Melting misconceptions — Award-winning polar bear researcher and UI alumnus to give global warming presentation


Polar bears and melting arctic ice may have more in common with Idaho than people think.

University of Idaho alumnus Steven C. Amstrup, chief scientist for Polar Bears International, will discuss climate change in the arctic at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Administration Building Auditorium.

Rob Lonsinger, a Ph.D. student with the Department of Fish and Wildlife Sciences and co-organizer of Amstrup’s presentation, said Amstrup has long been a leading voice in this field, and Amstrup’s busy schedule made it hard to arrange

Thursday’s talk.

“For the last 20 to 25 years, he’s been considered the expert in polar bears,” Lonsinger said.

Amstrup and his team’s research reserved protection for the bears under the Endangered Species Act in 2008, and Amstrup received the Indianapolis Prize — the highest award in wildlife conservation — last year.

Lonsinger said people often view concerns of climate change as distant, impersonal issues that don’t affect them, and he hopes this lecture will ameliorate that misconception. Climate change is a process that functions on the collective contributions of individuals to greenhouse gases, unsustainable practices and the like, and he said this subject holds many parallels between the arctic and Idaho. Idahoans should see the global warming data firsthand, he said, and he hopes they can make connections with the state’s natural resources they love.

“If (we) just want to talk about ice melting, people in Idaho probably won’t take much from it,” Lonsinger said. “But if (we) can tie climate change to something they care about — hunting, fishing, leaving the land for their kids to enjoy it as they did — then maybe they can make some good connections.”

Matt Maw can be reached 

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