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By Andrew Follett
Polar bear populations are still growing despite global warming, according to new research.
The new population estimates from the 2016 Scientific Working Group are somewhere between 22,633 to 32,257 bears, which is a net increase from the 2015 number of 22,000 to 31,000. The current population numbers are a sharp increase from 2005’s, which stated only 20,000 to 25,000 bears remained — those numbers were a major increase from estimates that only 8,000 to 10,000 bears remained in the late 1960s.
Until the new study, bear subpopulations in the Baffin Bay and Kane Basin (KB) were thought to be in decline due to over-hunting and global warming. The new report indicates this is not the case.
Scientists are increasingly realizing that polar bears are much more resilient to changing levels of sea ice than environmentalists previously believed, and numerous healthy populations are thriving.
Predictions that bears would die due to a lack of sea ice have continuously not come to pass. Recent rumors about polar bear extinction underscore another time when scientists discovered the creatures possess higher resilience to changing levels of sea ice than previously believed. Another new study by Canadian scientists found “no evidence” polar bears are currently threatened by global warming.
“We see reason for concern, but find no reliable evidence to support the contention that polar bears are currently experiencing a climate crisis,” Canadian scientists wrote in their study, published in the journal Ecology and Evolution.
Polar bears became an icon for environmentalists who claimed that melting Arctic sea ice could kill thousands of bears. Former Vice President Al Gore heavily promoted this viewpoint by featuring polar bears swimming for their lives and drowning in his 2006 film on global warming.
Fears about global warming’s impact on polar bears even spurred the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to say that the bear was “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act in 2008. Polar bears were the first species to be listed over possibly being harmed in the future by global warming.
Scientists, however, have increasingly been questioning alarmists as there are way more polar bears alive today than 40 years ago.
In fact, polar bears have likely survived past ice-free periods in the Arctic. There is no evidence of large scale marine life extinctions in the Arctic in the past 1.5 million years, despite the Arctic going through prolonged periods with no summer ice cover.
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