See Comments down arrow

So about those bears

26 Jun 2024 | OP ED Watch

The idiotic New York Times polar bear story referred to above writes off Ursus maritimus yet again without the slightest trace of doubt or humility given the muzzle-planting failure of a bunch of such stories. In what increasingly reads like a Babylon Bee or Onion parody of current climate coverage, “Polar bears in the southern Hudson Bay could go extinct as early as the 2030s because the sea ice that helps them hunt for food is thinning, a new study suggests.” Could. One study. Or not. Because polar bear numbers are growing, Arctic ice is not vanishing and bears don’t need ice to hunt.

Here at the risk of triggering a stampede of trolls back out onto the ice floes, and actually we can’t think of a better spot for them, we want to mention that the actual NSIDC report that does, as Susan Crockford complained, state clearly if belatedly that “Unusual strong and persistent winds from the east caused the low extent”. This admission comes well after the bit about how:

“The average Arctic sea ice extent for May 2024 was 12.78 million square kilometers (4.93 million square miles), tying for twelfth lowest with 2007 in the passive microwave satellite record (Figure 1a and 1b).”

Which actually shows the opposite of what it implies, like their cherry-picked Figure 3 showing a trend line down from 1979. If the ice is melting relentlessly it is almost impossible to understand how in 2024 it can be 12th-lowest in a record that only extends back 45 years. Or how if you look at the trend only since 2004 there’s no decline. Or how 2024 can be, when last we checked their interactive chart, tied for second-highest in the last decade.

So revenons à nos ours, in this case Ursus maritimus. The actual study at least has the good grace to call our old enemy RCP8.5 “the most pessimistic emission scenario” before saying that “even in the more moderate SSP3-7.0 emissions scenario, 4°C is still the multi-model mean” temperature increase by 2100. Which is not a “moderate” scenario and if they don’t know it they should.

As for what the journalist knows or doesn’t know, it could be almost anything, to borrow a phrase from Sir Humphrey Appleby, especially with her “master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Kentucky and a bachelor’s degree from Transylvania University” followed by an internship with the Sierra Club for extra balance.

Thus she writes, for instance, that:

“While there is no consensus on how much ice is needed to support an adult male polar bear, the study relied on field research to determine a base line of about 10 centimeters, or just under four inches.”

Essentially she and the study authors make a highly pessimistic assumption for every link in the chain of reasoning, exclude all contrary points of view or inconvenient facts like that there are way more polar bears in the world today than there were 50 years ago, interview one activist after another, and then bring not news but the news of the future about how if things are totally different they’ll be different.

Or even if they’re not:

“Last year, global temperatures temporarily hit 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. Under the Paris climate pact, countries agreed to try to limit global warming to that level or lower to avert the worst effects of global warming. While the temperature rise isn’t permanent, Dr. Stroeve and other scientists said polar bears in this region could not survive if temperatures surpassed 2.1 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial benchmark.”

Got that? Another half-degree and out they go. One wonders if the author is aware that polar bears are so closely related to the dreaded grizzlies (known revealingly as Ursus arctos horribilis) that they can interbreed, or thinks grizzlies can’t survive if it’s warmer where they live than in, say, the Arctic. For instance in Montana.

The moral of the story? Well, you know what they think it is:

“‘Beyond dealing with greenhouse gas emissions,’ Dr. [professor of biological sciences at the University of Alberta Andrew] Derocher said, ‘there are no possible actions for long term management of the population.’”

There wouldn’t be.

One comment on “So about those bears”

  1. very amusing and informative. In fact the bears that are birthed due to this cross breading are referred to as super bears because they share the strengths of both species!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *