Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The incredible shrinking polar bear?

Commentary follows the article below

Polar bears are shrinking, along with the ice on which they live – and are turning to cannibalism – as global warming increasingly stops them getting enough to eat. Scientists say the animals are now only two-thirds as big as they were 30 years ago as melting ice makes it harder for them to catch seals, and that they have begun to hunt each other instead.

The news comes as Arctic nations agreed at a special summit in Norway last week to draw up an action plan to try to save the highly endangered species.

The bears subsist almost entirely on seals, and depend on the polar ice to hunt them. As the seals swim too fast in open water, the bears have to lie in wait for them to surface for air through holes and cracks in the ice. But the best place to do this is near land, as the seals congregate in shallow waters, and every year the ice is receding further out to sea as global warming takes hold.

Even worse, the ice is melting earlier each year – cutting down the amount of seals the bears can catch in the spring, which the bears use as a vital fattening-up time to see them through a long summer fast.

New research presented at last week's summit – the most important meeting on the fate of the polar bear for more than three decades – shows that female bears now weigh an average of 230kg, a full 65kg less than in 1980, and are 220cm long, 35cm less than before.

Their health has suffered as their weight has fallen, impairing their ability to reproduce and have cubs that survive. "The chain of events starts with a drop in body condition that subsequently leads to a drop in reproduction, which leads to a drop in survival," Dr Andrew Derocher, chair of the international Polar Bear Specialist Group, told delegates.

Other scientists report that, in their desperation, the bears are turning on each other. Dr Steven Amstrup, a specialist on the animals at the US Geological Survey, says they are "clearly deliberately hunting other bears, for example by attacking females in their denning areas".

Two years ago a giant US government study predicted that global warming would kill off two-thirds of the world's polar bears by 2050. But this is now thought to be over-optimistic: the melting is accelerating so fast that many scientists believe the Arctic Ocean will be completely ice-free in summer by 2030.


Some emailed comments on the above by Mitchell Taylor [mktaylor23@xplornet.com], manager of wildlife research for the Nunavut government

If the bears actually do weigh 65 kg less now then they did in 1980, and they weigh 230 kg now, then they must have weighed 295 kg in 1980. 65/295 = 0.22. A 22% decline is not a 1/3 (33%) decline. I don't know where these weight data come from. A 230 kg female is a 500 lb bear. This would be a fat female in good condition. I think the journalist got his information mixed up. He does not seem particularly quantitative.

Temporal declines in body mass have been identified in some populations (SB, WH, SH, BB, perhaps more). Demographic impacts have been identified in only two populations (SB and WH). These declines have been associated with reductions in sea ice. Please excuse my oversimplification, but climate generally warmed during the last two decades of the previous century. That general warming trend was followed by regional arctic warming period from natural (not CO2) causes. It is not surprising that some polar bear populations would be impacted from a 30 year warming trend. What is surprising is that most of the populations appear to remain abundant and productive. This suggests adaptation to climate fluctuations, and some potential to mitigate state changes to prolonged warmer conditions.

The IPCC CO2 climate models predict that AGW will occur first and most at arctic latitudes. Thus the recent arctic warming period has been important in providing evidence that CO2 greenhouse effects are causing global warming. From what I have been able to read, the last 10 years of arctic warming had nothing to do with CO2 greenhouse effects. There was an unusual influx of warm north Pacific surface water, strong anomalous offshore winds in the west that pushed the pack ice into the East Greenland current and transported much of the multi-year ice out of the polar basin. The open water generated a water vapor greenhouse effect. The warming and transition to mainly annual ice contributed to albedo effect, earlier break-up and later freeze-up. None of this had anything to do with CO2. The CO2 climate models did not predict the warming mechanism that occurred, and do not predict this magnitude of arctic warming for another 20 or 30 years.

Intra-specific predation has always been a part of polar bear ecology. Science and TEK are consistent on that. Females with cubs and sub-adults avoid areas where large males congregate, especially in summer retreat areas. Occasionally a big male kills and eats a sub-adult or a cub, and rarely an adult female. Sub-adults usually present no danger to adult females, and females do not attack each other in my experience. The Alaskan's have not seen much of this behavior because their population mostly summers on the pack ice. Alaskan researchers recently observed a few incidents of intra-specific attacks and cannibalism in their area, and have generalized these anecdotal observations to all polar bears as yet more proof that global warming is killing polar bears.

When the PBSG meets in Copenhagen in June, I do not know if there will be any polar bear biologist at that meeting who is not entirely convinced that polar bears are declining due to AGW. I saw a recent announcement that the recent Tromso, Norway meeting of nations signatory to the International Agreement for the Conservation of Polar Bears resulted in an independent agreement to reduce anthropogenic impacts on polar bear sea ice habitat. Arctic sea ice has recovered to approximately historical levels this winter, but the arctic pack ice still has less mass because there is almost no multi-year ice.

I don’t understand climate forcings well enough to advise if the summer conditions that caused the recent arctic warming period will continue or abate. I think the only thing that will uncouple polar bears from AGW is a return to historical arctic sea ice conditions. The AGW and Environmentalist propaganda has been quite effective in this area. My polar bear colleagues believe AGW is occurring and apparently do not feel a responsibility to examine that belief.

Most polar bear populations are not protected. Most polar bear populations are hunted in at least part of their range. The only jurisdiction that “protects” polar bears is Norway (Barents Sea population). There is a prohibition on harvesting in the Russian Sector (western Chukchi, Laptev-Kara, and eastern Barents Sea), but there are unquantified reports of widespread “poaching” (subsistence harvest by indigenous people) and illegal hunting in Russia. The harvest in most other populations is well-managed to retain approximately constant numbers. These harvested populations are obviously managed at less than carrying capacity because they are productive and sustain the harvest. Populations at carrying capacity by definition produce only enough recruits to maintain their numbers, so any harvest would cause a population at “K” to decline.

The response of demographic rates to density has 2 parameters that describe the relationship (a line in the simplest case). One of these is the maximum rate (birth or survival), and the other is carrying capacity (x intercept). The slope is max rate over carrying capacity. Environmental changes can reduce carrying capacity, but environmental changes can also reduce demographic rates. In the case of polar bears there is no evidence that sea ice decline has affected carrying capacity. The only evidence is that the decline in sea ice has reduced survival and recruitment in some populations. So of course everyone talks about a decline in carrying capacity ....

Climate does change naturally, and historically the range of polar bears and their numbers must also be dynamic. The IPCC climate models predict a 30% reduction of sea ice (annual coverage) at CO2 greenhouse effect saturation. I have managed to alienate most of my colleagues by pointing out that a loss of 30% of sea ice would not cause polar bears to go extinct. Arctic warming does not appear to be caused by CO2, and even if the CO2 models were entirely correct polar bears would not be threatened with extinction.

Obviously the discussion is about something else.

Atmospheric physicist declares: 'The global warming hypothesis is dead, scientifically'

Ed Berry is making some noise about climate change, and he's singing a different tune than former Vice President Al Gore and his "Inconvenient Truth." Berry, 73, an accomplished atmospheric physicist who recently moved to the Flathead Valley from Sacramento, Calif., was among about 700 scientists who attended the International Conference on Climate Change in New York City March 7-10.

Sponsored by the Heartland Institute, the group has decidedly different views on climate change than Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The IPCC consensus asserts that the influence of human-produced greenhouse gases will cause a warming trend with dire environmental consequences.

The prevailing conclusion at the New York conference, according to Berry, is that "the global warming hypothesis is dead, scientifically." The conference, he noted, was attended by high-profile scientists and figures such as former NASA astronaut and U.S. Sen. Harrison "Jack" Schmitt, whom Berry has known since he was an undergraduate at Caltech University. "It seems every few years we run into each other," he said. "We were good friends from Caltech all the way through."

Berry noted that the attendance of 700 scientists at the conference "is just a drop in the bucket" of the growing ranks of scientists who disagree with IPCC conclusions. "There's a big list of scientists that in just the last year have changed their minds," Berry said. "The momentum is in our direction."

But politics, he said, are still thoroughly dominated by global warming alarmists and major media that advance their views. "Clearly, Al Gore is good at what he does," Berry conceded, adding that it is now up to scientists with different views to make them known.

Since moving to the Flathead, Berry has been publicly engaged on the topic, writing letters to the editor and speaking to groups, using a lengthy PowerPoint presentation that is basically an outline for a book he is writing. "What I'm after is making it comprehensive but simple because I'm aiming at the general public rather than scientists," he said of the book.

Berry insists that the models used to support the warming theory produce faulty predictions because they cannot account for all of the dynamics influencing the atmosphere. They cannot account for ever-changing greenhouse gases, radiation, solar energy and ocean currents. One of the greatest omissions from climate modeling, Berry said, is they do not account for the incredibly dynamic influences of cloud cover, a subject he knows well.

After Caltech, Berry went on to earn a master's degree in physics from Dartmouth College, and then a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Nevada. His doctoral thesis involved measuring and predicting the formation of the smallest water molecules into raindrops. He was the chief scientist and manager of the airborne research facility at Nevada's Desert Research Institute, where he developed instrumentation technology for aircraft in monitoring the atmosphere. He recalls one aircraft radar innovation in 1972 that produced the largest radar image of a hurricane up to that time.

Berry also managed for a period the National Science Foundation's weather modification program, which involved cloud-seeding research. He was involved with a research project that for the first time identified how cities, filled with heat-radiating concrete and asphalt, actually modify the weather.

For Berry, studying the atmosphere wouldn't be complete without actually getting into it. He started as a glider pilot and later became a powered airplane pilot. He got involved in competitive sailing with his wife, eventually winning major national and North American regattas.

Throughout his educational and work experience, Berry says he is most grateful for the pre-eminent scientists who taught him how to approach problem solving, going all the way back to learning under the renowned Linus Pauling at Caltech. "It isn't the things you learn," Berry said. "It's how you learn to think."

Berry has deep concerns about the political direction for climate-change policies, particularly a cap-and-trade system that is likely to come from Washington, D.C. It is a system that will produce a bureaucracy and it will essentially amount to a tax on energy production and consumption. It was a major topic at the conference in New York, where economists projected the economic impacts. "People have different numbers, but they are all big," Berry said of those impacts. "It's going to affect the cost of energy significantly," he adds, in a regressive fashion impacting low-income energy consumers the most.


Lord Monckton Spring Cleans Global Warming Hysteria

Friday morning in New York City witnessed a burst of snowfall welcoming the vernal equinox and G. Gordon Liddy welcoming Christopher Monckton, Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, to his radio show to discuss global warming hysteria.

Following a wonderfully droll refresher on archaic royal manners, Monckton shredded Al Gore’s “consensus” claims and offered Liddy a history lesson in previous – and significantly warmer -- warming periods. And then explained how a combination of “very powerful naked vested interests” drives the warming alarmist misinformation campaign.

Here’s his formula: Combine media “world to end” sensationalist marketing ploys with “rent-seeking” scientists and the political left’s need to appear to be relevant and concerned. Add teachers wanting to appeal to the idealism of students – for them the Al Gore message of apocalyptic imminent doom is magnetically attractive -- and U.N world government wannabes and -- voila!

Monckton repeated verbatim the magnificent 428-word cap-and-trade dragon beheading sentence he befuddled the clowns in the House Ways and Means subcommittee with earlier this month, and that alone is well worth your listening time. Interacting later with Liddy and his callers, Monckton discussed global cooling, expanding polar bear populations and the ironic plight of fellow Brit Pen Hadow’s recent North Pole expedition -- stranded to the brink of starvation on the very arctic ice they travelled to prove was gone.

And, as always, his Lordship was as charming and entertaining as he was enlightening. Hear the entire segment here.

Thomas Lifson adds: Give yourself a treat and listen. It is obvious why Al Gore is scared to death of debating Lord Monckton. He is eloquent, witty, and effortlessly eloquent. Gore is ponderous at best, and would sound like a dummy paired with him.


DeSmog accidentally vindicates The Skeptics Handbook

DeSmogBlog could’ve flattened The Skeptics Handbook in just one sentence. All they had to do was point to empirical evidence that more CO2 forces temperatures up. They can’t and everything else is bluster and bluff

The question of evidence is on the front page; the book is built around it, and billions of dollars hinges upon it, on this topic, “nothing else matters…”. Yet Jeremy Jacquot’s sole attempt at evidence only shows he doesn’t know what evidence is. Even a bright junior high spark could prove him wrong with a 20 year old encyclopedia. Jacquot uses 3000 words to NOT answer that question, he confuses himself, resorts to cut-n-pasting from the site that does his thinking for him, and makes at least 9 errors of logic and reason. Jacquot complains that I’ve rehashed and repeated old arguments, which only makes it all the more embarrassing that he still hasn’t got any good answers.

But the part I like best was the way he jumps through the hoops just as I predicted. The Skeptics Handbook says when you poke a believer they will bark ‘Santer’, ‘Sherwood’, and ‘amplification’ and he does, right on cue. Yap Yap Yap. DeSmogBlog lives up to it’s name and adds de smog to de science of Global Warming

Much more HERE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)


At the end of their two-day summit in Brussels last week, European leaders pledged to pay a “fair share” to developing nations to help them fight global warming and adapt to its consequences. Yet they failed to deliver the one thing that environmentalists most desired: money.

The omission of a specific contribution, as well as unresolved questions about how the EU would pay for it, has become the latest stumbling block along the path to a global climate deal that world leaders will try to negotiate at Copenhagen in December. “The risk is that with the delay, the negotiations will not make significant progress. The developing nations are only willing to take further steps when there is money on the table,” said Joris den Blanken, a policy analyst at Greenpeace. The money issue, Mr den Blanken said, had overshadowed other elements of the meeting’s final communiqué that environmentalists should applaud – including a commitment to create a global carbon trading market.

The EU and other wealthy nations committed to providing financing to developing nations at a United Nations summit in Bali in 2007. The money would be used to invest in new technology to reduce emissions, as well as to improve seawalls and other infrastructure to prepare for the effects of a warmer planet.

In a draft paper prepared this year, the European Commission estimated that the EU could contribute some €30bn a year, beginning in 2020. But that figure was deleted from the final communique, and the commission instead concluded that it was incumbent on developing nations to first detail the level of emissions cuts they were prepared to make.

Member states have not yet agreed on the size of their contribution – let alone how to finance it – either through a market-based system or emissions taxes or some combination. Yet most agree that it would be foolish for the EU to reveal its hand first in what is likely to be a complex global negotiation with the US, India, China and Brazil.

“It is important that the United States, Japan and other major contributors signal what will be their position,” said Jose Manuel Barroso, the Commission president.

Nonetheless, the EU will be on the spot again in June, after heads of state promised that they would discuss the matter in greater detail at their next council meeting. If they are not able to table an offer then, environmental groups fear the process could drag dangerously close to Copenhagen because of the disruption of the June European elections and then the summer holidays.

Rebecca Harms, the Green party MEP, said the EU was squandering the credibility it had built up after closing a landmark climate deal in December to reduce emissions 20 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020. “The Europeans, in my view, have become the new hesitant and shy partner in the international climate negotiations,” Ms Harms said.


NOTE from Benny Peiser: EU leaders have postponed until their June a decision about transferring €30 billion of taxpayers’ money to China and India. How likely do you think is it that they will come to an agreement anytime soon about utopian wealth transfer to the rest of the world? Exactly!

Bachmann: I Want People "Armed And Dangerous" Against Energy Tax

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN): Foreign corespondent on enemy lines, helping to keep the folks back home armed and dangerous.

Bachmann appeared over the weekend on the First Team radio show with John Hinderaker and Brian Ward, speaking about the horrible stuff that the Democrats are doing: "I'm a foreign correspondent on enemy lines and I try to let everyone back here in Minnesota know exactly the nefarious activities that are taking place in Washington."

Bachmann also spoke out against the cap-and-trade proposals currently making their way through Washington, and how she'll be distributing information against it at an upcoming event in the district. "I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax, because we need to fight back," said Bachmann. "Thomas Jefferson told us, having a revolution every now and then is a good thing. And the people - we the people - are going to have to fight back hard if we're not going to lose our country."



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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