As predicted by chemistry, change in the Arctic Ocean is accelerating as temperatures warm faster than the global average, as the sea ice melts, as northern rivers run stronger and faster, delivering more fresh water farther into the northernmost ocean, and as we continue blasting an ever increasing quantity of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
The Arctic Ocean Acidification Assessment, a new report from the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP), presents these 10 key findings:
Posts tagged polar bears.
Dr. Mark Brandon, a Polar Oceanographer (@icey_mark), discusses how humans impact the Arctic. It’s a high-level talk, meaning it’s easy to follow and not very sciencey. He makes much use of the fact that fire retardants are routinely found in the fat of polar bears and other animals to show how our pollution travels north.
In addition to the earlier polar bear fail: Efforts to curb the sale of ivory and rhino horns were voted down on Thursday at an international wildlife summit in Bangkok. ›
“At the 178-nation Convention in Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) meeting, Burkina Faso and Kenya cited the “merciless slaughter of elephants” in their attempt to extend to a wider group of nations a pledge from some countries not to sell ivory stockpiles before 2016.
But the proposal was seen as legally flawed by many delegates and failed to get support.
But Tom Milliken, head of the elephant and rhino team at wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic, said he was more optimistic than ever that tough action would still be taken. “This time people are listening because everything is pointing in the same direction: poaching is up to a record high, as is illegal ivory trading and elephants seem to be down,” he said. About 25,000 elephants were killed by poachers in 2012.
At the Cites talks, 19 nations face bans on all wildlife trade unless they crack down on the poaching, smuggling or sale of illegal ivory. The summit is also considering compulsory forensic testing of seized tusks, so the criminal chain can be traced and compulsory reporting of stockpiles of ivory, to prevent corruption or thefts.
Separately, Kenya attempted to prevent the export of trophy-hunted rhino horns from South Africa. Vietnamese and east European gangs use the practice as a cover to feed the illegal Vietnamese market with the 1,000 horns a year it is demanding. But Milliken said that South Africa had already put an end to the “pseudo-hunting”. There are 20,000 white rhinos at present, he said, and despite more than 600 being poached in 2012, the population is rising.
Milliken said: “It is probably a good idea to keep these [trophy-hunting] incentives for private wildlife reserve owners at a time when they are having to spend more on protection from poachers.” He said, in contrast, Vietnam was doing extremely little to tackle rhino sales.
The Cites meeting did, however, unanimously raise the protection of the west African manatee to the highest level, overriding advice from officials that “scant” scientific data did not support the move.
The slow-moving creature, which can measure up to 4.5m long and weigh 350kg, is found in the coastal lagoons and rivers of 21 states, and can reach as far inland as Mali, Niger and Chad.
Illegal kills can raise $4,500 per animal and less than 10,000 remain. They are hunted for meat and oil, killed as by bycatch by fishermen and also suffer as their habitat is destroyed by mangrove harvesting, pollution and dams. The Cites conference also bid farewell to a series of extinct animals by removing them from protection lists, including Australia’s dusky flying fox, crescent nail-tail wallaby, buff-nosed rat-kangaroo and the pig-footed- and rabbit-eared bandicoots.”
Via The Guardian
Bid to ban international trade of Polar Bear parts fails
Today delegates at the CITES meeting in Thailand rejected the proposal to protect polar bears from the commercial trade of their body parts. The proposal was put forward by the US with support from Russia but was opposed by Canada, the only country to allow the exporting of polar bear parts.
Unfortunately the proposal failed to win the two-thirds needed to pass. The results ended with 38 countries voting in favour of the US proposal, 42 against and 46 refrained.
“Limiting commercial trade in this species would have addressed a source of non-climate stress to polar bear populations and contributed to long-term recovery,” said the statement from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Each year, an average of 3,200 items made from polar bears - including skins, claws and teeth - are reported to be exported or re-exported from a range of countries. Polar bear hides sell for an average of $2,000 to $5,000, while maximum hide prices have topped $12,000.”
The rejection of the proposal means that the export of polar bear skins, teeth and paws from Canada will continue.
[Photo credit: Martin Lopatka]
Polar bears remain a threatened species
The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided to keep polar bears protected by broad federal measures Friday,
The court rejected the argument that the 25,000 remaining polar bears, most of which live in relatively stable populations, were perfectly fine without “threatened species” status. But many scientists worry that the effects of climate change on the Arctic climate could prove dangerous for the remaining bears.
And it looks like polar bears may remain on that list for the foreseeable future, according to Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity.
“So for practical purposes, the listing of the polar bear is final, and really no longer under any serious threat from these challenges.”
Read more about the court’s decision here, via Nation Now.
Photos: Jeon Heon-Kyun, Koen Van Weel / EPA, Sven Hoppe / Associated Press
Reblogging more for that sweet sweet emoticon…
Why do polar bears matter? The Pacific Standard Magazine has published one of the most moving pieces I’ve read in a long, long while. It’s long been known that polar bears are endangered, and that the core reason is loss of habitat - sea-ice.
The bears are unique. We revere them not just because they’re cute and cuddly. But because they are masters of the environment, masters of “child care,” and just overall really fucking resilient animals. They depend on sea-ice for hunting food on a seasonal basis, which is a hard concept to wrap our heads around. But the bottom line is that sea-ice is disappearing as the earth warms, and the bears are not adapting their hunting techniques as fast as the ice is melting.
So, again, why do they matter? Author Zach Unger speculates on the answer:
And what we notice when we stare at these bears is that they’re a lot like us. They’re smart and tough and they nurture their young. They’re cute and cuddly and unpredictably ferocious. They’re the top of the food chain, they’re without natural predators.
This isn’t some red-legged frog, warty and swamp-dwelling, that faces annihilation. This is a master predator, a carnivore, with hands and feet and hair. This bear is the boss. So when we think about polar bears going extinct, it’s not their absence that worries us; it’s our own. And because it’s our fault—and because it may be our future—the bears have become the most important animals on earth. After ourselves, of course.
Zach’s piece includes a slideshow, interactive maps and charts, and a video covering the challenges polar bears face. We are witnessing - indeed cataloging every step - of the polar bear’s extinction.
As we end 2012 and reflect on what has been, this article (one of the best I’ve read in a long while) is a sober glimpse into the future of what is to be.
Young polar bears play fighting by Shogo Asao
what a beautiful place.
the affect of climate change means more people can visit, but that is not necessarily a good thing.
French photographer Samuel Blanc has been leading tours to Svalbard, Norway’s archipelago in the Arctic, since 2007.
Climate change is having a direct impact on the unique ecosystem isolated on these islands more than 400 miles north of Europe.
This year the reduced sea ice allowed his expedition aboard the 12-passenger Polaris to circumnavigate the northern islands in early July rather than mid-August.
The Obama administration today gave Shell Oil the initial approval to begin controversial and dangerous oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska, despite the fact that a critical oil-spill containment vessel is still awaiting certification in Bellingham, Wash. Until now, the Arctic Ocean has largely been off limits to offshore drilling. Shell Oil is expected to begin the initial phases of exploratory drilling in the Chukchi Sea as soon as it can get its drillship in place, in the heart of habitat critical to the survival of polar bears.
“By opening the Arctic to offshore oil drilling, President Obama has made a monumental mistake that puts human life, wildlife and the environment in terrible danger. The harsh and frozen conditions of the Arctic make drilling risky, and an oil spill would be impossible to clean up,” said Rebecca Noblin, Alaska director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Scariest of all, the Obama administration is allowing Shell to go forward without even having the promised oil-spill containment equipment in place.”Obama gives away American resources to foreign company with record of human rights violations and appalling record of oil spills and pollution. Via CBD
Polar bear mom with cubs? Auto-reblog!
Morning Fluff: “Moooooooom!”
As seen from the RRS James Clark Ross during the U.K. Ocean Acidification cruise off the coast of Greenland in June.
A polar bear cub hitches a piggy-back ride on its mother as they swim through the Arctic Ocean in Svalbard, Norway
Picture: Kevin Schafer / Barcroft USA (via Pictures of the day: 5 July 2012 - Telegraph)
FLOAT ON Polar bears are seen atop and swimming away from an Arctic ice floe in off Svalbard, Norway. (Photo: Dennis Bromage / Barcroft Media via The Telegraph)
Polar bears are in big trouble from accelerating Arctic warming and a vanishing sea-ice habitat. This year’s skyrocketing fur prices and trophy hunting are also taking a devastating toll. Polar bear sport-hunting and the trophy trade are prohibited in the United States, but the international trade in polar bear parts is alive and well.Click here to find out more and take action.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is now deciding whether it will move to protect polar bears under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. At the last round of CITES negotiations, the Service led the charge to ban all commercial trade in polar bear parts — a move Canada blocked. The agency is now “undecided” on its position for the upcoming CITES meeting.
Canada still kills around 500 bears annually and leads the world in exporting rugs and hunting trophies. As polar bear numbers plummet under pressure from climate change, the Canadian territory of Nunavut quadrupled its hunting quota this season.
Tell the Service to take a stand against this excessive killing, stop the international trade in polar bear parts and lead the world in the bears’ protection.
If you have trouble following the link, go to http://action.biologicaldiversity.org/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=10286.