Greenhouse Gases Put the Lives of Polar Bears in Jeopardy

Author:  Jiang Dennis
Date:  September 2007

A yearlong review by the United States Geological Survey concluded that the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere may lead to the disappearance of about two-thirds of the world's polar bear population by the year 2050. The report, released earlier this month details the startling fate of the polar bears as a result of the shrinking sea ice coverage due to increasing summer temperatures. This summer alone has seen the greatest retreat of sea ice since satellite tracking began in 1979.

Scientists believe that of the estimated 22,000 polar bears that wander the earth today, only one-third will survive past 2050. The majority of that population will be driven out of Alaska towards the Arctic archipelago of Canada and the northern coast of Greenland, where ice will persist.

This report comes at a time when President Bush is in Australia to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation 2007 conferences and attempt to arrive at a strategy with the member countries to deal with global warming. Despite a prospective treaty on climate change, the survey director of the review, Mark Myers, remarked that, "we would not expect to see any significant change in polar conditions regardless of mitigation (of greenhouse gases)."

The review team reiterated this point to reporters in a conference call. The scientists concluded that the current trend of ice retreat will probably not see a reversal within the next few decades even with efforts to curb carbon dioxide emission since global warming has already gained so much momentum. Hence, the dismal future of the polar bears will most likely be unavoidable.

Author: Dennis Jiang

Reviewed by: Pooja Ghatalia, Lisa Merolla

Published by: Konrad Sawicki