May 14, 2008

"Never before has a thriving species been listed under the Environmental Species Act."

The polar bear is now listed as an threatened species.

UPDATE: WSJ opinion here:
The most pernicious element in the polar bear melodrama is the way the law is being run off the rails, and even a duly elected White House can't seem to throw on the brakes. If Congress wants to enact global-warming legislation, then so be it – but the costs and benefits should be argued in the open. This fly-by-night policy making is not only unscientific. It's undemocratic.

ADDED: The quote in the title is copied from the article, but it is the Endangered Species Act, not the "Environmental Species Act." Considering the decision, the mistake is understandable.

56 comments:

rhhardin said...

It's a power grab. The EPA will have the keys to the oil wells.

Simon said...

I'm not clear on a point that I could look up, but I'll ask in case we have an endangered species act specialist to hand: is there any difference under the ESA between a "threatened" species and an "endangered" species? The difference in language and the hints in the NYT story that this isn't quite the full nine yards that the environmental lobby had hoped for make me wonder.

AJ Lynch said...

Are you forgetting the angry white male?

XWL said...

Hugh Hewitt is the go to guy on this issue (at least for those worried about the potential impact), I'm pretty sure this is one of his main areas of expertise.

His take,

"The Endangered Species Act operates in a very unaccountable fashion, and if the polar bear is listed as a "threatened" species, every federal action --the grant of a permit, the award of a grant-- that leads even indirectly to the emission of greenhouse gases will come under at least the theoretical review of the United States Fish & Wildlife Service pursuant to Section 7 of the ESA. MSM continues to report the controversy as though its impact will be limited to the arctic region, when in fact it is as likely to delay or destroy economic activity in any part of the lower 48 as it is in Alaska.

The immediate response of impacted industries and consumers should be a series of test cases to force the delineation of the reach of the Act's application to the polar bear and the gases allegedly causing the destruction of its ice habitat, test cases brought in jurisdictions most reasonable on such matters. Allowing the ESA to slowly ensnare industries previously unregulated by its commands via suits in jurisdictions chery-picked by environmental activists would be the worst possible result."


Sounds like a lot of lawyers on both sides just got tons of billable hours for the next decade or so, regardless of the eventual outcome.

All this over a few mutant brown bears.

vbspurs said...

While further protecting the polar bear from direct or immediate threats — like hunting — the Interior Department added stipulations, seldom invoked under the act, that will make it relatively easy for oil and gas exploration and development activities to proceed.

That's what I care about. This decision is just to appease the fluffy bunny brigade.

Or as XWL puts it, the mutant brown bear brigade.

Cheers,
Victoria

Methadras said...

The NYT said...

"The polar bear, whose Arctic hunting grounds have been greatly reduced by a warming climate,"


This is an absolute, out-in-out LIE!!! There isn't a single shred of scientific evidence or proof that makes this ridiculous claim. This claim isn't footnoted, it isn't backed by any study. Instead, it is the first line under the headline to justify the rest of this moronic article.

This putrid piece of internet toilet paper goes on...

"But the long-delayed decision to list the bear as a threatened species may prove less of an impediment to industries along the Alaskan coast than many environmentalists had hoped."

What the hell does this mean? Was the polar bear digging into Canadian seal clubbing action or Alaskan fishing/crabbing haunts? WTF?

"the Interior Department added stipulations, seldom invoked under the act, that will make it relatively easy for oil and gas exploration and development activities to proceed."

Oh, so there was backroom dealing with envirokooks and big oil to say that the envirodouchebags could get their precious polar bear, the new symbol (ousted several other species of course) of the global warming 'crisis' put on the list if only big oil could get drilling rights around where they live, hunt, or breed?

The decision builds on scientific evidence about the retreat of sea ice, which the bears use as a platform to hunt seals and as a pathway to the Arctic coasts where they den. But it does not directly link the threat to the bears to the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Another nonsensical paragraph. The sea ice continually expands and contracts over time, they are still getting to the coast lines to den and yet trying to inexorably link a threatened bear population to the 'build-up' (since no one knows what it will take to actually start a runaway global warming 'crisis') of not just co2, but other evil greenhouse gases. What a ridiculous ponzi scheme this issue has become.

I could go on, but why? Some people would say, "Hey, why do you even care? It's not like polar bears live in the USA outside of zoos and possibly Alaska" and I would say to them is, why would an animal that is nowhere near living in the USA required to be a part of the ESA when there is no scientific evidence to show that they are threatened much less endangered. This isn't even about the damn polar bear, it's more of the infringement of a way of life as a means of policy that is being foisted onto the American public and the world over by a small cabal of Gaiaists that now have attained positions of power in their ever demanding need to diminsh the economy, lifestyle, and way of life of all Americans. I'm sick of these pieces of crap telling me how to live, how to light my home, how to heat my home, how to power the way I live by trying to legislate them through government departments or judicial channels. Enough is enough. NO MORE!!!

TROBlog said...

The EPA doesn't have anything to do with the Endangered Species Act . . . that's the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Pastafarian said...

The polar bear population is about 5 times what it was 30 years ago. Since global warming is (supposedly) a result of greenhouse gas output, and this really took off about 50 years ago, this seems to imply that global warming has greatly benefitted the polar bear population.

Right?

Which would really be expected, since their prey (seals and caribou and whatnot) would have more food themselves -- more arctic char for the seals, more grazeable land for the caribou; and the temperature change isn't large enough to reduce the value of the bears' adaptations to cold.

So I can only assume that listing them as endangered means that any act that diminishes greenhouse gas output will be an illegal threat to this species.

I'm going to go fire up my grill.

reader_iam said...

Symbolism wins, facts lose. Follow the cheers.

rcocean said...

There goes the seal vote.

Pastafarian said...

I have an idea: Reverse carbon offsets.

Since global warming clearly benefits this now-endangered species, I'll sell reverse carbon offsets to some of you Prius-driving hippies out there.

You send me $5, and I'll put another lump of coal in my grill, in your name. Just imagine the sweet mesquite-scented plumes of bear-saving CO2 wafting upward, thanks to your generous donation.

Somewhere right now, a baby bear is hungry, because there are so many other bears crowded around the local ice hole, waiting to bite the head off of a seal. Won't you help to melt another hole in that ice?

Roger J. said...

considering that polar bears will kill and eat humans, I propose the environmentalists proceed post haste to the Churchill River denning grounds and start counting cubs. Burp.....

vbspurs said...

Burp

So cute though!

former law student said...

if Republicans would have only taught polar bears how to tread water this wouldn't be an issue.

Revenant said...

Sounds like the decision will be tied up in courts for a long time.

Here's a question, though: why should we care if polar bears are threatened? They're apex predators. We don't need them.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

This is the kind of political correctness crap that just drives me nuts. The refusal of the eco-nazis to accept the fact that the world changes and species come and go. This is the natural way of the world.

Where in fact do they think Polar Bears came from in the first place??? They weren't "created" that way. They evolved to be Polar bears and they will evolve again into a different type of bear.

Somewhere during the mid-Pleistocene period (roughly 100,000 to 250,000 years ago), a number of brown (same as grizzly) bears (Ursos arctos) probably became isolated by glaciers. many probably perished on the ice; however, they apparently did not all disappear. Some survived due to the fact that "organisms vary" (Steve Gould's terminology and logic is used here), that is, every litter of grizzly's has a variation in coat thickness, coat color etc. which imparted a slight evolutionary advantage to some indivials of each litter. These successful individuals underwent an apparent rapid (rapid, probably because of the small population, and extreme selection pressure) series of evolutionary changes in order to survive (note they were not necessarily "better" in any absolute sense, or on any absolute "bear" scale of perfection - they were simply more in keeping with their new environment than their siblings). Today, polar bears are adapted to their harsh northern environment

I swear, the eco-nuts and global warming fanatics want to have it both ways. You can't believe in "Creationism" or you are a religious nut. You can't disagree with their new religion that the world must stay in stasis and species never change or you are an apostate, unbeliever.

My head is going to explode. I have a desire to lob energy efficient mercury laden fluorescent bulbs at their pointy little heads.

former law student said...

dbq can come over to my house for some passenger pigeon stew, served over a mound of great auk nuggets.

Joan said...

I have a desire to lob energy efficient mercury laden fluorescent bulbs at their pointy little heads.

Delightful idea, DBQ. May I join you?

vbspurs said...

FLS wrote:

if Republicans would have only taught polar bears how to tread water this wouldn't be an issue.

Our hand was forced. We have a separation of Church and State.

Cheers,
Victoria

OldGrouchy said...

Come on, Gang, lighten up! Haven't you heard about the polar bears dying at sea because they became exhausted trying to swim back to shore from an ever shrunking chunks of ice? Are't you all ready to do whatever it takes to save these poor victims of man's cruelty to Gaea?

Excuse me, they're calling me to come back for my next treatment step; something called electro-shock! Ta ta!

reader_iam said...

Why is that polar bears are more of concern than less sexy creatures? In my more cynical moods, all I can think is: "photo ops."

Plus, they're not something that one tends to indiscriminately zap with pesticide or herbicide, or do whatever, or at least not notice the downstream effects, on account of ... well, you know.

Funny thing about that. Hey, over there, a polar bear!

SteveR said...

The motive is clear and disregards the facts. The ESA is very Citizen Suit friendly so what they can't directly get done by legislation will come down from the 9th Circuit (or where ever).

former law student said...

Why is that polar bears are more of concern than less sexy creatures?

There's a name for it: "charismatic megafauna."

M. Simon said...

Global Warming is a threatened species of thought.

No sun spots today.

Cycle 24 is delayed some. NASA's best guess is some time in 2009. If none show by 2012 expect a Little Ice Age. We are just getting over the last one. Have been since 1850 or so. There is a 300 year cycle. If that is correct expect 150 years of cooling.

PatCA said...

That's right, reader iam, if these people were really consistent in their philosophy we would not kill any animal or insect.

But I guess that's what's already happening, and why malaria is resurgent and why coyotes are attacking babies.
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,354505,00.html

The real point of seeking the ruling is to stop any development. The enviros know the polar bears are fine.

Trumpit said...

There are only around 25,000 polar bears left in the world presently. (There are billions of smelly humans.) They are going the way of the dodo bird on account of human thoughtless & greedy activity. You right-wing unfeeling haters, and killers are at it again. SHAME on your pitiful selves. I'd vote for your immediate extinction to save the planet from further harm.

vbspurs said...

I'd vote for your immediate extinction to save the planet from further harm.

Start with Ron Paul and work yourself down.

Cheers,
Victoria

OldGrouchy said...

Hey, trumpit, jeez, all you nut cases need to be sent over to sit down with Iran's Prez Dinnerjacket and work out how to resolve your issues of hatred towards humans. Of course, who'll feel pity for the polar bears once all humans are gone?

Palladian said...

"There are only around 25,000 polar bears left in the world presently. (There are billions of smelly humans.)"

You lefties did your best to reduce that number in the 20th century by several hundred million. What's your genocidal plan for this century?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I'd vote for your immediate extinction to save the planet from further harm.

You first. Or maybe you would prefer that we send no further aid to places like Burma or China when they have disasters that kill hundreds of thousands of people so that some bears that happened to be trapped on the ice about 100,000 years ago (stupid bears the other ones didn't get trapped) will live to eat another seal? Would that make you happy in your Luddite fantasy land? Perhaps a little germ warfare upon the nasty humans would be more to your taste? Smallpox perhaps?

If all the humans are dead, who is going to open the can of food for my cat?

reader_iam said...

PatCa: I do thank you, but my point was a little different (the lack of expressing clarity thereof being my responsibility solely; this response is not intended as a whack at you).

OK, an observation, from my own, little, obscure life: Some of the people (some of whom I most care about, among all) who bring up the polar bear the most are also those who most indiscriminately rely on herbicides and pesticides to ensure the greenest and prettiest of lawns, and yards most free of any sort of unaesthetic bugs. Not a thought do they give to bees, earthworms, bats, etc. etc. etc. etc.

But the polar bears? Well! Those are things that other people are complete philistines about, if they don't immediately put them on the top ten list of, well, immediate concerns.

So shoot me. There it is. And so it goes.

reader_iam said...

PatCa: To respond to a subtext of your comment, I think the total, unthinking banning of DDT in certain key circumstances was, and is, also deeply irresponsible. Don't get why this has to be an either-end-of-the-bell-curve issue. But then, I never have gotten that, about most things.

Chip Ahoy said...

Oh, that was a mistake. They meant to say ursus maritimus, so named for their fantastic swimming ability, is a "threatening species," and indeed, they're rather mean. Here's what is meant by endangered species. It's all semantics.

Cyrus Pinkerton said...

Pastafarian wrote:

The polar bear population is about 5 times what it was 30 years ago.

There isn't data to support this claim.

Since global warming is (supposedly) a result of greenhouse gas output, and this really took off about 50 years ago, this seems to imply that global warming has greatly benefitted the polar bear population.

Pure idiocy. Restrictions on polar bear hunting, including in particular the International Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears, are responsible for the increase in polar bear numbers in the last 30 to 40 years.

The Drill SGT said...

My fav line in the article was: There are more than 25,000 bears in the Arctic, 15,500 of which roam within Canada’s territory. A scientific study issued last month by a Canadian group established to protect wildlife said that 4 of 13 bear populations would most likely decline by more than 30 percent over the next 36 years, while the others would remain stable or increase.

so most (9/13) of the populations are increasing or staying the same?

Cyrus Pinkerton said...

the drill sgt wrote:

so most (9/13) of the populations are increasing or staying the same?

No. Assessments of current trends in the 13 polar bear populations in Canada by the Polar Bear Specialist Group show that 2 of the 13 populations are increasing. These two populations are relatively small (200-300 bears each out of the 15,000 or so bears in Canada). An additional 5 of the 13 populations are judged to be stable. Another 5 of the 13 populations are found to be declining. (There is insufficient data to determine a trend in one of the 13 populations.)

Cyrus Pinkerton said...

Methadras drooled:

The NYT said...

"The polar bear, whose Arctic hunting grounds have been greatly reduced by a warming climate,"

This is an absolute, out-in-out LIE!!! There isn't a single shred of scientific evidence or proof that makes this ridiculous claim.


Generally I try to ignore the insane babbling of Methadras, but a fact check is in order here. There is significan scientific evidence that there has been polar bear habitat loss as a result of climate change. I refer any interested readers to the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, available here.

And then there's this from the FWS finding:

In making this finding, we recognize that polar bears have evolved to occur throughout the ice-covered waters of the circumpolar Arctic, and are reliant on sea ice as a platform to hunt and feed on ice-seals, to seek mates and breed, to move to feeding sites and terrestrial maternity denning area, and for long-distance movements. Under Factor A ("Present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of habitat or range"), we find that the diminishing extent of sea ice in the Arctic is extensively documented.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Maybe its crass but should I care? Species come and go and considering the polar bear is at the top of the food chain in his habitat, I'm sure those cute cuddly seals that everyone loves so much won't mind seeing them gone or at least diminished.

SteveR said...

Ohh look everybody, Cyrus knows how to copy and paste and link.

Roger J. said...

I am a mammal-centric kind of guy and would bemoan the loss of most species (mosquitos and houseflies are welcome to go extinct). Before we get all wrought up about this issue, lets see what happens. If Congress is indeed trying something fishy, that will come out soon enough; and if they arent and the polar bears prosper, then some good will have come out of it. Wait and see.

Henry said...

Cyrus wrote: the diminishing extent of sea ice in the Arctic is extensively documented.

That is true. However, the diminishing sea ice is related to changing wind patterns, not to global warming according to a NASA study.

Having just browsed several articles on the polar bear topic it's startling how completely speculative they are. The shrinking sea ice data comes up over and over, because that's the only data the polar bear watchers have. There is no data that correlates declining polar bear population with diminishing sea ice, because polar bear populations aren't declining.

Or maybe they are. No one knows. The population estimates are guesswork, extrapolated from flyover counts and local sightings.

With this kind of science a environmental lawyer can prove anything.

Roger J. said...

The seals, of course, my not like my proposal.

Hoosier Daddy said...

You right-wing unfeeling haters, and killers are at it again. SHAME on your pitiful selves. I'd vote for your immediate extinction to save the planet from further harm.

Wow Trumpit. Tell us, were you listening to the Horst Wessel or the International when you wrote that?

Priceless.

Maguro said...

Trumpit is really Agent Smith from The Matrix. Except without the awesome kung-fu moves.

former law student said...

Having read the WSJ column I think the only danger here is jumping to cause. It's reasonable to say that the polar bear species is threatened if its habitat is rapidly declining, no matter what the state of the species is today. Now does this mean as a consequence that Governor Schwarzenegger can no longer drive his Humvee at high speeds from Sacramento to Santa Monica? This connection is tenuous and unproven. If the habitat is declining because of shifting wind patterns, then the cause of shifting wind patterns is worth looking into. And so on.

Noting that polar bear habitat is declining is an objective observation, like a temperature of 101F. And like a fever temperature, it could have many causes.

Roger J. said...

I must have browsed some of the same articles Henry did. One thing strikes me as a matter of law (and policy). While apparently ther are 19 world wide polar bear sub-populations, From the map I looked at, I think only two such sub-population exist in Alaska--and both of the appear to overlap Russian and Canadian sub-popluations.

Given the circumpolar nature of these critters,and their complete disregard for national frontiers, how will making them an endangered species in Alaska affect the other populations? It would seem to me the existing international treaty of the nations who have polar bear populations would be the appropriate vehicle to "save" the species, if it really needs saving.

As Henry notes, data is most certainly incomplete and as researchers are most fond of saying: more research is needed.

Pastafarian said...

Cyrus --

First, you said, in your 4:10am comment, that there was no proof to support my claim that polar bear populations have actually increased in the last 30 years.

Then, in your next sentence, you explain "the increase in polar bear numbers in the last 30 to 40 years" (your own words) with "restrictions on hunting".

Which is it? Are they declining, or not? Or does your method of argument prevent you from ceding even points that you know to be true, just to reduce the argument to a trudging, grinding chore, forcing your opponent to search for substantiating links, that you can then ignore or impugn?

So the (supposed) increase in temperature over the last 30 to 40 years had little or nothing to do with the bears' increase in numbers? Then why would continued increase in temperature have much impact in either direction?

Perhaps you should refrain from calling me an idiot in the same comment that you so thoroughly beclown yourself.

Christy said...

I'm not an Endangered Species Act specialist but I have dealt with issues surrounding the Act. I'm a nuclear engineer with an area of expertise in nuclear waste and spent decades writing environmental reports. I've taken the opportunity to personally check out a Bald Eagle's nest on company property in the spring to see if any have returned. Nothing quite like being dive bombed by a bald eagle protecting its young.

Yes, Simon, there is a difference between threatened and endangered species and what levels of protection is afforded each.


While the EPA does not administer the act, it does enforce it. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to consider environmental impact and one of the items to be considered is the issue of threatened and endangered species. The EPA reviews and approves those environmental impact statements (NEPA reports.) The nuclear industry, licenced by a Federal agency, naturally is subject to those requirements. Other industries, other paths to environmental compliance; I know not.

I've, however, had reason to review impact statements prepared by military types doing experimental work. So one could really go nuts with theories about how this means we could no longer lob nasty stuff over the Arctic at our enemies in Eurasia for fear that a mistake might take out the Polar Bear. If one were particularly fond of conspiracy theories.

Cyrus Pinkerton said...

Pastafarian wrote:

First, you said, in your 4:10am comment, that there was no proof to support my claim that polar bear populations have actually increased in the last 30 years.

Except that isn't what you said. You didn't make a qualitative statement, as you now imply. You made a quantitative claim for which there is no good scientific evidence. As a reminder, here's what you claimed:

The polar bear population is about 5 times what it was 30 years ago.

Frankly, scientists don't have anything close to good estimates of polar bear populations from the 1970s. Prior to the International Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears (1973), there were several estimates of polar bear populations submitted to the proceedings. The Canadian Wildlife Service estimated a worldwide population of 20,000 bears; the United States estimated the worldwide population to be 18,000 bears; the Soviet Union estimated the population to be 5000 bears. On that basis, why would any sane person conclude that the population of polar bears 30 years ago was known to be approximately 5000?

Current worldwide population estimates for polar bears are in the range 20,000-25000. I think it's quite clear that anyone who claims that the polar bear population has increased five-fold in the last thirty years (by taking the lowest, nonscientific estimate from 1973 and coupling it with the current high end estimate) is guilty of deceit by misuse of statistics and mischaracterization of "data."

...[D]oes your method of argument prevent you from ceding even points that you know to be true, just to reduce the argument to a trudging, grinding chore, forcing your opponent to search for substantiating links, that you can then ignore or impugn?

I wasn't making an argument per se. I was simply noting that your statement is inaccurate. No offense intended.

Perhaps you should refrain from calling me an idiot in the same comment that you so thoroughly beclown yourself.

To be fair, I didn't call you an idiot. I characterized your comment as idiotic, which it is. Your argument, which you continue to advance, is illogical and unsupported by scientific evidence. I'm calling you on it. Sorry if that offends you, but I'm more concerned with accuracy than with your ego.

blogging cockroach said...

you know all this concern about animals is touching
the only problem is that no one
i mean no one
is thinking about the effects of global warming on cockroaches

im all in favor of it

--oops--
i should have spelt it 'favour' with all the brits hanging about here
cheers there victoria

anyway its well known that cockroaches do well in warm wet conditions
throw in a little radiation and rotting bodies and well
i will be happy with the apocalypse
but assuming that doesnt happen i will be satisfied enough
if it gets warmer and wetter
im sick of freezing my abdomen off here in massachusetts

so does this mean i can sue the trial lawyers who are using polar bears
as a cats paw to pry open the oil companies treasure chests...
just dont sue me for mixed animal metaphors
and why should you favour one animal over another...

i want cheap oil to warm things up
my metabolism says warm is good

i dont think people are going to pay 6 dollars/gallon for petrol
if a dollar of that is going to trial lawyers
but you never know
if you told people to sit on their naked butts on the sidewalk in january
because its good for the environment
half of cambridge mass where i live would do it
maybe a nice little depression is just whats needed
to remind everyone which side their bread is buttered on
but be sure to leave a crumb or two extra for me
because you know how lawyers always get there first

i hope you all enjoyed my new britishness
--except i used gallons instead of litres sorry--
ive got a link to a british video
about efforts to rebuild the polar bear population

cheers
blogging cockroach

Pastafarian said...

Cyrus --

Your last comment reminds me of the smug Bill Clinton announcing "that depends upon what the meaning of the word 'is' is", confident that he was the most clever creature ever to crawl from the muck.

No, you didn't call me an idiot; I stand corrected. You merely called what I said "idiotic". So if I say that your argument is that of a preening, arrogant little fool, rest assured, I'm not saying that about you; I'm just saying that about your argument.

I'll note that you didn't answer my question: Has the bears' population gone up, or down?

Your own stats (with no substatiating links -- gasp) indicate that they've gone up; despite the fact that (you believe that) temperatures have gone UP over that same period.

Why would we think that the population will now go down? And how do we know what the optimum number of polar bears is?

And how many third-world people should be forced to live in squalor, without electricity, while sitting on huge coal or oil reserves, on the odd chance that

a) burning more coal will increase the temperature

b) this increase won't be dwarfed by variations in solar output, which seem to indicate a coming ice age

and

c) this tenth of a degree might decrease the number of polar bears by a few hundred, despite historic evidence to the contrary?

blogging cockroach said...

pasta--the first or maybe second rule of althouse commenting
is to just ignore certain people no matter what they say
now this whole mean white bear business should be
a link-rich discussion with lots of wrong statistics
on both sides to prove what idiots--oops--
i mean how idiotic the arguments are
but ive seen precious little of that
so the quality--if not the quantity--
of the discussion has been pretty low so far
although there have been 2 or 3 really good comments
but you know things have headed south when a certain blogger
who has it in for althouse shows up in disguise
and whose goal is to poison the thread
not to bandy statistics or public policy options
oh no not one little bit
this has more to do with trolls than bears
but as they say a rolling stone gathers no carbon dioxide
so this thread is old after 6 hours and nobody cares
because althouse has moved on to the next topic
wowee althouse is putting up posts fast and furious these days
and is basically outrunning trolls and particularly this one
who will need a sports bra to keep up

now as i say im all in favour of global warming
but hey im also in favour of nuclear war
except it would be kinda hard on tommy and his family
--tommys the kid here in cambridge mass whose computer i use--
but im flexible and adaptive unlike polar bears
or the people who live in cambridge
and my friends and i could take over in the aftermath

but back to the cute fuzzy bloody subject of discussion--
the goals of people who pretend to want more icebergs
for them to float on are as follows--

1.  get hold of all that oil money
     --just think tobacco--
2.  cause an economic meltdown/depression
     and wreck global capitalism
3.  be among the cool people to take over in the aftermath
     it wont matter then about number 1 above
     even if things are pretty miserable for eveybody else
     because the right sort of people will have govt jobs
     and the lawyers will have made their money
4.  transform society to match a list of noble goals
     --this is where it gets tricky--

now just keep going with the list until you get to--

87. help polar bears and protect the environment

you may believe that global warming will lead straight to number 2
in which case you as a cool person could get that govt job running things
but what about getting hold of all that oil money first...
yes show me the money
then we will talk about power

Cyrus Pinkerton said...

Pastafarian wrote:

Your last comment reminds me of the smug Bill Clinton announcing "that depends upon what the meaning of the word 'is' is", confident that he was the most clever creature ever to crawl from the muck.

I'm delighted that I've provided you with another excuse to share your Clenis obsession with the Althouse gang. You're welcome.

No, you didn't call me an idiot; I stand corrected. You merely called what I said "idiotic".

Indeed, I was simply making an honest and accurate observation

So if I say that your argument is that of a preening, arrogant little fool, rest assured, I'm not saying that about you; I'm just saying that about your argument.

Pastafarian, as you've given me no reason to value your opinion so far, you can say whatever you like and my ego will be fine. Thanks a bunch for caring, though.

I'll note that you didn't answer my question: Has the bears' population gone up, or down?

I'm going to assume that you've conceded my point that there is no scientific basis for your claim that polar bear populations have increased five-fold in the last thirty years. Now that you've withdrawn that ridiculous and unsupported claim, let me carefully address the many logical errors that riddle your argument about polar bear population dynamics.

Since we don't have a good estimate for the polar bear population in the 1970s, your preoccupation with this detail is rather silly. Nevertheless, it is highly probable that the worldwide population of polar bears has increased somewhat since the 1973 International Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears. I will remind you that this agreement put restrictions on the hunting of polar bears. This is significant since large numbers of polar bears were being harvested annually even as late as the 1960s. (For example, the worldwide polar bear harvest in 1968 was 1250 bears.) It is likely that the enforcement of the restrictions on polar bear hunting outlined in the 1973 agreement is the primary factor in the recovery of polar bear numbers.

Your own stats (with no substatiating links -- gasp) indicate that they've gone up;

I haven't provided "stats" to show that polar bear numbers have increased. Since I don't know how the 1973 polar bear population estimates were determined, I have no basis for assigning "statistical" significance to them. However, as you are seemingly preoccupied with understanding the population of polar bears in the 1970s, I will leave to you the exercise of discovering how the various estimates submitted to the proceedings of the International Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears were determined.

I suspect that you suffer from a basic misunderstanding of the mathematics that underlies the statements about polar bear populations. Terms like "increasing" and "decreasing" refer to particular timeframes. Therefore, although polar bear numbers have likely increased in the last thirty years, they appear to be declining at the moment. Scientists believe this is due primarily to habitat loss, and risk assessments about future populations depend on analysis of trends in habitat loss.

Let me give you a hypothetical example in case this is still unclear. Consider a population of arctic hyenas. In 1973, the population was 750. After international agreement to ban hunting of arctic hyenas, the population grew to 1000 in 1983 and 1100 in 1993. By 2003, a census of arctic hyenas found the population had declined slightly to 1050. The most recent census (2008) puts the number of arctic hyenas at 1000. Now, which of the following statements about the arctic hyena population is true?

A) In the last 35 years, the population of arctic hyenas has increased.
B) In the last 25 years, the population of arctic hyenas has been stable.
C) In the last 15 years, the population of arctic hyenas has declined.

That's right, they are all true. Population biologists who are given the task of monitoring the arctic hyenas would consider the entire trajectory of the population numbers, and recommendations regarding species protection would depend on evaluation of trends and scientific estimates of likely future population growth or decline.

I suggest you read the FWS finding. You might learn something.

despite the fact that (you believe that) temperatures have gone UP over that same period.

There's widespread agreement in the scientific community that "global temperature" has risen in the last thirty years. Even so-called climate change skeptics typically acknowledge the increase in "global temperature." Therefore, what is relevant is not what "I believe" but what is overwhelmingly accepted as fact throughout the scientific community.

Of course, what is relevant re: polar bears are measures such as "sea ice cover," "arctic surface air temperatures," "sea level pressure," etc..., not "global temperature" per se. It's a fact that polar bear habitat has been lost and future losses are projected (by groups like the U.S. Geological Survey) to be significant. If that is your point of debate, you are wrong, and embarrassingly so. If your argument is that habitat loss is irrelevant to polar bear populations, please tell me why you are right about this point and population biologists are wrong. Finally, since you make no attempt to quantify habitat loss, much less the consequences of habitat loss on polar bear populations, your attempt to link a short term polar bear population increase (following an international agreement to restrict polar bear harvests) to anything like "beneficial effects" from global warming has no basis in fact and is truly idiotic.

Why would we think that the population will now go down?

Habitat loss. Population biology is a well-developed subject. Perhaps you should learn a little before ignorantly challenging the findings of population biologists.

And how do we know what the optimum number of polar bears is?

Pick up a book on population dynamics sometime. You will then begin to understand that there is a mathematical basis for population management.

And how many third-world people should be forced to live in squalor, without electricity, while sitting on huge coal or oil reserves...

Please stop your hypocrisy. I've never seen any consistent evidence that rightwingers, and in particular, global climate change deniers, have any concern about poverty in the third world. Moreover, if you were well-informed and honestly cared about people in the third world, you would realize that these people are the most vulnerable in the global climate change scenarios that the IPCC considers most likely. Therefore, if you genuinely care about poverty and third-world people, as you imply, you would want to mitigate the impact of climate change. However, as is shown by the approach of rightwing policymakers to conservation, energy policy, economic policy and foreign policy, they have no sincere concern for third-world people or poverty in general.

a) on the odd chance that burning more coal will increase the temperature

Are you seriously in doubt that burning more coal will increase greenhouse gas emissions? If so, you need remedial science studies.

b) this increase won't be dwarfed by variations in solar output, which seem to indicate a coming ice age

This is pure stupidity. A "coming ice age" would occur on what time scale? Do you have any understanding of the history of the earth's climate? This is the kind of moronic garbage that is fed to the Limbaugh dittoheads so that they can regurgitate it when faced with common sense and applications of logic. Dear Pastafarian, you won't be around to see the consequences of a "coming ice age;" on the other hand, you are already experiencing anthropogenic climate change. You need to learn something about climate change time scales before you babble mindlessly about the "next ice age."

c) this tenth of a degree might decrease the number of polar bears by a few hundred, despite historic evidence to the contrary?

Again, you've chosen to arbitrarily quantify your argument when there is no evidence to support it. There is no basis for your "tenth of a degree" premise. There is no basis for your "few hundred" polar bear population decrease premise. Moreover, your logic is faulty. There is no evidence that increases in arctic surface air temperature, loss of sea ice cover, etc... benefit polar bear populations. Your claim of "historical evidence" shows that you don't understand the difference between "correlation" and "causation." Pathetic.

I have to say, your post and the serious logical fallacies therein are a disgrace to The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I hope you will kindly identify these foolish remarks as your own, and in no way representative of pastafarianism. Thank you.

blogging cockroach said...

hey pasta--i suggest you post a response
not because it will do you any good
but because i want to see more insults
think of the poor cockroach who has gone all winter
without a nice street demonstration
here in cambridge
with people shouting slogans at each other etc
and remember your interlocutor always has the last word
so if you keep it going it will drive up althouses traffic
at least among conoisseurs of vitriol

Cyrus Pinkerton said...

The quote in the title is copied from the article, but it is the Endangered Species Act, not the "Environmental Species Act." Considering the decision, the mistake is understandable.

In addition to using the wrong word in the title, you didn't reproduce the quote correctly. In any case, I thought your choice for a quote was odd considering that the person quoted, "M. Reed Hopper of the Pacific Legal Foundation, a property-rights group based in Sacramento" is not qualified to judge whether or not polar bears are thriving.

This is the sort of foolishness to be expected when you turn to lawyers for comments on issues relating to population biology and ecology.

Pastafarian said...

Cyrus --

Your arrogance is breathtaking.

You question my qualifications to even discuss this topic, despite my anonymity? Wow.

You stated that I "suffer from a basic misunderstanding of the mathematics" underlying your brilliant logic. Little boy, I majored in mathematics; I graduated magna cum laude. What are your qualifications? A C+ in high school calculus? I was solving partial differential equations when you were making carbon-offsets in your diaper.

And I minored in physics, with emphasis in astrophysics. We studied the greenhouse effect, a very real effect -- ON VENUS. On earth, it's negligible. CO2 is a trace gas. You could triple its concentration and you'd see a fraction of a degree of warming -- and this is without factoring in feedback-loop effects that make the system not chaotic, but tending naturally toward an equillibrium point. This is the case, or we would have had a "runaway" greenhouse effect eons ago.

And I hate to break this to you, but this tiny effect is, in fact, DWARFED by variations in output from the sun -- despite the misinterpreted and hyped opinions of a few climatologists (people who couldn't make it through physics) who are chasing the biggest grant windfall ever seen in the history of academia. Do you suppose that the opinions of people in this fledgling field are influenced by all that money?

Did you know that it was once warmer on earth than it is now? No, really. Millions of years ago, long before SUVs. How do you suppose such a thing is possible? Might it be variations in solar output?

And CO2 levels were higher then too -- do you know where it came from? Brontosaurus farts, perhaps? No....It came from out of the oceans, which belch forth CO2 when warmed.

I'd hate to impugn your infallible logic...but are you familiar with cause-and-effect? And how one usually follows the other?

I find it hard to believe that one so steeped in the religion of global warming has actually been touched by the noodly appendage of the FSM (sauce be upon him).

And back to the polar bears: You admit, then, that you have no way of knowing if bear populations have gone up or down. So why should we take extraordinary steps to increase their population?

Extraordinary steps, like, say, condemning hundreds of millions of humans to a lifetime of poverty and squalor? Oh, sorry, that's right -- I'm "right-wing", so I'm not supposed to care about other human beings. That's reserved for people like you, Cyrus.

I might not live long enough to see the full brunt of the next ice age; but I wager that I'll live long enough to see the Church of Global Warming exposed as the modern-day equivalent of Piltdown Man. And I'll also wager that no apologies from your ilk will be forthcoming -- we'll be under a 100 foot deep snow pack and you'll have some convoluted excuse and some silly-assed way to blame that snow pack on the evils of capitalism.