Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Are polar bears going cannibal?

CNN, in the midst of a boilerplate September 23 article about the allegedly impending disappearance of Arctic ice, brings us an alarming development in the saga of the officially-threatened-but-not-actually-declining-yet polar bear:
"The Arctic sea ice melt is a disaster for the polar bears," according to Kassie Siegel, staff attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity. "They are dependent on the Arctic sea ice for all of their essential behaviors, and as the ice melts and global warming transforms the Arctic, polar bears are starving, drowning, even resorting to cannibalism because they don't have access to their usual food sources."

Scientists have noticed increasing reports of starving Arctic polar bears attacking and feeding on one another in recent years.
Cannibalism! Yikes! Given the extent of the summer melt in the past two seasons, researchers must have a lot of anecdotal evidence of this. Let's read on to learn the gory details:
In one documented 2004 incident in northern Alaska, a male bear broke into a female's den and killed her.
2004? Four years ago? Did the male bear eat the female after killing her? What was the frequency of such behavior in the polar bear population before any significant melting occurred?

Does article author Marsha Walton realize that this one sentence (which, by the way, is the only example given) undermines her alarmist conclusion? Apparently not. Even though the main purpose of the article is to report on the just-ended ice-melt season, her article is entitled:
Polar bears resort to cannibalism as Arctic ice shrinks
Present tense: "resort". If there's evidence of it happening this season, Walton doesn't see fit to present it.

Perhaps because the true story gives no cause for alarm?

Perhaps because researchers have long known about cannibalism among the polar bears.

[P.S. Hello to everyone visiting here from the CNN article page!]