Thursday, January 23, 2014

Polar Bear Prosperity

It’s fund-raising time for natural climate change deniers and a photo-shopped image of a polar bear on a tiny ice floe in a vast ice-free ocean was used as their “poster boy” 

Brad Keyes at The Conversation defended its use: “The problem is, only sensational exaggeration makes the kind of story that will get politicians’—and readers’—attention. So, yes, climate scientists might exaggerate, but in today’s world, this is the only way to assure any political action and thus more federal financing to reduce the scientific uncertainty.”

Pity the polar bear. Global temperature was up 1°C, Arctic summers were 5°-8°C warmer, and Arctic summer ice was virtually gone. This occurred annually for thousands of years 130,000-115,000 years ago during the Eemian interglacial, and hit its peak 125,000 years ago. And the polar bear survived.

The polar bear also survived during the recent Holocene Climatic Optimum, 9,000-5,000 years ago, when Arctic temperatures were similar to the Eemian period, with substantially less sea ice than the present. And the polar bear survived.

None of these facts of polar bear survival during previous warmer, lower sea ice periods, seems to have sunk in with the natural climate change deniers. Recent periods of greater warmth, higher sea levels, and lower Arctic sea ice should register something in their feverish minds: our current warming following the Little Ice Age, the coldest period since the end of the Ice Age, is modest and unremarkable compared to previous warm periods. Within the past 10,000 years, the Holocene Climatic Optimum, and the following cooler Minoan, Roman, and Medieval warm periods were all warmer than the present. And the polar bears survived them all.

In fact, the polar bear population quadrupled 1960-2000, and is up 10%-20% from 2000 to the present. 

Surviving? They’re thriving.

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