• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Problems with the Polar Bear/Global Warming Link

    The Department of the Interior is expected to announce soon that polar bears have been designated a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. The justification for such a move will not be that polar bears are actually declining. Rather, the justification will be based on speculation that they may decline in the future as a result of global warming. Global warming, so the argument goes, is causing Arctic sea ice to melt, and, unless that process is arrested, polar bears will be unable to survive because they need Arctic sea ice to reach their primary source of food: seals.

    As might be expected with a speculative scenario, there is uncertainty about whether it is actually true. However, there is certainty that if Interior goes through with the designation, it will give the department enormous power to regulate economic activity under a polar bear mitigation plan. Hopefully, before the government puts shackles on the economy, it weighs very carefully the significant uncertainties about whether the polar bear is actually threatened.

    Ken Green of the American Enterprise Institute has a new paper detailing the many problems with the supposed global warming/sea ice/polar bear link. Green notes in particular that while there has been some evidence of sea ice loss in the Arctic, there is not enough evidence to conclude global warming is the culprit.

    • An October 2007 NASA study concluded that changing wind patterns are responsible for sea ice loss. New wind patterns have compressed sea ice and moved it into the Transpolar Drift Stream which has taken the ice to lower latitudes where it has melted.
    • A study reported in Nature in January 2008 reported that Artic heating has been happening higher in the atmosphere than predicted by global warming models. Meanwhile, the predicted warming at the earth’s surface has not been detected. Green comments: “What the data seem to indicate is that heat from the tropics is being transported to the Arctic by wind patterns that are not well understood.”

    If global warming isn’t the cause of recent sea ice loss, then there is no reason to assume that the loss of sea ice is a long-term trend.

    There are also significant uncertainties about how the loss of sea ice will impact polar bear populations. Analysts use a tool called population viability analysis (PVA), which is fraught with problems. Green writes:

    Like various statistical models, PVA can be a useful tool in policy cost-benefit analysis, but its results are only as accurate as the data and the model assumptions that go into it. Polar bear populations are difficult to measure, in part because they travel so much, are sparsely populated, and live far from people. The highest-quality data on polar bears come from aerial studies and mark/recapture studies, in which scientists “mark” polar bears and estimate how many are in a population based on sightings of marked and unmarked animals. There are other methods of estimating polar bears, but the report describes those methods as having “unknown and in most cases inestimable errors.”

    Of the nineteen subpopulations of polar bears, the IUCN reports estimates based on aerial or mark/recapture data for fourteen, but of these, only five are based on data collected after 1998. Twelve had sufficient data for the report to predict population trends, and of the five marked as declining, only two of these estimates were based on aerial or mark/recapture data from after 1998. Scientists have collected more recent data on polar bear populations, but from studies with more “inestimable errors.”

    But, says Green, we do know that polar bears “have survived past periods of extensive deglaciation.”

    Polar bear fossils have been dated to over one hundred thousand years, which means that polar bears have already survived an interglacial period when temperatures were considerably warmer than they are at present and when, quite probably, levels of summertime Arctic sea ice were correspondingly low.

    Listing the polar bear as threatened would give government incredible power to control economic development. The government, therefore, should feel an obligation to demonstrate that the polar bear actually is threatened before it lists the polar bear as threatened. Congress, meanwhile, should revisit the whole concept of delegating power that is essentially a legislative power to an unelected government agency. If global warming is a problem justifying economic sacrifice, then Congress should feel an obligation to actually vote for such sacrifice.

    Cross-posted at InsiderOnline.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    6 Responses to Problems with the Polar Bear/Global Warming Link

    1. Pingback: Polar Bear news… « Rantings from the Lunatic Fringe

    2. Pingback: where polar bears live

    3. Javier says:

      Reflection on the global warming.

      Unchecked pollution, and if nothing is done soon, it will be too late to take steps to slow global warming, because it will come to such a degree that the warming will no longer view point of return and that alone will happen in the coming decades. It is said that in this century global temperature of the Earth will increase from 1 to 6 degrees, perhaps nothing does not seem at first glance. But increased by grade level will bring very drastic consequences. When the ground reaches 3rd level of increase will no longer be able to do anything, because the warming is going to turn uncontrollable and lead to the disappearance of the Amazon because of huge fires that are going to be impossible to stop, that is very serious because automatically cause the temperature rises 1 or 2 degrees. And well the 4th grade, sea level rise due to melting of the poles of Antarctica, disappearing all countries with coasts, or that costs will be the South American 1eras seriously affected. Apart melting in Antarctica today is already a reality. This happening in a more accelerated what was predicted. The volume containing all bodies of ice existing in the planet, could cause the sea level rose from 60 to 70 m! It is going to see supertormentas never before seen, and this enormous disaster will happen much sooner than we think, maybe even what we live, but so are our children. These are some of the innumerable consequences that will bring climate change and indeed perhaps there are many other things that neither we, nor imagine that they can get to happen. Climate change and what we are living. Major natural disasters that occurred before each decades, now increasingly occur more often. These phenomena occur with ever more frequency and intensity. The shedding of large blocks of ice is occurring in at the poles, ice masses giants hundred km. square. While the release of those blocks that collapse will not have an effect on sea level rise, it means a warning that something is not amiss, because those such landslides are not unusual, it is because of global warming as scientists point out . And that is the area most affected by warming, and Antarctica is the area that suffered most to the increase in temperature. Obviously this planet we say that this reaches its limit, and this warning us. We are in an era in which we must take proper account of the environment and learn to survive what we are going to face, which will be a very tough battle for survival, not because we are going to cheat, little is going to do for this issue, or when actually find a solution because it will be too late. And the underdeveloped countries will suffer the greatest impact. This would cause enormous global crises in the economic and human losses. Wars over scarce natural resources, and one of the main causes is by water scarcity. It is very difficult, because we must change the mentality of people, change our ways of living, and that is not an overnight. And there are other interests through playing, the profit motive and expansion of the 1st world countries and those of developing countries, affecting more even look for new alternatives that are eco-development, such an alternative is solar and wind energy but also other possibilities exist. So it is very difficult to change a system already dominant globally that governs our society. Otherwise we can perhaps say that the big culprit is the capitalist system, but speaking from the stage of industrial development. The industries are deriving the large percentage of greenhouse gases that harm the environment. But we think that is going to do much more for this cause and that the man be convinced that there is no other if we want our preservation. Man is an animal usual for that side emerges perhaps some hope, but we do not have much time. We must seek solutions to prevent such predictions of climatic disasters that do not occur and not seek solutions to face them in tomorrow. Prevention is better than cure fits very well in this issue. And I think one thing is certain the economic cost would be greatly enhanced if we continue at the same rants, which means cities rebuild depleted by natural disasters that actually happens but will become somewhat more common and more destructive power, possible new diseases that may occur, the scarcity of resources would make certain that these were of very high cost to achieve them, and this is very clear, not everyone can access them, will be very few, there will be wars over them, and good due to the increased level Sea, countries with fewer resources can not be saved. And the richest countries seek solutions to build, blocks species barrier wall to prevent giants are under water. What is an injustice because perhaps they can save a few, those with more resources and are more powerful, which in turn are those that pollute more. Can you imagine what could become the economic cost? would be astronomical figures, but most importantly

      certainly is the human cost that this will cause. No doubt that this education will be key, since the institutes and households. It is time to really know and act. It can no longer be ignored, but details more details, climate change is a reality and is largely due to the action of man, so I have no doubt. I believe that the climate undergoes natural changes but I think that man has accelerated this process. But apart think this, what do we leave them to those who come to future generations and other living things? Many people think that perhaps this might happen, but you downplay because they think that they will play in their lives or who will move in a long time, but as I said earlier, with those who will come? Suffered the consequences of what they did their predecessors.

      Then I will say more in detail which can cause increased by grade level according to Mark Lynas in a book he wrote entitled "Six Degrees" (six degrees).

      A degree more: it would remove the arctic ice.

      Lynas raises the disappearance of arctic ice for half a year if the temperature rises one degree centigrade. In addition, the tides could submerge all houses on the coast of the Bay of Bengal, between Burma and India, where inhabit more than one million people. It would have hurricanes in the South Atlanta, severe droughts in the western United States are located where cities like San Diego, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Los Angeles and would be unexpected changes in farming in England, where there are over 400 wineries.

      Over 2 degrees: No more barriers reefs.

      It would accelerate the melting of glaciers of Greenland. The Jakobshavn Glacier would follow that if portions of ice melts would be sufficient to supply drinking water to all residents of New York for one year. The extinction of polar bears would not be going back and insects could begin to migrate to many regions that have become more temperate, a fact that is already evident in parts of Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia. The island nation of Tuvalu in the South Pacific, could be submerged by tidal barriers and reefs disappear, because not stand the increase in water temperature.

      Over 3 degrees: the threat would fall on the Amazon jungle

      The snow will end up in the Alps and heat waves would be the norm in the Mediterranean and in the middle of Central Europe. The hurricanes of Category 6, worse than Katrina, would be more frequent and the Amazon jungle could disappear by the spread of fires.

      More 4 degrees: Venice would disappear and part of Egypt. The melting of glaciers in the Himalayas, which feed the Ganges River, would occur before 2035. The floods are frequent. In addition, it produces water without snow, there would be famine. The northern Canada became the most prolific agricultural area of the planet and ice in western Antarctica could collapse by raising the sea level until the destruction of coastal areas of americas America. It was also completely flood Venice (Italy) and areas of Egypt and Bangladesh.

      Over 5 degrees: there would be no water for Los Angeles, Cairo, Lima or Mumbai.

      Faced with such a scenario, the war in the liquid would be imminent, a situation that many of the world's experts have announced.

      Over 6 degrees: we returned to Cretaceous period.

      For lack of nutrients, and to the extinction of more than 70 percent of species, the ocean would be bright blue. Deserts advance on the continents. The disaster would be a matter of every day and many major world cities, like New York would be underwater. The world could resemble the Cretaceous period, 144 million years ago, in which only 18 per cent of the Earth's surface was on the water level, that figure today is close to 30 percent.

      I am convinced and I firmly believe in this. I also believe that this century will be key because it will mark the course of humanity. I think we are at the right time to change or condemn us to extinction.

      Let me that I accept and respect for people who disagree, only express my thoughts.

      This simply is aimed to inform and raise awareness.

      I know that not long ago, that really what is the action would cause changes, but the information is also very important, awareness is the 1st step.

      Of course I want to make something more but so far as not.

      At the moment I'm finishing secondary. Then I want to do and then make meteorology degree in atmospheric science. Because I'm interested in studying the behavior and climate variability and the consequences that brings so much and can bring climate change.

      If someone wants to contact me, or if I can advise that I have all options for further study of atmospheric sciences, my mail is: locomotiv313@hotmail.com

      Since I already thank you very much for this blog for giving me the opportunity to leave this message and so many others.

      I take to communicate across these blogs dealing with the issue of climate change or global warming because the people who visit is more likely to be interested in this topic.

      Thank you very much.

      A big greeting

    4. Jessica Smith, Hasse says:

      I think that they should do all they can to try to help the polar bears in need!

    5. Jeff, Foothill Ranch says:

      The polar bear has been around over 100,000 years. It has survived warmer weathers than we have now. It will survive this in spite of our efforts, not because of them.

    6. harley says:

      i think they shouldnt survive on their own. the people should help them bring them food like fish and other things they need

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.