Polar bears drowning as Alaska sea ice disappears

OK, we’re trying to keep a positive outlook here, but … drowning polar bears? Seriously? And just when therapy was starting to work. In September 2004 (the year the polar ice cap receded a record 160 miles from Alaska’s north coast), federal researchers doing routine aerial surveys counted 10 bears swimming in the open ocean as far as 60 miles off Alaska’s shore — where they’d spotted perhaps one bear every two years in the past. They later found four dead bears floating in the vicinity, a few days after a big storm. Though the researchers themselves were unwilling to speculate about causes, plenty of others were quick to pin the fate of the Arctic bruins on the obvious culprit: global warming. Says marine biologist Richard Steiner, “For anyone who has wondered how global warming and reduced sea ice will affect polar bears, the answer is simple — they die.” Greenpeace this week began running TV ads featuring adorable animated polar bears that slip off melting ice and drown.