Perhaps my two biggest disappointments in the coverage were that it seemed like one obdurate scientist, Andrew Derocher, was stubbornly denying the evidence, while the item never explained why climate change (which everyone agreed was happening) can compromise the polar bear's survival.
Leading expert Ian Stirling's new and highly recommended book, Polar Bears: The Natural History of a Threatened Species (Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 2011) explains in lay terms, referencing peer-reviewed scientific research, why an increasingly early break up of ice threatens polar bear reproductive success. Put simply, the bears with cubs depend on fat derived from ringed seals, who, in turn, depend on the ice
Just a year ago, another CBC radio show, The Current, defended a charge that it had gone the other way, implying that the polar bear was endangered when it was not. These kinds of challenges occur whenever a commercially valuable species warrants protection. When Nunavut-based scientist Dr. Mitchell Taylor, an outspoken critic of endangered status for the polar bear, said that protecting the polar bear would push the value of its pelts up, he was echoing the usual rhetoric from the far right-that free markets solve everything. Ironically, CITES has long extended every effort to allow commercial trade in elephant ivory, with devastating effect. The more accommodating to market forces, the more illegal poaching. Increasingly, conservationists call for a complete shutdown of all commerce in elephant ivory.