Friday, October 26, 2007

Guess who's coming to dinner?

So here's the rest of the story about polar bears (ursus maritimus), the parts never mentioned on the boob tube.

A warming of the Arctic (at least a mild warming) would be a boon for the bears, since they range mostly over land and feed on aquatic creatures along the shore, like fish and seals. Less ice -> more food for the bears. The warming trends are ambiguous: no sign of ice loss or warming on the Canadian/Greenland/Atlantic/European side; some signs on the Asiatic/Pacific side.

The Inuit (Eskimos) of the Arctic are permitted by the US and Canadian federal governments to hunt polar bears, to an extent. Polar bears are not currently listed as endangered - for one thing, their population is increasing. It's not clear to me why that is. The Inuit population of the Canadian north is increasing rapidly. With more humans, there's a lot of trash 'n' stuff for bears to feed on, and they, like their more southerly brown and black bear cousins, have definitely lost their shyness around humans. They routinely come to town looking for, and finding, things to eat. Right now, there's no reason whatever to think that polar bears are in any long-term danger.*

Environmentalists and the media systematically ignore or hide the full truth about polar bears. They are incredibly dangerous to humans, and anyone living in the north is permitted to shoot and kill them in self-defense. Such shootings run at a few hundred a year. Unlike their temperate cousins, polar bears hunt humans for food. The reason is simple: polar bears hunt seals for food - seals are soft, hairless, and blubbery, and make a fine extended meal. Humans are soft, hairless (mostly), and blubbery too.** Not for nothing are polar bears referred to as "land sharks." (For an example, see here.) Read more about them here from a Canadian living in the Arctic.

Posters like this are common in Nunavut, the Canadian province newly created from the Northwest Territories for the Inuit. The strange symbols are a modern alphabet for the Inuit language. A polar bear wandering through town was recently shot dead in Cape Dorset (Baffin Island) by a teenage Inuit boy.

The Inuit are permitted to turn polar bear skins into pelts, blankets, and rugs. Hunting tags are free for them. For outsiders, they cost about $30,000. There's some trade in these items, although restricted by both US and Canadian law. A full polar bear skin costs about $20,000.
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* Endangered means population below a certain size and greatly shrunken habitat. The polar bears are not close to this. The doomsday scenarios are hysteria built on speculation built on hysteria. The "global warming" craze as a whole resolves down into many such deceptions and half-truths.

** Which just adds one more support for the "aquatic ape" theory about humanoid ancestors - even though most biologists don't like the theory or aren't even aware of it. Do polar bears know something biologists don't?

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