do you get?

  86. If you think about it further, every animal alive today, including us, can trace an unbroken lineage back to the start of life on this planet, showing that our ancestors (albeit for most of that time not human) survived every change in the climate over those billions of years, both hot and cold. Perhaps life, and its ability to adapt, is more ‘robust’ that some give it credit for.

  87. Pamela Gray (17:58:32) :
    ‘And then there are the redheads. We have a defective melatonin gene, and less of it. There are other things related to that defect I can’t go into and still be considered a sober intelligent amateur scientist.’
    I didn’t know that intelligent amateur scientist had to sober to be considered.

  88. Hudson, Nelson and Lia don’t appear to be suffering the effects of climate change (e.g. extinction). http://seaworld.myfun.com.au/Attractions/Marine-Attractions/Polar-Bear-Shores.htm
    Apart from some chilled water (15-17C) , a few fans and misters, they appear to be enjoying their excursion to a tropical climate (avg 18.6 C). http://www.zoolex.org/zoolexcgi/view.py?id=246
    Now I can’t say if they are pining for the fjords or not but neither do I believe the PR blurb: “Guests can visit the cute and playful bear cubs …”. But it is clear that they are surviving and thriving without zub zero temperatures.

  89. davidmhoffer (18:07:25) :
    “Light skinned people also have a different kind of fat than dark skinned people which helps them tolerate cold better, but makes them more sensitive to high temperatures which dark skinned people tolerate better.”
    That would be me. Red hair, freckles. Comfortable in shorts & flip flops when most people are bundled up. Miserable in any kind of heat.

  90. MikeD
    Read somewhere that blue eyes are thought to have emerged some 6000 yrs ago.
    Polar bears have produced fertile offspring with both European and Alaskan brown bears. It is not surprising as all are variants of the brown bear. Bears don’t care how we define species. Whether the white variant does or does not go extinct the basic brown bear strategy will continue to emerge new bear strategies. AGWs need a static climate world and a static evolutionary world– Darwin’s evolution laughs at your stationary world.

  91. Grizzly and Brown Bear are the same species (Ursus arctos) and all have humps.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_Bear
    Brown bears in the US are now only found in Montana and Alaska, as they have been hunted out of the rest of the states
    Black bears (Ursus americanus) are the smaller bears found in most parts of the US.

  92. crosspatch-
    I’m dark complected, blue eyes, dark(graying) hair.I tolerate both cold and heat well.I have to watch my vitamin D, as I can be a bit low.My wife gives me a bad time, as I can go out in 20f. weather in a light jacket, and work all day long in 90f. in shorts and t-shirt. I am Scot,Irish, Native American and a bit of Barbadian.
    My wife kids me about the ability to go out in cold weather in a kilt or loincloth…

  93. My former fellow Fellows in the Society who did evolutionary biology were explaining me how they can compute the time of divergence, based on the mutation of the immaterial part of the information stored in the DNA. I hope this can be done here, too.
    The hypothesis of their recent origin sounds very plausible. I do think that the distance between brown and polar bears is not too much bigger than between the human races.
    Cheers, LM

  94. Craig Moore (15:50:20) :
    When grizzlies mate with polars and make grolars, then what?
    When Papa Bear is a grizzly and Mama is a polar, you get a grolar.
    When Papa is a polar and Mama is a grizz, you get a pozzly.
    The etymological jury is still out on what a grizzled pair of bi-polar bears will produce…

  95. 42125 (11:22:36):

    It appears to me that Stringer is correct.

    Correct me if I’m wrong but in evolutionary terms the Holocene Optimum, 8000 to 5200 BP, seems too short a time for physical adaptations to have taken place and be present in today’s polar bears. In other words are the Polar bears of today that much different from the Polar bears of the Holocene Optimum when summer temperatures at the North Pole was much warmer than today. Another way of looking at it is how different are humans living around the 8000 years ago to humans living around the Arctic today? I think even Stringer would say nil, but I might be wrong. Please note that Stringer is not a climatologist.

  96. Jimbo, the polar ursus has been noted to be physically changing for about the last thirty years. Their overall size is getting smaller, but more curious their head seems to be getting more narrow.
    Of course, the head thing is said to be due to GW, but in reality is more probable an advancement in physiological structure for better ice penetration when hunting seals.

  97. @ Mike D.
    Counter-intuitively, maybe there are so many ‘blonde girl’ jokes precisely because brunette women have more time to sit around on Friday nights instead of being invited out to parties.

  98. According to research published in 2008 between 6,000 to 7,000 ice cover in the Arctic Ocean was greatly reduced. The Arctic Ocean may have been periodically ice free. If true then are some people suggesting that Polar bears then are evolutionarily quite different to today’s Polar bears. Read more here.

  99. Different topic but Swansea daffodils did not bloom in time for St David’s Day. Had to wear a falsey!

  100. DeNihilist (00:22:45) :
    “Jimbo, the polar ursus has been noted to be physically changing for about the last thirty years. ”
    Thanks for the correction, do you have a source / reference as I would like to read up more on it. Anyway, if they can change that rapidly in 30 years then they can do so in a future warming Arctic which still gives them resilliance and adaptability. They eat from dumpsters and live in European zoos which aren’t always at -1C. :o)

  101. Ron House (17:59:23) :
    “Ah yes, but those 15,000 extra bears are not multiyear bears.”
    Nice one Ron!

  102. davidmhoffer (18:07:25) :
    “Light skinned people also have a different kind of fat than dark skinned people which helps them tolerate cold better, but makes them more sensitive to high temperatures which dark skinned people tolerate better.”
    Fair-skinned, blue-eyed, blond hair. I grew up in the Northeastern US, and after a year of 100+F heat in Vietnam, I lost my tolerance for cold weather and have never regained it.
    On the plus side, I’m more comfortable in the 120+F heat of Iraq than some of the local Arabs are.
    Go figure…

  103. Polar Bears in warm zoos seem to do just fine. Why should they have any trouble adapting to changes in the wild?

  104. The only threat to polar bears now is food source and not the bears adaptablity.
    Man is the great harvester and waster.
    Early history of ships coming to America described the cod fish as so plentiful as to be seen for miles on top of the ocean.

  105. ” DeNihilist (00:22:45) :
    Jimbo, the polar ursus has been noted to be physically changing for about the last thirty years. Their overall size is getting smaller, but more curious their head seems to be getting more narrow.
    Of course, the head thing is said to be due to GW, but in reality is more probable an advancement in physiological structure for better ice penetration when hunting seals.”

    puh-leez. The real story is their heads are getting thinner so that there eyes can move more laterally to better enable them to see Greenpeacers sneaking up on them with a spray can of paint. [/sarc]
    God help the world if this is the level of technical understanding today, and especially about things biological.
    I have a hypothesis about the severely declining level of intellectual science. When the Boomers entered the post-secondary education game in the mid 60s, college space was scant, so there was a massive building program to add more degree granting schools.
    But there was also a scarcity of strong minds to fill their faculties, so what we got was a rapid infill of naive and not especially bright new PhDs to staff these schools. The result was the production of a glut of equally not-too-bright PhDs flooding out into the marketplace and academia as well.
    The intellectual deadheads that seem to fill our present institutions of higher learning and government represent the hangers-on of that dilution of the cogent genepool. I witnessed this first hand when I changed colleges back then to pursue post-graduate studies (and a certain young lady). The new school I went to had added whole departments and faculty, and it was clear the faculty couldn’t keep up with my undergraduate training from my former world class school, let alone run on a higher plane entirely.

  106. I saw a Coke commercial at the theatre with Penguins and Polar Bears partying together. What offspring would they produce?

  107. Oh no!
    Daily Telegraph 25 Feb 2010
    Pen Hadow hit polar bear with a saucepan
    “…the closest encounter was 20 years ago when a curious animal poked its head into his tent. Unable to reach a gun in time, Mr Hadow used the nearest weapon which was a dirty saucepan from the previous night’s supper.”
    “The Catlin Arctic Survey, which last year measured the depth of sea ice around the North Pole, will this year investigate the dangers of ocean acidification.”
    “All will be given special training and equipment to deal with temperatures down to -40F (-40 C) and the threat of polar bears.”
    “Biologists from the American Museum of Natural History in New York found grizzly bears are increasingly being spotted in the Canadian province of Manitoba, even though they are officially extinct in that particular region.”

  108. Just in case you thought in my last post was necessarily global warming in angle the National Geographic says:
    “The preliminary report notes an increase in grizzly bear sightings in Wapusk National Park, just south of Churchill, Manitoba.”
    “Experts also aren’t sure what’s causing the influx of bears, but it’s more likely due to reduced hunting pressure than global warming.”
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/02/100226-grizzly-bears-polar-bears-hybrid-canada/

  109. “Biologists from the American Museum of Natural History in New York found grizzly bears are increasingly being spotted in the Canadian province of Manitoba, even though they are officially extinct in that particular region.”>>
    Since they are officialy extinct, the science is in and it is settled. There’s no grizzlies in Manitoba. You can prove this by counting all the bears and rounding off to zero.

  110. I thought the most strange information in this whole debacle is that apparently got so much historical information that they could draw such absolute conclusions from one single jawbone that they couldn’t accurately date to even a +/- 100 years.
    Talk about a flare for the dramatic fantastical fictive story telling.
    Although I now understand how grandpa could have lived in ancient Rome, but he must have been somewhat conservative since he then kept himself within a +/- 2000 years. Now but by using the hobnobs flare for fantastical accuracy I myself might, a hundred thousand years from now, have lived ten thousand years ago, perhaps having surfed the slopes of the last great ice.

  111. Jimbo
    Look at the “adaptations” in a all our domesticated animals in the last 6,000 to 8,000 yrs. Better yet look what the American Kennel Club can produce in dogs in a few decades. (And if we use body features – the polar bear and brown bear have more right to claim single species than do St. Bernards and beagles)
    If we want to look at animals uninfluenced by farming/husbandry techniques- take something they are calling the new wolf in New Jersey- a coyote X wolf (approx12%) that is now breeding true—-a new species.
    Salmon are perhaps the fastest of all vertebrates to adapt (being tetraploids helps) with adaptations becoming apparent in as little as 2 generations. Salmon are the ultimate climate change warrior- as these fast adaptations are necessary to follow the changing ice fronts north and south over time.
    Species is an artificial construct necessary to aid in biology. Nothing more. Species definition has evolved more as a result of Endangered Species Act legal proceeding and court tactics than it has for any need in the biological community.
    The interesting point Stringer made is that the polar bears of a 100,000 yrs ago may not have been as specialized. This guy should lose his job- animals don’t become specialized as if it is a goal or worse if it implies the bears have become better- animals adapt to the conditions at hand to survive and adaptation is a full time job. Animals can’t become specialized in the human trade sense because this would require a world where nothing changed. Yes the polar bears (or whitish brown bears because a fertile hybrid says by the old species definition they are the same species) were somewhat different 100,000 years ago. The bears 100K yrs ago were specialized to 100k years ago- the bears now are specialized to now and the bears of the future will be specialized to the future. Evolution is the eternal quest to adapt to an ever changing world. Species are a continuum they are not hard lines.
    Ursus arctos is the apex terrestrial predator of the far northern hemisphere. Until some extinction event far more severe than Al’s climate change (since the brown bear has seen many) U. arctos will continue to spin off brown bear variants to fill and make efficient use of all available niches.

  112. The North American Black Bear, Ursus Americanus is known to develop white patches on its fur, and in rarer cases, all white pelts. In folklore they are known as ‘spirit bears’ and more prosaicly as ‘Kermode Bears’.
    Also worth noting that Polar Bears Ursus Maritimus have been known to interbreed with Grizzlies Ursus Arctos Horribilis (I kid you not). Rather reminds me how differing breeds of dog can crossbreed. Perhaps the species concerned are more resilient than the ‘experts’ suggest.
    Kermode Bear: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kermode_bear
    Grizzly-Polar Hybrid: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grizzly%E2%80%93polar_bear_hybrid

  113. The extinction threat to worry about is not polar bears but to polar bear researchers like Dr. Taylor. Dr Taylor is now ostracized for not seeing the climate threat to continued polar bear survival.

  114. Makes the claims made in this story seem all the nuttier:
    http://news.discovery.com/animals/grizzly-bears-enter-polar-bear-territory.html
    I couldn’t believe that it was listed as a “top story” a few days ago.
    Neither the writer, nor her sad little handful of comment authors bothered to consider that these bears had any chance of meeting or living in the same areas at any time in the past.
    I did a little research (very little; <2 minutes) and found that polar bear hybrids have been suspected since the 1800's (although only recently confirmed by DNA evidence), which just goes to show that when Grizzly Bears meet polar bears the same possibilities exist as when polar bears meet polar, and it has been so many times before.

  115. From a WWF site – “How do you figure out a bear’s age?
    As a bear grows, a thin layer of bone, called cementum, is deposited each year in the teeth. By examining a thin slice of tooth under a microscope and counting the layers of cementum, the polar bear’s age can be estimated in much the same way that tree rings reveal the age of a forest. To do this, a small tooth, located just behind the large canine teeth and of no use to the bear, is pulled. This information is vital for monitoring the health and condition of polar bears over time.”
    Maybe Mann & The Team can include this method in their next reconstruction!

  116. rbateman (10:21:59) : “So, do humans revert back to neanderthals in an ice-age?”
    No, just when they’re appointed head of the EPA.

  117. Jimbo, I seem to remember watching some show, maybe suzuki, where this GW factoid was presented. My BS radar went to full.

  118. rbateman (10:21:59) :
    So, do humans revert back to neanderthals in an ice-age?

    Seems to me I’ve read a lot of articles about the sprouting popularity of paleo diets and caveman lifestyles recently. Coincidence?

  119. Don’t know about the polars or grizzlies but there is one black bear who has developed his resiliency at breaking into my ski cabin at Tahoe. For two years running each Spring he has entered it through windows which he manages to rip out of their soffits. This spring when he emerges from hibernation and pays a visit he will be greeted by an electric wire fencing that will require immediate adaptation to lots of free ampheres seeking mother gaia. I hope that will retrain his somewhat animal brain and I won’t find another refrigerator ripped open in the search for his vittles.

  120. DeNihilist
    Your BS radar should go up anytime you hear WWF or IUCN. Both NGOs were set up by Julian Huxley the first UN director of UNESCO. WWF and IUCN maintain a “special status” designation within the UN framework…It should come as no surprise we find them as champions of AGW. They are the UN- just with nicer ofices.

  121. The way they define species, if the polar bear lived on salmon in streams emptying to the Arctic back then, and now live on seals, the polar bears who live on seals are a “different species”, because species is defined by genetics, habitat, and diet.
    I am not making this up. This means that virtually any change causes extinctions, by their definition.

  122. A biologist’s definition of species is that which maintains interfertility in reproductive isolation, meaning that recognizable species can exist and evolve where individual members are interfertile, and as long as reproductive isolation occurs, the species taxon can remain valid.
    For taxonomic purposes, cohorts meeting these criteria generally are known as species. However, a great many species are defined solely on their reproductive isolation or their phenotype or niche utilization. The line of interfertility is not a hard line. Some species are interfertile with low reproductive success, undergoing a process usually described as incipient speciation, meaning they are on their way to fully independent speciation whose reproductive isolation is biological, not geographic (or temporal, or a number of mechanisms).
    There are species, such as leopard frogs, that are interfertile across their range but members from the extemes are not co-fertile. This is the Rassenkreis of Ernst Mayr.
    The brown bears and their cousins, like the the coyotes, wolves, coy-dogs etc, are not true species (depending on your definition, of course), but really are subspecies of a complex genus. This is partly why animals’ taxa get changed from time to time – they’re found to be interfertile, the mechanism for reproductive isolation breaks down, have significant anatomical differences or some group is redefining the definitions of the taxa. DNA sequencing is muddying the waters.
    The true test of speciation is interfertility, which is also sometimes extended to include a requirement for the hybrid to be able form a stable interfertile population without reverting to type (biologically , ie. phenotypically distinct from either parent). Note again, this starts to re-assert the continuum nature of speciation.
    Speculation on successful and future niche utilization of allied species based on phenotypic variation without a rigorous analysis of the interfertility is pretty meaningless, and even with such analysis, is probably pretty meaningless as to species’ survival. Most extinctions are extinctions of subspecies, not species. Subspecies are inherently “experiments” in niche utilization; sometimes they’re successful, often, they’re not.

  123. TJA
    Now you understand the great power of the Endangered Species Act– the answer to what is an endangered species is anything we want it to be. The report listing the Maine Atlantic Salmon declared any salmon in a river more than 2 generations to be wild and open to protection. So salmon can spin off endangered stocks in less than 8 years.

  124. Another paper shifting the center of gravity of climate change away from the agw settled science. Where were these guys prior to the climategate tsunami. I’m sure they must have found their fossil and the status of greenland and svalbaard glaciers data before svalbaard’s winter set in last fall. I guess academic institutions are removing the shackles from researchers and we are enjoying a surge of pent-up papers either kept in wraps Or stuck in peer review.
    Incidentally, I’ve proposed in a much earler post that when the arctic ice melted in earlier warm periods, it was the seals that were at risk. The polar bears actually had a field day with a linearly distributed seal pop. Along the shorelines.

  125. There was no science that polar bears were in trouble until WWF decided to use them as their poster animal.
    Polar Bear Population Status in the Southern Beaufort SeaOpen-
    SeaOpen-File Report 2006–1337USGS
    “In our analysis of the 2001–06 data, we did not find clear evidence for a relationship between sea ice coverage in the SBS region (i.e., the covariate ice) and survival. ”
    They could not find a relationship between sea ice and survival—- but despite finding no relationship it is now declared a fact.

  126. Bears are the prototypical omnivores, and survive on meat, vegetation, berries, or whatever’s going. In warm periods, there are more of all of the above. Polar bears are unique in their ability to cope also with very cold environments; that gives them local dominance as the peak predators. But they do fine (better, actually) when there’s LOTS of food available. Such as when it warms up.

  127. P.S.
    The only threat to polar bears’ survival is rifles. Their population surged after the ’70s when hunting them was forbidden.

  128. The thing about evolution by natural selection is that POPULATIONS remain constant. SPECIES change through time (a long time) through the deaths of individuals that cannot survive an environmental change and the reproduction and success of individuals with very subtle mutations better suited to the environment. This mechanism for evolution requires very long time periods (15,000 years in this case) for significant changes to occur. If a significant environmental change occurs over a short time period (200 years for example) the species will simply die out rather than evolve.
    Climate change today is much more rapid than the change described above. Too rapid for real evolutionary changes, as opposed to adaptions, to take place. That is why the polar bear is threatened by the melting of the polar ice caps.
    another note-
    “Brian H (17:43:06) :
    P.S.
    The only threat to polar bears’ survival is rifles. Their population surged after the ’70s when hunting them was forbidden.”
    If Polar bears are pushed into human population centers by climate change for whatever reason, for instance because food sources have died out, this becomes a real problem, both for the bears as well as for people.

  129. land (21:01:24):
    “Climate change today is much more rapid than the change described above.”
    No, it’s not. But thanx for playing.

  130. land;
    Since all of your assertions are false, I’ll restrict myself to the final one.
    “Population centers” in the Arctic are minuscule. And warming provides MUCH MORE food for the bears, not less. Though the bears like town dumps, because they don’t run away or hide. But that’s just a few percent.
    Polar bear populations are booming, and will continue to do so.

  131. rbateman (10:21:59) :
    “Seems to me I watched a special where Polar Bears that bore their young in an ice-free environment had cubs that were brown. As if they are programmed to adapt to whatever the cycle is doing.
    So, do humans revert back to neanderthals in an ice-age?”

    Given Al Gore and his lemmings, I would say we are already showing signs of reverting.

  132. Pat Moffitt (11:39:11) :
    “DeNihilist
    The most dangerous teaching of Darwin was that species are merely a taxonomic human convenience. We draw lines where often there are none. The hybrid polar/ brown bear shot was fertile. In the old days before the definition of species evolved- this would imply that brown bears and polar bears are the same species.”

    Yes isn’t it interesting that the polar bear is considered a separate species from the brown bear yet a caucasian and a negro are considered the same species even though the evolutionary mechanism that caused the development of both “whites” is the same: migration to a different niche environment where lack of pigment is advantageous, or at least not lethal.

  133. Yup; it’s all sliding scales and mixes of slightly and significantly different genes. So we may end up ignoring species and just worrying about the survival of particular genes, since we’ll be able to mix and match them at will anyway.
    Lots of possibilities! If tyrannosaurs had feathers, why not grizzlies? And so on …
    LOL

  134. I know this is sacrilege to environmentalists but the picture of the brown bear and the polar bear made me wonder about the scientific basis of the Endangered Species Act.
    The polar bear emerged as a species 150,000 years ago as an adaptive response to ice age glaciation. The brown bear adapted to a niche environment to take advantage of the opportunities this environment had to offer. Several thoughts come to mind:
    1) It shows the flexibility of a species genes to adapt to a changing environment. It is still a brow bear that just happens to be white now and has developed skills to hunt seals instead of being an opportunistic omnivores like its southern cousins.
    2) It suggests the brown bears that turned into polar bears were less competent than their southern cousins. The ice ages didn’t descend in a day; there had to be thousands of years where the less competent bears were forced into marginalized conditions by other more aggressive members of their species. Life had to be much easier to he south, how did polar bears wind up in the far north? Only the timid fled north.
    3) Animals and plants that live in niche environments are Nature’s losers. They evolved from more robust members of their species but they fell short in some way. They adapted themselves to live in niche environments because the better members of their species didn’t wanted to live there. That makes them fragile for a good reason; Nature has put them on the path to extinction. We only meddle with Nature by forestalling the inevitable.
    4) What is a species? The cute polar bear you see? It’s just as reasonable to say the physical embodiment an an animal, plant or us is Nature’s way of replicating chromosomes. Like all living things we are born, we procreate and we die; just like Mayflies we serve our duty and then die. Would the hypothetical “Man from Mars” report back that chromosome replication is the essence of the life process or say it’s observed physical body?
    5) If the purpose is to pass on chromosomes, then the matter of how that’s accomplished takes on less significance. Polar Bear or California Condor, it doesn’t matter. One is a bear, the other is a bird. Both are Nature’s losers because they were forced by inherent incompetence to conform to a niche environment. Birds, brown bears, rats, cockroaches and others will always prosper because are potent and virulent species. They may have offshoots but Nature prunes that tree.
    6) So what’s the Endangered Species Act about? It’s purpose is to act against Nature and not cull out Nature’s mistakes. The Sacramento Delta Smelt is a perfect example. It is a perfectly useless niche environment little fish. It evolved from more competent smelt. It is one of Nature’s mistakes. Because of it, billions of gallons of fresh water everyday wash out into the Pacific instead of being diverted south into aqueducts. The San Joaquin Valley, the breadbasket of the US is going to desert and it is to no good purpose.

  135. Mariss;
    Concerning #3;
    How do you think superior species evolve? Sometimes the adaptations the marginalized populations develop turn out to have wider value and benefit. The theory of “punctuated evolution” suggests that small isolated groups evolve fastest, and some end up with traits that lead to general dominance. A particular group of pre-humans were probably reduced to a small group on the west coast of Africa at one point, and changed enough to open up evolutionary paths to dominating the planet much later.
    But >99.9% fail and die out. In other words, there are (at least) 1000 species gone extinct for every one that is still around.

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