Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Polar Bears Thrive, Contrary to WWF Claims

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polar bearYou've probably seen the commercials; TV actor Noah Wyle (ER, The Librarian) somberly informs us of an impending grave catastrophe: "A tragedy is unfolding in the world today. Climate change is threatening one of the most magnificent wild animals on the planet. Polar bears. They're struggling to survive."

Heart-tugging violins accompany video footage of a mother polar bear and her cuddly cub on a small ice flow. The narrator tells us:

The ice is melting all around them and food is becoming harder to find as they lose their hunting grounds. Climate change. It's happening right now and its leaving mothers weaker and unable to provide for their young and cubs dying without enough to eat. As the struggle and the search for food continues polar bears are hanging on for survival. Polar bears are on their way to extinction. If we don't act now, most will die in our children's lifetime. But you can change that. Call now and join the Wildlife Rescue Team. For just $16 a month you'll be part of the most ambitious effort to save wildlife and wild places the world has ever seen.... If we don't act now, it could be too late for the polar bear.

It is a fundraising appeal for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), one of the wealthiest environmentalist groups on the planet. The implied message is that the mother bear and cub in the film have been caught by the camera crew in their last desperate gasps, victims of man-made global warming. We are supposed to believe from the images we see, based upon Wyle's narration, that they are weak and starving and soon will be joining the other members of their rapidly dying species.

However, there are several big problems with this picture and message. First of all, there is no evidence provided in the commercial or by WWF in its literature or on its website that this particular polar bear and her cub are weak, starving, or in any distress whatsoever. For all we can tell they are healthy and happy, floating on their iceberg as polar bears do and have done since they've been around on this planet. It is only the narration and the music that suggest otherwise. But, more importantly, the main message of the commercial is a ... big lie. No sense in mincing words. Completely contrary to the WWF's maudlin claims that the cuddly predators are on "their way to extinction," polar bear populations have been exploding. The number of polar bears in the world is four to five times greater than it was 50 years ago, increasing from around 5,000 to an estimated 25,000. 

Canadian biologist Dr. Mitchell Taylor, one of the foremost authorities on polar bears, says: "We're seeing an increase in bears that's really unprecedented, and in places where we're seeing a decrease in the population it's from hunting, not from climate change." Dr. Taylor is a real scientist who actually goes out into the field and tracks, observes, tags, and counts polar bears and other arctic mammals. He has been doing this for over two decades, unlike the computer modelers who are making their dire predictions based on their own theoretical climate scenarios.

More on Dr. Taylor and his findings are available from the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works:

"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," Taylor said, noting that Canada is home to two-thirds of the world's polar bears.

He added: "It is just silly to predict the demise of polar bears in 25 years based on media-assisted hysteria."
In September, Taylor further debunked the latest report hyping fears of future polar bear extinctions.

"I think it's naive and presumptuous," Taylor said, referring to a recent report by the U.S. government warning that computer models predict a dire future for the bears due to projected ice loss....

Taylor also debunked the notion that less sea ice means less polar bears by pointing out that southern regions of the bears' home with low levels of ice are seeing booming bear populations. He noted that in the warmer southern Canadian region of the Davis Strait with lower levels of ice, a new survey will reveal that bear populations have grown from an estimated 850 bears to an estimated 3000 bears. And, despite the lower levels of ice, some of the bears measured in this region are among the biggest ever on record.

"Davis Strait is crawling with polar bears. It's not safe to camp there. They're fat. The mothers have cubs. The cubs are in good shape," he said, according to a September 14, 2007 article.

He added: "That's not theory. That's not based on a model. That's observation of reality."

Sen. James Inhofe says of the polar bear "extinction" myth:

The bottom line is that the attempt to list the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act is not based on any evidence that the polar bear populations are declining or in trouble.  It is based on computer climate models fraught with uncertainties.  The truth is that we clearly do not know enough about most of the polar bear populations to make the argument for listing.

And frankly, listing the polar bear isn't about the bear either. It is about trying to bring about climate change regulations using the most powerful development-stopping law in the land, the Endangered Species Act. Polar bears are being used to achieve long sought left-wing environmental regulatory policies.

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