Science Solid: America’s Polar Bears on Thin Ice

But Questions Surround Internal Investigation of Wildlife Biologist

08-02-2011 // Miles Grant
Polar bear

The Bureau of Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) has reportedly placed on administrative leave Dr. Charles Monnett, a wildlife biologist, pending an internal investigation into “integrity issues.” Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) has alleged the probe is a “political attempt to impugn [Dr. Monnett’s] observations on polar bears’ vulnerability to retreating sea ice.”

When it comes to science demonstrating the threat to polar bears posed by global warming, this study is only the tip of the iceberg," said Dr. Doug Inkley, senior scientist with the National Wildlife Federation. "There’s a massive body of established scientific evidence showing receding Arctic sea ice is putting polar bears in greater danger with each passing year."

Read "Dramatic Decline in Sea Ice Imperils Western Hudson Bay Polar Bears" to learn how climate change is already impacting one population of polar bears.

“The latest major study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey only deepened concern, documenting long swims to Arctic summer sea ice put polar bear cubs at risk of drowning and force mothers to burn needed calories," said Inkley. "So far, 2011 is no exception – the Arctic’s summer sea ice is at record-low levels."

“The terrible plight of polar bears due to climate change is based on decades of outstanding science that is absolutely irrefutable," said Inkley. "But some serious questions surround this BOEMRE investigation. Should the agency responsible for handing out Arctic drilling permits conduct its own investigation into Arctic polar bear science? What exactly are they investigating, and who or what prompted the probe?”

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