I personally suspect that summer sea ice will completely clear out of the Arctic as early as 2012. I also suspect that this will stimulate a thriving Arctic biosphere as much more solar energy is absorbed into the sea. There may still be extensive floes in and around the islands.
In any event, the polar bears will hardly notice. In fact, I suspect that the odds favor them doing a lot better. Lest we forget, they effectively hibernate during the short summer. In James Bay, this summer lasts as much as five months which pushes the envelope for pregnant females, but not the males. This summer is a lot shorter almost immediately as you travel north. So our bears always have the option of hiking north a few hundred miles to more hospitable waters.
The bears will colonize anywhere that sustains a covering of winter sea ice since the related seals are their principal food source. If the great lakes had seals, we would be watching annual polar bear migrations to exploit the resource.
In the meantime, the increase in Arctic solar energy means a sharp rise in the food stocks available to the seals, whose population should also expand providing a larger range for the bears. I expect that the bear will continue to prosper, since he has no meaningful predators whatsoever.
The only question that I am left with is to ask how far into the Arctic Sea that the bears travel during the winter. All of it is prospective hunting ground for the bears so I suspect that they cover all of it, one way or the other. They are very much like the lions of Africa in that they truly dominate their environment.
In the meantime, folks only destroy their own credibility by espousing environmental propaganda that is so patently wrongheaded and diverts public energy away from an ocean of environmental problems that clearly needs champions like unrestricted factory harvesting of our fish stocks on the high seas.
The environmental movement would do themselves a great service if they consciously became the champions of global tenure of all biological stocks in order to create global law and management protocols. Simple ownership of viable stocks would end the global competition for the last fish. In fact, stakeholders then become stock maximizers.
To date, the movement has been beset by the old leftest dream of governmental management by a chosen elite operating in competition with other stakeholders. We know that never works and simply throws a new level of cost into the mix.
This will be a long process to properly establish. In some cases, it is necessary to let the stocks be destroyed as has happened to the Grand banks. It is easier to impose common sense to a group of losers, than to a group of addicted gamblers still living of the last great hand.
A grand banks commission could now operate successfully to work at restoring the fishery and be funded by a combination of tenure fees and royalties as is done in the oil patch. Foreign involvement ensures a form of compliance also.
This is only one important example.