The word "of" starts the title because this is just a little bit of all the information out there.
Here, you will find a source or two that may teach you of the human link to climate change, of how this affects the earth's glaciers and polar bears. A snapshot to begin an exploration, I hope.
First, here are a couple of links that help me understand the connection between humans and the climate.
If you like your information to be visual, you might watch this movie from NOVA, from PBS. It is seen from a photographer's eye, but he works with scientists, so it is visually stunning, but informative. A graph shows how naturally occurring greenhouse gases caused temperature spikes (long, long, long ago!), and how this time the gases are going higher and faster, due to man's contributions. The correlation between the gases and the temperature is clear. So for any of you doubters, I would start here. Quick, easy, enjoyable, scary. And for believers, it's still an awesome film.
Besides the link to our greenhouse gas production, what stands out? The way the warming waters combine with the glaciers to form feedback loops. These loops are accelerating the process way beyond what scientists had predicted, and they are worried.
My type of link, this Real Climate page is for beginners, and will link you to more good science, and the UN projects. Thanks, MB.
Thomas Friedman chimes in:
The physicist and climate expert Joe Romm recently noted on his blog, climateprogress.org, that in January, M.I.T.’s Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change quietly updated its Integrated Global System Model that tracks and predicts climate change from 1861 to 2100. Its revised projection indicates that if we stick with business as usual, in terms of carbon-dioxide emissions, average surface temperatures on Earth by 2100 will hit levels far beyond anything humans have ever experienced.
Mother Nature's Dow
Friedman links to Romm in the opinion piece.
Second, polar bears are in big trouble. Humans and many other species are also in trouble, but since I'm biased (yes, LP, I admit it), I'm giving you a few places where you can visit polar bears.
Here's a glimpse into what the great white bears are facing today, from a piece of Arctic Bears, from the series, Nature, again, from PBS. I'm hoping they make an embed and a full episode available online soon.
The Center for Biological Diversity provided this photo
in their report, which you can view here.
As fast as climate change is moving, this report is somewhat dated (2007), but it's still a great resource.
The Endangered Species Act requires that all listing decisions be made
“solely” on the basis of the “best scientific…data available.” 16 U.S.C. § 1533(b)(1)(A).
, and since the Obama EPA recently stated that greenhouse gases pose a danger to "human health and welfare, http://www.reuters.com/..., we could see laws requiring the limiting of greenhouse gases. Politically, though, that will be difficult.
Of course, it is more complicated than that. But the report from the CBD is fairly short, and has lots of scientific and legal information, including some ideas for limiting marine traffic in the area (which I also suggested in an old paper and which others are pushing for, as well).
A wonderful thing happened in this area; the North Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to ban industrial fishing in 200,000 square miles of Arctic waters. I got this information from Oceana, which also has many action links (as does CBD and WWF). The link to the exact article was not accepted.
For a little fun, track a polar bear! WWF--track a polar bear
Also, the WWF has a main polar bear page, with a slideshow, http://www.worldwildlife.org/...
And of course, google images has lots of polar bears.
So, we know that we must stop greenhouse gas production to save the planet and the polar bear, and we know that we must not drill, fish, or do much of anything in the Arctic seas until we can get a handle on this. What can we do now, though, to help in the short term?
For one thing, we can encourage the UN to form a policing entity for the Arctic. Lets put boats on the water (or the ice), with the authority to enforce violations of industrial fishing, transporting, and drilling regulations. The CBD does mention the international agencies and treaties that we need to push forward now, and I agree. Get the international regulations going. It is so very hard to accomplish change through the UN, and this is happening so fast, that we've got to push our leaders to, in turn, push for international consensus on this. The IPPC has made a good start, by exposing the problem, ippc, but it is slow.
For another, let's pull out the stops. How about "wrapping" icebergs in the new material described in the Discovery Channel's, Wrapping Greenland? You can watch the whole episode here:
You could cut holes for seals (which would give quite an advantage to bears (sorry, seals)), and at least this would keep more of the ecosystem alive, along with the bear.
How about starting up a polar bear orphanage that not only raises them to return to the wild or go to a zoo, but starts to reintroduce them to the foods of their ancestors, the grizzly bear. Have a sanctuary that has snow and ice, but also salmon and shellfish, and show them how to get that food. Locate it in Alaska or Canada. Part of Arctic Bears tells how polar bears have lost the knowledge of grizzly survival techniques. However, I saw a show on a half polar bear, half grizzly bear (proven with DNA testing). That bear ate something that only grizzlies eat (a squirrel, I think), so it's possible for this knowledge to return. For that matter, is there some way to encourage mating between the two species? This may be the only way for them to survive. I hope not, but it is an idea. The one I saw on NatGeo channel was shot by a trophy hunter.
Lastly, what about building a low-lying aircraft carrier/barge, and somehow attaching things that could be climbed up, onto the deck? With a swimming pool for fresh water, and food drops. Heck, I'm so desperate, I'd take a million barrels lashed together, anything so that I don't drown with my cubs, or drift out to the larger sea on a little berg, or starve because there is no ice to hunt on.
I only ask that you keep us polar bears in mind when you see an action link to stop oil drilling in the Arctic (it might just say the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas), or stop fishing, or limit the greenhouse gases that are killing us off. As you know, we are a "keystone" species, and when we leave, many other species will go with us. We know that you don't mean to hurt us, and we hope to be here to inspire you for years to come.
(I apologize. I tried to end it with a happier photo of a polar bear, but I couldn't make it work. Next time :O).)
Update I: This action link from Earthjustice: