Letter: A counterpoint to the upbeat polar bear health study

Temporary benefits of thin ice are limited in region and transitory at best

To the Expositor:

Shane Desjardins seems keen to jump at any research that might dispute the now predominantly recognized current consequences of man-made climate change. So much so that he didn’t read the other articles that refute the research paper published on September 23 on global change biology. In an alternate article on Radio Canada International: ‘Some High Arctic polar bears temporarily benefit from thinning ice: study,’ it is pointed out that only in one minor arctic region are there “temporary benefits.” An excerpt from that article is printed below:

“A population of roughly 300 to 350 bears in Kane Basin, a frigid channel between Canada’s Ellesmere Island and northwestern Greenland, used to be covered by thick, multi-year ice. The research shows that Kane Basin polar bears, who make up about one to two percent of the world’s polar bear population, are doing better in recent years than they were in the 1990s. However, if emissions of greenhouse gases continue unabated and the climate keeps warming, within decades these polar bears will likely face the same fate as their southern cousins, who are already suffering from declining sea ice, researchers warn. ‘The duration of these benefits is unknown. Under unmitigated climate change, we expect the Kane Basin bears to run into the same situation as polar bears in the south — it’s just going to happen later’.” 

Derek Stephen McPhail