Thursday, December 23, 2010

Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Could Still Save Polar Bears

A new study published in the journal Nature (here) reports that the disappearance of polar bears in their natural range is not yet a foregone conclusion. Under business-as-usual models (i.e., no change in greenhouse gas emissions trends), two-thirds of polar bears are expected to disappear by mid-century. However, the authors find that the bears could still be saved by mitigation policies. However, the required mitigation would be substantial and would have to start very, very soon in order to limit global mean temperature increase to 1.25 degrees (Celsius) by 2150.

Given the almost non-existent progress (so far) on mitigation, there is little reason for optimism in the authors'  findings. Indeed, it may take something like the disappearance of the polar bear in its natural range to generate  sufficient political will to start mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.

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