Canadian Harp Seals In New England (“prediction” of cooling?)

http://www.thebostonchannel.com/image/27255120/detail.html

Canadian Harp Seals may have “read” the predictions of the coming decades of stabilization of global temperatures and perhaps some cooling. Animals like the Harp Seal have experienced many millions of years of climatic change and, through the complex processes of evolution and natural selection, may have developed an ability to sense coming changes.

This is from The Boston Channel:

Small numbers of juvenile harp seals are typically found each winter stranded along the coast of the northeastern United States. But this year, well over 100 adult harp seals – not juveniles – have been spotted … In some areas they’re reporting three times the normal number of sightings … we’ve had four sightings of adult harp seals in North Carolina, which we’ve never had before. We typically don’t see them that far south. …

For now, there is no clear explanation for why more seals are showing up in U.S. waters, said Gordon Waring, who heads the seal program at NOAA’s fisheries science center in Woods Hole, Mass.

They could be making their way south because of climatic conditions or perhaps in search of food, Waring said.

“These animals are known to wander a lot,” Waring said. “Whether they’re following food down or whatever, we don’t really have a good understanding of it.”

Garron said she and the seal organizations will look at environmental trends, such as water temperatures, to see if it’s influencing the harp seal range.

Regardless of the reason, biologists are taking notice, Doughty said.

Read more from The Boston Channel here.

Here is a 2009 WUWT item about Henrik Svensmark and his Global Cosmic Ray theory of how reduced Solar activity leads to cooling periods. Svensmark says “In fact global warming has stopped and a cooling is beginning. No climate model has predicted a cooling of the Earth – quite the contrary. And this means that the projections of future climate are unreliable …”

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159 thoughts on “Canadian Harp Seals In New England (“prediction” of cooling?)

  1. Nah, nah, they were pining for the fjords of Conneticut. Or it may have been global warming wot dunnit.

  2. It’s quite obviously worse than we thought! It’s getting so hot in the north that those poor seals have to abandon their normal territory and look for cold elsewhere. The shame. When will the virus known as humanity ever learn?
    /sarc

  3. It’s really hard to say anything about this at this point. We don’t want to be like some and jump to conclusions too early and thus ruin our credibility. It could just be a fluke. Maybe the seals are reacting to our unusually cold winter, or perhaps there is another reason.

  4. “These animals are known to wander a lot,” Waring said. “Whether they’re following food down or whatever, we don’t really have a good understanding of it.”

    Isn’t it time to admit that we don’t have good understanding of most of what goes on in the natural world and stop blaming everything that we don’t understand on CO2?

  5. Given the concatenation of the cooling phases of the oceanic oscillations, the curious Cheshire Cat Sunspots, and the apparent weakness of CO2 as a warming agent, global cooling over the near to medium term is a lot more likely than global warming. Bet on it.
    ======================

  6. Slowly but surely nature is humbling these alarmists. As one Warmist researcher put it about Mt. Kilimanjaro:

    “The only opinion that matters is nature’s. Nature has a way of humbling us all. It still remains to be seen just who that will be.”
    Source

    Don’t be surprised if a pal reviewed paper is produced showing that the seals moved south because of super hot temperatures in the Arctic.

  7. Just fine for the harp seals. But a LIA won’t be so kind to the human species.
    Something the warmists keep forgetting.

  8. “…through the complex processes of evolution and natural selection, may have developed an ability to sense coming changes.”

    This is basicly incorrect. Creature do not ‘develop’ the ability to survive, natural selection simple kills the ones that were not born with the ability to survive. It is this critical point that answers the question ‘How did the xxx develop yyy?’. The answer is: It did not, the ones born without yyy died out, only the xxx’s with yyy are left.

    Species do not ‘develop’ to survive, they develop IF they survive.

    (sorry, it just irks me when people mix this up, I think it is a critical point in understanding natural selection )

  9. I am still not fully convinced about the magnitude of the solar activity on the Earth’s temperature. I think there is an intermediate step involving ocean cycles, but that is total conjecture.

    I do think cooling will happen, primarily the NH summers will start to be cooler as the obliquity is decreasing. This also means that winters will not cool as quickly. The broad interactions of changing energy to the Earth from the Sun does not result in a neat linear change in temperature, but bursts of cooling and warming that take place over hundreds of years. I do fear that the next cooling phase will make the LIA look pleasant by comparison…

    If that doesn’t scare you, nothing will. Feeding 9 billion when 60% of the current cropland is too cold should raise eyebrows more than the idea of more farmland from warmer climate.

    Summer is over, Fall is fading. Winter is coming.

  10. Just curious. I remember seeing reports that of observed changes in migratory patterns in animals and zone changes in plants, the vast majority are consistent with global warming. I’ve also seen studies that very high percentages of animals studied showed temperature related changes consistent with global warming.

    Does this post suggest that you believe those studies to be false, or that there will be some kind of dramatic turn-around?

    Or, would you just be cherry-picking?

  11. Here is a 2009 WUWT item about Henrik Svensmark and his Global Cosmic Ray theory of how reduced Solar activity leads to cooling periods. Svensmark says “In fact global warming has stopped and a cooling is beginning. No climate model has predicted a cooling of the Earth – quite the contrary. And this means that the projections of future climate are unreliable …”
    The long-term changes in cosmic ray intensity have been so small [e.g. http://www.puk.ac.za/opencms/export/PUK/html/fakulteite/natuur/nm_data/data/SRU_Graph.jpg ] that one cannot blame the cooling on the cosmic rays. But we don’t have to, any complex system fluctuates all by itself.

  12. Maybe we should have a harp seal or two on the IPCC. Considering some of the current appointees, that would be an improvement.

    My first choice, of course, would have been the late Knut, the polar bear.

  13. The thought that the humble Harp Seal has a better ability to predict future climate changes than the combined “intelligence” of all the worlds Climate Scientists and their GCM’s with gazillions of mega-bytes of processing power, is one that I find absolutely freaking hilarious. Please let it be true.

    Oh! The humility!

  14. Interesting story. Wonder how this will be spun by warmers?

    I also wonder if the seals opted for the pat down search or the body scanner when they crossed the border. ☺

  15. You can see the immediate faulty logic in the article.

    We have not seen this before therefore there must be a “reason”.

    If there is a reason then it might be bad.

    If it is bad then it is probably caused by man.

    OMG we have simply got to study this!

    Who knows? Maybe the Harp Seals are simply smart enough to go where they please.

  16. I don’t believe that photo of a seal is a harp seal, at least certainly not an adult. Coloration is not right for an adult harp and isn’t that close to juvenile harp either (known as “beaters” or “bedlamers” depending on age). Head shape is wrong too. I believe it is a harbor seal.

    Vagrant harps are known to Virginia, so North Carolina isn’t a surprise. There have been some reports of Caribbean monk seals (extinct species for a hundred years) in the Caribbean that were thought to be harps on further consideration.

  17. Well as we know from the examples of William Shatner, Steve MacIntyre of hockey stick fame (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_MacIntyre) as well as Steve McIntyre of anti-hockey stick fame, Ross McKitrick and humbly yours truly, many Canadians are a discerning bunch, so welcome your Canadian Harp Seal Overlords with open arms and embrace Canada’s best export yet to your shores: the Arctic Climate Zone. It’s brisk and crisp isn’t it? It’s the best way that Canada will ever export it’s unique identity, other than beer, hockey, or touks, that is eh. Now what color of touk do you want to go with that sub freezing chill you got?

    While often mistaken for being too polite Canadians have an analytic bite that digs deep and hits the target and once one of us gets deep into it we just won’t let go, as exemplified by folks like Steve McIntyre of Climate Audit, seemingly polite to a fault (he won’t call data fabrication a scientific fraud) but tenaciously stubborn when he senses tasty fraudulent data fabrication aka blood aka false claims of those who should know better (Mann, Jones, Briffa, Walh, et. al.). The Harp Seals are on a mission to provide a more direct Canadian experience for those south of 49.

    We Canadians do have one apology to make…. Please forgive us, we had to get rid of him and that means sending him south: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GueojgiM-cg.

    Oh and with the Harp Seals you can eat a few of them but save us the baby seals as they are the best. So cute.

    [:)] Now what color of touk works for you?

  18. Something tells me that soon GreenPeace will announce that this has nothing to do with cooler temps, ’cause that can’t be happening’, but rather the repeated ‘stick shampoo’s’ the baby seals are getting up in The Great White North!

  19. More seals mean less fish. Seals prefer fish over six inches long, which means there will be less big fish eating little fish. This may explain recently reported population explosions of small herring in Maine, which in a few cases have migrated up rivers in such numbers that they used up all the oxygen and died in droves.

    However a single codfish can lay over a million eggs. Hopefully many millions of little codfish are now growing up. Once they get over six inches they will start eating herring, and there will not be enough seals to put a dent in the exploding codfish population.

    Anyone who has lived by the sea has witnessed the amazing increases and decreases in the populations of everything from clams to squid to herring to codfish to seals.

    Anyone who has been at a university knows the thing to do is to blame man, and especially fishermen, for any variation from a fictional steady-state population. Then you follow by claiming you can “properly manage” the wild sea, if you are given the power to boss fishemen, and mankind, and the ocean, around.

    Anyone who has been at sea knows you don’t boss it around. The sea bosses you.

  20. This is all part of a cunning plan to take over New England. First we send in the Harp Seals, then the Mounties. It will be ours before long!

    Mwa ha ha…

  21. But… but… Henrik Svensmark being right would mean Leif Svalgaard being… wrong?

    Leif is a world’s foremost solar scientist, right? Leif told us all what real science is, and what homegrown voodoo amateurish blah-blah is everything else…

    Poor, poor us, ignorant unpublished masses! We are left in total confusion.

  22. Just so many of them up here with the lack of predators, they have swamped the ocean and are moving out to find elbow or flipper room.

    Perhaps an opportunity for a new green, renewable, sustainable industry for the New England folks who need employment. Some experienced Newfoundlanders could perhaps be enticed to come South for a wee bit and train some Yankee sealers.

  23. For all the stories of shrinking harp seal populations, their numbers have been steadily increasing since the early 70s (dept of fisheries and oceans Canada): http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/seal-phoque/seal_hunt-chasse_phoque-eng.htm

    In Canada, their numbers have increased from less than 2 million in the early 1970’s to 9 million in 2010. Not the perspective environmentalists would offer, but increasing population could be an explanation for increased sightings further south. Furthermore, the fact of increasing populations contradicts the assertion that warming is bad for harp seals.

  24. Ed MacAulay says:
    March 21, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    “Just so many of them up here with the lack of predators, they have swamped the ocean and are moving out to find elbow or flipper room.”

    Exactly. There are vagrant individuals in all animal populations. The higher their populations, the greater chance of vagrants. That is the underlying ’cause’ of this, which may be helped by this winter’s weather, or not.

  25. Joshua says: Just curious. I remember seeing reports that of observed changes in migratory patterns in animals and zone changes in plants, the vast majority are consistent with global warming. I’ve also seen studies that very high percentages of animals studied showed temperature related changes consistent with global warming.

    Like frinstance Joshua? What papers have shown unequivocally that changes to habits are based solely on global warming? Or maybe the changes were merely assumed to be caused by GW. And how do contemporary changes differ from changes in animal and plant habits in other decades and centuries? And how would we know in a mere 20 or 30 years that these were unique shifts in habits vs. natural shifts and fluctuations that come and go with the decades and centuries?

    Just wondering about this and look forward to your reply Joshua.

    Thanks and regards,

    Clive

  26. What southward species are normally the main competitors? And what is happening with them recently? Mountain hemlock, for example does well down in the warm valleys (as an ornamental), but is relegated to the wintery peaks (in nature) due to inability to compete for prime habitat. Species don’t end up living with snow & ice (i.e. on the fringes) because the “like” it; on the contrary, tolerating physical adversity is a way to avoid intense biological competition for prime resources.

  27. …Also, are there southward species that are normally hostile, aggressive, &/or predatory towards the seals? And what is happening with these species recently?

  28. Elizabeth beat me to it…perhaps nothing at all to do with warming, cooling or whatever atmospheric. Maybe. the environ”mentalists” were so successful with a media campaign that the population has exploded and many animals are just moving south to find space and a feed in a less competitive setting..

  29. A Canadian species with which I am familiar, namely the donna, insegnante di scuola, regularly appeared as far south as Fort Walton Beach, Fl, in the late 1960s and early 70s, during both summer and late fall months. I can tell you that my research into this phenonenem was detailed and rewarding. I conclude that the harp seal is following similar south-centric behavior.

  30. Joshua said:
    “Or, would you just be cherry-picking?”

    Most of us here are in agreement that there has been at least some bit of global warming in the last 150 years. Why and how much are the real questions. Most of us here are also well aware and weary of all the reports (credible or not) of plant and animal behavior consistent with a warming world. Why would it not be of interest to also note animal behavior that is not consistent with a warming world?

    Perhaps it is not the participants on this forum who are cherry picking.

  31. Must be too warm in the Arctic for them. After all, if it’s cold here, it’s because it’s super-warm somewhere else, I’m told. Perhaps this isn’t the year for an Outer Banks vacation.

  32. A baby harp seal walks into a bar.
    Bartender says: what’ll it be?
    Baby harp seal: anything but a Canadian Club!

  33. Another factor to consider: Loss of birthing grounds, which would create intraspecies competition that would encourage dispersal. There was an MSM article alluding to this a few months ago. The issue at that time was a lack of ice [Gulf of St. Lawrence] (related to AO pattern at the time) and a shortage of beach space. There were concerns that storm surges would kill seals resorting to use of limited beaches. I’ve never worked on seals and I’ve never read the literature on them, but I know from first-hand research on other species that it isn’t always known to ecologists whether factors such as nesting site availability (for one example) are a stronger limiting factor than food availability.

  34. Andrew30 says:
    March 21, 2011 at 6:22 pm
    “…through the complex processes of evolution and natural selection, may have developed an ability to sense coming changes.”

    This is basicly incorrect. Creature do not ‘develop’ the ability to survive, natural selection simple kills the ones that were not born with the ability to survive. It is this critical point that answers the question ‘How did the xxx develop yyy?’. The answer is: It did not, the ones born without yyy died out, only the xxx’s with yyy are left.

    Species do not ‘develop’ to survive, they develop IF they survive.

    (sorry, it just irks me when people mix this up, I think it is a critical point in understanding natural selection )

    Sorry to irk you Andrew30. There are different strains of understanding of evolution and natural selection. One side, such as Richard Dawkins, believes all selection is at the gene level, while others, such as David Sloan Wilson (who Dawkins rightly calls the “the American group-selection apostle”) believes selection takes place at multiple levels, from the gene to the species and multiple interacting species. Despite some relatively minor disagreements, I have the highest respect for Dawkins, but I am closer to Wilson, who was a teacher, friend and colleague of mine at Binghamton University.

    I think both Dawkins and Wilson would disagree when you write: “…Creature[s] do not ‘develop’ the ability to survive, natural selection simple kills the ones that were not born with the ability to survive.” Yes, natural selection kills the ones who, for whatever reason, do not survive and reproduce, but evolution, in the form of mutations and sexual cross-over, continually provides different genes and gene-combinations. Thus, it is not simply killing the failures, but recognizing, via relatively higher levels of success, those that have developed the ability to survive and reproduce.

    Animals and even plants have thus developed the ability to sense changes in their environment and take advantage of them by modifying their behaviors. In the case of humans (and other primates, etc.) this adaptation is conscious, but in all cases, many millions of years of evolution and natural selection have developed instinctual individual and group behaviors that are also adaptive.

    Harp Seals have survived for many millions of years, which includes many, many warming and cooling cycles. During that long period, their range has extended and contracted repeatedly, with many being killed in the process. The ones who survived and reproduced have evolved many traits and combinations of traits, at both individual and group levels. Therefore, I think it is responsible when I say they “… may have developed an ability to sense coming changes.”

  35. Animals like the Harp Seal have experienced many millions of years of climatic change and, through the complex processes of evolution and natural selection, may have developed an ability to sense coming changes.>>>

    Or maybe something changed in the place that they were, they didn’t like it, and so they went somewhere else. Building climate cycles centuries long into seal DNA…that’s a stretch…. wait… when you said “read”, you didn’t mean…

    That’s it. They can read. Probably the clams taught them.

  36. I personally don;t believe this has anything to do with global warming or cooling but closer to the option of following the food supply. Not quite however, it’s more along the line of the harp seal population has been steadily increasing and they have to go further afield to find enough food for them all. Just ask the cod fishermen in Eastern Canada about the shrinking fish stock. This is not because of over fishing by man as the limits allowed have steadily decreased, but caused by a larger population of seals eating the cod. Despite this constant harp seal population increase, our lovely old friend Greenpeace and their fellow eco terrorists insist on interfering with the legal harp seal hunt every year and spend fortunes lobbying against the hunt.

  37. Pamela Gray says:
    March 21, 2011 at 7:12 pm
    And guess what animal loves to EAT these seals?

    Oh no, that means the cute and cuddly Arctic Koala’s will not be too far behind.

  38. Alexander Feht says:
    March 21, 2011 at 7:16 pm
    Poor, poor us, ignorant unpublished masses! We are left in total confusion.
    The usual phrase is ‘unwashed masses’. But you are right, your total confusion shows.

  39. With an as yet undetermined appendage Ira writes:

    “Animals like the Harp Seal have experienced many millions of years of climatic change and, through the complex processes of evolution and natural selection, may have developed an ability to sense coming changes.”

    One you buy into the narrative that random mutation and natural selection turned some ancient bacteria into a Harp Seal it’s pretty easy to believe the same process could give it the ability to predict the climate years in advance, huh?

    Stupid is as stupid does.

  40. I can’t wait for Polar Bears to show up in Harvard Yard and take to predating Environmental Science post-docs. I wonder what they taste like.

  41. P.F. says:
    March 21, 2011 at 6:55 pm
    I don’t believe that photo of a seal is a harp seal, at least certainly not an adult. Coloration is not right for an adult harp and isn’t that close to juvenile harp either (known as “beaters” or “bedlamers” depending on age). Head shape is wrong too. I believe it is a harbor seal.

    Vagrant harps are known to Virginia, so North Carolina isn’t a surprise. There have been some reports of Caribbean monk seals (extinct species for a hundred years) in the Caribbean that were thought to be harps on further consideration.

    Sharp eyes, P. F. ! The photo, which I took from the story I quoted from The Boston Channel, is a juvenile Harp Seal, not an adult. The story is that juveniles have been seen in the past, but the special thing about the sightings this year is that they are of adults. I guess The Boston Channel either did not have a handy photo of an adult, or they used the photo of the juvenile because it was taken in Boston Harbor in 2009. Here is the caption for the photo:

    In this Jan. 27, 2009 file photo, a juvenile harp seal rests on an ice covered dock next to a seagull in Boston Harbor, in Boston. Harp seals are typically born on pack ice in the Maritime Provinces of Canada and are sometimes found along the coast of the Northeast United States.

  42. Sorry, Leif, but the GCR’s come from the Galaxy, and we have not been measuring so long that we can have confidence that the Galaxy cannot dish out the galactic equivalent of the 1850’s Carrington Event… and sustain it.
    Hold the verdict until Svensmark has had a chance to do his physics.

  43. Andrew30 says:
    March 21, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    “…through the complex processes of evolution and natural selection, may have developed an ability to sense coming changes.”

    This is basicly incorrect. Creature do not ‘develop’ the ability to survive, natural selection simple kills the ones that were not born with the ability to survive. It is this critical point that answers the question ‘How did the xxx develop yyy?’. The answer is: It did not, the ones born without yyy died out, only the xxx’s with yyy are left.

    Species do not ‘develop’ to survive, they develop IF they survive.

    (sorry, it just irks me when people mix this up, I think it is a critical point in understanding natural selection )

    Actually Andy, you’re wrong too. It’s not about surviving. It’s about reproducing mo’betta. In more up-to-date sciency terminology we call it differential reproduction. “Survival of the fittest” is so 19th century.

  44. @Ira

    You say animals like the Harp Seal have experienced many millions of years of climate change.

    Here’s a clue, Ira. Every living cell line today has been “evolving” for the same length of time as every other living cell line. This is an unavoidable consequence of common ancestry. Given that all life evolved from a common ancestor and it all happened on this planet then every living thing (excepting those that don’t make a living near the surface) has experienced as much “climate change” as every other living thing. Therefore humans had an equal opportunity for evolution to give them the gift of climate prediction.

    So I was just wondering if you had been feeling any unexplained urges to pack your bags and move to Africa.

  45. rbateman says:
    March 21, 2011 at 9:13 pm
    Sorry, Leif, but the GCR’s come from the Galaxy, and we have not been measuring so long that we can have confidence that the Galaxy cannot dish out the galactic equivalent of the 1850′s Carrington Event… and sustain it.
    We have been measuring GCRs covering 10,000 years…
    Hold the verdict until Svensmark has had a chance to do his physics.
    He has been at it since 1997…

  46. Ira;
    I disagree with you.

    It may simply be because I appear to have a different definition of the word ‘develop’. I understand it to mean something that is learned, created, exploited or discovered by an already living thing.

    I believe that natural mutation occurs as a consequence of fertilization, not before or after.

    Mutation is not a development, it is an instantiated trait that may be beneficial or not, if it is beneficial then it moves on to form a larger portion of the population, it not it diminishes to extinction.

    If I understand you correctly you are indicating that mutation is a development, I disagree, I think that some mutations enable development but they are not in and of themselves development, they are random chance.

    The phrase ‘have evolved many traits’, implies a conscious control in the creation of mutation and evolution. I also believe that nature does not ‘recognize’ anything. To imply purpose or consciousness to nature enables people to ask why nature is the way it is.

    In nature there is no why, only how; why is a theological question.

    We are all free to believe what we choose to believe as long as we do not believe that other must believe it too. You and perhaps many other, believe that you are right; but disagree, and that’s allowed.

    Perhaps all we disagree on is the use and meaning of a few words.

  47. Leif Svalgaard says:
    March 21, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    If you mean we have been measuring rocks/ice etc., that’s not the same thing as a detector readout. Data gets mushed all too easily, or simply deteriorates.
    Heck, I can see that in the Ice Cores. The natural variance simply feathers out into a solid line.

  48. Leif Svalgaard says:
    March 21, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    He has been at it since 1997…

    So? The CERN Cloud project was not available in 1997.
    Percival Lowell drew canals on Mars, and it wasn’t until Mariner that we knew for certain, though rightly suspect.
    Certainty has it’s own reward.

  49. Leif Svalgaard says:
    March 21, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    “Species do not ‘develop’ to survive, they develop IF they survive.”

    “That needed to be said.”

    Stick to solar science, Leif. There are many critters alive today called “living fossils”. They don’t appear to have developed at all over enormous stretches of time. Sort of like the energizer bunny, some species just keep going and going and going for hundreds of millions of years without change. The average endurance of species from first appearance to extinction in the fossil record is just several million years. Yet some large animal species are hundreds of millions of years old and still around. In the case of things like blue-green algae they are presumed to be billions of years old with no substantial evolutionary changes. Evolution happens except when it doesn’t.

  50. rbateman says:
    March 21, 2011 at 10:01 pm
    If you mean we have been measuring rocks/ice etc., that’s not the same thing as a detector readout.
    There is a detector readout. You pass the detector over the ice core and watch the readout. The ice core data is good. Even shows the eleven year cycle.

  51. Andrew30,
    Perhaps if if we restrict the word “evolution” to possessed genes you are right, but a quick search of “Lamarkism revisited” brought up some interesting papers dealing with the expression of these genes, and how later generations can be affected by the environmental conditions of their parents and grandparents.

    “Because a genome can pick up or shed a methyl group much more readily than it can change its DNA sequence, Jirtle says epigenetic inheritance provides a “rapid mechanism by which [an organism] can respond to the environment without having to change its hardware.” Epigenetic patterns are so sensitive to environmental change that, in the case of the agouti mice, they can dramatically and heritably alter a phenotype in a single generation. If you liken the genome to the hardware of a computer, Jirtle explains, then “epigenetics is the software. It’s the grey area. It’s just so darn beautiful if you think about it.”

    Read more: Epigenetics: Genome, Meet Your Environment – The Scientist – Magazine of the Life Sciences http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/14798/#ixzz1HInwzKkY

  52. Dave Springer;
    Therefore humans had an equal opportunity for evolution to give them the gift of climate prediction.>>>

    Did Not! Discovered fire, agriculture, the wheel, carpentry, house building, combustion engine, electricity, central heating, central air conditioning, humidity control, we’ve long since taken control of our environment. We adapt the environment to us! No more evolving! And if bad traits emerge in our gene pool, we’ll find treatments for them and dag nabbit we’ll preserve those genes too. Preserve ‘em all! Good ones! Bad ones! Useless ones!

    We got so many bad genes running around because we’re immune to natural selection, we’ve even got a strain of humans emerging that figure the environment is out to kill us all. I think its the ipccgeneticdispositiontobeingfleeced gene. The only immunity they have is to logic, they insist all the fire, wheels, agriculture, etc are WHY the environment is out to kill us.

    These however should not be confused with the pseudo strain the appears very similar. They can be differentiated by response to logic which follows a very predictable pattern:

    “Needs more study. Send grant money”.

  53. Andrew30 says:
    March 21, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    “I believe that natural mutation occurs as a consequence of fertilization, not before or after.”

    If you’re struggling to say that heritable mutations must occur in germ cells then you’d be partially correct as that applies to all obligate sexual reproducers. Somatic cell mutations are not heritable in animals although they are in plants but they still most definitely play a role in natural selection as somatic cell mutations can change an individual’s reproductive success even when the mutation itself is not passed along to offspring. I won’t go into epigenetics but I easily could and that complicates things even more by blurring the line about where and how heritable change takes place. Most of the living world however reproduces asexually and do not have differentiated germ cells. In the prokaryotic world and even in a few asexual eukaryotes though there are genetic transfers that take place between individuals through what are called plasmids. Horizontal gene transfer can also take place in “higher” animals through retroviruses that happen to infect germ cells. Our genomes are littered with the carcasses of retroviruses. Some 8 percent of our DNA is composed of endogenous retroviruses. Compare that to genes (coding DNA) which only makes up about 2% of the human genome. Genes were once thought to be the only thing that mattered and the rest was functionless (so-called “junk DNA”). The rest is still called junk out of habit but a lot of the non-coding junk is now known to have other biological functionality.

  54. I can’t believe this crowd missed the most obvious answer. The seals have been pushed out of their traditional living areas by artic researchers. When you have planeloads of guvment funded researchers hitting the beach, virtual armys of greenies with hockey stick graphs and lattes (skim milk) in hand watching guard over poor little baby seal nests, what do you think would happen? The seals just couldn’t take the pressure of the constant whining, ear bud adjusting, trying to get a signal for my cellphone by climbing up on this big old iceberg bunch. I’m sure the final straw though was the constant hum of the warmists chanting, its global warming/climate change/disruption followed by the warning cry, watch for rotten ice! Its here, its there, its everywhere….
    They. Just. Couldn’t. Take. It. Anymore.

  55. Speaking of epigenetics anyone interested in heritable change that drives evolution should be aware of the recently discovered roles for molecules called siRNA (small interfering RNA) and miRNA (micro RNA). The protoplasm of cells is swimming with a huge diverse horde of them and the mix changes due to external environmental factors. When a germ cell is created it gets a portion of the protoplasm from the originating cell. siRNA and miRNA have been found to play a major role in up regulating and down regulating targeted gene and gene family activity. Since the mix can change due to environmental factors and daughter cells inherit the mix from the mother cell when division takes place this is essentially epigenetic inheritance. For a over one hundred years, until very recently, Lamarkian evolution (the idea that traits acquired during the lifetime of an individual are passed on to offspring) was considered falsified by Mendelian genetics. Lamarckism today is known to be alive and well and probably (IMO) plays a more important role in evolution than random mutation. The numbers for random mutation and natural selection just don’t add up once you start digging deep enough into them. Charles Darwin was a Larmarckist. I doubt he would have swallowed the modern random mutation theory as the underlying source for diversity. Random (with regard to fitness) mutations in DNA are just too bloody unlikely to have any beneficial effect. Random mutation and natural selection is a conservative mechanism which inhibits species from wandering too far off the reservation and when they do wander too far they go extinct.

  56. If armadillos started wandering across the border into Canada, the headline at the Warmist blogs would read:

    Climate Refugees from the US!

    And these blogs would offer precious few alternative hypotheses to CAGW. As usual, we nasty, evil humans would be to blame.

    My stoopid question of the day:
    Is realclimate covering the Harp Seal story?

  57. Pamela Gray says:
    March 21, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    “And guess what animal loves to EAT these seals?”

    I believe that is the most salient post here.

    Bonus question: What species, while paddling around in the surf, is usually mistaken for a seal by that predator?

  58. Joshua says:
    March 21, 2011 at 6:27 pm
    “Just curious. I remember seeing reports that of observed changes in migratory patterns in animals and zone changes in plants, the vast majority are consistent with global warming.”

    Dr. Constance Millar looked at the remains of dead trees on Whitewing Mountain in the Southern Sierra Nevada Mountains, in California. She found two things. First, dendrochronology (tree ring studies) showed that the trees died (apparently from venting of volcanic gases) in the year 1350, which is within the MWP. Second, the dead tree remains included species that today are only found at significantly lower altitudes. The inescapable conclusion: The year 1350 was appreciably warmer than anything we’ve experienced since the LIA. Here’s a link.
    http://www.fs.fed.us/psw/publications/millar/psw_2006_millar027.pdf

    Having a case selective perception, are we?

  59. Larry Fields,
    the dead tree remains included species that today are only found at significantly lower altitudes. The inescapable conclusion: The year 1350 was appreciably warmer than anything we’ve experienced since the LIA.>>>

    There are many, many, examples that fit that narrative. Can’t help but laugh when a warmist points to a receding glacier as proof of global warming while refusing to acknowledge the 600 year old remains of a primitive hunting camp that the receding glacier has exposed. Nope, never was warmer than it is now….

    But the better one I think is pumping CO2 into greenhouses. The greenhouse to achieve higher growing temps and CO2 because the plant production sky rockets. Almost like the plants evolved through natural selection to be at maximum productivity at much higher temperatures and much higher CO2 levels than we have now.

    But obviously that couldn’t be since it has never been warmer than it is now, and CO2 levels over 280ppm are unnatural. So there must be come other cause. That’s it! Plant genes can predict the future! They’re evolving in advance! Hey everybody! The plants are pre-evolving for higher CO2 and higher temps! How the heck did they know humans were going to show up and pump the atmosphere full of CO2 and warm up the planet?

    Quick! Needs more study! Get a grant!

  60. I have told this story before in a reply on WUWT, but the arguments above make it worth repeating.
    In the mid 1950s, an older Maori was working with me building a new farm fence on pasture bordering a swamp. He was watching ducks building nests and remarked
    “Gunna be very wet this coming season. Ducks are nestin’ real high up the banks of the creek that feeds that swamp.” I have no idea if the ducks actually had any foreknowledge of the coming wet season, but the very wet season certainly arrived as my workmate had deduced. Since that incident, I have observed many times that humans, animals and birds do vary their behaviours according to some sense of coming weather cycles and are sensitive to phenomena such as air pressure. Ask any teacher of infants how small children behave when a weather front is approaching! And no, I know of no academic papers or learned studies that might back me up with this.

  61. Leif Svalgaard says:
    March 21, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    some people seem to be certain beforehand…

    That in response to rbateman.

    Please don’t think I’m setting out to be discourteous but doesn’t your remark apply to you in this instance? You appear to be implying in your earlier post (The long-term changes in cosmic ray intensity have been so small [e.g. http://www.puk.ac.za/opencms/export/PUK/html/fakulteite/natuur/nm_data/data/SRU_Graph.jpg ] that one cannot blame the cooling on the cosmic rays) that you’ve made up your mind on the issue. However, is it not the case that the whole point of the CERN Cloud project is to confirm or deny that which can only, thus far, be a hypothesis? If that is so, aren’t you being slightly premature in making your definitive statement?

  62. Bob Tisdale recently made an article about the SST around the US coast. It was falling like a rock. No wonder those poor animals are forced to migrate north, err, south, because of warm temperatures in the Arctic, err, because of climate change, uhm nevermind.

  63. Leif Svalgaard says:
    March 21, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    I am quite certain that the effect of GCR’s on the Earths climate is in it’s infancy of understanding.

    Leif Svalgaard says:
    March 21, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    There is a detector readout. You pass the detector over the ice core and watch the readout. The ice core data is good. Even shows the eleven year cycle.
    Now there is as good of a red herring as can be found. The GCRs effects on the ice cores are NOT freshly incoming. Not only that, Leif, but the GCRs penetrate deeply, and can affect many layers of ice/snow far below the surface, thereby averaging out the data. I’ll believe you when you say that you can read the 11 year cycles from the Sun doing things to layers of ice.
    I just don’t buy the jump of that into a proxy for GCR levels.
    How does ice re-emit GCRs?

  64. Besides polar bears and Inuits finding seals yummy, the Great White Shark thinks they taste good. (There were Great White Shark warnings last summer on Cape Cod.)

    By the way, in terms of survival-of-the-fittest, is not the shark so fit that it didn’t need to evolve much over millions and millions of years?

    We, on the other hand, are said to have evolved from a pathetic loser of a fish, which was driven by the fitter fish into the muddy, murky shallows, and then right out of the water.

    The fit only survive, while pathetic losers like me dominate the world! Bwah hah hah!

  65. Dear Dr. Svalgaard,

    Being a professional writer, I am perfectly aware of the “usual English phrases” without your enlightened help.

    It would really help if you would provide some factual reasons supporting your continuing rejection of the Svensmark theory.

    Come-offs of the third grade level just won’t do.

  66. Now, that’s strange…. here where I live (eastern europe, midlatitudes) last year has been exceptionally sunny and fair weather, especially this last winter…. the month of march chiefly continues the same trend.

  67. (SarcOn)Canadian Harp Seals are cousins of Florida’s Manatee’s. The closer they get, the colder OR warmer it becomes.(SarcOff)

  68. Dave Springer says:
    March 21, 2011 at 10:16 pm
    There are many critters alive today called “living fossils”. They don’t appear to have developed at all over enormous stretches of time.
    ‘developed’? Evolution is not development.
    This simply means that their tolerance range is broad enough.

    Mr Green Genes says:
    March 22, 2011 at 2:23 am
    doesn’t your remark apply to you in this instance? You appear to be implying in your earlier post (The long-term changes in cosmic ray intensity have been so small [...] that one cannot blame the cooling on the cosmic rays) that you’ve made up your mind on the issue.
    regardless of whether the mechanism works, if there is not enough variation in the cosmic rays you do not get any effect.

    rbateman says:
    March 22, 2011 at 2:46 am
    The GCRs effects on the ice cores are NOT freshly incoming. Not only that, Leif, but the GCRs penetrate deeply, and can affect many layers of ice/snow far below the surface, thereby averaging out the data.
    The GCRs do not interact with the ice or penetrate or such. The GCRs produce 10Be high up in the atmosphere. The radioactive 10Be is gently deposited on the surface [fallout] and stays there as part of the annual layers of snow [becoming ice] that make up the ice core. Measuring the amount of radioactive 10Be in a particular annual layer tells us the GCR intensity for that year.

    Alexander Feht says:
    March 22, 2011 at 3:00 am
    It would really help if you would provide some factual reasons supporting your continuing rejection of the Svensmark theory.
    Simple: regardless of whether the physics behind the theory works, there has not been enough variation in the intensity of the cosmic rays.

    Come-offs of the third grade level just won’t do.
    Just trying to stoop to your level.

  69. Ira Glickstein, PhD
    Ira … the photo is not of a juvenile harp seal … it’s a juvenile grey seal. They are both white which can lead to confusion. However, there is a morphological difference which you can see if you look at some pictures. In addition … harps give birth in late Feb/early March and greys in Jan/Feb. I believe you said the pic was taken in January.

    Hope this helps.
    Jon

  70. There are a number of very silly ideas in this article about evolution and animal behavior.
    The idea that evolution can develop a predictive sense or have any foresight is nonsense, evolution only responds to present conditions, it cannot make impossible predictions about the future and evolve a capability to respond to that future before it happens.
    Second, any change in behavior of the species is a response to PRESENT conditions not to future changes. Obviously if the seals started acting as if there was cooling when there isn’t they would not be maximizing survival.

    The reason seals have survived through past climate changes is that they have evolved flexible feeding stratergies. Or to be more accurate, the seals that did not have flexible feeding patterns died out when the climate changed.
    Any changes in behavior seen in the seals at present is a rexsponse to PRESENT changes in the climate and feeding opportunities, not anticipation of speculative future cooling for which there is no evidence.

    Sea ice in the spring/summer is an important component of the ecololgy that forms the base of the polar ocean food chain. Photosynthetic organisms use the ice as a growing substrate. It is also important as a breeding ground for the seals. The present changes in seal behavior are most likely to be responses to the reduced abundence of sea ice – hardly a response to cooling!

    Svenmark has a speculative idea about cosmic rays and cloud cover, but as yet there is very little evidence for its reality. The preliminary results from CERN indicate that any effect of cosmic rays is swamped by ‘contamination’ or existing cloud condensation nuclei of physical particulates and chemical triggers such as sulphur dimethyl compounds from biological sources.

    But the major problem with the Svenmark speculation is that it is trying to explain a TREND in temperatures, rising for the last several decades, with a parameter, GRC flux, that shows no significant trend over the same period.

  71. Elizabeth says:
    March 21, 2011 at 7:46 pm
    …In Canada, their numbers have increased from less than 2 million in the early 1970′s to 9 million in 2010. Not the perspective environmentalists would offer, but increasing population could be an explanation for increased sightings further south. Furthermore, the fact of increasing populations contradicts the assertion that warming is bad for harp seals.

    I think you hit the nail on the head there, Elizabeth.

    The range of the Harp seal has to extend to less than ideal areas when population pressure causes a shortage of breeding spaces and a lack of food. It is usually the weaker members of the population who get forced out to the periphery as they cannot compete with their peers.

    Based on this rationale, the few seals seen in the south have no significance regarding weather/climate and there is no need to invoke the pixie-dust of them having “developed an ability to sense coming changes”. Nature is never as easy to interpret as is often assumed.

  72. The seals migrate following their favorite food.
    In Europe during the cold periods seal populations are found as far south as Portugal.

  73. I would agree about the sharks. My Navy boyfriend confirmed that one. Also the orca and polar bears. Plus easy to catch baby seal fur has, in the past, been a necessary component of human survival in ice-age cold weather.

    What? You think we can survive wearing cotton when it gets cold?

  74. Why would it not be of interest to also note animal behavior that is not consistent with a warming world?

    So just to make sure that I get it right – studies show that a significant majority of changes in animal and plant habits are consistent with global warming, but a post about one example, that may not be consistent with the predominance of the data, is just interesting and not an example of cherry-picking.

    Ok. Gotcha.

  75. Some time back the sea turtle population was thought to be declining and in danger then they found the sea turtles were at sea and as for the sea turtles, they were probably unaware of the problem they had caused.

  76. Caleb

    “The sea bosses you”

    Is a lesson I learned when I sailed the Atlantic in 2005. I’d never been sailing before in my life but decided to do 3 months on a boat following the Trades from the Canaries to the Cape Verdes then Barbados. me and my mate and his parents on a 40-foot steel hulled sloop.

    2005 as you may recall was when we got to Hurricane Epsilon (and I think one more)

    The most common phrase my friends used and that I now use (even though I am not religious or generally superstitious) was “Neptune Willing”

    No matter what you do or where you go on the boat…it’s Neptune Willing.

  77. Joshua, the entire population of plants and animals in Wallowa County show the affects of the last 4 years of local cooling (which is primarily cold late Springs, cool Summers, and an early start to Fall freezing temperatures). That includes those that live under the soil. Don’t have to cherry pick.

    And if you ask the old timers (note to self, you will not be able to use that phrase soon enough because you will be one of them), when describing the warm spells of yesteryear, they can accurately list what happened as being opposite of what we are experiencing now.

    What irritates the helloutofme is that some people dismiss oral histories while taking tree rings as the gospel truth. Maybe the folks in Wallowa County aren’t ethnic enough.

  78. rbateman says:
    March 22, 2011 at 2:46 am

    ” Not only that, Leif, but the GCRs penetrate deeply, and can affect many layers of ice/snow far below the surface, thereby averaging out the data”

    GCRs don’t penetrate the atmosphere deep enough to even reach the ice and even if there were no atmosphere in the way they can’t penetrate ice more than a few centimeters. GCR strength is measured by proxy at the surface and in ice cores. On the surface in real-time the proxy is neutron count which are a part of the cascade of particles created by GCR collision with N2 and O2 molecules. The neutrons can reach the surface. In ice cores the proxies are so called cosmogenic radionuclides including Beryllium 13, Carbon 14, and Chlorine 36 which are produced in the upper atmosphere by GCR collisions and find their way into ice cores by being incorporated into snowflakes as the snowflake forms.

    The following is worth noting especially for Leif:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_variation#Galactic_cosmic_rays

    Levels of GCRs have been indirectly recorded by their influence on the production of carbon-14 and beryllium-10. The Hallstatt solar cycle length of approximately 2300 years is reflected by climatic Dansgaard-Oeschger events. The 80–90 year solar Gleissberg cycles appear to vary in length depending upon the lengths of the concurrent 11 year solar cycles, and there also appear to be similar climate patterns occurring on this time scale.

    Leif appears to be in stage 2 clinical denial of a connection between GCR activity and climate change.

  79. By the way Joshua, do you have a list of flora and fauna that have readily demonstrated to be, and been reported in the literature, sensitive to both longer and shorter term swings in natural weather pattern oscillations? Here’s another related question, how was the PDO accidentally discovered?

    Many species of flora and fauna readily demonstrate the powerful cycles of weather pattern oscillations. But they don’t care one iota for smaller changes such as tiny-in-comparison affects of AGW.

    However, you seem to be under the impression that sensitivity to weather pattern change is the newest previously unknown thing and devastating to flora and fauna. It isn’t. These cycles have been known for a long time in oral histories and in the peer reviewed literature. What is interesting is that young whippersnapper scientists still wet behind the ears and greener than grass think these cycles have now been disrupted by an incredibly small change in a trace gas, relative to all the other gases present in the atmosphere, and that it is killing the poor little flora and fauna creatures. Relax. It is doing no such thing, as the inhabitants of Earth have learned how to handle the MUCH greater swings of weather pattern oscillations.

    Check out:
    Salmon
    Elk
    Bats
    Worms
    Grasshoppers

  80. izen says: “There are a number of very silly ideas in this article about evolution and animal behavior. The idea that evolution can develop a predictive sense or have any foresight is nonsense, evolution only responds to present conditions, it cannot make impossible predictions about the future and evolve a capability to respond to that future before it happens.”

    I would go so far as to say that anyone that talks about evolution in that way may as well be talking about intelligent design. There is either a specific design plan, or foresight (which implies a god), or there is random chance. Well, I suppose you could have both intelligent design and randomness, but most people prefer to have just one of them (being the perverse twits that we are). Darwin did have one thing wrong, though. It is not survival of the fittest, it is survival of the luckiest.

  81. Leif Svalgaard says:
    March 22, 2011 at 4:33 am

    Dave Springer says:
    March 21, 2011 at 10:16 pm
    There are many critters alive today called “living fossils”. They don’t appear to have developed at all over enormous stretches of time.

    “‘developed’? Evolution is not development.”

    I was using the term the original commenter introduced who equated the terms evolution and development. There’s nothing wrong with that if you choose the definition for development in context:

    2. A process in which something passes by degrees to a different stage (especially a more advanced or mature stage)

    Definition Source: Princeton Wordweb Database

    Evolution isn’t a process in which something passes by degrees to a different stage? Are you some sort of saltationist who believes that evolutionary change happens all at once instead of the more widely accepted theory that it’s the result of accumulation of small changes?

    Regardless the point about living fossils remains intact. They have neither evolved or developed but remained essentially unchanged through vast stretches of time. Evolution happens except when it doesn’t.

    This simply means that their tolerance range is broad enough.

  82. Andrew30 says:
    March 21, 2011 at 6:22 pm
    “Species do not ‘develop’ to survive, they develop IF they survive”

    Thank you, Andrew30.

  83. @-Dave Springer says:
    March 21, 2011 at 11:16 pm
    …. Random mutation and natural selection is a conservative mechanism which inhibits species from wandering too far off the reservation and when they do wander too far they go extinct.

    This is the only part of your post that is accurate. The vast majority of DNA mutation is neutral, it has no effect on the organism and is unaffected by natural selection. The majority of the mutations that DO have an effect on the organism are negative, simply because the organism is already largely ‘optimized’ for its survival so any change is most likely to be deleterious. It is a small, but not negliable, probability that a mutation will be advantageous and enhance the reproductive success of the organism. It si not accurate that mutations that are advantageous are so improbable that they can provide no source of change or improvement. The recent evolution of milk digestion in a percentage of the human adult population shows that.

    The comments you make about epigentic changes are largely wrong.
    Darwin was certainly NOT a Lamarkian, to suggest he was is to missrepresent his work and the historical context in which he developed it.
    He does rather grudgingly allow that inheritance of aquired charateristics could play some part at one point in Origin of Species, but this was more a concession to prevailing views and in the context of no certain knowledge of how inheritence and genetics actually worked.

    Epigenetics does not provide an alternative source of genetic variation for natural selection to work on for two reasons.
    One; it is merely the wqaay in which genetic development is modulated by environmental influences. It is the means by which genetic systems embody the variability to respond to changing environments, not a source of inheritable change.
    Two; epigentic alterations are invaribly reset at the next meiotic division when gametes are formed in the embryo. Therefore the response by epigentic systems to a changing environment can only affect the individual who exp[eriences them and the daughters and grand-children of a female pregnant when those environmental factors are active. However the offspring of the grand-children will NOT exhibit the epigenetic effect because their gametes did not experience the environmental trigger.

    As a result the epigentics you are so keen to ascribe with evolutionary potential is merely an example of developmental plasticity inherent in the genetics and has no inheritable trait that could be selected for by natural selection.

  84. While it has been colder in Wallowa County, our climate zone is very stable, and flora and fauna populations range within that zone as they wax and wan to the weather pattern variation oscillations. Right now, we are very…on the coolish side of average. We haven’t done much at all in the way of moving our high and low records. These were all set in other decades and I see no chance in hell we will change that.

    But I am doing my part, burning as much carbon based fuel as I can get my hands on. Alas, the CO2 surrounding my house isn’t doing its job to warm me up.

    http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/climate/monthdisp.php?stn=KPDT&year=2011&mon=3&wfo=pdt&p=temperature

  85. Dave Springer says:
    March 22, 2011 at 7:22 am
    definition for development in context:
    2. A process in which something passes by degrees to a different stage (especially a more advanced or mature stage)

    What is wrong with using ‘develop’ is that it invokes a connotation of a more advanced or mature stage. Evolution does not work that way. Cave fish lose their eyes or sight. They don’t ‘develop’ a loss of sight.

  86. Mr. Springer, I am sure you know that mutations can be many but have nothing to show for it. And mutations can be few with much to show for it. How do you know the DNA of the species you speak of has not changed? Or more pointedly, how to you know the RNA has not undergone massive mutations without so much as a twit of evidence on the outside picture of a shark or alligator?

  87. Dave Springer;
    Leif appears to be in stage 2 clinical denial of a connection between GCR activity and climate change.>>>

    Dave, the evidence you cite seems to me to imply correlation, not causation. Leif Svalgaard’s position is (if I understood him correctly, he tends to use a sparsity of words) that the variation is of insufficient magnitude to imply causation. A faint signal that correlates suggests effect rather than cause, does it not?

    My impression also has been that the ice cores have only about a 30 year resolution. On a millenial scale fine, but how do you extract 11 and 22 year cycles out of that?

  88. Pamela – you seem to think you know a lot about me given that we’ve never met, spoken to each other, etc.

    I have no idea why you think I make any assumptions whatsoever about oral histories, let alone the validity of oral histories contingent on the ethnicity of the oral historians.

    I have no idea why you have determined that I think that:

    sensitivity to weather pattern change is the newest previously unknown thing and devastating to flora and fauna.

    Here’s what I do think:

    Analyses about whether there is a predominant trend in the data re: changes in the habits, migration, locations, etc., of plants and animals are, obviously, perfectly valid. Also, analyses of attribution/causation for those trends, if they do exist, are also, obviously, perfectly valid.

    Pointing to a particular example without reference to analyses of larger trends or causation, particularly when said example seems to be in contrast to the predominant trends, and acting as if it is particularly significant of something with respect to the larger debate, certainly appears to be cherry-picking. It may not be, but it certainly appears to be.

    Someone above gives an example of possible causality for the change in seal behavior that would be consistent with climate warming, and which would seem to be an obvious consideration even if you have zero scientific expertise. It is meaningless to suggest causality related to “cooling” without even a cursory examination of a range of potential explanations.

    The same sort of criticism would go for folks who want to look at polar bear populations to make a point on one side or the other about climate trends, without accounting for obvious influences such changes in the number shot by polar bears.

  89. Here in North Florida, my wife and I have commented on how beautiful and full the Dogwood trees are this spring compared to the last two decades or so. We are at the southern end of their natural range.

    We had a rather chilly winter. People who did not take extra efforts to protect their palm trees lost many of them.

    We live near a town called Orange Park. It got its name for the large orange groves in the area. Then a period of cold early in the 20th century made the production of oranges impossible. Despite the supposed increase in warming, no one is moving their groves north out of the central part of Florida.

    Real world observation beat models every time.

  90. davidmhoffer says:
    March 22, 2011 at 8:11 am
    My impression also has been that the ice cores have only about a 30 year resolution. On a millenial scale fine, but how do you extract 11 and 22 year cycles out of that?
    Ice cores can have 1-year resolution, e.g. http://www.leif.org/EOS/2009GL038004
    “A 600-year annual 10Be record from the NGRIP ice core, Greenland”

  91. Ice cores can have 1-year resolution, e.g. http://www.leif.org/EOS/2009GL038004
    “A 600-year annual 10Be record from the NGRIP ice core, Greenland”

    Leif,
    The link comes up 404 error.
    But I’ll take your word for it in any event ;-)

    I think I got the 30 year resolution number from studies of CO2 showing atmosperic gas exchange until the snow turns to ice. Since Be wouldn’t be subject to that, makes sense that resolution based on that would be higher.

  92. Last year a beluga whale was seen at least as far south as Boston harbor. Was it scouting for the seals?

    IanM

  93. Leif Svalgaard says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    March 22, 2011 at 8:57 am
    davidmhoffer says:
    March 22, 2011 at 8:41 am
    “Ice cores can have 1-year resolution, e.g. http://www.leif.org/EOS/2009GL038004.pdf
    “A 600-year annual 10Be record from the NGRIP ice core, Greenland”
    The link comes up 404 error.
    But I’ll take your word for it in any event ;-)

    Fixed. Read the paper, it is good and illuminating.
    Arghh, forgot the ‘.pdf’

  94. RE: pascvaks says:
    March 22, 2011 at 4:18 am

    Actually a Florida Manatee was off Cape Cod, a summer or two ago. However it had to be captured and shipped south. It got too cold.

    There. That settles it. The climate is cooling.

  95. If you have an infinite amount of Galapagos giant turtles at 400 Kg per each and one M1 Abrams main battle tank at closely the same weight, only differing at about 60 long tons which you promptly use to run over each new team tortoise generation, how long would it take for team tortoise to develop a harder shell? :p

  96. RE: davidmhoffer says:
    March 22, 2011 at 8:41 am

    The snow becomes this stuff called “firn” for a while, before it becomes even the fragile ice at the top of the ice cores. Firn is pervious, and can “inhale” every time high pressure passes over and “exhale” every time low pressure passes over.

    Therefore the air entrapped in 1950 gets blended with air “inhaled” downwards in 1951, as well as blended with air “exhaled” upwards from 1949.

    It is quite a long time before the firn becomes impervious ice. I have read very long periods of time, over a thousand years, but I think most ice core references state it is around sixty years in Greenland and a hundred years in Antarctica. During this long period the air is getting blended, not merely by the changes in barometric pressure, but also by the fact the firn is more and more compressed, and the air is squeezed out and upwards.

    Therefore, assuming snow from 1950 took 61 years to turn from pervious firn to impervious ice, the air bubble forming this year could conceivably have a bit of air from 2010 that worked all the way down to the border between firn and ice. It is also conceivable that air from centuries ago has been steadily working its way upward, and air from 1776 is in that air-bubble. In any case, it seems it surely would be a blend.

    However here is where it gets strange. Most places I’ve looked, regarding ice cores, work under the assumption that the air bubble being trapped this year holds air from 2011. Go figure. (It is for this reason that air bubbles are said to be decades younger than the ice they are trapped by.)

    It doesn’t make sense to me. I think the bubbles are a blend, and in essence represent an average of many years. I doubt very much they can be used to show any sort of yearly variations, such as might have occurred the year Tamboro erupted and gave the north the “Year With No Summer.”

  97. Joshua, I apologize for making you think that my reference to “some people” meant you. However, as to your other complaints about what you thought I said about you specifically, you readily state that evidence of climate related migration as well as loss of flora and fauna is related to AGW and that posts in opposition to that are “cherry picked”. Am I not correct in that assumption?

  98. Bats are a fascinating indicator of weather pattern variability change. Not only can they delay fertilization after copulation (they hold onto the sperm till early spring, then release it to fertilize the egg), they can delay birth (by going into “torpor”), in response to food availability. And since their favorite foods (for the small brown bat), are flying, water loving insects, the delayed emergence of these insects can have huge affects on bat populations if those changes are long enough and occur in consecutive seasons. There are several weather patterns that can cause a late and low number emergence in small flying insects, nearly all related to cooler weather.

    My attic bat population, by my seat of the pants estimate, has been halved in the past 4 years, IE from a 1000 or more, to half that. And by interesting coincidence, so has the insect population along with my worm population.

    Is this my attempt at unscientific “cherry picking”? Hardly. These characteristics are well known behavior patterns in bat populations and have been reported in peer-reviewed major journals in the past.

  99. Dave Springer says:
    March 22, 2011 at 6:58 am

    In ice cores the proxies are so called cosmogenic radionuclides including Beryllium 13, Carbon 14, and Chlorine 36 which are produced in the upper atmosphere by GCR collisions and find their way into ice cores by being incorporated into snowflakes as the snowflake forms.

    Hmm. Cl-36. that implies we can determine chlorine levels over millennia and hence determine freon production back in caveman days. (or methyl chloride emissions from the ocean).

    Or, just directly measure methyl chloride. On study has an abstract at http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2006AGUFM.A51B0074W but there’s a bit more detail at http://www.co2science.org/articles/V10/N43/C3.php .

    The abstract says in part “Atmospheric CH3Cl levels were elevated by about 50 parts per trillion (relative to the previous 1000 years) during the time period 900-1300AD, coincident with warm temperatures in the northern hemisphere and widespread hydrologic anomalies referred to collectively as the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA).”

    Oh dear, inflected with new speak – other “collectives” still call that the Medieval Warm Period.

    Also, “Methyl chloride levels declined during the late 16th to early 18th centuries before rising towards the modern atmospheric mixing ratio of 550 parts per trillion.” So it also shows the Little Ice Age. Someone ought to compare that with tree rings from Antarctic trees….

  100. Leif,
    Thanks! Did a brief skim, need to come back and do a deeper read. I take it the two methods are both from Greenland ice cores, has there been a similar study done with Antarctic ice cores? I’m curious because at first glance the phase discontinuity noted between the two methods seems to coincide with my very Very VERY fuzzy recollection of the phase discontinuity between warming/cooling cycles for Arctic and Antarctic zones. I’d have to take a closer look to unfuzzy my memory but it would be very odd if they and Antarctic ice cores all matched.

  101. Caleb says:
    March 22, 2011 at 9:41 am
    Therefore the air entrapped in 1950 gets blended with air “inhaled” downwards in 1951, as well as blended with air “exhaled” upwards from 1949.
    The 10Be particles are not entrapped air, but particulate matter, so do not blend.

  102. davidmhoffer says:
    March 22, 2011 at 10:47 am
    has there been a similar study done with Antarctic ice cores? [..] it would be very odd if they and Antarctic ice cores all matched.

    http://arxiv.org/abs/1003.4989

    http://arxiv.org/abs/1004.2675

    “Using new calculations of 10Be production in the Earths atmosphere which are based on direct measurements of the 11-year solar modulation effects on galactic cosmic rays and spacecraft measurements of the cosmic ray energy spectrum, we have calculated the yearly average production of 10Be in the Earths atmosphere by galactic and solar cosmic rays since 1939. During the last six 11-year cycles the average amplitude of these production changes is 36%. These predictions are compared with measurements of 10Be concentration in polar ice cores in both the Northern and Southern hemisphere over the same time period. We find a large scatter between the predicted and measured yearly average data sets and a low cross correlation ~0.30. Also the normalized regression line slope between 10Be production changes and 10Be concentration changes is found to be only 0.4-0.6; much less than the value of 1.0 expected for a simple proportionality between these quantities, as is typically used for historical projections of the relationship between 10Be concentration and solar activity. The distribution of yearly averages in the 10Be concentration level in the data from the Dye-3 ice core in Greenland for the time period 1939-1985, contains a “spike” of high concentration one year averages which is not seen in the production calculations. These and other features suggest that galactic cosmic ray intensity changes which affect the production of 10Be in the Earths atmosphere are not the sole source of the 10Be concentration changes and confirm the importance of other effects, for example local and regional climatic effects, which could be of the same magnitude as the 10Be production changes.”

  103. I guess that the ice cores are far more reliable, when you are dealing with solids. With solids you can perhaps get a year-by-year record. It is when you start dealing with the gases in the so-called “pristine” air bubbles that decades and perhaps even centuries all get blended together. (Which is why I distrust the CO2 record from ice cores, which some accept as gospel.)

    I really found the 10Be topic interesting. I’ve learned a thing or two today, which is difficult for an old dog like me, (fond of my old tricks.)

    Not only have I learned about 10Be, but about bats, codfish, sharks, etc., etc. And oh yes, also about seals.

    Thanks to all who contribute comments.

  104. Caleb says:
    March 22, 2011 at 9:41 am
    The snow becomes this stuff called “firn” for a while, before it becomes even the fragile ice at the top of the ice cores. Firn is pervious, and can “inhale” every time high pressure passes over and “exhale” every time low pressure passes over. >>>

    Oh, its soooo much more complicated, that’s just the tip of the…no pun intended… ice berg. On top of the fern being pervious, so are the snow flakes. And this isn’t my area at all, I’m taking the word of an acquaintance who recently passed. My understanding from him is that the lattic structure of the snow flakes captures water within it which remains liquid. Since it is liquid, and can exchange gases with the atmosphere, and water absorbs CO2…you’ve got CO2 in air bubbles representative of some level of mixing over time, and you’ve got CO2 in ice crystals representative of some level of mixing over time, and THEN you’ve got the air bubbles in contact with liquid water trapped in the lattice structure of the ice and possibly exchanging gases and THEN you’ve got ice that under sufficient pressure forms clathrates which trap both air bubbles and liquid water differently than snow or ice and…

    None of which would alter Leif’s contention that Be can be looked at with a resolution of 1 year. But CO2…I think your 60 year number may be correct, some ice core analysis claims 30 years under certain conditions. Bottom line however is at best CO2 reconstructions from ice core have value on scales of hundreds of years or more, anything less just seems improbable in my mind.

  105. Joshua says:
    March 22, 2011 at 8:19 am

    …accounting for obvious influences such changes in the number shot by polar bears.

    Yikes! the polar bears have tooled up!

  106. crap proxy data … when are we going to realize that they are all just making stuff up as they go along … witch doctors, the lot of them …

  107. …you readily state that evidence of climate related migration as well as loss of flora and fauna is related to AGW and that posts in opposition to that are “cherry picked”. Am I not correct in that assumption?

    I don’t assume changes in habits/migration/location of individual flora and fauna are related to GW, let alone AGW. I think that when there is a prevalent trend in the available data about such changes, it lends weight to theories that the climate is, in fact changing. The degree and rapidity of those changes is further evidence for the anthropogenic nature of climate change.

    Discussing individual examples that are in contrast to prevalent trends is not, necessarily, cherry-picking. But doing so on a blog dedicated to climate change “skepticism,” which inconsistently mixes skepticism about whether there is any warming with skepticism about the degree of any such warming with skepticism about whether any changes might be anthropogenic, and making oblique references to that individual example being “predictions of cooling,” and without mention that the particular example is in contrast to prevailing trends, and without discussion of whether that particular example might in fact be an example of changes due to warming, looks a whole lot like cherry-picking to me.

    No different than when someone shows pictures of polar bears on chunks of ice to dramatize polar bear susceptibility to climate change. It may or not be cherry-picking, but without mentioning the data about their populations and/or causal factors such as increases or decreases in hunting rates it can justifiably be described as cherry-picking.

  108. Pamela Gray: Bats have not shown any propensity for adapting to global warming. Just look at the numbers piling up on the ground in wind farms.

  109. For those interested in an understanding the evolutionary process, George Gaylord Simpson (The Meaning of Evolution) provides insight into specie survivability over time as derived from the fossil population record. The time profiles of specie survival are quite interesting, and for spec. Homo, downright alarming. But, of course, this time it’s different. To see those survival profiles plotted against the paleoclimate record might be interesting.
    As for me, born 73 years ago and raised in the natural woods of northern Minnesota, I now live quite happily in southwest Florida. It is a case of mouth and money and, having served as Sonar Expert with the US Navy Submarine Service with near 17 years of sea duty IN every major ocean on the planet, I opine that the collective we doesn’t know very much, so I hedge my bet. For illiteration on the natural world, this the site to read, even though at times it feels like wading through a sea of split hairs.

  110. About 2 years ago there was an article in the New Zealand news about some migratory birds (Godwits I think) that had arrived earlier in spring than they had been recorded before.

    Of course, the reason for this was attributed to global warming.

    Only one problem as far as I could work out.

    They were coming from Alaska.

    Clever little beggars. I mean, what possible mechanism could they have of detecting early arriving warm weather deep in the Southern hemisphere from the top end of the Northern Hemisphere?

    Seriously.

    Now I don’t know what triggers their migration instinct, but my two guesses would be daylight and temperature.

    I’m pretty sure the length of the day has not changed significantly (not outside normal seasonal boundaries), so that leaves temperature/weather.

    And that leaves a real question. Do birds migrate because they sense the conditions are becoming inhospitable where they are, or do they migrate because they somehow know that conditions will be better elsewhere?

    It is a truly important question, because, if the globe is warming, that would mean the warm weather should last longer into autumn. If cold weather triggers migration, then you would expect later migrations at each end rather than earlier.

    So we either have warmer weather, and a new mystery in birds that can predict climate half a world away, or we have birds that are telling us the weather is colder in spite of all our fancy temperature measurements and climate models.

    My guess? I’ll go with the birds and the seals.

  111. Dave Springer says:
    March 21, 2011 at 9:30 pm
    @Ira

    You say animals like the Harp Seal have experienced many millions of years of climate change.

    Here’s a clue, Ira. Every living cell line today has been “evolving” for the same length of time as every other living cell line. This is an unavoidable consequence of common ancestry. Given that all life evolved from a common ancestor and it all happened on this planet then every living thing (excepting those that don’t make a living near the surface) has experienced as much “climate change” as every other living thing. …

    Correct. Every prokaryotic cell (e.g., bacteria) and eukaryotic cell (plants, animals) has been evolving since the origin of life on Earth some 3 or 4 billion years ago.

    Therefore humans had an equal opportunity for evolution to give them the gift of climate prediction.

    Well, yes and no. Five million years ago, the last common ancestor of humans and chimps lived on Earth, but he or she was much more like a modern-day chimp than a modern human. Thus, chimps had as much time since our common ancestor to evolve, and they did, of course evolve, but, I think you have to agree, humans are much more different from our common ancestor than chimps. For example, our brain size more than tripled and we lost most of our fur, while modern chimps have brains much closer to the size of our common ancestor and are still furry.

    Similarly, bacteria have had a few billions of years to evolve, and they have evolved and continue to do so today, but they are more similar to their ancestors of millions of years ago than we homo sapiens are to homo erectus a few hundred thousand years ago.

    All animals inherit physical traits via genes from their parents and behavioral characeristics via memes from their parents and other conspecifics. Memes are inherited via imprinting, imitation, artifacts, and learning. Many birds will imprint on, and follow, whomever they see during their early days of life. Normally, it is their biological mother, but, in a lab setting, it could be a human.

    More complex behaviors including hiding, swimming, sounding a warning, and so on, are often acquired by imitation.

    Artifacts experienced in infancy, such as nests, burrows, and so on, become models for living quarters later in life.

    Many, perhaps most, memes are acquired without the aid of reason or understanding of why they are the “right” behaviors. They are simply observed and stored away in specific brain structures that have evolved for that purpose, and then unquestioningly followed throughout life. True learning (defined here as acquiring a skill or knowledge based on reason and understanding) is most well developed in humans. However, even for us, it may be that most of our behaviors are acquired prior to the full development of reasoning, and thus are not true learning as I have defined it.

    The point I was making is that Harp Seals have lived pretty much as Pagophilus groenlandicus for many, many more climate change cycles than humans as Homo sapiens. While we were evolving from living in caves and huts to houses and high-rises, they were still flipping around in their seal skins, much as they do today.

    Why does a given Harp Seal leave his or her home territory, or get driven out by others? Why do they go north or south or east or west. Why do some stop after a few miles but others travel thousands? Why do more migrate further in some years than others? Why have only juveniles been seen in New England until this year, when adults have been observed there and as far south as the Carolinas?

    Yes, it is possible that Harp Seals migrate simply by following food sources and avoiding predators. On the other hand, it is, IMHO, likely they have evolved an ability to detect clues related to climate change, analogous to the way some animals can detect pre-seismic clues, such as infrasound, to which humans are insensitive. There is evidence that animals as varied as toads and elephants “know” when an earthquake is imminent and scurry to safety. Most of these animals have never personally experienced an earthquake, yet, by observing the behaviors of their elders when certain vibrations or other subliminal events occur, they inherit the meme that makes them sensitive to these clues that has helpes protect their species from seismic events in the past.

  112. I don’t think flora and fauna predict the weather, I think they respond to it. The result has been greater subsequent Winter survival rates in those that responded to cool Spring/Summer weather.

  113. Well, having spent some time in the genetics courses, etc., I’d have to say all the theories being argued are going no where; however, let us discuss Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. I would be inclined to stick with “keep it simple stupid” and point out that the food and shelter are base elements. Any creature will hang where the food is, even if they are the food themselves. I could go on and on with examples of late where seaside creatures come and go, but. that would be boring: kind of like all the rhetoric above.

  114. Wallowa County is not a mecca for wind turbines. There are some in Union County. However, little brown bats, the species we have around here, have not been known to be among the surprisingly high fatality numbers under wind farm towers.

    I am still of the opinion that these little brown bats are not having babies in the numbers they once did because of cooling temperatures and lack of food emergence at the right time for high birth rates to be successful.

    One of the sad signs I see are the number of late birthed baby bats left behind after migration happens. Mothers will stop feeding these babies so that they themselves can fill up on food getting ready for migration out of the county. Bats usually don’t stay in Wallowa County during Winter months. Too cold. By the time I find them, they have already died. So little. Little brown bats aren’t that big to begin with and the babies are very cute and very small.

  115. Dave Springer says:
    March 21, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    Therefore humans had an equal opportunity for evolution to give them the gift of climate prediction.

    So I was just wondering if you had been feeling any unexplained urges to pack your bags and move to Africa.

    But, given the opportunity, that’s what people do. Not necessarily to Africa, but to a splendid sunny place with plenty of clean water and trees for shade (but never too densely packed to leave room for expanses of soft green grass). Either to a shore or valleys in a mountain. It is called tourism, driven by an unexplained urge (a yearning for Eden). A multi-trillion dollar business, isn’t it?

  116. “Pamela Gray says:
    March 21, 2011 at 7:12 pm
    And guess what animal loves to EAT these seals?”

    Please give me a hint. Are they white? Do they follow their source of food? Has their population been increasing to a point of saturation.

  117. This post has a large discussion on evolutionary traits and the wonderful world of animals. It appears that those closest to us are evolving rapidly to come to terms with the environment we put them in. Google cats with thumbs and be surprised.

  118. Re: Bat around wind farms not evolving.

    WRONG.

    Those dead bats did not evolve, but the ones not killed yet are evolving to avoid wind farms. So, evolution in action.

    This is similar to the guy asked to design armor for WW II fighter planes. Too much armor would make the planes too heavy to fight.

    So, he went down to the airfield, examined the planes returned from action, and noted where the bullet holes were. Then, he designed armor plates for those parts of the plane which didn’t have bullet holes.

    Evolution.

  119. The seals are very politically astute. With new markets developing in China for seal products, the seals see the writing on the wall. Get out of Atlantic Canada. Run for your life………… beaches along the Gulf next year. :)

  120. Joel … said “Those dead bats did not evolve, but the ones not killed yet are evolving to avoid wind farms. So, evolution in action”.

    It is only evolution if they have some advantageous trait that the other bats don’t …. they then pass on the “miss the turbine” genes to their offspring … which then survive and pass it on to their offspring etc.

  121. One factor could be the lack of sea ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence where they typically give birth to their young. This winter, like last winter saw very little ice form in the region. In 2010 Environment Canada reported: In fact, average ice conditions in late February were the lowest ever observed in 40 years of record-keeping. Remarkably, the ice coverage in the Gulf was 47.5 per cent less than that of the previous low ice record which was set in the winter of 1968-69. The sparse, thin ice wreaked havoc with the seal population, as thousands were forced onto the shore-fast ice to give birth only to lose most of their young when the thin ice largely broke up before the pups could swim on their own. Canada Fisheries reported that on the first day of spring, there were only about 600 seals in the southern Gulf, when there should have been 30,000.

  122. Joshua says:
    March 22, 2011 at 6:10 am
    “So just to make sure that I get it right – studies show that a significant majority of changes in animal and plant habits are consistent with global warming, but a post about one example, that may not be consistent with the predominance of the data, is just interesting and not an example of cherry-picking.”

    Joshua claims that “…studies show that a significant majority of changes in animal and plant habits are consistent with global warming….” Joshua does briefly mention polar bears. But if I’ve understood him correctly, Joshua does not view polar bears as being a poster child for GW.

    That said, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not fair to accuse Joshua of cherry-picking. Why not? Because thus far, he has not given one specific example to bolster his sweeping claim. No cherries; ergo no cherry-picking. :-)

  123. RE: “4 years of local cooling (which is primarily cold late Springs, cool Summers, and an early start to Fall freezing temperatures)”

    ===============================

    When I was a kid (1970s) there were what I’d term moderate “rainy seasons” here in Nor Cal. The rains would start ~ November and end ~ April. Same pattern continued into early adult years (1980s). Then in the mid to late 90s, something changed. The “mean” onset of the rains seemed to get pulled in toward the Summer Solstice a bit, but more dramatically, the “mean” onset of the “Dry Season” definitely got later and later. Sure we had the odd year – such as ’06 or ’07 – where the storm door would nearly shut in March (but even then, the inside sliders and Tonopah Lows might hit as late as June). But in general, we lost our “Spring” (a time before the coastal fog, but after the rains, with very warm days and cool nights). Here we go again, from all the current signs.

    By the way this has caused great harm to ag, other than viticulture (and even there, yields are lower but mercifully balanced by higher quality).

  124. Jon says:
    March 23, 2011 at 9:41 am

    “It is only evolution if they have some advantageous trait that the other bats don’t …. they then pass on the “miss the turbine” genes to their offspring … which then survive and pass it on to their offspring etc.”

    “Miss the turbine” would be an instinct. Like birds are all hatched knowing how to build nests characteristic of their species and beavers are born knowing how to build dams.

    I’ve asked gene theory hangers-on many times the following question and never got anything near a satisfying answer:

    How are instincts encoded in genes?

  125. Dave Springer says: ““Miss the turbine” would be an instinct. Like birds are all hatched knowing how to build nests characteristic of their species and beavers are born knowing how to build dams. ”

    A bit of trivia: Actually, beavers do not know how to build dams. That is, it is not dam building that is the instinct. If you place a speaker (on dry land) near where beavers hang out, and have the speaker playing the sound of running water, the beavers will drag stuff over and pile it on top of the speaker until they can no longer hear the sound.

  126. They are known to wander a lot, and could be searching for food, says the article.

    I say also that ocean currents vary so could push ice south. (When is iceberg season, when big chunks off glaciers or such migrate into areas where ships travel? The Canadian government pays for aircraft to monitor the ice and provide maps to mariners.)

    I don’t see this as big news, except to environmentalists who like to assume animals aren’t industrious for surviving.

  127. Kevin asks what seals taste like.

    I read that seal meat is on the menu of the restaurant in Canada’s parliament, an easier way to try it than going north to where Inuit villagers served raw seal meat to Canada’s former Governor-General (an experience different from where she grew up – Haiti, though most in that dysfunctional society are poor enough to eat regardless of taste) and Canada’s Prime Minister.

  128. Andrew30 says: March 21, 2011 at 6:22 pm
    “species do not ‘develop’ to survive, they develop IF they survive.”
    That too is a confusing way of trying to say something.

    Logically, those individual creatures that have some ability/attribute are more likely to survive thus reproduce more individual creatures with that attribute.

    How do they get the ability/attribute? Possibilities include:
    – genetic mutation
    – trying something different (to survive, such as different food source or more sheltering location), then passing that on to their offspring
    In the second case, the knowledge might be instinctive in the offspring, or by education (as adult creatures do teach their young, such as how to hunt).
    They are of course far from human abilities, but very attuned to survival factors especially food.

    But I say it appears that creatures vary in their willingness to try something different. Even gray whales, most of whom unwisely feed only in one area of the ocean that sometimes is blocked by ice, are trying different things – one showed up in the harbour of Vancouver B.C., one spring when herring were plentiful. That’s way off the normal migration route, though whales don’t exactly broadcast their location (humans only know where some are because they happen to have seen them surfacing to breath – it’s a big ocean). OTOH, perhaps the individual got dis-oriented and swam up the Strait of Juan de Fuca – the test will be whether it and others return.

    Thankyou Ira Glickstein for your points on the subject, though I object to the word “predict”, perhaps you mean they are reacting to climate variation affecting their life before many humans appreciate what is happening. (For which several theories have been posted herein, such as less ice in a region due changes in AO, and over-population (which may be due to changes in fish population (what is the cod population these days?).)

    And I see Andrew30 explaining that he used a word more narrowly than most people would, “develop”.
    (The subject of evolution or whatever should be a thread on its own, to reduce size of this one.)

    Others in this thread make good points about being sure of identification of seals, and that perhaps the reporters are not aware of past sightings.

  129. Isn’t it kind of obvious that:

    Less ice along the Labrador coast -> less breeding/wintering habitat for harp seals -> an increase in the (small) fraction of harp seals who swim/drift further afield than normal.

    I see izen upthread also mentioned this, and Elizabeth mentioned the partial recovery of the seal population from the hunting-induced low point in the 70s.

  130. To the author

    “The point I was making is that Harp Seals have lived pretty much as Pagophilus groenlandicus for many, many more climate change cycles than humans as Homo sapiens. While we were evolving from living in caves and huts to houses and high-rises, they were still flipping around in their seal skins, much as they do today. ”

    This point doesn’t work, for pretty evident reasons. You are treating Harp seals as an evolutionary end-point, and Homo Sapiens as a species within within an evolutionary process. You apparently believe that traits granted by evolution will express themselves whilst evolution moves slowly, but hide themselves when evolution moves quicker. It’s a frankly bizarre understanding of evolutionary science.

    And we’re still waiting on the explanation of how seals can develop a psychic ability to predict a climate system which is still subject to events which haven’t happened yet.

    Ultimately, there is still absolutely no reason why the seals should have developed climatic precognition whilst humans didn’t. And this post still remains in the category of new-age speculation until these questions are answered.

  131. There is a good discussion of learning in “Volition as Cognitive Self-Regulation” by Harry Binswanger, in the December 1991 issue of “Organizational Behaviour and Human Decision Processes”.
    “An animal that is sensorially aware of its environment is able to learn what to persue and what to avoid, under the guidance of pleasure and pain – natural selection having acted to coordinate the pleasure-pain mechanism with the demands of survival. Animal behaviour regulated by consciousness can be adapted to survival within the animal’s own life span.” He then suggests that consciously regulated behaviour allows for finer discrimination among varied environmental features than instincts can – giving the being greater range and flexibility of behaviour.

    So his claim is that animals lower on the evolutionary scale than human do have the ability to learn on their own, which facilitates adaptation. (Humans of course have a conceptual faculty, which is a powerful higher order capability.)

    Animals do make mistakes of course, they die because they usually aren’t rescued from their error as we do so often with humans.

    Seeing the big picture helps – I once saw beavers construct a dam in a stream but there were too few trees around for viability. Their next choice of location was a watercourse too wide to be viable if unusually high runoff occurred. In between looked to me like a far better location.

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