Digital Diatribes

A presentation of data on climate and other stuff

Why Alaska Hates Polar Bears

Posted by The Diatribe Guy on May 27, 2008

After all… if the Governor of Alaska is suing to pull the newly-tabbed “threatened” Polar Bear off that list and she is the elected representative of that state, then the logical question is “Why do you hate Polar Bears so much?”

Yes, I’m being sarcastic.

A lot has been said about our fuzzy white friends to the north lately. Are they really threatened? Is it true that the population has increased over the last 25 years? Can they really drink a Coke while sliding down a hill? And what ever happened to those unfortunate cubs that floated off into the ocean on a block of ice, like Yukon Cornelius avoiding the abominable snow monster (which, come to think of it, kind of looks like a 4-year-old’s rendition of a Polar Bear).

Well, there are countless resources around the web to get some simple answers. Yes, indeed, Polar Bears have more than doubled in estimated population over the last couple of decades. Under the “more than I ever really cared to know about Polar Bears” department are the tidbits that have told me that there are 12 species of Polar Bear, and the populations of 11 have increased. Some say it’s 9. Whoever I believe or don’t believe is not as relevant as the fact that overall the population seems to have doubled, and the others are threatened not due to climate change, but due to hunting. In fact, in recent years more strict controls on hunting have been instituted to address that issue.

Oh, and by the way, I’m not linking to all the stuff I read. A few searches will yield the information. So sue me (even though I’m not on the “threatened” list, except for when I haven’t closed the lid and my wife – 8 months pregnant – needs to go to the bathroom at 3 am).

Anyhoo… not that this is particularly important, but it seems that those floating bears we’ve all seen used as a photo-op for anthropogenic (that means “human-caused” for any Subway PR personnel reading this) Global Warming was nothing all that unique. It was taken in the warming season when ice chunks are the norm, and word has it the bears actually swam out to that location from a land area. Seriously, how stupid would multiple bears have to be to neither notice that their ice-block is breaking away, but then to not even make a five-foot swim back to the land from which it departed? If there is any truth at all to “survival of the fittest” then these cute little guys wouldn’t have lasted past the next winter anyway.

But on to more serious matters, such as the rationale behind putting the friendly white creatures that would never harm a fly (but will decimate a seal in a heartbeat, which really is kind of a conundrum for the animal-first ecologists among us) on this “threatened” list. It comes down not to numbers. Nor does it come to actual trends. You see, a warming trend over the last 30 years can be extrapolated into oblivion without a scientific problem, but a population growth trend cannot. The reasons for this differentiation are secret and only known by certain elite professionals in the scientific community. No, the reason why our little friends are “threatened” is quite simple: the models say they will be.

That’s right. We can trust models. In fact, we trust them so much, that when they make no sense whatever, when they buck the observed trends, and rather than wait even one more minute, day, week, month, year, or decade to revisit the issue until we actually see some evidence of a decline, we must act. And act we did.

And how did we act? We just ensured that a gallon of gasoline will never see any alleviation due to oil extracted from Alaska. Dandy. I’m so sick of hearing people say that “it wouldn’t make much difference now because it’s 10 years away” that I could scream. In fact, I think I will.

Much better.

Had we acted 10 years ago, gosh, maybe today we’d have more oil and less foreign dependence. And maybe if we act today, we can help avoid major issues unforeseen a decade from now.

And don’t think it will stop here. When the lawsuit that shuts down industry because it doesn’t outright eliminate carbon dioxide emissions is granted by the 9th circuit court of appeals (because they pretty much agree to anything as long as it makes no sense), get ready for serious shortages. And even though that will get overturned when the rubber meets the road, it will open the door to carbon taxes (San Francisco has already gone there… shocking, I know).

And all this is why I keep trying to point out the actual temperature trends. We are on a seemingly unstoppable train of stupid policies driven by climate change lunacy. The Polar Bear issue is bigger than it seems. This will cascade into many areas of commerce, legal action, taxation, and all of our pocketbooks. And as if that isn’t bad enough, it’s not even a decision between the dwindling Polar Bear and the consuming human. There is no dwindling Polar Bear. It is simply an unnecessary designation with incredibly huge drawbacks.

And they don’t really drink Coke, you know.


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