Ursine of the Times
U.S. study says two-thirds of polar bears will be gone by 2050
The U.S. Geological Survey released a grim study of polar bears on Friday, concluding that two-thirds of the world’s polar bears will be gone by 2050. Polar bears in Alaska and other areas outside the very far north will be most out of luck, according to the study; it forecasts that precisely zero polar bears will be left in Alaska by 2050. “Sea ice conditions would have to be substantially better than even the most conservative computer simulations of warming and sea ice” for the bears to avoid the forecasted steep drop in population, the report said. For those desperately seeking an upside to all this, the survey team said the polar bears’ fate was likely only 84 percent linked to the extent of sea ice, which means the remaining bears will only theoretically be 84 percent screwed when all of it disappears from the Arctic. Phew! Meanwhile, for just $35,000 or so, kick-’em-while-they’re-down types can pay to go on polar-bear safari and bag a trophy kill. But hey, for an extra $100,000, we know a guy who can arrange a cage match with a polar bear and your own remote-controlled robot. Just let us know.
Play It Again, Uncle Sam
Appeals court overturns ruling, allows Navy to test underwater sonar
It’s the controversy that keeps on controversing: The U.S. Navy wants to test underwater mid-frequency sonar. Marine advocates say such testing effs up whales and other marine mammals. Repeat. (Grist has been writing about this issue since 1999, and we have never reused a headline. Thank you.) Anyhoodle, here we go again: last month, a federal judge ordered the Navy to stop using mid-frequency sonar off the California coast through 2009; a federal appeals court has now put the kibosh on that decision. “The public does indeed have a very considerable interest in preserving our natural environment and especially relatively scarce whales,” wrote Judge Andrew Kleinfeld. “But it also has an interest in national defense. We are currently engaged in war, in two countries.” And we can’t be too careful — what if the whales are working for the terrorists?