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Polar bear swims for 9 days, 426 miles to find ice for refuge

February 3, 2011

IMAGE | Eco Educa

UPDATE | February 4: Victory for the Arctic Ocean! Shell announced that they’ve cancelled their plans to drill exploratory wells in the Arctic in 2011 due to lack of confidence that they would meet the standards to get the required permits. Thanks to you and tens of thousands of other supporters, we have been able to monitor the permitting process and hold policymakers accountable for upholding the law. Oceana

Related, US friends, please click on and sign Keep Shell out of the polar bear’s home

If you live outside the United States, please CLICK HERE.

Polar bear swims for 9 days, 426 miles to find ice for refuge | From Yahoo News
By Brett Michael Dykes

Regardless of the debate over the origins of climate change, there’s no disputing that the Earth has warmed considerably in recent years. And with this warming trend, the world’s polar ice is melting rapidly, displacing the creatures that have long made these regions their habitat.

Take, for example, the polar bear. As the Los Angeles Times‘ Kim Murphy reports, the warming conditions in Alaska sent one polar bear on an epic quest for an ice floe — in a tale that is by turns tragic and inspiring. According to the paper, the female bear — whom scientists at at the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the University of Wyoming were monitoring via a collar equipped with a GPS tracking device — spent nine days swimming across the Beaufort Sea in the Alaska region in a desperate hunt for a ice to settle on. At the outset, she was accompanied her cub, which sadly didn’t survive the 426-mile trek through the freezing waters; she also lost more than 100 pounds during the search.

“Our activity data suggests that she swam constantly for nine days, without any rest. Which is pretty incredible,” George M. Durner, a zoologist heading up a study of polar-bear migration, told Murphy. “We have observed other long-distance swimming events. I don’t believe any of them have been as long in time and distance as what we observed with her … How often does this happen? We’re trying to get a handle on that.”

A recent study found that arctic waters are the warmest they’ve been in centuries and environmental groups contend that officials in Alaska aren’t adequately protecting the state’s polar bears as their habitat rapidly disappears. Murphy notes that current Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell is seeking to suspend Endangered Species Act protections for polar bears in order to expedite oil and gas exploration in designated protected zones for the species. The Obama administration has designated 187,000 square miles in Alaska polar-bear protected zones, but Parnell and backers of expanded drilling in the region argue that rolling back the designation could bring in hundreds of millions of dollars of revenues for the state.

In a 2006 60 Minutes report, correspondent Scott Pelley said that scientists believe polar bears will be extinct by the end of the century if the current climate trends continue. Scientist Bob Corell told Pelley that he’d noted a steep decline recently in polar bear populations as polar ice has vanished, with today’s surviving bears much skinnier than their predecessors of previous generations.

RELATED | You Can’t Rewind an Oil Spill, from Earthjustice

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Keep Shell out of the polar bear’s home

Shell is pressing ahead with a new plan to begin drilling this summer off the sensitive coastline of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge — the favorite onshore denning area of Alaska’s polar bears. Tell Interior Secretary Salazar to reject Shell’s outdated oil spill response plan and deny the company’s application to drill.

Note: We’re sorry — Secretary Salazar’s webform accepts U.S. addresses only. If you have a non-U.S. address and wish to take action on this issue, please click here to send a message to President Obama.

Your message will be sent to:

Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior

Subject line:

Stop Shell from drilling in the Beaufort

Message Text:

Dear Secretary Salazar,

I call on you to take all necessary steps to stop the Shell oil company from drilling this summer in the Beaufort Sea, off the coast of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

First, please reverse your approval of Shell’s woefully inadequate oil spill response plan, which was submitted and approved before the catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. The Deepwater Horizon spill made a mockery of oil industry claims that offshore drilling is being conducted in a safe and responsible fashion.

Shell has not proved its readiness to respond to a worst-case blowout under real-world conditions in the Arctic. Moreover, the oil industry still has no method for cleaning up spills in ice-filled waters. An uncontained spill could devastate the coastline of the Arctic Refuge, with disastrous impacts on polar bears, whales and other wildlife.

Second, please reject Shell’s latest application for a permit to begin drilling in the Beaufort this summer. Before any oil is drilled, you have an obligation to reveal the real risks to Arctic wilderness and prove that a major spill could ever be cleaned up.

Please say No to Shell and defend the treasured environments you have been charged with protecting.

Previous, please take action if you have not already:

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from the hands of god
a world began
an eden created
for the joy of man
and in this spirit
man’s retort
he sees this world
as a means of profit
or sport
and in his sadness
the great creator
turned away
will he come back later
this is something
man will have to decide
in the deepest of grief
the creator, cries

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

One Comment leave one →
  1. karen lyons kalmenson permalink
    February 3, 2011 4:57 pm

    from the hands of god
    a world began
    an eden created
    for the joy of man
    and in this spirit
    man’s retort
    he sees this world
    as a means of profit
    or sport
    and in his sadness
    the great creator
    turned away
    will he come back later
    this is something
    man will have to decide
    in the deepest of grief
    the creator, cries


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