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Why are polar bears threatened?


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#1    Roj47

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Posted 16 January 2007 - 01:30 PM

I am reading about the threat to the polar bear and that it is now listed on the threatened animals list.

Fair enough, I accept that with the ice melting there is less habitat availble, and that seal find it easier to escape etc...

What I fail to understand is that around 600 years ago, Earth was in the medieval warm period with temperatures much warmer than we have today.

Taking this as fact..... Why and how did the polar bears survive as I fail to believe they evolved in the last 500 years.

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#2    aquatus1

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Posted 16 January 2007 - 03:04 PM

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Taking this as fact..... Why and how did the polar bears survive as I fail to believe they evolved in the last 500 years.
Regards


I am no expert on polar bears, but to my understanding, they have indeed evolved, and it is that evolution that is now putting them in jeapordy.  The polar bear fur is an incredibly efficient insulator, and has only gotten better with generations.  This protected them splendidly in their envioronment.  In fact, it was a little too good, and it soon became apparent that a polar bears greatest danger was heat stroke.  They simply couldn't dissipate excess heat fast enough.  Now, on top of that, their environment is warming up.  They were hot before, now it's going to get worse.


#3    Opus Magnus

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Posted 16 January 2007 - 03:26 PM

How do you  know they didn't reach an endangered status around 600  years ago?


#4    capeo

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Posted 16 January 2007 - 03:38 PM

Quote

I am reading about the threat to the polar bear and that it is now listed on the threatened animals list.

Fair enough, I accept that with the ice melting there is less habitat availble, and that seal find it easier to escape etc...

What I fail to understand is that around 600 years ago, Earth was in the medieval warm period with temperatures much warmer than we have today.

Taking this as fact..... Why and how did the polar bears survive as I fail to believe they evolved in the last 500 years.

Regards


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As you can see, even the medieval warm period was not as warm as it is today.

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#5    MakeshiftSage

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Posted 16 January 2007 - 07:35 PM

The hole in the ozone is up yonder and effecting the icecaps more directly? I read something somewhere recently that said the females averaged about half the weight they did in the 70's due to the ice melting and them losing hunting areas. Unhealthy mothers are sometimes unable to provide the milk then meat for the youngsters to survive so the mortality rate is quite a bit higher.


#6    Bone_Collector

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Posted 17 January 2007 - 08:51 AM

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What I fail to understand is that around 600 years ago, Earth was in the medieval warm period with temperatures much warmer than we have today.

Taking this as fact..... Why and how did the polar bears survive as I fail to believe they evolved in the last 500 years.

Regards

Maybe, nobody cared for polar bears 600 years ago? How do you know their numbers didn't drop during this time?

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#7    Roj47

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Posted 17 January 2007 - 12:45 PM

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How do you  know they didn't reach an endangered status around 600  years ago?


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Maybe, nobody cared for polar bears 600 years ago? How do you know their numbers didn't drop during this time?


I would assume that the numbers dropped, and by reports today on how they are affected I could image they became extinct 600 years ago.

The fact that there are polar bears today is testiment that they survived the warm period previously, so what is different today?

Capeo>> Thank you for the graph. I wish I could lay my hands on one I had seen where the peak of today was level with the medieval warm period. This graph is showing today as the warmest in at least 2000 years. Stats are awkward.... There is still the graph around that denies a medieval warm period.

A lot of speculation on global warming and the ice caps. I am (was) merely curious as to the difference today as compared to 600 years ago.



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#8    Raptor

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Posted 17 January 2007 - 12:57 PM

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The hole in the ozone is up yonder and effecting the icecaps more directly?


The ozone layer is responsible for blocking harmful Ultra-Violet (UV) rays from reaching the Earth's surface, so when there is a hole in this protective layer, more UV rays are allowed to pass through. If you're exposed to these rays for too long they can damage your skin (sunburn) and cause cancer among lots of other problems. However the Ozone hole doesn't directly have anything to do with Global Warming.

Global warming is caused by greenhouse gases (such as Carbon Dioxide, methane, even the water vapour that makes up clouds) that build up in the atmosphere. Infra-red rays, heat, is emitted from the Sun and is able to reach the Earth's surface through the greenhouse gases, but they are then unable to bounce off back in to space as the greenhouse gases block them.

Which means the Earth gets warmer.


#9    m. Moe

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Posted 17 January 2007 - 10:50 PM

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How do you  know they didn't reach an endangered status around 600  years ago?

Because "endangered status" wasn't invented 600 years ago, and most of the world didn't know about them. Unless your refering to numbers going down to near extinction, I highly doubt they were reduced significantly, as the medieval warming was not nearly as bad. thumbsup.gif And I think the medieval warming for the most part was just in western Europe(correct me if I'm wrong).

Edited by MR_MOE, 17 January 2007 - 10:51 PM.

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#10    Raptor

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Posted 17 January 2007 - 11:04 PM

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And I think the medieval warming for the most part was just in western Europe(correct me if I'm wrong).


Western Europe was affected quite significantly, although the trend extended across the Atlantic.


#11    carini

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Posted 17 January 2007 - 11:15 PM

Even with the medieval warm period 600 years ago the earth still isnt going to get as warm as it will and is getting.

We are near approaching the hottest the earth has been in a millon years, when the sea level was 80 feet higher then it is today. Scientists are predicting that by 2040 the arctic ice cap will be completely gone during the summers. Polar bears do their hunting during the summers and hibernate during the winter. With no ice there will be no seals for them to catch and they will go extinct in the wild.

About half of all life on earth is threatened with extinction if the warming continues at its current rates. The polar bear is like a flagship signaling the worlds demise.






#12    Razer

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Posted 18 January 2007 - 01:02 AM

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The polar bear fur is an incredibly efficient insulator, and has only gotten better with generations.  This protected them splendidly in their envioronment.  In fact, it was a little too good, and it soon became apparent that a polar bears greatest danger was heat stroke.  They simply couldn't dissipate excess heat fast enough.  Now, on top of that, their environment is warming up.  They were hot before, now it's going to get worse.


Don't tell that to the polar bears here in San Diego at the zoo.  They are in an open enclosure, so they experience all of the weather here in San Diego, which has to be warmer than than anything at the poles.

The real problem is their habitit is being reduced because of all the melting.


#13    aquatus1

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Posted 18 January 2007 - 01:08 AM

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Don't tell that to the polar bears here in San Diego at the zoo.  They are in an open enclosure, so they experience all of the weather here in San Diego, which has to be warmer than than anything at the poles.


The weather may be, but their refrigerated duck-pond most certainly isn't  wink2.gif .  Also, they get regular haircuts, which cancels out the biggest problem.

In all cases, it's hardly a one cause problem.  Any animal (well, most) could adapt to one, maybe two changes, but start piling them up and chances of survival drop dramtically.


#14    Cadetak

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Posted 18 January 2007 - 02:30 AM

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The weather may be, but their refrigerated duck-pond most certainly isn't  wink2.gif .  Also, they get regular haircuts, which cancels out the biggest problem.

In all cases, it's hardly a one cause problem.  Any animal (well, most) could adapt to one, maybe two changes, but start piling them up and chances of survival drop dramtically.


The zoo where I live lets the polar bears outside on certain days of the year...I know because I tried to climb inside to pet one once.

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#15    Bone_Collector

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Posted 18 January 2007 - 06:07 AM

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The fact that there are polar bears today is testiment that they survived the warm period previously, so what is different today?

A lot of speculation on global warming and the ice caps. I am (was) merely curious as to the difference today as compared to 600 years ago.

I don't think polar bears will become extinct if the climate becomes warmer. Global warming, if at all, will take place at a slow and gradual pace. It will not be a sudden drastic change. I'm sure the polar bears will adopt. Warmer climate can only mean more food for the polar bear. When the ice melts, it becomes easier for the polar bear to hunt seals and such. When there is good food supply, I'd say their chances of survival and adaptation are pretty good.

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