“Furry, button-nosed and dependent on sea ice for their survival, polar bears have long been poster animals for climate change.
But at a time when established climate science is being questioned at the highest levels of government, climate denialists are turning the charismatic bears to their own uses, capitalizing on their symbolic heft to spread doubts about the threat of global warming.
The scientific evidence that the polar bear’s Arctic home is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet is overwhelming, supported by reports like the National Climate Assessment, which was compiled by 13 federal agencies. In some Arctic regions, scientists have documented declines in polar bear numbers and disturbing signs of physical deterioration linked to the loss of sea ice. And last year, the Obama administration called human-driven climate change the biggest threat to the bears’ continued existence.
But to hear climate denialists tell it, polar bears are doing just fine. On Watts Up With That, Climate Depot and other websites that dispute climate science, bloggers insist that the Arctic’s receding ice is part of a natural warming cycle unrelated to human activities. Predictions about devastating declines in polar bear populations, they say, have failed to materialize.”