Polar Bears and Climate Change:
Certainties, Uncertainties, and Hope.
Lecture: April 3, 2014, 7 p.m.
Waldner Performing Arts Center
Co-sponsored by Physical Sciences department.
Dr. Steven C. Amstrup led a U.S. Geological Survey research team in production of nine reports that were instrumental in convincing the U.S. Secretary of Interior that polar bears should be declared threatened. In 2007, his research team projected that by mid-century we could lose two thirds of the world's polar bears. It also projected that there was a reasonable chance polar bears would be extinct by the end of the century if we continued to follow business-as-usual greenhouse gas emissions. More recently, Dr. Amstrup and his colleagues showed that preventing polar bear extinction is largely a matter of stopping greenhouse gas rise. Dr. Amstrup will introduce the audience to polar bear ecology and life history, and show that because polar bears depend on habitat that literally melts when temperatures rise, they are at the forefront of our climate change challenge. He will explain the transient uncertainties and distinguish them from the ultimate certainties that allow us to confidently project a distant future for polar bears. His closing message will be there still is time for us to save polar bears, and that doing so will benefit the rest of life on earth. Dr. Amstrup is currently Chief Scientist for Polar Bears International (PBI). Prior to joining PBI, he led polar bear ecology research in Alaska for 30 years. He has authored or coauthored more than 100 peer-reviewed articles on movements, distribution and population dynamics of large mammals. He is the senior editor of a recent text on population estimation methods. In 2012, Dr. Amstrup was selected as recipient of the prestigious Indianapolis Prize and a Bambi Award for his efforts in animal conservation.