Right-Wing Media Find Another Poor Excuse To Ignore Climate Change: Polar Bear Edition
Research ››› ››› SHAUNA THEEL
In response to the suspension of federal scientist Charles Monnett, who authored a 2006 article documenting polar bear deaths, conservative media have claimed that the case exposes "the global warming fraud" and that polar bears are not threatened by climate change. In fact, extensive research establishes that polar bears are vulnerable to extinction due to decreasing sea ice, and human-induced global warming is supported by a robust body of evidence independent of any polar bear studies.
Extensive Research Establishes Climate Change Threat To Polar Bears
Polar Bear Scientist: "The Evidence Is Very, Very Strong That Global Warming" Will Hurt Polar Bears. Science magazine reported:
Monnett's paper nonwithstanding, "I think the evidence is very, very strong that global warming and sea ice loss will have a serious effect on polar bears," says Jack Lentfer, retired U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service polar bear scientist and consultant for the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission. Scientists have decades of data documenting the bears, and Lentfer says that the bears' weights have been dropping over the past 25 years, indicating that they're having trouble hunting seals on sea ice. And the number of polar bears in the southern edge of their range, the Hudson Bay, have drastically decreased as sea ice is present for shorter and shorter amounts of time, he notes. [Science, 7/29/11]
2004 Assessment Found Climate Change Could Threaten "The Survival Of Polar Bears As A Species." An international project that comprehensively evaluated and synthesized knowledge on climate change in the Arctic cited several studies showing the potential impact of climate change on polar bears. From the 2005 scientific report of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment:
Changes in the extent and type of sea ice affect the distribution and foraging success of polar bears (Ferguson et al., 2000a,b; Mauritzen et al., 2001; Stirling et al., 1993).The earliest impacts of warming will occur at their southern limits of distribution, such as at James and Hudson Bays; and this has already been documented by Stirling et al. (1999). Late sea-ice formation and early break-up also mean a longer period of annual fasting. Reproductive success in polar bears is closely linked to their fat stores. Females in poor condition have smaller litters, as well as smaller cubs that are less likely to survive. There are also concerns that direct mortality rates might increase. For example, increased frequency or intensity of spring rains could cause dens to collapse, resulting in the death of the female as well as the cubs. Earlier spring break-up of sea ice could separate traditional den sites from spring feeding areas, and if young cubs were forced to swim long distances between breeding areas and feeding areas this could decrease their survival rate. The survival of polar bears as a species is difficult to envisage under conditions of zero summer sea-ice cover. Their only option would be to adopt a terrestrial summer lifestyle similar to brown bears (Ursus major), from which they evolved. But competition, risk of hybridization with brown and grizzly bears (both U. major), and an increase in human interactions, would also pose a threat to their long-term survival. [Arctic Council and the International Arctic Science Committee, 2005, via Climate Progress]
Experts: Reduced Sea Ice Leads To "Cascade Of Impacts" On Polar Bears. From a 2004 peer-reviewed article titled "Polar Bears in a Warming Climate" by scientists Andrew Derocher, Nicholas Lunn and Ian Stirling:
Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) live throughout the ice-covered waters of the circumpolar Arctic, particularly in near shore annual ice over the continental shelf where biological productivity is highest. However, to a large degree under scenarios predicted by climate change models, these preferred sea ice habitats will be substantially altered. Spatial and temporal sea ice changes will lead to shifts in trophic interactions involving polar bears through reduced availability and abundance of their main prey: seals. In the short term, climatic warming may improve bear and seal habitats in higher latitudes over continental shelves if currently thick multiyear ice is replaced by annual ice with more leads, making it more suitable for seals. A cascade of impacts beginning with reduced sea ice will be manifested in reduced adipose stores leading to lowered reproductive rates because females will have less fat to invest in cubs during the winter fast. Non-pregnant bears may have to fast on land or offshore on the remaining multiyear ice through progressively longer periods of open water while they await freeze-up and a return to hunting seals. As sea ice thins, and becomes more fractured and labile, it is likely to move more in response to winds and currents so that polar bears will need to walk or swim more and thus use greater amounts of energy to maintain contact with the remaining preferred habitats. The effects of climate change are likely to show large geographic, temporal and even individual differences and be highly variable, making it difficult to develop adequate monitoring and research programs. All ursids show behavioural plasticity but given the rapid pace of ecological change in the Arctic, the long generation time, and the highly specialised nature of polar bears, it is unlikely that polar bears will survive as a species if the sea ice disappears completely as has been predicted by some. [Integrated and Comparative Biology, April 2004]
USGS Projects Loss Of "Approximately 2/3 Of The World's Current Polar Bear Population." From the executive summary of the U.S. Geological Survey's 2007 assessment of future polar bear status:
The overall conclusion of the USGS research effort is: Projected changes in future sea ice conditions, if realized, will result in loss of approximately 2/3 of the world's current polar bear population by the mid 21st century. Because the observed trajectory of Arctic sea ice decline appears to be underestimated by currently available models, this assessment of future polar bear status may be conservative. [U.S. Geological Survey, September 2007]
2007 IPCC Report: "Projected Reductions In Sea Ice Will Drastically Shrink Marine Habitat For Polar Bears." From the 2007 Working Group II report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change:
There are an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears (Ursus maritimus) worldwide, mostly inhabiting the annual sea ice over the continental shelves and inter-island archipelagos of the circumpolar Arctic, where they may wander for thousands of kilometres per year. They are specialised predators on ice-breeding seals and are therefore dependent on sea ice for survival. Female bears require nourishment after emerging in spring from a 5 to 7 month fast in nursing dens (Ramsay and Stirling, 1988), and are thus very dependent on close proximity between land and sea ice before it breaks up. Continuous access to sea ice allows bears to hunt throughout the year, but in areas where the sea ice melts completely each summer, they are forced to spend several months in tundra fasting on stored fat reserves until freeze-up.
Polar bears face great challenges from the effects of climatic warming (Stirling and Derocher, 1993; Stirling et al., 1999; Derocher et al., 2004), as projected reductions in sea ice will drastically shrink marine habitat for polar bears, ice-inhabiting seals and other animals (Hassol, 2004b). Break-up of the sea ice on the western Hudson Bay, Canada, already occurs about 3 weeks earlier than in the early 1970s, resulting in polar bears in this area coming ashore earlier with reduced fat reserves (a 15% decline in body condition), fasting for longer periods of time and having reduced productivity (Stirling et al., 1999). Preliminary estimates suggest that the Western Hudson Bay population has declined from 1,200 bears in 1987 to fewer than 950 in 2004. Although these changes are specific to one sub-population, similar impacts on other sub-populations of polar bears can be reasonably expected. In 2005, the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group concluded that the IUCN Red List classification of the polar bear should be upgraded from Least Concern to Vulnerable based on the likelihood of an overall decline in the size of the total population of more than 30% within the next 35 to 50 years. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is also considering a petition to list the polar bear as a threatened species based in part on future risks to the species from climate change. If sea ice declines according to some projections (Meehl et al., 2007, Figure 10.13; Figure 4.4, Table 4.1) polar bears will face a high risk of extinction with warming of 2.8°C above pre-industrial (range 2.5-3.0°C, Table 4.1, No. 42). Similar consequences are facing other ice-dependent species, not only in the Arctic but also in the Antarctic (Chapter 1; Barbraud and Weimerskirch, 2001; Croxall et al., 2002). [IPCC AR4, Working Group II, 2007]
FWS: "Polar Bears Are Very Sensitive To Changes In Sea Ice Due To Climate Change." From the Fish and Wildlife Service's Final Rule designating the critical habitat for the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act:
Polar bears are very sensitive to changes in sea ice due to climate change because of the effects on the availability of ice seals and their specialized feeding requirements (Laidre et al. 2008, p. S112). The availability and accessibility of seals to polar bears, which often hunt at the seals' breathing holes, are likely to decrease with increasing amounts of open water or fragmented ice (Derocher et al. 2004, p. 167). Polar bears rarely capture ringed seals in the open water (Furnell and Oolooyuk 1980, p. 89), so it is unlikely that polar bears can survive in ice-free water. Although polar bears occasionally take harbor seals (Phoca vitulina), bearded seals, and walrus when they are hauled out on land, it is unlikely, if those species were available, that this would compensate for the reduced availability of ringed seals (Derocher et al. 2004, p. 167).
As a result of changes to the sea-ice habitat due to climate change, there is fragmentation of sea ice, a dramatic increase in the extent of open water areas seasonally, a reduction in the extent and area of sea ice in all seasons, a retraction of sea ice away from productive continental shelf areas throughout the Polar Basin, a reduction of the amount of thicker and more stable multi-year ice, and declining thickness and quality of shore-fast ice (Parkinson et al. 1999, pp. 20,840, 20,849; Rothrock et al. 1999, p. 3,469; Comiso 2003, p. 3,506; Fowler et al. 2004, pp. 71-74; Lindsay and Zhang 2005, p. 4,892; Holland et al. 2006, pp. 1-5; Comiso 2006, p. 72; Serreze et al. 2007, pp. 1,533-1,536; Stroeve et al. 2008, p. 13). These events are interrelated and combine to decrease the extent and quality of sea ice as polar bear habitat during all seasons, and particularly during the spring-summer period. Lastly, it is predicted that Arctic sea ice will likely continue to be affected by climate change for the foreseeable future (IPCC 2007, p. 49; J. Overland, NOAA, in comments to the USFWS, 2007; May 18, 2008, 73 FR 28239).
Polar bear populations in the Chukchi Sea, Barents Sea, southern Beaufort Sea, Kara Sea, and Laptev Sea (the Divergent Ice Ecoregion) will, or are currently, experiencing the initial effects of changes in sea ice (Rode et al. 2007, p. 12; Regehr et al. 2007b, pp. 18-19; Hunter et al. 2007, p. 19; Amstrup et al. 2008, pp. 239-240). These populations are vulnerable to large-scale dramatic seasonal fluctuations in ice movements, decreased access to abundant prey, and increased energetic costs of hunting. These concerns were punctuated by the record minimum summer ice conditions in September 2007, when vast ice-free areas encroached into the central Arctic Basin, and the Northwest Passage was open for the first time in recorded history. The record low sea-ice conditions of 2007, 2009, and 2010 extend an accelerating trend in habitat loss, and further support a concern that current sea-ice models may be conservative and underestimate the rate and level of sea-ice loss in the future (Stroeve et al. 2007, p. 9; Stroeve et al. 2006, p. 371,373; http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/ viewed on September 21, 2010). [Fish and Wildlife Service, 10/25/10]
Recent Research Indicates That Longer Swimming Distances Could Pose Danger To Polar Bear Cubs. From the U.S. Geological Survey:
The U.S. Geological Survey is conducting a study that analyzes movements of 62 satellite-collared female polar bears over a 6-year period (2004-2009), providing a first description of swimming events within a population of polar bears. The results of the study have not yet been published, but are already generating significant attention.
In addition to describing the types of swims undertaken by the bears, the study suggests a relationship between long-distance swimming and the survival of cubs. Of 11 adult females that had cubs when they were collared and that later undertook a long-distance swim, 6 still had their cubs when subsequently "resighted" and 5 had lost their cubs. In comparison, of 7 females with cubs when they were collared that did not undertake a long-distance swim, 5 still had their cubs when subsequently "resighted," and 2 had lost their cubs.
"The collars used on these bears were equipped with GPS technology, providing more detailed data on movements that allowed us to detect 50 swimming events, each over 50 kilometers," said USGS researcher Anthony Pagano, who presented the new findings about the frequency, duration, and potential impacts of long-distance swimming events by polar bears at the International Bear Association biennial conference in Ottawa, Canada yesterday.
Half of the swims undertaken by the bears were from areas of unconsolidated sea ice to the main pack ice, with an average distance of 160 kilometers. Bears also swam from ice to land, from land to ice, and between points of land. All swimming events occurred between July and October, a time of year when sea ice is at its minimum. The study period encompassed the recent years of extreme sea ice retreat, including the most extreme retreat of 2007. [U.S. Geological Survey, 7/20/11]
Right-Wing Media Claim Suspension Of Biologist Discredits Global Warming And Polar Bear Research
Federal Biologist Suspended Pending Inspector General Investigation. The AP reported on July 28 that "A federal wildlife biologist [Charles Monnett] whose observation in 2004 of presumably drowned polar bears in the Arctic helped to galvanize the global warming movement has been placed on administrative leave and is being investigated for scientific misconduct, possibly over the veracity of that article." However, on August 1st, AP reported that Monnett was suspended "over how he awarded a polar bear research project to the University of Alberta and its management, not for his earlier scientific work detailing drowned polar bears, a watchdog group said Monday." [Associated Press, 7/28/11 8/2/11]
Investor's Business Daily Editorial: Investigation Exposes "Global Warming Fraud" And "Debunked" Polar Bear Threat. An editorial by Investor's Business Daily said the investigation into Charles Monnett is exposing "the global warming fraud." The editorial continued, "the claim that man-made global warming is a threat to polar bears has been debunked and the scientist who ginned up the narrative is now under scrutiny." [Investor's Business Daily, 7/28/11]
Fox Nation: "Global Warming Industry Rocked By Polar Bear Fraud." Fox Nation promoted the Investor's Business Daily editorial (and an AP report) with the following headline:
[Fox Nation, 7/29/11]
NY Post: Monnett Case Shows "'Evidence' For Global Warming Has Been Exaggerated, Manufactured, Or Just Plain Wrong." From an New York Post op-ed by Matt Patterson, which features a picture of a polar bear with the caption "Not threatened?":
Every day it seems new evidence emerges that the "evidence" for global warming has been exaggerated, manufactured or just plain wrong.
Take the case of Charles Monnett of the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement. On July 18, Monnett -- a longtime poster boy for global-warming orthodoxy -- was put on leave pending an investigation into the "integrity" of his work.
Thanks in large measure to the work of Monnett and Gleason, the polar bear became the official mascot for climate-change alarmism. Images of a lone polar bear perched forlornly on a shrinking ice flow served as efficient propaganda for indoctrinating children; Al Gore used the "polar bears are drowning" meme in his global warming scare-umentary "An Inconvenient Truth."
And in 2008 the US government officially listed the polar bear as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act.
Now Monnett has been put on "leave" due to "integrity" issues. Great. [New York Post, 8/2/11]
Fox Nation: "Global Warming Theory Faces Sudden Collapse." Fox Nation promoted the New York Post op-ed, with the headline to "Global Warming Theory Faces Sudden Collapse."
[Fox Nation, 8/2/11]
Fox News Claimed Monnett's "Observations Spurred The Warming Movement." From the July 28 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
STEVE DOOCY (co-host): He said the polar bears are dying because of global warming, but that claim has one scientist in hot water himself. Charles Monnett, a government scientist in Alaska, wrote a 2004 article about polar bears drowning in the arctic. Those observations spurred the warming movement. Well this month, the scientist was put on leave pending an investigation into integrity issues possibly linked to that article. We'll keep you posted. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/28/11]
Marc Morano: Allegations Indicate "The Research Backing The Global Warming Doctrine Is Corrupt." In a headline on his site Climate Depot, Marc Morano wrote: "Scientific Crap: Arctic scientist who prompted global warming fears for polar bears - now under investigation for 'scientific misconduct,'" linking to the AP report that broke the news. Morano also posted the headline: "Main polar bear alarmist put on leave, investigated Physicist: 'It seems increasingly likely that the research backing the global warming doctrine is corrupt at every conceivable level.'" [Climate Depot, 7/28/11, 7/28/11]
Anthony Watts Suggests Monnett Case Shows "Fakery ... With The Polar Bear Issue." After noting that Monnett is on leave on his blog Watts Up With That?, Anthony Watts wrote, "It seems everywhere you look, there's some sort of fakery going on with the polar bear issue." Watts then linked to an essay titled "Where Are All The Drowning Polar Bears?" [Watts Up With That?, 7/28/11]
Evidence Of Climate Change Does Not Depend On Polar Bear Studies
NOAA Outlines Massive Body Of Research Supporting Human-Induced Climate Change. From the National Climatic Data Center of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration:
The warming trend that is apparent in all of the independent methods of calculating global temperature change is also confirmed by other independent observations, such as the melting of mountain glaciers on every continent, reductions in the extent of snow cover, earlier blooming of plants in spring, a shorter ice season on lakes and rivers, ocean heat content, reduced arctic sea ice, and rising sea levels.
A large body of evidence supports the conclusion that human activity is the primary driver of recent warming. This evidence has accumulated over several decades, and from hundreds of studies. The first line of evidence is our basic physical understanding of how greenhouse gases trap heat, how the climate system responds to increases in greenhouse gases, and how other human and natural factors influence climate. The second line of evidence is from indirect estimates of climate changes over the last 1,000 to 2,000 years. These estimates are often obtained from living things and their remains (like tree rings and corals) which provide a natural archive of climate variations. These indicators show that the recent temperature rise is clearly unusual in at least the last 1,000 years. The third line of evidence is based on comparisons of actual climate with computer models of how we expect climate to behave under certain human influences. For example, when climate models are run with historical increases in greenhouse gases, they show gradual warming of the Earth and ocean surface, increases in ocean heat content, a rise in global sea level, and general retreat of sea ice and snow cover. These and other aspects of modeled climate change are in agreement with observations. [NOAA, accessed 8/2/11]
Polar Bear Scientist: "The Total Polar Bear Population Is Definitely Not 'Booming,'" That Is "Simply Dishonest." From an email by polar bear expert Dr. Ian Stirling, responding to right-wing media claims that the number of polar bears is "booming":
There are 19 recognized subpopulations of polar bears in the circumpolar Arctic. For several, we have no reliable information, particularly those in Russia but in some cases, estimates for Canadian populations are out of date. So, one cannot say whether, on a circumpolar basis, the total number of bears is declining but it probably is. The data are quite clear for some populations, such as western Hudson Bay or the southern Beaufort Sea, and they are declining seriously. There are other populations that are likely declining, in part or largely because of climate warming but usually you don't have long enough data series to say this with confidence. Polar bear research in general and population estimation in particular are expensive so it is not surprising that we don't have information over a long enough span of time to answer some of the questions.
However, declines are happening for sure with some populations, and very likely in several others but we simply don't have the data to say one way or the other with certainly. Such scientific honestly is seized upon and misinterpreted freely by the deniers, as you can see from the small sample of comments you list below. The basic approach of most is quite similar though.
But, the total polar bear population is definitely not "booming". Just saying so many, many times, and ignoring the factual, peer-reviewed, scientific data, is simply dishonest. [Email to Media Matters, 8/1/11]
IUCN In 2009: Eight Polar Bear Populations Are Declining. The IUCN's Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG), which compiles information on polar bear populations, states: "Polar bears are not evenly distributed throughout the Arctic, nor do they comprise a single nomadic cosmopolitan population, but rather occur in 19 relatively discrete subpopulations. There is however an uncertainty about the discreteness of the less studied subpopulations, particularly in the Russian Arctic and neighbouring areas, due to very restricted data on live capture and tagging." As of 2010, the PBSG states that of the 19 subpopulations, 8 are declining, 3 are stable, 1 is increasing, and there is not enough data for the other 7. [IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group, 5/11/10]
The following chart from Polar Bears International displays the PBSG designations:
[Polar Bears International, accessed 8/1/11]
Polar Bears Increased After 1970s Due To Conservation Efforts, But Now Face Climate Change Threat. The Annenberg Public Policy Center's FactCheck.org reported in June 2008:
[M]any reports show that the total number of polar bears has increased since the late 1960s and 1970s. This growth in population is often attributed to the passage of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) in 1972. The MMPA says that it is unlawful "for any person subject to the jurisdiction of the United States or any vessel or other conveyance subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to take any marine mammal on the high seas." The MMPA defined "take" as "to harass, hunt, capture, or kill, or attempt to harass, hunt, capture, or kill any marine mammal."
The 1973 International Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears, between the United States, Russia (at that time, the Soviet Union), Norway, Denmark and Canada, applied these and other prohibitions to a much larger area. Polar bears underwent a recovery period in subsequent decades.
However, most figures regarding the number of bears in the 1970s are based on guesses. Peter Dykstra, CNN's executive producer for Science, Technology, and Weather, wrote in a May 15 blog post that there was no consensus between the five polar bear nations regarding the population in the 1970s.
So why place polar bears on the list of "threatened" species if their numbers have been growing? Many scientists believe that due to climate change and resulting environmental factors, the trend is reversing. [FactCheck.org, 6/18/08]
FWS: Alaska's Polar Bear Populations Appear To Be "Declining." From the Fish and Wildlife Service's information on polar bear conservation issues:
Two populations of polar bears occur in Alaska: the Southern Beaufort Sea population which is shared with Canada and the Chukchi/Bering seas population which is shared with Russia. Based on recently conducted mark/recapture studies from 2001-2006, the Southern Beaufort Sea population has approximately 1500 bears and is currently thought to be declining. Although accurate estimates of the Chukchi/Bering seas population are unavailable, the best available information suggests that there may be about 2000 bears and that the population is declining. [Fish and Wildlife Service, 11/24/10; further information and citations can be found at the stock assessment reports]
Study: Western Hudson Bay Polar Bear Population Declined From 1984-2004. From a study of the Western Hudson Bay polar bear population from 1984 to 2004:
We analyzed data for polar bears captured from 1984 to 2004 along the western coast of Hudson Bay and in the community of Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. The Western Hudson Bay polar bear population declined from 1,194 (95% CI = 1,020-1,368) in 1987 to 935 (95% CI = 794-1,076) in 2004. Total apparent survival of prime-adult polar bears (5-19 yr) was stable for females (0.93; 95% CI = 0.91-0.94) and males (0.90; 95% CI = 0.88-0.91). Survival of juvenile, subadult, and senescent-adult polar bears was correlated with spring sea ice breakup date, which was variable among years and occurred approximately 3 weeks earlier in 2004 than in 1984. We propose that this correlation provides evidence for a causal association between earlier sea ice breakup (due to climatic warming) and decreased polar bear survival. It may also explain why Churchill, like other communities along the western coast of Hudson Bay, has experienced an increase in human-polar bear interactions in recent years. Earlier sea ice breakup may have resulted in a larger number of nutritionally stressed polar bears, which are encroaching on human habitations in search of supplemental food. Because western Hudson Bay is near the southern limit of the species' range, our findings may foreshadow the demographic responses and management challenges that more northerly polar bear populations will experience if climatic warming in the Arctic continues as projected. [Journal of Wildlife Management, November 2007]
USGS Study Points To "Reduced Cub Survival" In Southern Beaufort Polar Bear Population. From a U.S. Geological Survey study of Southern Beaufort Sea polar bears between 1982 and 2006:
Though cub production increased over time, the number of cubs-of-the-year (COYs) [first year of life] per female in the fall and yearlings per female in the spring declined suggesting reduced cub survival. Bears with prior capture history were either larger or similar in stature and mass to bears captured for the first time, indicating that research activities did not influence trends in the data. Declines in mass and BCI of subadult males, declines in growth of males and females, and declines in cub recruitment suggest that polar bears of the Southern Beaufort Sea have experienced a declining trend in nutritional status. The significant relationship between several of these measurements and sea ice cover over the continental shelf suggests that nutritional limitations may be associated with changing sea-ice conditions. [U.S. Geological Survey, 2007]
But Right-Wing Media Claim There Is A "Plague" Of Too Many Polar Bears
Jim Hoft: "Polar Bears Enjoy Boom, Not Bust," It Is "Time For A Cull." Conservative blogger Jim Hoft wrote in a post titled "Time For a Cull .... Global Warmers Lied - Polar Bears Enjoy Boom, Not Bust":
Despite the fact that the bear populations are booming, the Obama administration set aside 187,000 square miles in Alaska as a "critical habitat" for polar bears recently. The action that could restrict future drilling for oil and gas development.
Now, to top it all off, we find out the scientists who first reported on drowned polar bears is under investigation and likely fabricated the story.
It's about time for a cull, wouldn't you say? [Gateway Pundit, 7/28/11]
Beck: "Within One Hundred Years, We Will All Be Eaten By Polar Bears" If There Is Continued Population Growth. While discussing Monnett on his radio show, Glenn Beck and co-hosts mocked an ad by World Wildlife Fund about the threat to polar bears. Co-host Stu Burguiere claimed that "in the last four decades polar bear populations have risen by 400 percent." Beck later said that if population growth continued at that rate, "within one hundred years, we will all be eaten by polar bears" and "it will just be a sea of polar bears." [Premiere Radio Networks, The Glenn Beck Program, 8/2/11]
Forbes.com: Polar Bear "Populations Are Booming." From a Forbes.com op-ed by Cato Institute climatologist Patrick J. Michaels:
The scientist in question is Charles Monnett, who works with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (think the nation could survive without this office?) in Anchorage. Somehow Al Gore is involved, as AP reports that his co-author Jeffrey Gleason was questioned by Interior Department investigators last January about Gore's mention of polar bears in the SciFi hit An Inconvenient Truth.
Maybe the problem is that enough polar bears aren't drowning. Populations are booming, especially in the Canadian arctic.
It's a fact that people just can't get enough of polar bears. If they are drowning in droves, where are the pictures? Where is the evidence for dramatic population declines?
It does seem logical that greatly increasing the swimming distance for bears would cause some problems, but is it important? Then why are their numbers increasing as the ice shrinks? [Forbes.com, 7/29/11]
Delingpole: Polar Bears Are "Not So Much A Threatened Species ... More Like A Plague Or An Infestation." James Delingpole wrote in the Telegraph::
It's definitely one to watch, anyway. After all, the "drowning polar bear" story was instrumental in the US Interior Department's controversial decision in 2008 to have Ursus maritimus declared a "threatened species." (Despite evidence that polar bear populations have increased roughly five-fold in the last 50 years: not so much a threatened species, you might say; more like a plague or an infestation). It also prompted the silly scene in Al Gore's fantasy movie An Inconvenient Truth where an animated polar bear is shown drowning because of "global warming." [Telegraph, 7/28/11]
Morano: "Polar Bear Population Much Higher Than In 20th Century: Is Something Fishy About Extinction Fears?" Marc Morano promoted an International Business Times article at Climate Depot, titled "Polar Bear Population Much Higher Than In 20th Century: Is Something Fishy About Extinction Fears?" Morano quoted the opening of the article, which states "If polar bears had any clue of the scale of speculation about the extinction threat they are facing due to climate change, they would have probably said 'you're kidding, right?'" [Climate Depot, 8/2/11]
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