The bears are OK for now, thanks

Pax Arcana

Imagine you live in a house that faces south on all four sides. A bear walks by. What color is the bear?

It is white, because you’re at the North Pole and it’s a polar bear.

[Channeling Matthew McConaughey]
Now imagine… (sniff)… imagine… (sniff) imagine that bear was black.

The defense rests.

What?

Oh yeah, bears.

The Great Beyond blog at Nature.com says we shouldn’t be writing the obituary of the polar bear just yet — despite recent dire predictions in the mass media to that effect. While we should be concerned about the long-term future of the species, there is no evidence that polar bears are in immediate danger of extinction:

The [Canadian] Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada says the bear is merely of ‘special concern’, just one step up from ‘fine and dandy’ although the government group does admit to some worries. “Although the current and projected decline is insufficient to justify a status of Threatened, considerable concern exists over the future of polar bears in Canada,” says the latest assessment.

Even worse, the more attention the cute and fuzzy bears get, the less attention is paid to uglier species that really are disappearing:

And according to a paper published recently in Ecological Applications, the narwhal is in bigger trouble from global warming than the polar bear anyway. Researchers assessed seven Arctic mammals and found the spiky-faced whale should be concerning us more than the polar bear.

“What we wanted to do was look at the whole picture because there’s been a lot of attention on polar bears,” Ian Stirling, paper author, told AP. “We’re talking about a whole ecosystem. We’re talking about several different species that use ice extensively and are very vulnerable.”

It’s all very well having iconic species for your conservation efforts. Sometimes though it seems we’re in danger of only saving the cute things that we like the look of.

I take this personally ever since that time I killed that polar bear because he was eating endangered Fragrant Popcorn Flower plants. Protecting the environment isn’t all glamorous fundraisers and fancy lightbulbs, you know. You need a really big flamethrower to kill a bear that big.

Polar Bear Not ‘Endangered,’ Just ‘Concerning’ [Nature.com]

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3 Comments

Filed under science

3 responses to “The bears are OK for now, thanks

  1. fatherscott

    I think if I were an animal, I might be a narwhal. Naturally, my spike would be biggest, and the female narwhals would be lined up for blocks.

  2. I had to read that part of the article twice, because I was convinced narwhals were made-up sea creatures from a Shel Silverstein or Dr. Seuss book.

  3. Perry Ellis

    And you call yourself a Viking. Shame, shame, o son of the northern wastes. Your ancestors were raised on diet of narwhal blubber, fermented shark meat and Irish slaves!

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