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Hearing of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming - On Thin Ice: The Future of the Polar Bear

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Location: Washington, DC

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REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for holding the hearing, and I want to thank our witnesses for taking their time to come and be with us today and share their information.

We all know that the Department of Interior is currently considering a plan to list polar bears as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, and a basic question needs to be answered before we take such an action and it's this: Are current polar bear populations sustainable? Are they even sustainable?

This committee has called this hearing because some scientists think that they have the answers to this question. They say that the polar bear population is decreasing and global warming is causing the decline, and that is going to lead to their extinction.

However, could it be -- could it be -- that their conclusions are based on speculative and hypothetical conjecture that relies on climate modeling methods that have been shown to be statistically inaccurate in predicting past and present change? Is that a possibility for us?

To rely on these error-prone models to predict the survival of a species 40 or 50 years from now does not withstand the most basic scientific scrutiny, so we need to think about this one.

And studies done by the World Wildlife Fund, Canadian biologists and American climatologists are in direct contradiction to the claims of some of the scientists. These students found that almost all -- almost all -- of the arctic populations of polar bears are either stable or increasing and that changing wind patterns are the primary causes of changing sea ice distribution, not global warming.

One of the most interesting findings in these studies is that data shows polar bear populations are increasing in warming areas and declining in cooling areas.

Mr. Chairman, the most available and credible information on the status of the polar bear population indicates that listing the species as threatened could possibly be unwise and might be misguided. Instead, I think we need more studies to obtain precise and accurate measurements of population trends and ecosystem factors. The data could then be used to determine what best practices of conservation and management should be applied to maintain a sustainable polar bear population.

I hope we will explore that issue, and be able to arrive at some data that will give better guidance.

I yield the balance of my time.

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