Saturday, February 23, 2013

Margaret Wente: How to save the polar bears: Leave them alone! - The Globe and Mail
“It’s not fun to see a mother bear watch her cubs falling dead because she can no longer nurse them,” University of Alberta scientist Andrew Derocher told the CBC last week. He thinks desperate times call for desperate measures.
Here’s some news you won’t hear from Dr. Derocher. The polar-bear population is not declining. In fact, it’s much bigger than it was 40 years ago, when a global hunting ban was introduced. After dwindling to a few thousand, the number of polar bears has rebounded to 20,000 or 25,000 today.

“This is essentially a heartening fact, but nobody knows it,” says Zac Unger, a California writer who planned to write a book on the end of the polar bears. Instead, he wound up writing a book about the loss of scientific integrity. It’s called Never Look a Polar Bear in the Eye.
Northerners are generally contemptuous of fly-in experts from the South. The polar bears they see are doing fine, not that anyone cares what they think. One experienced ranger – who has helped countless researchers prepare projects meant to prove the bears are doomed – told Mr. Unger: “I’m just starting to resent being told that I’m not seeing what I know abso-flipping-lutely damn well that I’m seeing with my own eyes.”
Mr. Eliasson is skeptical of doom-and-gloom scenarios based on computer models – on which scientists such as Dr. Derocher rely heavily. “There is a widespread belief in the North these days that researchers and NGOs have become more interested in media face-time than actual polar bear research,” he says. “They are super nice guys. I had incredible respect for them, but now I’m blogging against them. I just feel like they’re lost.”
Mr. Unger has another suggestion for polar bear researchers. Stop doing politics and get back to doing science, which is by its very nature complicated and uncertain. Of course, the headlines might die down. But the alternative is to risk being utterly discredited. And that would not be good for polar bears, scientists or anybody else.  [Via SC]
Clive James: Attenborough’s Global Warming Blunder | The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF)
Getting a bit frail in my old age, I never thought I’d live to see the day when the Guardian told the BBC to stop cooking the books. But it happened.

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