Alaska eyeing major polar bear study

May 4, 2008 at 5:22 PM
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JUNEAU, Alaska, May 4 (UPI) -- The Alaskan government wants to find scientists who will study polar bears to prove they are not threatened by global warming, officials say.

Republican legislative leaders in Alaska say the current scientific stance that polar bears are being "threatened" by global warming could potentially have a negative impact on Alaska's economy and arctic oil development, The Anchorage Daily News reported Sunday.

"We want to have the money to hire scientists to answer the Interior (Department) scientists," House Speaker John Harris, R-Valdez, said of the scientific fight.

The state Legislature has already approved the $2 million program in attempt to avoid such potential problems through research and public relations.

Yet opponents of the new program have labeled it as a waste of state funds, particularly since state officials have not provided any scientific findings to support the contradictory stance.

"It is stunningly hypocritical that the state will spend $2 million to convene a scientific conference on this issue, but they will not release their own scientific analysis," University of Alaska researcher Rick Steiner told the newspaper.

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