TCS Daily


The Bear Facts

By Theo Richel - May 19, 2006 12:00 AM

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has just put the polar bear on the endangered species list because it is supposedly "facing extinction" -- mainly, it claims, as a result of global warming. But statistics show the polar bear is not facing extinction, not by a long shot.

The polar bear biologist cited by the IUCN correctly states the current population of polar bears to be about 22,000-25,000. But when asked for historical data he responds that this number has not changed much in recent decades. He does not mention the fact that half a century ago there were only about 8,000-10,000 polar bears. That low number was not the result of global warming or even cooling but of overhunting. A subsequent regulation of the hunt solved the problem: the polar bear population started to increase again.

While it is probably not possible to define an ideal number of polar bears that "belong" on the planet, there are indications, both from scientific studies and from traditional Inuit knowledge (called IQ for Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit) that the current number of polar bears is actually high. There are about 20 groups of these animals in the Arctic and the majority of them are thriving. The avalanche of media reports about polar bears in trouble is based on just two of these groups. The recent increase of hunting quota for polar bears in Greenland and Canada would actually indicate that their number is increasing. Inuit I talked to (over the phone) made it clear that this increase is not always good news: Ursus Maritimus can be a nasty fellow. He doesnt kill often, but remains a dangerous animal who can smell human presence over long distances.

The main threat to the polar bear in the eyes of IUCN is global warming. For a minute let's assume that the IUCN doomsday-scenario becomes reality. By 2050 polar bears will have experienced more than a 30 percent population decline. But even then the population would still be bigger than it was 50 years ago.

In the same week the IUCN came out with the polar bear list, Dr. Mitch Taylor, a polar bear biologist from the Eskimo nation Nunavut (four times as big as France, 30,000 inhabitants) wrote in the Toronto Star: "Of the 13 populations of polar bears in Canada, 11 are stable or increasing in number. They are not going extinct, or even appear to be affected at present. This complexity is why so many people find the truth less entertaining than a good story. It is entirely appropriate to be concerned about climate change, but it is just silly to predict the demise of polar bears in 25 years based on media-assisted hysteria."

The author is a science writer based in The Netherlands.

Categories:

5 Comments

Motive laid bare (bear?)
The move to have usrsus maritimus listed as endangered has little to do with polar bears and lots to do with forcing the decarbonization of human endeavors. Note that responding to the listing will require reduction in GHG emissions and that is the true objective.

I found this article through JunkScience.com but I can't find it on the main board
What gives?

here's another article
http://www.cbc.ca/story/science/national/2006/05/15/polar-bears.html

Who wants to bet that roy and eric will, by this time next week, be screaming that I never post references again?

Flipping from Skepticism to Activism
The Flipping Point
by Michael Shermer (Skeptics Society founder)
American Scientific, June 2006

...My experience is symptomatic of deep problems that have long plagued the environmental movement. Activists who vandalize Hummer dealerships and destroy logging equipment are criminal ecoterrorists. Environmental groups who cry doom and gloom to keep donations flowing only hurt their credibility. As an undergraduate in the 1970s, I learned (and believed) that by the 1990s overpopulation would lead to worldwide starvation and the exhaustion of key minerals, metals and oil, predictions that failed utterly. POLITICS POLLUTED THE SCIENCE and made me an environmental skeptic.

...I attended the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference in Monterey, Calif., where FORMER VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE DELIVERED THE SINGLE FINEST SUMMATION of the evidence for Global Warming I have ever heard, based on the recent documentary film about his work in this area, An Inconvenient Truth. The striking before-and-after photographs showing the disappearance of glaciers around the world shocked me out of my doubting stance.

...Four books eventually brought me to the flipping point: Brian Fagan's "The Long Summer", Jared Diamond's "Collapse", Elizabeth Kolbert's "Field Notes from a Catastrophe", and Tim Flannery's "The Weather Makers".

...Because of the complexity of the problem, environmental skepticism was once tenable. No longer. IT IS TIME TO FLIP FROM SKEPTICISM TO ACTIVISM.

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa006&
articleID=000B557A-71ED-146C-ADB783414B7F0000&colID=13

Gore?
I'm not surprised that a one sided summation, including all of the lies told by environmental extremists, without any of the cautionary points made by the skeptics, is considered convincing by some.

TCS Daily Archives