Polar bears have achieved threatened status under the Endangered Species Act — a sad achievement, but a start at turning back from an irreversible tipping point. To list the polar bear as endangered, oil-loving neanderthals in the Bush administration must admit that the polar bear’s survival has been jeopardized by climate change. New federal rulings, however, fall short of protecting critical habitat. Something of a victory, the threatened status does not begin to address limiting greenhouse gas emissions. We all bear responsibility for global warming and the time for action, but can no longer be avoided as political fallout.
In the ongoing debate about what constitutes real science, here’s an attempt to bore into the frozen world and see what actual scientists have to say about sea ice. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, this year’s maximum was reached on March 10. The melt’s been on since then, and will continue until September. The ice that grew over the winter was thin and is in a general state of decline. Last year sea ice shrank to a record-setting minimum. Thick old ice is being flushed out and, according to the National Center for Atmospheric Research, last summer’s clear skies caused thinner ice at the end of the season. NASA has a space laser altimeter that measures the amount of ice and snow protruding above the water surface, and 2008 shows the ice to be 5 to 10 centimeters (2 to 4 inches, if you’re into doing conversions) thinner than in the spring of 2007. I challenge Kelly to dispute these statistics with more than just name-calling dismissals and provide rationale showing there’s no cause for concern for ursus maritimus.
This relative of the brown bear has evolved its hunting style to be dependent upon sea ice. I don’t know about you, but my e-mail system has been flooded with pictures and statistics about this vulnerable species. As the only marine bear and an awesome predator, the polar bear is the most powerful image of a canary in the mine for our human species. Nearly 400 animals are listed as threatened or endangered in the U.S.
These desperate times hold countless opportunities to save our planet. Ironically, by working to reduce global warming we can attain the very things that are so important to the free market economists. The technology exists to build an oil-free future, creating new businesses and new jobs that will help our struggling economy.
The polar bear is to indigenous Arctic populations what the buffalo was to Colorado’s Native Americans. The sparse human populations in these frozen regions did only subsistence hunting and used most parts of these huge mammals for food, clothing, fuel and ritual. Ancient ways of staying in balance with nature are values that must be learned for our survival.
A polar bear doesn’t seek safety on the shore. It survives by hunting from sea ice, and that’s not propaganda or junk science. In the face of our ignorance, environmentalists must tell us how to change.
We are no longer safe. Nobel Prize winner, scientist and economist Rajendra Pachauri states, “If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment.” Even John McCain, whom the League of Conservation Voters gave an environmental rating of zero in 2007, said, “The facts of global warming demand our attention especially in Washington.”
How to achieve maximum allowable carbon dioxide emissions of 350 parts per million (ppm) in the next few years? Levels are currently at 385 ppm, and last year CO2 levels rose by 2.4 ppm instead of going down. NASA’s chief climatologist, James Hansen, comments that enormous and painful steps will have to be taken right away. Please read Bill McKibben’s article “The World at 350” at www.tomdispatch.com/post/174930.
A former educator, Hannah Hayes is a wife, mother and third-generation immigrant. She runs a national business in the natural products industry and is a co-founder of Evergreen Peace.
When Nick was little, we spent at least two days a week at the Denver Zoo. Just before Thanksgiving 2001, a very special Denver Zoo baby was born. Cranbeary was a delight and a blessing right after a horrible time, and my son and I joined the rest of Denver in becoming obsessed with her.
A baby polar bear is a very cute thing. We spent hours watching her antics, and I even believed I could see the exasperation on her mother’s face every time Cranbeary did something silly. When they moved her in 2005 to the Memphis Zoo, we were very sad.
We humans connect with polar bears, because they are beautiful, powerful animals with interesting antics and an expressive face. Eco-dictators know this, and have gone out of the way to tug at our heart strings over “global warming” by using polar bears and penguins, even using doctored and non-relevant video to grab us and beat us over the head.
Recently, the AP released a photo of a polar bear “stranded” on a melting ice floe in conjunction with the release of the U.N. IPCC’s “report” on “global warming.” (Quotation marks used to indicate that all these words are propaganda.) Many mainstream media outlets ran the picture with captions that indicated the horrific fate in store for polar bears. (Never mind the fact that polar bears can swim and the shore nearby was cropped out.)
Then it came to light that the picture had been taken two and a half years earlier by a biology student on a field trip in August. The polar bear was in no danger, and the melting ice floe was quite normal for that time.
Now the eco-dictators are declaring victory over the administration’s listing of the polar bear as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. It’s actually something of pyrrhic victory in that Interior has made it clear in its ruling that listing the polar bear is not coupled with the assumption that the reduction in sea ice is due to “climate change.”
In fact, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne made it very clear that this ruling will not allow “misus[e] to regulate global climate change.” Reductions in sea ice have occurred throughout history, and even the journal Nature and NASA have shown that reductions are more likely due to changes in wind patterns. Polar bears have actually increased in population. But eco-dictators will try to use this ruling and the ESA in ways never intended, to curtail or ban by government edict any action by private industry or government if it is asserted that the action would cause “global warming.” They may succeed in the courts, or in a Democrat administration, and then watch out. Nothing will be safe, because everything you do causes global warming, at least under their rubric, so everything you do must be regulated by them. For the sake of the poor polar bears, you know.
I take the challenge, Hannah. I am not responsible for “climate change” because I am not God or Gaia or even plain old circumstance. The “global warming” data have been very effectively refuted in many peer-reviewed journals by actual climatologists. The “studies” that global warming hysterics rely on are all computer models, which have all been very handily refuted as well. (Remember the first rule of computers — garbage in, garbage out.) Referring to sea ice, as I mentioned in my column, studies by the journal Nature and by NASA show that changing wind patterns are a more likely culprit in any reductions. Sea ice is actually thicker in many of the shelves around Antarctica, but the media aren’t going to mention that.
History also shows us that the ebb and flow of sea ice thickness have persisted throughout thousands of years and, safe to say, millennia. Saying that comparisons to 2007 thicknesses proves “global warming” is the height of bad science. Sorry, Hannah, it’s your conclusion that is endangered, not the polar bear. (For more real science, visit www .globalwarminghoax.com.)
Attorney and political activist Kelly Weist has served on the board of directors of the Colorado Federation of Republican Women and is the co-founder of Mountain Republican Women.