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first_imgA solid link between global warming and polar bear mortality emerged in 2004 when researchers were surprised to find four drowned bears in the Beaufort Sea off Alaska’s North Slope. The meltdown of sea ice—the polar ice cap had retreated a record 160 miles to the north—forced the bears to swim unusually long distances to find solid ice, which they depend on as hunting and fishing platforms and for rest and recuperation. And more recently, USGS researcher Steven Amstrup published findings that polar bears are “stalking, killing and eating other polar bears” as competition for scarcer food heats up. SEND YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTIONS TO: EarthTalk, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; earthtalk@emagazine.com. Read past columns at: www.emagazine.com/earthtalk/archives.php. EarthTalk is now a book! Details and order information at: www.emagazine.com/earthtalkbook.200351383-001 Dear EarthTalk: Some say that polar bears are going to disappear in 50 years, but Alaskan officials insist their populations are recovering. What’s the real story?             — Harper Howe, San Francisco, CA The real story is that affording the polar bear endangered species protection would bring further regulations capping greenhouse gas emissions, a threat to Alaska’s main economic driver: oil revenues. Alaska professor Rick Steiner uncovered the misinformation in Palin’s claims when he found evidence that the state’s top wildlife officials agreed with federal findings that polar bears are headed toward extinction: “So, here you have the state’s marine mammal experts, three or four of them, very reputable scientists, agreeing with the federal proposed rule to list polar bears and with the USGS [United States Geological Survey] studies showing that polar bears are in serious trouble,” said Steiner. Beyond global warming, other risks to polar bear populations include toxic contaminants in the surrounding environment as well as in the fatty tissue of the prey they rely on, conflicts with shipping, stresses from recreational polar-bear watching, oil and gas exploration and development, and overharvesting through legal and illegal hunting. The erroneous notion that Alaska wildlife officials don’t believe the polar bear is in trouble was put forth by Alaska governor Sarah Palin when she initiated a suit against the federal government in hopes of overturning its decision to include the polar bear under the umbrella of endangered species protection. “I strongly believe that adding them to the list is the wrong move at this time,” Palin wrote in a January 2008 New York Times Op Ed piece. “My decision is based on a comprehensive review by state wildlife officials of scientific information from a broad range of climate, ice and polar bear experts.” The nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity presents an even more pessimistic forecast. If current warming trends continue, they say, two-thirds of all polar bears—including all of Alaska’s polar bears—will be extinct by 2050. Both organizations agree that the species as a whole will likely be wiped out completely within 100 years unless humans can get global warming in check. CONTACTS: International Union for the Conservation of Nature, www.iucn.org; Center for Biological Diversity, www.biologicaldiversity.org. There is no doubt that polar bears are in serious trouble. Already on the ropes due to other human threats, their numbers are falling faster than ever as a result of retreating ice due to global warming. The nonprofit International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which added the polar bear to its “Red List” of the world’s most imperiled wildlife back in 2006, predicts a 30 percent decline in population for the great white rulers of the Arctic within three generations (about 45 years).last_img read more

first_img…CDC monitoring situationThe washed out section of the roadwayThese residents relax as they wait for the floodwaters to recedeAn aerial view of the extent of the flood.The recently declared township of Mahdia, Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni), was under water for several hours on Friday following a night of heavy rainfall.According to residents, floodwater rose as high as four feet in some areas and even eroded a section of one of the main access road to the township. A resident, Daniel Smith told the Guyana Times that he woke up to water in his home and was quite surprised when he ventured outside to see the entire area under water.“The water was really high in the house and we get some damages. But the water took some time and in the afternoon it start to go down. We are now cleaning up so we can spend the night in the house here. The rain is falling a bit but I hope it don’t rain hard,” he said.Mahdia is prone to flooding during the rainy season but residents are reporting that Friday’s flooding is the largest flash flood they have seen in years.Videos seen by this publication shows water forcibly gushing through the streets and eventually washing away a section of the roadway.The section of the washed away road is referred to as ‘Red and White’ and vehicular access has been cut off.In one of the videos posted to social media it shows a length of rope across a road while a man attempts to brave the current of the gushing water to make his way across.Meanwhile, the Guyana Civil Defence Commission (CDC) said that it is monitoring the situation through the National Emergency Monitoring System (NEMS). It added that it is also monitoring the rainfall situation in several regions across the country.CDC Director-General, Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig said that focus is being placed on Aishalton and Sand Creek in the Upper Takatu-Upper Essequibo Region (Region 9) and Mahdia since most of the areas are affected by flash floods.In the Mahdia municipality some 25 homes have been affected and were issued with emergency relief supplies by the CDC.“Water is receding and a team went in with distribution supplies and distributed it to some of the families that are affected. Most of the people have returned to their homes and most of the supplies (we distributed) were cleaning supplies so that they can clean their homes and get back in safely,” Craig said.“Based on the information I received from my team is that about three families are severely affected but the others was water accumulation in the homes. One mechanic workshop got damages and a lot of homes water went in. I heard of a part of a road that got some damages and I am waiting on some of the details on that from the team by tomorrow (Saturday). We are working with the Mayor and Town Council and the Regional Democratic Council and we have the resources to assist,” he added.last_img read more