Deconstructing the Icons

Time Magazine, April 3, 2006

Guest post by Thomas Fuller

I wrote earlier that a series of symbolic images have been stamped on the professional communications sent out by those most interested in very active measures to combat global warming. I mentioned several, and I hope to take some time to analyze the status of the keynote issues that have been highlighted by environmental groups, politicians, and one or two webloggers.

Let’s start with polar bears. Pictures of polar bears standing on ice floes have been used to highlight concerns about melting Arctic ice. Arctic ice is melting, being well below the average for the past 30 years, and a parlor game has developed where we all monitor the growth or decrease of Arctic ice like we were watching a horse race at Hialeah.

That’s because I think instinctively we all recognize that it’s a good proxy for the state of global warming. Climate change theory predicted that the Arctic would warm faster than the rest of the planet, and that melting Arctic ice is not a ‘good’ sign.

But using polar bears to illustrate the dangers posed by global warming to the Arctic was nothing short of disastrous. Polar bears can swim for extended distances, and they perch on ice floes to rest or wait for an unwary seal to pop up.

But the mistake was deliberate, because it tapped into environmental concerns about the polar bears’ threatened status. There were somewhat casual estimates that the population of polar bears had declined to about 5,000 in the 1960s, and using them as a picture of what global warming put in danger guaranteed the willing and active support of many environmentalists who had already invested time, concern and money to support the polar bears revival.

But it meant that arguments against the polar bears’ approaching doom could be confused with arguments about the status of polar ice. And in fact, such arguments quickly appeared.

The polar bear has recovered strongly from the 1960s, and there are now about 25,000 of them. They congregate in subgroups geographically, and the status of those subgroups is not uniform–some are growing, some are declining some are staying the same.

But the bears are robust enough that the indigenous tribes of the North say that they have completely recovered, and want hunting restrictions lifted. Indeed, about 1,000 polar bears a year are killed by hunting, according to The Polar Bear Specialist Group.
And simple arithmetic showed that polar bears survived warmer periods than today that almost certainly included eras when Arctic ice was completely gone.

So the issue is ultimately an unfortunate distraction. The Arctic is warming. Polar bears are doing okay. And the point is?

However, the marketing gurus running campaigns for environmental causes knew that they couldn’t sell an activist agenda with a picture of a thermometer. And the more savvy amongst them also knew that accurate measurements of Arctic temperatures and ice cover dated back only to 1979 when satellites were watched. So a little distraction couldn’t hurt–at least not them.

The world is heading into a La Nina after a fairly heavy El Nino phase. Arctic ice may have bottomed out and be heading for a real recovery. Moderate global warming, on the other hand, may keep ice levels depressed. All we can say for certain is that the climate is changing.

But that’s what it does–with or without our help.

Thomas Fuller http://www.redbubble.com/people/hfuller

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93 thoughts on “Deconstructing the Icons

  1. It’s always interesting to ask an environmentalist how they think polar bears normally die.

    After a long puzzled silence, I sometimes suggest that perhaps they die in nusing homes surrounded by their loved ones.

    This tends to extend the silence a while longer.

  2. The polar bear icon has been abused, that is why there exists things like this counter iconography.

    A little comic relief!

  3. “Arctic ice is melting, being well below the average for the past 30 years,”

    So what? I’m getting older and I’m way below average for the past 30 years too.
    Neither one means a rats damn and neither one is a real average.
    Who decided what was “average” in the first place.

    There’s not one single polar bear in a zoo anywhere that has an iceberg….

  4. I still can not recognize neither the “catastrophic warming” in Arctic, nor connection with CO2. I can see just cyclical pattern and that the 30-year warm period already ended.

  5. I actually think, contrary to the author’s opinion, that melting arctic ice IS a good sign. Why? The earth would do better with a warmer climate! How do I come to that conclusion? Past warming periods were better for human civilization that cold periods. Anybody here pining away for the Little Ice Age? Nope. Nobody in their right mind would be. How about a bit of warming, then, to counter crop failures, dry conditions (those that say a warmer globe would produce less rain haven’t looked at a globe with its preponderance of water recently), and a host of other problems associated with cold conditions. I can’t think of anything more catastrophic than another natural or human-induced ice age, whether it be little or the real thing.

  6. Well, one does have to make a choice between being effective in one’s arguments and being accurate, now doesn’t one?

    BTW, thanks for the comment about polar bears dying in rest homes surrounded by their family, best laugh of the week so far.

  7. That’s because I think instinctively we all recognize that it’s a good proxy for the state of global warming.

    No. It’s a proxy for the state of global warming ALARMISM. Big difference.

  8. Thomas,
    This post should have been twice as long. There are at least two other images you should have commented on — the “photoshopped” one of the bear on a slab-type iceberg (same berg used elsewhere, with penguins) more common to the southern ocean;
    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/05/12/new-bear-species-discovered-ursus-bogus/
    and, the one used by Al Gore, actually miss-used by A.G, showing the bear and cub on an ice flow. The latter one can be found here:
    http://www.whoi.edu/beaufortgyre/dispatch2004/dispatch02.html
    Scroll down, bottom right. Gore misrepresented this photo taken by Amanda Byrd, and apparently unknowingly, attributed it to someone else.

    The second issue you could address (give your knowledge of the media) is the strange coincidence of major magazines to use the same animal in a give time frame for impact. One year we see pandas, then penguins, then polar bears. Someplace I’ve read that the editors of magazines fly off to some exotic location each year to decide on the “cuddly animal” for the next year’s promotion of their agenda and fund raising campaigns. I wonder if they then send out the word to photographers to submit appropriate material? Maybe you have heard of this strategy?

  9. Polar bears are not extinct. We still see hunting permits. Do the bears succomb to a Malthusian doctrine?

  10. …and, just maybe, we “instinctively recognize” Antartica is a good proxy for global cooling. Mexican standoff?

  11. In general I find it extremely short-sighted to imply that humans are on this planet to ensure that no species go extinct. If the dinosaurs still lived, and our cities were walled to keep them out, would we be trying to save them from extinction? The history of Earth is one of life *and death*, if you leave the death part out you miss out on humans entirely, to say nothing of a number of other species. The history of extinctions should be an important warning that we must continue to be what humans are (namely the most adaptable species on the planet) in order to survive what this planet is capable of doling out. It’s sad when species die out, but ultimately there’s nothing we can really do about it.

  12. The whole polar bear fixation is easy to explain – they make great stuffed animal toys that are cute and cuddly and very appealing to teenage girls, who’s emotional state happens to perfectly mimic that of most enviro’s.

    “Oh, he’s so cute! Let’s destroy the world’s economy because he’s just so CUTE!!!!”

  13. There seems to be a gremlin in the system today. All the “givens” are coming up as “give.” I’ll clean the keyboard.

  14. The two so-called sub-populations that are in decline only existed because of the garbage from nearby towns. They were becoming a nuisance so people started managing there wast better. The bears have since been drifting off. The idea of sub-population is a bit misleading in an animal that regular wanders over a 1000 kilometers. The low point number during the 60s was probably more like 25,000. The number today is more likely 50,000. The Bear Specialty Group is a bit more professional then some of the others, but the parent organizations lefty so they are always suspect.

  15. I’m at work now, which has nothing to do with Carnivore biology, but later tonight, I will try to scare up some references, and also to read the Bear Specialty Groups latest report. I have not been tracking developments the last few years as well as I normally do.

  16. I was once on a committee deciding green party publicity and when they wanted a suggested icon for an endangered species – I suggested Cod. After a pause a few realised I wasn’t joking and some even recognised that in Scotland Cod is an endangered species and one which has a direct impact on most families who at least occasionally eat Cod.

    But it didn’t take them long to decide that the Green party wasn’t there to save economically important fish stocks in Scotland, I don’t remember what they finally chose, but whether it was a polar bear or some other cute and cuddling foreign animal, the lesson I learnt was that the Greens weren’t there to protect the jobs of Scottish fishermen, nor ensure my kids and their kids and their kids kids can eat fish suppers which don’t contain some exotic fish caught in some exotic location and then shipped half the way around the world.

  17. I’m not sure it is true that the Arctic is warming. If you go to http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/meant80n.uk.php and look at the last five years, they all appear to be normal or below. The melt season in 2010 has been especially cool. The larger than average ice melts appear to be due to soot. More here: http://meteorologicalmusings.blogspot.com/2009/12/climategate-update-iv-melting-ice.html and here http://meteorologicalmusings.blogspot.com/2010/07/more-on-soot-causing-arctic-ice-melt.html

  18. kagiso says:
    September 9, 2010 at 7:11 am
    It’s always interesting to ask an environmentalist how they think polar bears normally die.

    Interesting, but I like to ask them where did polar bears live and what did they eat 25,000 years ago. Ice extended down to the Great Lakes. No seals in the Arctic. For some amount of time polar bears (or what became polar bears) lived in southern Canada, the Aleutians, Denmark etc and ate anything that was catchable. They followed the ice north. The idea that they always lived in the Arctic and ate seals is not logical.

  19. “But it meant that arguments against the polar bears’ approaching doom could be confused with arguments about the status of polar ice”.

    This wasn’t a point of confusion – it was the AGW point: the ice would disappear and the polar bear would die. There wasn’t anyother reason for the doom.

    And by the way, the changes of icons fit the goal-post moving tactics of AGW hypothesizers over a fairly long time. When global warming didn’t progress to a tipping point, the arctic didn’t become a good sailing sea and children were still able to see snow – scads of it, they changed the name from global warming to climate change. So guess what is happening, a series of excellently supported studies have come out proving climate change is the norm and that the climate today is somewhere in the middle of the range. So now, AGW supporters are coming out of the woodwork after casting about to save something and remarking “Oh, this is nothing new. No one disputes the Holocene max, everyone knows the MWP occurred and the LIA too. Hey who’s arguing this old stuff? But, the difference is now we have 40% more CO2!! Don’t you guys get it?” If you want to hang in there, GW at least will happen – even if if we freeze to death for the next eon.

    I’ve begged someone to concoct an experiment to measure the effect of CO2. Maybe we should have a post calling for the world scientists to dream up an experiment that most will be happy with. Stating you already know the physics and then coming up with a range of effects from 0.1 to 10C per doubling isn’t good enough.

    And while I’m at it. Surely, if AGW is inexorable ( incomplete .mod.)

  20. Polar bear cubs are real cute but I wouldn’t like to meet one of their mummys up a dark alley. I doubt that Ben Santer would either.

    Off topic I was wondering if any of those who believe in AGW deliberately try to ‘increase their carbon footprint’ in an attempt to hurry things along a bit?

  21. Cuddly????

    An Arctic explorer came face to face with a polar bear. Afraid of being eaten, he fell to his knees and started praying. When the polar bear knelt down beside him and started praying too, the man shouted, “It’s a miracle!” The polar bear opened one eye and said “Don’t talk while I’m saying grace.”

    P

  22. Interesting that as polar bears continue to thrive, despite the alarming ice lose of 2007, the media focus will be turned away from this magnificent creature and another ‘icon’ of disaster will have to be found.

    Perhaps the humble narwhal whale will fit the bill, or perhaps it isn’t cute enough to have the desired impact?

  23. The illustration of Time magazine brings me to relate that I no longer could support their aggressive AGW stance by continuing my subscription. They so infuriated me with their alarmist articles and it seems they were never going to recognize perhaps there is another “take” to climate science, I finally got fed up and gleefully cancelled. I get small revenge monthly when they call and try to get me to re-subscribe offering me huge discounts. I explain I’ll re-subscribe when they are fair and balanced. Most MSM publications ( ie: LA Times) are hastening their demise in this way and I don’t think they recognize what is happening. Individually we don’t have much influence but collectively it matters.

  24. An even better ploy is to ask an environmentalist how long polar bears have been around and where did they come from? Most common answer, forever …

    REAL — Short answer, polar bears are just brown bears that moved north as the Arctic warmed, back about 250,000 years ago. Evolution dyed them white to help with the seal hunting. So if we killed them all off, couldn’t we just coax more brown bears north to fill the ecological seal eating niche. The over population of brown bears for the available food source is thought to be behind the original “go north, young brown bear” movement.

  25. BillyV says:
    September 9, 2010 at 8:42 am

    “Individually we don’t have much influence but collectively it matters.”

    And as we Scots say: ‘many a mickle maks a muckle!’

  26. Arctic sea-ice as a proxy for AGW is but a crutch for assessing climate-change in context and perspective. For a definitive overview, see Girona Orssengo (B.Tech, MASc, PhD), “Predictions of Global Mean Temperature & IPCC Projections” as posted on WUWT for 04/15/2010, depicting a planetary rebound from the Little Ice Age (LIA) beginning c. 1880 with fluctuating 30-year temperature cycles extrapolated to 2100 (Fig. 3, w/Figs. 1 – 2 plus associated tabulations).

    Dr. Orssengo computes Global Mean Temperature Anomalies as GMTA = .0059 x (Year – 1880) – 0.52 + 1.2 pi x Cos ((Year -1880)/60). As his article’s Figure 3, the resulting long-term chart jibes perfectly with historical records, addressing Earth’s 130-year post-LIA temperature-rise as a cyclical phenomenon bending multi-decadal oscillations around a positive linear trend. There’s nothing more to say.

    Polar bears and other “charismatic mega-fauna” are naught but Cargo Cultists’ ploys to preempt objective, rational debate. Per our estimable AW, Dr. Orssengo’s chart-of-beauty is “all we know, and all we need to know.”

  27. I always thought polar bears were sharks dressed as mamals. They’ll eat anything including you. This is one very competitive species or sub species and when the next cold phase starts, people around the Artic circle had better watch out.

  28. Why would people be concerned about ursus maritimus running out of ice on which to stand?

    As the name explains, they are marine mammals. They can swim very well.

    Too much ice makes their hunting more difficult which is why they like the edge of the ice; the pack ice. Or to stalk environmental activists out to prove that the Arctic ice is disappearing.

  29. Antarctic sea ice, overall, has gone up while the arctic has gone down. Total Sea Ice by and large is unchanged the past 30 years. The PDO turning cold, and in 10-15 years the amo going cold, and the obvious drop in the earths temps that will occur, should end this argument once and for all. In fact, it should be done now, because we are about to see a dramatic drop in global temps back to levels not seen since the late 90s, and in the extreme case, since 1993. Given the increase in co2 since then is probably around 7%, if temps are already back to where they were in the late 90s, and one can see the simple stimulus of the enso, the air warming after the nino, cooling after the nina, it doesnt take brain surgeon to understand where this is going. The forecast from this meteorologist remains unchanged, by 2030, BY OBJECTIVE SATELLITE TEMPS that we started using at the end of the last cold PDO, the earths temps will return to where they were in the late 70s. This should fold the whole house of cards, though I suspect it wont… the argument being of course that it should have been colder.

    BTW, while this goes on.. southern hemisphere sea ice should decrease.. I suspect that if we could correctly measure the total energy budget, we would see no change
    in the earth, but the ups and downs of global temps are a product of where the warmest and coolest pockets are..the imbalance caused by the amount of land in the northern hemisphere. It takes less energy to affect dry air than the temps of the oceans. So with a warm PDO and AMO, the continents warm, melting the ice cap in the middle, but the increase in the south is in response to the mean latitude of warmest measured temp shifting north. Reverse the PDO and AMO, it will go the other way. A grand experiment right in front of our eyes. Simple, easy to watch, and
    for those reasons, very threatening to those that dont wish to see a simple answer

  30. I feel that any present arctic warming is due to the warm equatorial waters being pushed north as a result of the 1975-1998 warming period. I think Piers Corbyn also holds this position. The Arctic warms last after the equatorial region. What about the El Nino is it persisting as NOAA seems to think, or will the La Nina take hold. Answers?

  31. I haven’t seen any credible evidence of significant arctic warming. I believe that some warming is beneficial because it will always be easier to irrigate deserts than to heat the tundra, and that may become necessary when the worldwide population approaches 30,000,000,000.

  32. We usually get lost in the details and criticizing those who are but the servants/employees of the Global Warming Scam (GWS) and forget to go directly to the source of everything: Those real people who profit with it and from the UN’s world liberal revolution:
    http://euro-med.dk/?p=13656

  33. For Joe Bastardi:

    In addition to the NH having more land and less water, the NH winter occurs when the earth’s annual orbit brings it closest to the sun. The reverse is true for the SH, which wetter hemisphere then has a bit less insolation. A small difference perhaps, but one that fosters the present differences.

  34. Jeremy
    “If the dinosaurs still lived, and our cities were walled to keep them out, would we be trying to save them from extinction? ”

    Depends on the definition of “our”.
    I think it’s safe to say that the people most concerned about the decline of the Tiger population are those least likely to meet a man-eater wandering down their main road.

  35. I still see WWF commercials with polar bears from time to time.
    All they do is make me feel even more contempt for the WWF.

  36. This article is not about polar bears; it is to sneek a premise into the minds of WUWT readers that the Artic is warming and it is because of global warming.

    “Climate change theory predicted that the Arctic would warm faster than the rest of the planet, and that melting Arctic ice is not a ‘good’ sign.”

    Just as the illusionist distracts us with one hand while tricking us with the other, Thomas Fuller is flattering us and using the language of the AGW realist while nonchalantly planting a more dangerous pro-AGW seed with his best hand.

    Here he throws the ridiculous polar bear iconography under a bus but cleverly inserts a tenet of AGW; the artic is warming, and it’s because of us.

    “So the issue is ultimately an unfortunate distraction. The Arctic is warming. Polar bears are doing okay. And the point is?”

    Thomas Fuller is guilty of all the media tricks he graceously points out for us. It is the polar bears that are the distraction here also.

  37. I lived in Alaska when I was very young and I still remember the stuffed polar bear outside the Army-Navy store. Gigantic, fierce, but not cuddly even stuffed.

  38. Even this VERY committed CAGW activist, Jo Abbess.
    (Campaign Against Climate Cjhange, supporter – Yes, CACC)

    Realises the Polar Bear Poster child, is no more, as she tries to advise some puzzled activists…

    Jo Abbess:
    “I point out that when the environmentalists put out posters about Polar Bears, that the audience pretty quickly realised that the Polar Bears were being used as a “poster child” for Climate Change, and they started to mock the campaigning.”

    http://www.joabbess.com/2010/04/14/polar-bear-poster-child/

  39. A recent cursory survey of a local college formerly plastered with recycle bins bearing polar bear pictures disclosed that pictures of bears have become extinct. One was finally found crumpled up behind a lectern.

  40. Oddly, it was a polar bear photo that finally caused me to object loudly to all the hype. Picture 3 in the link below is of a bear eating a cub. Male polar bears do this (they will eat anything they can kill if there is a low enough risk of injury to themselves during the inevitable fight) which is why the females go to great lengths to stay away when they have cubs.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/6760103/Starving-polar-bears-turn-to-cannibalism.html
    So we, mankind, caused noble bears to descend into cannibalism! How could such creatures have it in their nature to be so despicable? In fact, the despicable act was to publish the photo to create a feeling of guilt. The last sentence of the article accompanying photo says “The release of the images comes as world leaders gather in Copenhagen for the United Nations Climate Change Conference.” So the icon worked for me, but not in the way that it was intended!

  41. @Joe Bastardi: When the climate turns cold again, you can expect these AGW alarmists to tell us how they saved us from certain doom. Especially if they are able to enact Carbon Reduction protocols like Cap & Trade. It won’t be true, but it hasn’t stopped them before.

  42. And when the glaciers reform and start again their march south, the whole tempest in a teapot issue of global warming and the cute and cuddly polar bears will be a moot point. More relevant is what will happen to poor Canada?

  43. I’m sure that Anthony has no problem with Thomas believing some effect due to AGW, or shall we say aGW… As do I

    So why criticise him, He DID write the CLIMATEGATE : The Crutape Letters, advertised on this very website (with Mosher)

    So I really think we are all against emotive, irrational, little evidence CAGW..

    Maybe the earth will warm a degree due to AGW, no need to argue about that.
    We would argue, against doom and gloom, guesses how that would translate to any observable even, let alone hazardous chnages in the weather/climate

    Just check out the ‘abuse’ Thomas gets at Only in it for the Gold (tobis) or places like deltoid…..

  44. “”” Steve Keohane says:
    September 9, 2010 at 7:13 am
    The polar bear icon has been abused, that is why there exists things like this counter iconography.

    A little comic relief! “””

    Well Steve; that simply has to be a Great Auk Chick there getting barbecued; I hear that they taste just like chicken !

    George

  45. Well this save the polar bears craze has a negative feedback consequence. I hear tell that there has been a worldwide explosion of Steelhead Trout; due to the lack of availability of good Polar Bear hair for making the best, most productive steelhead Fly patterns. This lack of an adequate Steelhead harvest has lead to the present population explosion which is reaching epidemic proportions, and leading to the decline od certain salamander species; and some rare frogs too.

  46. Joe Bastardi says:
    September 9, 2010 at 9:33 am

    I have a couple of graphic overlays for you:

    Showing where DMI 80N Arctic Temps are in relation to where they have been since 1958


    Showing the convergence and separation of the Arctic/Antarctic Sea Ice Anomalies over the last 31 years


    Showing the Global Sea Ice Area changes for the whole Planet, and the Arctic Sea Ice Area melt (which began in 2005 NOT 2007) now moving back to normal.

    Use them if you like.

  47. Leon Brozyna says:
    September 9, 2010 at 10:53 am

    The USA is tied to Canadian production of oil & wheat, so if thier boat gets cracked in ice, we’ll have to grin, adapt, and Polar bear it. Before that, we have to take the sunglasses off of Pollie the Polar Bear, and wean her & cubs from Pepsi.

  48. wws says:
    September 9, 2010 at 7:52 am

    The whole polar bear fixation is easy to explain – they make great stuffed animal toys that are cute and cuddly and very appealing to teenage girls, who’s emotional state happens to perfectly mimic that of most enviro’s.

    “Oh, he’s so cute! Let’s destroy the world’s economy because he’s just so CUTE!!!!”
    ________________________________________________
    AHHhh yes the bambi complex where the teenage welfare mommy holds her toddler up to pet the cute horsey in a roadside pasture… Only to discover that breeding stallions BITE. (happened twice that I know of first hand)

  49. US Weather Bureau Report

    The Arctic ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer and in some places the seals are finding the water too hot, according to a report to the Commerce Department yesterday from Consul Ifft, at Bergen, Norway. Reports from fishermen, seal hunters and explorers, he declared, all point to a radical change in climate conditions and hitherto unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone. Exploration expeditions report that scarcely any ice has been met with as far north as 81 degrees 29 minutes. Soundings to a depth of 3,100 meters showed the gulf stream still very warm. Great masses of ice have been replaced by moraines of earth and stones, the report continued, while at many points well known glaciers have entirely disappeared. Very few seals and no white fish are found in the eastern Arctic, while vast shoals of herring and smelts, which have never before ventured so far north, are being encountered in the old seal fishing grounds.

    I’m sorry, I neglected to mention that this report was from November 2, 1922 as reported by the AP and published in The Washington Post.

    From http://mooseandsquirrel.ca/2010/09/09/08:16/fun-with-climate-alarmism/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Moose-and-Squirrel+%28MooseandSquirrel.ca%29

  50. “REAL — Short answer, polar bears are just brown bears that moved north as the Arctic warmed, back about 250,000 years ago. Evolution dyed them white to help with the seal hunting. So if we killed them all off, couldn’t we just coax more brown bears north to fill the ecological seal eating niche. The over population of brown bears for the available food source is thought to be behind the original “go north, young brown bear” movement.”

    Along these lines: Ethiopian JEWS!

    I’m sure this flew by and most people missed it. In the 1980’s, during the drought in Ethipoia a remote tribe of about 1700 people was found. They had copies of the Torah. They had Hebrew writings. They performed Jewish rituals.

    They were MOVED TO ISREAL as a “block”, after being assessed as “really Jews”.

    Well, it gets better than that. Their genetic markers MATCHED classic Jewish lines.
    Interestingly they support a concept of “epi-genetics”. I.e. the ability of advanced animals to make “changes” to their genome in response to long term enviromental effects.

    It’s adventageous to have the dark skin in the “high UV exposure” areas.

    Indications are much of the Isreal based Jewish population, dating back to the dispora was no more “dark” than say people from Peurto Rico. BUT the “African Line” in 2000 years became decidedly BLACK. When, how fast, etc., we don’t know.

    So the claim about the “browns” going “white” with enviromental influences…I think it has merit. In point of fact, HOW CLOSE ARE Grizzlies, Polars and Browns genetically?

    Anyone know that?

  51. “George E. Smith says:
    September 9, 2010 at 11:35 am
    … that simply has to be a Great Auk Chick there getting barbecued; I hear that they taste just like chicken !”

    Punchline from old joke about the man on trial for eating a spotted owl while lost and starving in the wilderness, wins aquittal and then in response to a post trial reporters question:

    “Like chicken? No. Somewhere between Bald Eagle and California Condor.”

  52. Fred says:
    September 9, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    Yes, but back then there was no Daily Planet to save.

    EthicallyCivil says:
    September 9, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    Omigosh, no, we don’t eat Spotted Owls and Condors.
    We are civilized now, and there’s plenty of Chicken Paregoric for everyone.

  53. Correction: Only 30% of the genome in the Ethiopian Jews matches the more “European Jewish” genome. So dilution has to be accounted for. Thus the coloration factor may be only skin deep. (Sorry, bad metaphor)

    Of course, it brings up the question of intermixing on brown, black, polar and grizzlies. Would they not all be BEARS? (As the Ehtiopians and European Jewish populations are HUMANS?) And how long would it take to re-establish a white coloration in a “winter” environment?

  54. Max Hugoson
    September 9, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    “In point of fact, HOW CLOSE ARE Grizzlies, Polars and Browns genetically?”

    Polar Bears are really a sub-species of Brown Bear. They are more closely related to the Kodiac Bear (U.a. middendorfii) then either is to the grizzly (U.a. horribillis).

  55. There have been pictures of Grizzly attacks against man – and the resultant shots of the killed bear. Huge! Except when compared to Polar Bears. The later is about 3 times the size of a grizzly!

    Endangered? Only seals and fools wanting to save them are endangered.

    [3x the size? Of a grizzly? Please recheck informally the average weights of male and female polar, grizzly, Alaskan brown bears, Kodiak variety of the AK bears, and the “brown” bears common across the nation…] Robert

  56. netdr says:
    September 9, 2010 at 8:21 am

    Pay no attention to those large white animals in the zoo.

    That’s not white – that’s platinum blonde…

  57. PhilJourdan says:
    September 9, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    There have been pictures of Grizzly attacks against man – and the resultant shots of the killed bear. Huge! Except when compared to Polar Bears. The later is about 3 times the size of a grizzly!

    Endangered? Only seals and fools wanting to save them are endangered.

    [3x the size? Of a grizzly? Please recheck informally the average weights of male and female polar, grizzly, Alaskan brown bears, Kodiak variety of the AK bears, and the “brown” bears common across the nation…] Robert

    I always like this photo to indicate the size of a bear.

  58. A coincidence, but I was reading this very 2006 issue of Time this afternoon in my dentist’s waiting room. Reading the article was surreal. The smugness of their certainty was totally impervious to any doubt. How have their predictions from 2006 panned out?

    OT, but has anyone noticed a subtle change of tone at the BBC website? No mea culpa’s, but yesterday there was an article stating that wars in Africa were NOT being increased by climate change. Last week there was an story about a coral reef that had thrived in warm waters of the Tasman Sea9000 years ago, bang in the Holocene Climate Optimum. Straws in the wind perhaps?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11204686
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11153193

  59. Since there are strong reasons to believe ice levels went similarly low in the 1920’s, this shouldn’t be any concern at all. The polar bear cliche hardly needs more ridiculing, especially here on WUWT. That species survive climate change is obvious from the fact that there are species and that climate has done nothing but change. The danger of your article is what you’ve so deftly inserted in your last sentence: “with or without our help”. With? Did you say “with”?

    False marketing and sensationalism are constants in life, and on their own would not have generated the ruinous economic measures recommended by so many international and national bodies.

    What worries me, Thomas, is that you have written another article preaching to the converted while subtly (this time) pushing your peculiar agenda: AGW is kinda real, and please don’t blame scientists for climate alarmism. This time you have at least conceded that someone is behind the marketers, when you refer vaguely to “those most interested in very active measures to combat global warming”.

    Many scientists are very much to blame for the alarmism, and I hope you’re not one of those. I really hope you’re not a “moderate” who believes we should be coming together and communicating better…and that the price of your condescension is the trillions to be frittered on taxes, carbon trading and inefficient energy generation.

  60. As with his previous articles, I find Thomas’ point here elusive.
    Is he suggesting we must “combat global warming”, but use more sophisticated imagery and methods?

    “…Climate change [now a meaningless term] theory predicted that the Arctic would warm faster than the rest of the planet, and that melting Arctic ice is not a ‘good’ sign…”.

    “Climate change” theory also predicts a hot-spot over the tropics but thousands of radiosondes, and three decades of satellite measurements show unequivocally that it ain’t there.

    Polar bear populations are not proxies for global warming (in the precise sense of that term), but neither is the extent or thickness of Arctic sea-ice.

    The Arctic warming post 1980 is at the same rate as 1880 – 1940 when human CO2 emissions could not have been a major factor.

  61. The classic of this “symbolic imagery” has to be the Natural Resources Defense Council’s combining the struggles of the fragile polar bear with our presumed hatred for Sarah Palin. I received at least three 8×10 envelopes (not exactly “green” of them) stuffed with several pages of propaganda and of course, the return donation envelope. Across the front of this mailer in large print: “Sarah Palin may be gone, but her state’s attack on polar bears continues…” next to a picture of a polar bear apparently struggling aboard a small piece of sea ice.

    Sleazy stuff.

  62. Here are some images:
    – Weather and ecosystem behavior fitting of mid October – in mid August (yes I know, California is not the world … )
    – Large dangerous game starting to intrude boldly into not only suburban areas but even urban areas
    – Increasing waves of famine
    – Break down of governance structures and even infrastructure (we are so close to this)
    – A catastrophic and sudden cessation of fecundity (note recent stats)
    – A cadre of “Atomic Napoleons” who have no qualms about exterminating millions of people in a single day
    – The end of a 10K year sweet spot

  63. All they have to do is keep the disaster movie running another 30 years and the oldies will be gone, to be replaced by a generation of pre-programmed, ill-informed, intensely-green-educated earth-savers.
    You know it is happening now..

  64. Max Hugoson says:
    September 9, 2010 at 12:29 pm
    “[…]Well, it gets better than that. Their genetic markers MATCHED classic Jewish lines.
    Interestingly they support a concept of “epi-genetics”. I.e. the ability of advanced animals to make “changes” to their genome in response to long term enviromental effects. ”

    To be Jewish, your mother has to be Jewish. (Fatherhood is never that certain) So AFAIK the gene test Israel uses to decide whether a tribe belongs to the Jewish diaspora checks for mithochondrial genes; the mitochondria are exclusively inherited by the maternal line.

    So it is very likely IMHO that the Ethiopean Jews had some genes from black Africans thrown in, helping them develop more melanin.

    Epigenetics do work, but i doubt whether this is an example of it.

    But while we’re at it, you and everybody else who has a working immune system is capable of running an ultrafast evolution in your body each time your immune system needs to fight off an infection. It’s called somatic hypermutation; in the lymph nodes your body will multiply certain leucocytes and increase the mutability of a section of their genome vastly; this gives rise to millions of variations of antibodies until one cell produces the right antibody for the infection at hand. As soon as such a match occurs, the somatic hypermutation mechanism is turned off and the winner gets to multiply.

  65. SteveSadlov says:
    September 9, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    The “climate shifts” begin in California (& the Pacific Northwest).
    This is where the changes in the Pacific Ocean make 1st contact, and so this is where it all begins.

  66. DesertYote,

    The Polar Bear Specialty Group summarizes the location and number of polar bears in known sub-populations as well as a permissible cull (kill) number within the range of each sub-population that will allow the sub-population numbers to be sustained. However, maps of the sub-populations show that the one half of the Arctic on the Russian side is not included in the ranges, or numbers, of those sub-populations. Those areas have never been surveyed/inventoried for bears. So your speculation that there could be 50,000 polar bears could be right.

    Within those sub-populations, the PBSG does estimate that about 1,000 polar bears are legally killed every year. Bjorn Lomborg has made the same point – if you want to preserve whatever the polar bear population is, stop the killing.

    Also, the Greenies have seemed to have forgotten about Arctic seals. When they were railing against seal hunts by humans, the little white-furred tykes with snow on their whiskers were regular photogenic Greenie charitable fund generators. In part due to constraints on the seal hunts, the Arctic seal population has swelled from about 2-3 million in the 1960’s to about 12-15 million now. During a period where each polar bear still needed (and still needs) to chomp down about one seal every 8 days through most of the year to survive. And yet, the polar bear population appears to have grown during that time. All during global warming which is “devastating” the Arctic environment. Maybe it’s no wonder the Greenies have dumped Arctic seals as icons – they’re prey to polar bears and are increasing in numbers. And now they’ve dumped polar bears – they’re predators of the cute furry seals, and evidence shows the populations of the predators have stabilized and those of their prey are increasing. My, my, what a Greenie dilemma. So their solution is, toss these icons overboard and search for a new icon. The search is on.

  67. “Patrick says:
    September 9, 2010 at 8:27 am
    Cuddly????

    An Arctic explorer came face to face with a polar bear. Afraid of being eaten, he fell to his knees and started praying. When the polar bear knelt down beside him and started praying too, the man shouted, “It’s a miracle!” The polar bear opened one eye and said “Don’t talk while I’m saying grace.”

    P”

    OMG! That’s one of the funniest jokes I’ve heard in a long time!

  68. I’d really like to see a thread on Global Sea Ice.
    According to this:

    the average Maximum Global Sea Ice Area is 22M km^2, and the minimum is 16M km^2.
    The last average Max Global Sea Ice Area was reached in late 2008, and the last average Min Global Sea Ice Area was also found in early 2008. That was 2 years ago.
    So, what exactly is the Death Spiral all about, and does it even exist on Planet Earth?

  69. You don’t need fancy genetic theories to explain why brown bears turned white to become polar bears. A simple case of natural selection will do : the lightest color bears woudl have had the best success in hunting, and the darkest bears would have the least. The lighter bears get to pass on more genes, the darker ones don’t. It wouldn’t take *that* many generations of bears on the ice to give rise a bunch of white bears with black skin, as long as the initial genetic variations were there.

    More puzzling is why Nordic people developed blond hair and blue eyes. Was it also hunting?

  70. Gail Combs @ September 9, 2010 at 12:00 pm:

    …where the teenage welfare mommy holds her toddler up to pet the cute horsey in a roadside pasture…

    “A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter is not a nice person.” – Dave Barry

    Affluent thirty year old women aren’t this dumb? :|

  71. After all that exposure of sophistry, Mr. Fuller concludes “All we can say for certain is that the climate is changing.”

    Except we can’t. I suppose it depends on how the word “climate” is defined, but if it is general weather patterns in a region, then I suspect Mr. Fuller would be hard pressed to conjure any irrefutable evidence that the “climate” has changed anywhere over the last 100 years, much less certainty.

    Debunking sophistry is a worthy thing. Kudos for that. But to conclude with even more sophistry indicates the author has not really plumbed the depths of the phenomenon: misleading and unsupported arguments that sound plausible but lack evidentiary support.

    Where has the “climate” allegedly “changed”? The rain in Spain still falls mainly in the plains. Etc.

  72. Thomas needs to rember to qualify thing a bit, and distinguish, between ‘catastrophic man made climate chagne ‘ theory, and climate change – what the planet does…

    EVERYONE is guilty of mixing these 2 up, it is ingrained shorthand, so good has been the propaganda…

    ie

    Do you believe in climate chnage – Y/N

    Daily Mail and GMTV public opinion polss earlier in the year

    Always say, MAN MADE climate change…. theory.

    and climate change – reality.

    Also, helps, if say you are sceptical to Catastrohic AGW, and that AGW MAY be real, but be completely insiginificant, Even now some green groups have started saying, (because temps stalled) that AGW is real and has held of a little ice age…. Not realising that COLD is very much worse than hot for humans…..

    distinguishing between CAGW and AGW really annoys the advocates, as they can’t label you as ‘denying’ the physics of greenhouse gases.

  73. I find myself using “Chicken Little” so much I’m probably making some people sick, but here goes, one more time –
    Why did the barn yard explode in mayhem when Chicken Little started shouting “the sky is falling”? Because there was no one there to shout out loud, for all to hear, “he’s an idiot the sky ISN’T falling”. Of course, if there had been someone to immediately shout that line, that would have been the end of the children’s story, and the author wouldn’t have made a dime, or his point. Why does there seem to be so many Chicken Littles in our global barn yard, and so few ‘shouting’ –FOR ALL TO HEAR– ‘He’s an idiot! The sky ISN’T falling’?

    When the Mann-kind Chicken Little Mob jumps up and down and says that the sky is falling, excuse me, that Anthroprogenics are creating too much CO2 and causing Unprecedented GLOBAL WARMING and we’re all DOOMED, where’s that other BOOMING VOICE in the Barn Yard shouting –for all to hear: He’s A Fool! It’s NOT WARMING IT’S FREEZING!!!?

    Something’s really amiss in the old barn yard, and the world, when there isn’t someone to match the bulk and stature and incredible, moneymaking, world changing genius of Fat Albert, and to shout with a louder voice IT’S STARTING TO FREEZE!!!! Think about it! Where’s the Former Vice President who’s so contemptuous of FAT ALBERT that he’s willing to shout at the top of his lungs: “IT’S STARTING TO FREEZE!!!!? (And make a lot of $$$ on the side, and a Kinky Swedish Meatball Prize, and some fullbody massages, and a quicky divorce, and a huge energy inefficient mansion?)

    Something’s really rotten in Denmark and it looks like it’s spread all the way around the world. This one sided ‘debate’ (aka barn yard riot) isn’t about science, this is about the political control and direction of a world that seems to have gone mad. Maybe that’s why Chicken Little seems to come up so often in my mind; he just seems to answer my biggest questions – WHY? HOW DID WE GET HERE?

  74. Jerry from Boston
    September 9, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    I took a browse around some PBSG literature. They seem to be very intent on staying “On Message” in a highly proactive way. It appears that they are the source of most of the Polar Bear misinformation. The population studies they are doing are based on computer models. “The numbers are rising, but because of our computer models, we believe the population is in decline”, WT? The goal of this organization is to provide information supporting the belief that Polar Bears are endangered by Global Warming. Where else have we seen organizations on a AGW mission using computer models? I trust these guys less then CRU. They are in an even more rarefied atmosphere. Almost all wildlife biologists are extreme lefties. It is almost impossible to get into the field without being one.

  75. Speaking of Time, discovered this on their website:

    http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,2017262,00.html

    In it, Stephen Hawking gives an elegant and succinct definition of a good model.

    “A model is a good model if it:
    1. Is elegant
    2. Contains few arbitrary or adjustable elements
    3. Agrees with and explains all existing observations
    4. Makes detailed predictions about future observations that can disprove or falsify the model if they are not borne out.”

    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,2017262,00.html#ixzz0z9HhtAjG

    While I agree with Hawking that the criteria are subjective, nevertheless, a model which has none of these criteria, such as those used in Climate Science, cannot be said to be good. Interesting….

  76. [3x the size? Of a grizzly? Please recheck informally the average weights of male and female polar, grizzly, Alaskan brown bears, Kodiak variety of the AK bears, and the “brown” bears common across the nation…] Robert

    Robert – not exagerated, just rounded. Polar bear typical male size: 800-1500 pounds. Grizzly bear typical male size: 250-700 Pounds.

    I tried to avoid the women. My wife gets jealous when I look at other women. ;)

  77. “dated back only to 1979 when satellites were watched.”

    I suspect that you meant to say… were launched.

  78. All we can say for certain is that the climate is changing.

    If this statement is true (it’s not by the way – it’s just a very silly statement at the end of an article with absolutely no point), why have a blog dedicated to trying to decipher climate science? Why do Anthony and Steve waste their time trying to use science to put their sceptical agenda?

    The rubbishing of science by conservatives because it doesn’t align with their politics has been going on for hundreds of years. This blog continues the sad tradition.

  79. Tom Fuller said:
    “That’s because I think instinctively we all recognize that it’s a good proxy for the state of global warming.”
    Read a book on “Caveman Logic” and you will see that perceptual thinking with automatic instinctive knowledge is not the way of science. Rational conceptual thought with a strict adherence to logic is needed. I suppose that your caveman logic tells you what are good proxies for what it says is a state of warming or warming climate or even what a climate is. There are only local climates and averaging them will not give you any knowledge about the great god “The Climate.” It does not exist, it is just an average of somethings which are not known well.

  80. Mike Haseler said on September 9th, at 8:08 am
    ==================================
    Mike, your statement is wrong and carries negativity unsupported by fact. Scottish cod are not ‘endangered’, even as a commercial species. Both ICES and FRS Scotland at worst have current ‘advisories’ re TAC in both North Sea and west coast fisheries. Currently, and since 2008, ICES has not declared to comment on increasingly accurate evidence of improved recruitment. Your choice of icon was poor, based on rhetoric, not fact.

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