Green Myths : Polar bears going extinct, yawn …
Ask any young person about Polar bears and you’ll find out they know all about them. Polar bears are cuddly and harmless but they’re an endangered species. Why are they endangered then? It’s because of global warming, which is melting all the ice at the North pole and the poor Polar bears are drowning. Year by year, they’re getting fewer and fewer and the only way we can save them is by cutting down on our Carbon emissions. Why, the poor creatures are so desperate, they’ve even begun to attack human beings.
It’s terrible they tell you and you have to agree, it is indeed terrible but you’re both thinking about completely different things. You ask them if they’re sure and how they learnt all these things.
Everyone knows these things; it’s on the news, in books and magazines and they even get taught it at school. At school? Yes, of course, in science class. Science class, Polar bears? Yes, environmental studies. Everyone has to do environmental studies nowadays. Is it hard, do you have to do sums and things? Naw, it’s a doddle really, you just do climate change and being green and things like that.
Don’t you do science with laws and equations and all that stuff? Well, you can if you want to but nobody does really, just a few nerdy types. Sure, I understand; do any girls do it? No, of course not.
It’s a depressing conversation, the more so because the kids you’re talking to are just normal kids, no stupider or brighter than average and they’ve usually been to what would be termed “good” schools. I know that their educational opportunities are broader than those that were available to me but in some vital areas, I know my education was deeper.
If at this point, you’re expecting me to go off on some rant about the decline in educational standards, you’re going to be disappointed. I’m all for a broader education as long as the “toolbox” subjects of literacy and mathematics are covered thoroughly, because without an easy familiarity with them, the pupil is hamstrung trying to learn any other subject. What I’m against is the skewing of education for political ends and the unquestioned elevation of pseudo sciences to somehow be on a par with real hard science.
This common perception of the apparent plight of Polar bears illustrates several things beautifully.
The first I suppose, is that it is firmly held in the face of simple, readily available, real-world facts that flatly contradict it. Polar bears are the world’s largest land carnivores. They are not cuddly Disney creatures; they’re very successful top of the food chain predators that live on meat, primarily seals but the occasional small whale or unwary human being will do just as well; ask any Inuit or Eskimo, as we call them.
When the latter go out on the ice, they make sure they’re carrying a rifle, because you can’t outrun a Polar bear, whether they’re hungry or not.
Polar bears are what is termed an ambush predator and the particular technique they use is called still hunting. Essentially, they wait as still as a statue by breathing holes in the ice for a seal to come up for air. When that happens, they drag it out with their forepaws and kill it by biting down on the seal’s skull and crushing it. As an interesting aside, they always cover their nose with a paw while they’re waiting, because their skin colour is actually black and their black nose is too easily spotted, even by seals underwater. Not many people know that …
As for them drowning, they can easily swim nonstop for hundreds of kilometers in Arctic-cold seas, their natural habitat, so it takes some pretty extreme weather to drown them. It’s not for nothing that their official name is Ursus Maritimus or sea bear; they actually spend most of their waking time in the sea rather than on ice or land. In an article published in this year’s January edition of Polar Biology, the U.S. Geological Survey gave the details of a bear they’d tagged that had swam for nine days continuously and covered a total distance of 687 kilometers.
Incidentally, the single scientist who reported seeing drowned Polar bears is currently suspended and under investigation. Reading through the transcript of his interview by criminal investigators, it’s not at all clear whether it was precisely three or four drowned Polar bears in total that were observed by him and since no photographic evidence was taken as the plane he was in flew past them, it now seems impossible to verify these sightings. Read into that what you may but his hardly rigorous observations, which were made in passing while he was supposed to be studying something else, seems to have been seized upon by Al Gore and the climate establishment to turn the Polar bear into some sort of poster boy or should I say poster bear, for the global warming jihad.
As for melting Polar ice, that’s a meme that seems to be firmly embedded in the public consciousness too. Having listened to that debate for years, my take on it is that while sea ice is always decreasing somewhere, it always appears to be increasing somewhere else, which is why that debate has and will run for years. There is however a hilarious plus side to this delusional meme that only becomes visible when believers in it actually go to places like the North pole.
A current example is a couple of benighted individuals who are determined to row to the North pole as part of an eco stunt for a rather indifferent brand of Whisky. They made a really good start with a modest fanfare but reports of late appear to have petered out. This might concievably be because there are hundreds of kilometres of solid pack ice between them and their objective. This really shouldn’t have come as a surprise to them, though it probably did, because the freely available satellite imagery of the area is on the internet for all to see. Nature has a habit of punishing those who choose to ignore its reality.
A stunning example of the basic ignorance I’ve encountered more than once when it comes to polar ice, is being told that not only is the North pole melting but the South pole is melting as well! They are nearly having anxiety attacks about melting poles but they just don’t know the South pole is a continent rather than a floating mass of ice. If a continent ever started to melt, it could only be because our sun had gone nova and that sort of global warming, I’d definitely be concerned about …
The Earth is about 4.5 billion years old and in that time, 99.9% of all the species that have existed on it have become extinct. Whether you like it or not, we and the Polar bear will someday go that same route and neither your “piety nor wit” will prevent it. If I told you that the Polar bear population numbered about 25,000 in the 1950s and had dropped to about 5,000 since then, I suppose there would be grounds for concern but the reality is rather different.
The Polar bear population has grown from 5,000 in the 1950s to about 25,000, according to testimony submitted in 2008 to the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and it’s still growing. In other words, the bear population has increased five fold. Call me simplistic but isn’t a decreasing population, rather than an increasing one, supposed to be indicative of a species heading for extinction?
Given those numbers, you might be forgiven for wondering why on Earth the bear was ever classified as being an endangered species. Well, the clue is in the reason given for it being endangered; global warming. In the heady days of climate alarmism, the bear had become the centre of such a tidal wave of saccharine hysteria, it simply had to be protected, irrespective of whether it actually needed it or not. It was a bizarre decision by a government body bounced into making it for purely political reasons.
You see, the numbers don’t matter any more and the science is irrelevant; it’s all about propaganda. While you may be arguing the science, the big green killing machine just concentrates on creating an impression in the public consciousness, even if the impression is totally contradicted by the facts. Facts are irrelevant too.
While you’re busy nailing them on points of scientific fact, they’re busy photoshopping Polar bears onto ice cubes floating in the Bering Sea. You’re aiming at them but they’re aiming at public opinion.
Surely someone out there with some scientific standing could just stand up and speak the truth? The answer to that one is no. The sad reality is that while the truth may set you free, the truth must first be heard and in the mainstream media (MSM) and most disgracefully of all, in certain scientific forums, it is being suppressed. That’s a strong word and I’ve no doubt it may offend some people but I’m afraid it describes the situation fairly.
I put down my thoughts on the role of the MSM in climate censorship here so I’ll give you a very apposite example of that very same process at work in science. A certain Dr Mitchell Taylor has been studying Polar bears for over thirty years and in this brave new world of post-normal science, insists on doing things the old-fashioned way, like going out onto the ice and actually counting Polar bears. He even catches them, brave man that he is. In point of fact, he’s such a world-renowned expert on Ursus Maritimus, he’s been regularly attending meetings of the Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG) since the early eighties. Whatever it is you want to know about Polar bears, he’s your go to man.
The 2009 meeting of the group was scheduled to take place in Copenhagen, when the big climate conference was occurring. He’d packed his bags and was ready to go, as the song says, but then he was suddenly uninvited. The reason given was that he’d publically stated his reservations about man-made global warming. I don’t know what he was going to say or even whether it might have been controversial or not. Perhaps he wasn’t going to say anything. We’ll never know. This was blatant suppression of scientific expertise because it might not fit a political agenda. It wasn’t so much a case of shooting the messenger but rather slamming the door in his face and making sure his message, if he even had one, couldn’t be delivered.
Our children are being taught junk science in our schools. Their heads are being filled with conclusions without ever referencing the facts and figures used to reach those conclusions because, as in the case of the Polar bear and so many other environmental areas, the data simply does not support the conclusions. This isn’t science education, it’s political indoctrination.
It would be easy at this point to just blame the teachers but I’m not going to do that. They’re obliged to teach a subject within the constraints of the syllabus set for it and very many of them have deep reservations, not only about the supposed “facts” they have to impart but the degree of political influence being indirectly exerted in subjects, which one would naturally expect to be free of such interference. At some point in the future, this abuse of young and impressionable minds will have to be addressed and corrected.
In conclusion and moving back to conversations with young people, I always agree with them in the end that the Polar bear situation is terrible but what I’m really thinking is terrible, is just how successful propaganda can be.
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