Jan. 13, 2016

Shocking New Study: Polar Bears Learn to Adapt

Who knew?

“It’s for the children” is a rhetorical slogan you hear whenever Big Government enablers demand that we “do something” in reciprocation for tragedy or ill-fortune. (Take “gun violence,” for example.) In the case of global warming, in addition to saving our children’s futures, we’re told we must act “for the polar bears.” But let’s assume we don’t, and all the world’s ice melted. According to a new study by Thomas M. Cronin, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, and Matthew A. Cronin, a professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the polar bears would be all right. Here’s what they found:

> In the case of summer sea-ice-free interglacial periods, the presence of winter sea ice habitat, polar bears’ ability to fast during summer, seals ability to use land areas in the absence of sea ice, and the availability of new prey species shifting ranges into the Arctic may have allowed survival during warm periods. … Some species thought to be dependent on summer sea ice (e.g., polar bears) survived through these periods. In contrast, during glacial periods the much smaller Arctic Ocean and much of the adjacent continents were covered with massive ice sheets, thick ice shelves, and sea ice making large regions virtually uninhabitable to most species that inhabit today’s Arctic. Despite the scale, frequency and rapidity of Quaternary climate changes, Arctic marine ecosystems associated with sea-ice habitats were extremely resilient, adapting through geographic range expansion into the Arctic during warm periods, and south into extra-Arctic regions during glacial periods. The stratigraphic record of the last 1.5 Ma [million years] indicates that no marine species’ extinction events occurred despite major climate oscillations.

There are three key takeaways. First, the study posits that polar bears have never gone extinct, even during warm interludes. Sorry, Al Gore. Second, the authors note that especially icy periods made “large regions virtually uninhabitable to most species that inhabit today’s Arctic.” Third — and most important — the reason polar bears never went extinct is because they “were extremely resilient, adapting through geographic range expansion.” Even if we assume that global warming, man-made or not, is causing ice melt and increasing water levels, what evidence do we have that overhauling the entire global economy, which risks reversing the quantum steps we’ve made to get people out of poverty, is better than adapting? More often than not, swift reactionary measures do more harm than good. Chances are, we’ll survive whatever nature throws us. Just ask the polar bears,

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