“Polar bears are starving to death” from global warming

A sad video from the Guardian, explaining how global warming is killing polar bears.

In the polar bears’ northern habitat, from July until the fall, the ice breaks up and polar bears go hungry during that time. Climate change is making it so that the hungry season, the season without solid ice covering the water, is getting longer, and bears are increasingly going hungry.


Steve Amstrup, chief scientist of Polar Bears International, explains in the video:

“Polar bears get all of their food from the surface of the sea ice. They’re highly specialize to catch basically two species of seals, that’s it. And they can only catch them from the surface of the sea ice, they can’t catch them predictably in open water, and those seals don’t come to land very often. When the sea ice is gone, polar bears are food deprived.”

Amstrup explains that the they’re seeing declining survival rates, especially among young polar bears. He puts it bluntly:

“More polar bears are starving to death.”

As we reported in 2009, part of the problem is that when the ice comes back, it’s not as thick as it normally is (or was), so that it can no longer hold the weight of the polar bears:

University of Manitoba researcher David Barber said experts around the world believed the ice was recovering because satellite images showed it expanding, but the thick, multiyear frozen sheets have been replaced by thin ice that cannot support the weight of a polar bear.

“Polar bears are being restricted to a small fringe of where this multiyear sea ice is. As we went further and further north, we saw less and less polar bears because this ice wasn’t even strong enough for the polar bears to stand on,” said Barber, who returned from an expedition to the Beaufort Sea in September.

The starvation has evem turned some polar bears into cannibals, eating their own young to survive, per Reuters:

A male polar bear carries the head of a polar bear cub it killed and cannibalized in an area about 300 km (186 miles) north of the Canadian town of Churchill November 20, 2009. Climate change has turned some polar bears into cannibals as global warming melts their Arctic ice hunting grounds, reducing the polar bear population, according to a U.S.-led global scientific study on the impacts of climate change.

What happens next is that if the polar bears don’t starve to death, they drown from lack of ice. Here’s some of our reporting from all the way back in 2005:

Scientists for the first time have documented multiple deaths of polar bears off Alaska, where they likely drowned after swimming long distances in the ocean amid the melting of the Arctic ice shelf. The bears spend most of their time hunting and raising their young on ice floes.

In a quarter-century of aerial surveys of the Alaskan coastline before 2004, researchers from the U.S. Minerals Management Service said they typically spotted a lone polar bear swimming in the ocean far from ice about once every two years. Polar-bear drownings were so rare that they have never been documented in the surveys.

Of course, the polar bears have another natural enemy to contend with as well, Sarah Palin and the Republicans.  As governor of Alaska, Palin sued the government in an effort to take polar bears off the endangered species list.  Forget the fact that two-thirds of all polar bears may die off by 2050.


And remember that time the Bush administration basically put a gag order on administration officials going abroad to talk about climate change, sea ice, or polar bears?  If that doesn’t prove that the problem is real – that George Bush and the Republicans tried to censor it, and the science surrounding it – I don’t know what does.

Now after that Debbie Downer report, here are two adorable videos of polar bears in happier times.

Baby polar bear crawling:

Then walking:

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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23 Responses to ““Polar bears are starving to death” from global warming”

  1. Bill_Perdue says:

    Meanwhile, back in the innards of the beltway it’s politics corruption as usual/

    NY Times 09 02 2011 “Obama Administration Abandons Stricter Air-Quality Rules
    … President Obama abandoned a contentious new air pollution rule on Friday, buoying business interests that had lobbied heavily against it, angering environmentalists who called the move a betrayal and unnerving his own top environmental regulators. The president rejected a proposed rule from the Environmental Protection Agency that would have significantly reduced emissions
    of smog-causing chemicals, saying that it would impose too severe a burden on industry and local governments at a time of economic distress. Business groups and Republicans in Congress had complained that meeting the new standard, which governs emissions of so-called ground-level ozone, would cost billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs. “

    And the administration is doing all it can to ease the way for fracking on a huge scale. http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/01/25/obama-doe-fracked-gas-export-study-contractors-tobacco-industry-roots/

    What everyone has to expect is climate catastrophe, which is all too real and dangerous in the extreme. As shortly as a couple of years ago scientists were hoping that global warning could be limited to a 2% (Centigrade) temperature rise during this century. Now what’s called the Great Accelerator has kicked in and the prediction is for an ecosystem shattering 6% (Centigrade) temperature rise by sometime mid century.

    Reuters 02 26 2012 “The world is close to reaching tipping points that will make it irreversibly hotter, making this decade critical in efforts to contain global warming, scientists warned on Monday. Scientific estimates differ but the world’s temperature looks set to rise by six degrees Celsius by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions are allowed to rise uncontrollably.”

    The bad news is that there is no longer much possibility of good news. Governments around the world, including ours are making the problem much worse and much faster than previously thought.

  2. Yeah didn’t see he was a spammer, he’s gone now.

  3. Oh didn’t see that he was a spammer. He’s gone now, and reported.

  4. Hue-Man says:

    This polar bear defensive strategy may not work too well in late June (sunrise 4:06 AM, sunset 10:31 PM). “Winnipeg man wards off polar bear with cellphone” http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/winnipeg-man-wards-off-polar-bear-with-cellphone-1.1705973

    And Stephen Colbert’s ultimate threat – the grolar bear. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grizzly%E2%80%93polar_bear_hybrid

    “An orphaned polar bear cub is settling in to her new home at the Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg, but not everyone thinks the bear should have been removed from the wild.”

    “John Iacozza, a senior instructor instructor with the department of environment and geography at the University of Manitoba, says sometimes nature should be left alone. “Let it kind of try to survive in the wild,” he says of the cub. “Probably with a low probability, but still, it may have had a chance.”” http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/orphaned-polar-bear-cub-moved-to-winnipeg-zoo-1.2350461

    “Churchill’s shipping season is expanding because northern climates are warming quicker than the rest of the globe. The average global temperature has increase [sic] about 0.7 degrees C in the past 30 years, but the Arctic has warmed at three times that rate, [David] Barber [Canada research chair in arctic system sciences at the University of Manitoba] said.” And now for the really bad news: “There have been negotiations to transport crude oil by rail to Churchill and fill oil tankers from its facility. That’s not well-received by everyone in the northern town, however, because of the devastation an oil spill could have on the pristine northern environment and Churchill’s tourism industry.” http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/receding-ice-shipping-boon-for-churchill-215031741.html

  5. cole3244 says:

    me too.

  6. karmanot says:

    Can’t deny this middle finger pointed in your direction memedowner.

  7. BeccaM says:

    Only lazy copy and paste news editors and politicians…

    Says the guy who’s been lazily copying and pasting the same incoherent rants in Disqus comments all over the Internet…

  8. BeccaM says:

    He broke his copy/paste buttons. Either that, or he’s not done plastering his same, identical, incoherent screed on several dozen other sites across the Internet.

  9. The_Fixer says:

    Ok, Downvoter. Let’s hear your reasoned and insightful arguments.


  10. Whitewitch says:

    With catsup!

  11. Whitewitch says:

    John – I love the Knut video…thank you for sharing.

  12. Whitewitch says:

    100% support on that and I believe it will not be long before Mother Earth (or Father Time) does exactly that! We have overstayed our welcome for sure…and hopefully the next sentient being in charge will be more cautious.

    P.S. Just have to say this – I LOVE SPELL CHECK!!!!!

  13. Naja pallida says:

    I did a quick Google search, he’s got it plastered all over non-Disqus sites too. Talk about lazy. :)

  14. The_Fixer says:

    Just looked at his profile. Indeed, this seems to be his magnum opus that he is willing to share with everyone.

  15. Naja pallida says:

    I get to giggling that someone would complain about copying and pasting, but has copy and pasted that exact post to at least a dozen different sites. Good old denial tactic, if you repeat lies often enough and to enough people, maybe somehow they will magically become the truth?

  16. The_Fixer says:

    And the Death Panels®.

  17. The_Fixer says:

    Let’s address a few of the things you say here.

    * The Polar/Yellow bear being indigenous as far south as Minnesota is an interesting factoid, but without context is meaningless. Because of this, you failed to make a point (whatever point that may be).

    * Scientists can’t predict what policy changes will happen in the future that might mitigate any warming. They’re not public policy experts, they’re climate experts. That’s why they give a range of possible warming temperatures, and a range of years that we may see them.

    * What does Occupy Wall Street have to do with this? That’s not pertinent to the discussion.

    * Corporatism gave us chemicals that were known to be toxic. Scientists may have synthesized them, but they didn’t market them.

    * The Great Lakes region has had several ozone alerts based on measurements, weather patterns and weather forecasts in recent years, and we’ve seen these warnings in most summers. I know this, I live in the Great Lakes region. They can, and do, measure the amount of ozone in the air. Smog (as in air that has heavy particulate matter) is primarily a problem in heavily populated and industrialized cities on the coasts.

    * I think the U.S. had something to do with killing the Kyoto accord. I seem to recall a president named Bush…..

    * Scientists have said that a man-made climate crisis can happen – but as I pointed out above, scientists cannot accurately predict if humans will change their policies, hence, their behavior. All they can do is tell us when we will reach a tipping point based on current trends.

    Speaking of denial, you seem to be a science denier. I might remind you that without the efforts of scientists, you would not only be unable to type your thoughts down on a computer, but you’d also be unable to bless us with these thoughts via sharing through the Internet.

    But I can also play the anecdotal, unsubstantiated claim. I used to live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for about 4 years. It was routine to see -20F (-29C) temperatures in Winter, and once saw -38F (-39C). That area doesn’t often see temperatures that low these days. By my data, that means we’re in a substantial global warming phase. See? Anyone can play that game. Oh, if one were willing to go to the Marquette, MI office of the National Weather Service and obtain the climate data for the 1970s to the present, they’d probably see that I’m correct.

    Therefore, I second Drew2u’s request for a citation of contextual data from reputable sources.

  18. You forgot to add that there was one more than one shooter.

  19. Drew2u says:

    Where are your sources? Without citing your data, you might as well have just Rand-Paul copypasta stuff.

  20. heimaey says:

    Feed them Republicans and global warming deniers!

  21. mememine says:

    What these fear mongering lazy copy and paste news editors never tell you;

    * The polar bear was indigenous to as far south as Minnesota upon settlement but called the yellow bear because it retained its summer coat longer, but still the same bear.

    *The climate change consensus was a 30 year old consensus of “maybe” and NEVER has science agreed or said any crisis WILL happen inevitably. *Occupywallstreet does not even mention CO2 in its list of demands because of the bank-funded and corporate run carbon trading stock markets ruled by trustworthy politicians.

    *Not one IPCC warning explains the tropical fossils under both polar caps that prove this climate of today has obviously happened before and is not “new” or “unique”. *Not one IPCC warning isn’t drowning in “maybes” and “could bes” and “likelys” and…..

    *Science gave us the pesticides that they denied for decades as being toxic and made environmentalism necessary in the first place after they apparently poisoned the planet with their evil chemicals.

    *Smog “alerts and advisories and watches” are NOT measurements of smog, just predictions that smog “could” possibly happen within the next 36 hours and most of the great lakes area hasn’t had a smog warning day (actual smog) in close to 10 years now.

    *Canada killed Y2Kyoto with a freely elected climate change denying prime minister and nobody cared, especially the millions of scientists warning us of unstoppable warming (a comet hit).

    *Only lazy copy and paste news editors and politicians are saying a crisis will happen as science has never said any crisis will happen, only could.

    Deny that.

  22. cole3244 says:

    another reason to remove man from the face of our planet.

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