Dramatic New Video Footage of Starving Polar Bear Cubs Shows Consequences of Delaying Action on Global Warming

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Kassie Siegel, (951) 961-7972 (U.S. cell in Cancún), ksiegel@biologicaldiversity.org
Brendan Cummings, (760) 366-2232 x 304, bcummings@biologicaldiversity.org

Dramatic New Video Footage of Starving Polar Bear Cubs Shows Consequences of Delaying Action on Global Warming

CANCÚN, Mexico - While world
leaders meeting in Mexico continue to delay significant action on global
warming, dramatic new video footage shows
the dire consequences of inaction for imperiled polar bears. The
video, shot on November 23, 2010 on the western shores of Hudson Bay in Manitoba, Canada, shows an undernourished
polar bear mother and her two starving cubs struggling to survive. One of
the cubs experiences seizures in the video, and both cubs died within two
days of the filming.

"Although
it's difficult to watch, this video is an important document of the
terrible cost of climate change denial and inaction," said Kassie
Siegel, director of the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law
Institute, which has petitioned and sued for Endangered Species Act
protection for the polar bear due to climate change. "Global warming
isn't a crisis that's decades away. It's here now. The
sad truth is that polar bears are already starving as global warming melts
the Arctic."

Polar
bears are completely dependent on the sea ice for survival, using the ice
as a platform for hunting seals, mating and other activities. Polar bears
in western Hudson Bay must come to land
each spring when the sea ice melts, and must fast until the ice freezes
again in the fall. The average date of breakup of the sea ice in western Hudson Bay is now about three weeks earlier than it
was 30 years ago, while freeze-up comes several weeks later. Twenty years
ago the average date the bears returned to the ice was Nov. 8. Last year,
bears returned to the ice around Dec. 4; this year the bears have just
begun to return to the ice in the past few days.

The
western Hudson Bay polar bear population
declined 22 percent between 1987 and 2004. There is every reason to believe
that the decline is continuing, and if current trends persist, it will
likely be the first polar bear population driven extinct by global warming.

"In
November I was in the area where this video was shot, and it was clear
polar bears were having a very hard time," Siegel said. "The
loss of sea ice has tragic consequences for them. It's going to get
far worse if world leaders don't address this unprecedented global
crisis effectively, making deep cuts in greenhouse pollution."

As
polar bears in Hudson Bay try to cope with
a late freeze-up, the Obama administration is on the verge of making a
crucial decision about how much protection the bears should get. Pursuant
to litigation by the Center and its allies, the federal government is
reviewing whether polar bears should continue to be listed merely as
"threatened" or whether they need the more protective
designation of "endangered." The Obama government has to date
defended President Bush's 2008 "threatened" designation,
claiming that threats to the species are only of concern in the distant
future; it is also defending a Bush-era loophole that allows greenhouse
pollution to escape regulation under the Endangered Species Act. 

"Global
warming is already taking a brutal toll on the polar bears of Hudson Bay. Our failure to reduce emissions has
already cost the lives of these polar bear cubs, as well has hundreds of
thousands of people around the world," said Siegel. "But there
is still time to create a brighter future. The Obama government must start
by acknowledging the urgency of the problem, using domestic laws like the
Clean Air Act to sharply reduce greenhouse pollution and the Endangered
Species Act to fully protect polar bears, and joining the world in seeking
science-based greenhouse pollution reductions through the international
negotiations taking place in Cancún."

The video
footage was taken as part of The Arctic Documentary Project by Daniel J.
Cox for Polar Bears International. Find out more at www.naturalexposures.com
and www.polarbearsinternational.org.

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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