"The (Polar) Bear Facts," Checkedby Shauna Theel, Media Matters, August 15, 2011
In response to the suspension of federal scientist Charles Monnett, author of a 2006 article documenting polar bear deaths, conservative media have tried to dismiss the threat posed to polar bears by global warming. On Sunday, a New York Post editorial claimed Monnett's paper "led directly to the 2008 classification of the bears as a 'threatened' species, whose survival is allegedly at risk due to global warming." The editorial, titled "The (polar) bear facts," concluded that there is "no need to weep for 'threatened' polar bears just yet - nor, especially, for the planet."
Many researchers over the past 40 years have predicted an array of impacts to polar bears from climatic change that include adverse effects on denning, food chain disruption, and prey availability (Budyko 1966, p. 20; Lentfer 1972, p. 169; Tynan and DeMaster 1997, p. 315; Stirling and Derocher 1993, pp. 241-244).Stirling and Derocher (1993, p. 240) first noted changes, such as declining body condition, lowered reproductive rates, and reduced cub survival, in polar bears in western Hudson Bay; they attributed these changes to a changing ice environment. Subsequently, Stirling et al. (1999, p. 303) established a statistically significant link between climate change in western Hudson Bay, reduced ice presence, and observed declines in polar bear physical and reproductive parameters, including body condition (weight) and natality. More recently Stirling and Parkinson (2006, p. 266) established a statistically significant decline in weights of lone and suspected pregnant adult female polar bears in western Hudson Bay between 1988 and 2004. Reduced body weights of adult females during fall have been correlated with subsequent declines in cub survival (Atkinson and Ramsay 1995, p. 559; Derocher and Stirling 1996, p. 1,250; Derocher and Wiig 2002, p. 347).