Waste not, want not!
Blogger Susan Crockford reports on Polar Bear Science that she received an email on May 22 from Dag Vongraven, chairman of the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group [PBSG], that an upcoming report on worldwide polar bear population would contain a footnote that some polar bear populations are simply best-guess estimates.
“As part of past status reports, the PBSG has traditionally estimated a range for the total number of polar bears in the circumpolar Arctic. Since 2005, this range has been 20-25,000,” the footnote reads.
“It is important to realize that this range never has been an estimate of total abundance in a scientific sense, but simply a qualified guess given to satisfy public demand. It is also important to note that even though we have scientifically valid estimates for a majority of the subpopulations, some are dated.”
The note goes on to say here are no “abundance estimates” for bears in the Arctic Basin, East Greenland, and Russia.
Which is about the size of Rhode Island, right?
“Consequently, there is either no, or only rudimentary, knowledge to support guesses about the possible abundance of polar bears in approximately half the areas they occupy. Thus, the range given for total global population should be viewed with great caution as it cannot be used to assess population trend over the long term.”
Why should that stop anyone? Don’t you know how science works?
“Daniel B. Botkin, a world-renowned ecologist, is Professor (Emeritus), Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, UC Santa Barbara, and President of The Center for The Study of The Environment, which provides independent, science-based analyses of complex environmental issues. The New York Times said his book, *Discordant Harmonies: A New Ecology for the 21st Century* is considered by many ecologists to be the classic text of the [environmental] movement.” His Environmental Science, now in its Sixth Edition, was named 2004?s best textbook by the Textbook and Academic Authors Association.”
I have always attempted to maintain an objective, intellectually honest, scientific approach in the best tradition of scientific endeavor. I have, accordingly, been dismayed and disappointed in recent years that this subject has been converted into a political and ideological debate. I have colleagues on both sides of the debate and believe we should work together as scientists instead of arguing divisively about preconceived, emotionally based “positions.” I hope my testifying here will help lead to a calmer, more rational approach to dealing with not only climate change but also other major environmental problems. The IPCC 2014 report does not have this kind of rational discussion we should be having. I would like to tell you why.
To characterize where we are with this report and this issue, I would like to quote James R. Schlesinger, the first U.S. Energy Secretary, who said: “We have only two modes — complacency and panic.”—commenting on the country’s approach to energy (1977)
1. I want to state up front that we have been living through a warming trend driven by a variety of influences. However, it is my view that this is not unusual, and contrary to the characterizations by the IPCC and the National Climate Assessment, these environmental changes are not apocalyptic nor irreversible.
2. My biggest concern is that both the reports present a number of speculative, and sometimes incomplete, conclusions embedded in language that gives them more scientific heft than they deserve. The reports are “scientific-sounding” rather than based on clearly settled facts or admitting their lack.
3. HAS IT BEEN WARMING? Yes, we have been living through a warming trend, no doubt about that. The rate of change we are experiencing is also not unprecedented, and the “mystery” of the warming “plateau” simply indicates the inherent complexity of our global biosphere. Change is normal, life on Earth is inherently risky; it always has been. The two reports, however, makes it seem that environmental change is apocalyptic and irreversible. It is not.
4. IS CLIMATE CHANGE VERY UNUSUAL? No, it has always undergone changes.
9. What I sought to learn was the overall take-away that the reports leave with a reader. I regret to say that I was left with the impression that the reports overestimate the danger from human-induced climate change and do not contribute to our ability to solve major environmental problems. I am afraid that an “agenda” permeates the reports, an implication that humans and our activity are necessarily bad and ought to be curtailed.
10. ARE THERE MAJOR PROBLEMS WITH THE REPORTS? Yes, in assumptions, use of data, and conclusions.
11. My biggest concern about the reports is that they present a number of speculative, and sometimes incomplete, conclusions embedded in language that gives them more scientific heft than they deserve. The reports, in other words, are “scientific- sounding,” rather than clearly settled and based on indisputable facts.
In the parts I omitted, he says there is good science in the report. This is not among that good science:
Why measure the temperature? Why count the polar bears? We have models that do that!
Oops, wrong kind of model—but do you think she’d do any worse?
[T]he IPCC 2014 Terrestrial Ecosystem Report states that “there is medium confidence that rapid change in the Arctic is affecting its animals. For example, seven of 19 subpopulations of the polar bear are declining in number” citing in support of this an article by Vongraven and Richardson, 2011. That report states the contrary, that the “‘decline’ is an illusion.
In addition, I have sought the available counts of the 19 subpopulations. Of these, only three have been counted twice; the rest have been counted once. Thus no rate of changes in the populations can be determined.
The U. S. Marine Mammal Commission, charged with the conservation of this species, acknowledges “Accurate estimates of the current and historic sizes of polar bear stocks are difficult to obtain for several reasons–the species‘ inaccessible habitat, the movement of bears across international boundaries, and the costs of conducting surveys.”
No [bleep]! Who wants to traipse around the North Pole counting polar bears? (Count the number of legs and divide by four.) I’d rather roll on a polar bear rug with my climate model above.
Traitor Obama (if we are to believe half the Bergdahl story) is running hell for leather into the Global Warming fracas. May he wind up looking like the carcass in the picture, top (politically speaking, of course).