Sunday, March 08, 2020

Polar Bear Scientists May Be Hiding Good News

A prominent Canadian zoologist has suggested that scientists may be hiding a spate of good news on polar bears.

In State of the Polar Bear Report 2019, published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) on International Polar Bear Day, Dr Susan Crockford explains publication of population counts for several Arctic regions have been long overdue.

Data on the body condition of female bears and survival of cubs in Western Hudson Bay have not been published in over 25 years, despite claims that these are key measures of the impact of climate change on bears.

According to Dr Crockford, this may well be because the data do not support claims of disaster for the bears.

Dr Crockford also says that sea ice conditions for Western and Southern Hudson Bay bears have been excellent in recent years.

“It can hardly be claimed that lack of sea ice is causing Western and Southern Hudson Bay polar bear numbers to decline as a result of poor cub survival and reduced weights of adult females when breakup and freeze-up dates have been so advantageous for the last three years,” Dr Crockford said.

The report also looks at recent incidents when two Russian Arctic towns were visited by polar bears, and suggestions that 2019 was the year of the polar bear ‘invasion’. The lives of local residents were certainly threatened by the congregations of bears, which numbered more than 50.

And as Dr Crockford explains, such large congregations of polar bears are likely to be an on-going problem because there are now so many polar bears roaming the Arctic and because virtually all communities still have open garbage dumps:

There is no evidence these 2019 ‘invasion’ incidents were caused by a local lack of sea ice or because the polar bears were starving. Right now, Arctic residents and visitors face a much greater risk of having a deadly encounter with a polar bear at almost any time of year than they did decades ago because polar bear populations are so much larger.

“Predictions of future calamity do not change the present reality that polar bears are abundant and thriving,” Dr Crockford said.

Key Findings

 *   Reports have yet to be published for polar bear population surveys of M’Clintock Channel and Viscount Melville (completed 2016 and 2014, respectively), Southern Beaufort and Gulf of Boothia (completed 2017) and Davis Strait (completed 2018), yet several were promised for 2019 or sooner.

 *   At present, the official IUCN Red List global population estimate (2015) is 22,000–31,000 (average about 26,000), but surveys conducted since then might raise the average to about 29,500.

 *   Despite having to deal with changes in summer sea ice habitat greater than all other Arctic regions, according to Norwegian biologists polar bears in the Svalbard area of the Barents Sea showed few negative impacts from the low sea ice years of 2016 through 2019.

 *   Despite repeated claims that the Southern Beaufort subpopulation is declining and nutritionally stressed, a summer survey of the coast of Alaska in 2019 documented 31 fat healthy polar bears onshore in July compared to only three in 2017, when sea ice retreat had been similarly early.

 *   In 2019, and contrary to expectations, freeze-up of sea ice on Western Hudson Bay came as early in the autumn as it did in the 1980s (for the third year in a row); sea ice breakup in spring was like the 1980s too, with the result that polar bears onshore were in excellent condition.

 *   If the public are to take seriously repeated claims of harm to polar bear health and survival due to climate change, data collected since 2004 on cub survival and weights of female polar bears in Western Hudson Bay must be made available: it has now been more than 25 years since data has been published on cub survival and weights of female polar bears in Western Hudson Bay but polar bear specialists continue to cite decades-old data to support their statements that lack of sea ice is causing declines in body condition and population size.

 *   Since polar bear researchers acknowledge that there has been no negative trend in either freeze-up or breakup dates for sea ice in Western Hudson Bay since at least 2001, the failure to report current data on cub survival and weights of female bears suggests that body condition and cub survival have not declined over the last two decades as claimed.

 *   Two separate incidents at opposite ends of the Russian Arctic at the beginning and the end of 2019 made this the year of the polar bear ‘invasion’. Belushya Guba in the Barents Sea over the winter of 2018/2019 and Ryrkaypiy, Chukotka in December 2019 were each besieged by more than 50 bears, which terrified local residents. Although tragedy was ultimately averted, this is likely to be an on-going problem for Arctic settlements in the future: not because there is not enough sea ice but because there are now so many polar bears roaming Arctic coastlines.


Dirty Secrets About the CLEAN Future Act

The Committee on Energy & Commerce recently released more details of the so-called “CLEAN Future Act,” which “formally adopts the goal of achieving of a 100 percent clean economy by 2050.” Besides the manipulative name, the proposal (a) doesn’t even bother trying to justify its central goal and (b) includes a grab-bag of proposals that progressive Democrats have always favored, regardless of climate change concerns, and many of which are very blunt instruments to reduce emissions even if the central goal did make sense. When a small group of officials declares what “the science” dictates in terms of government measures, the public should be very wary.

An Act By Any Other Name Would Be Less Loaded

Before moving on to more substantive matters, I do want to reiterate how absurd it is for the ostensible opponents of human-caused climate change to embrace the label “clean” for their proposals.

In the first place, carbon dioxide is not “dirty” or a “pollutant” in any normal sense of those terms. It is colorless and odorless, and plants breathe it. Nobody walks into a commercial greenhouse—which might maintain CO2 levels that are triple the current atmospheric concentration—starts coughing and exclaims, “Ugh, the air is so dirty in here, what’s with all the pollution?”

Indeed, even when websites caution parents about elevated CO2 levels in tightly insulated classrooms (which might crowd out oxygen and lead to fatigue or headaches), it reminds them, “As a colorless and odorless gas, indoor carbon dioxide is impossible to track on your own.” In contrast, if you visit Beijing you are well aware of the actual pollution and dirty air (though it’s gotten much better in the last 20 years). You don’t need a special monitor.

It’s not just that the so-called CLEAN Future Act is a loaded term; it’s the opposite of what it claims. In general, rapid economic growth is the key to rising living standards, which allows us the ability to afford continued environmental improvements. In the United States, the transition from horses to automobiles as the chief means of transportation certainly made our cities “cleaner”—no more manure in the streets. And in the developing world, the electrification of homes that currently rely on burning wood or dung is obviously a boon to air quality and health, even if the electricity is produced in a coal-fired power plant.

Physical Science Can’t Tell Us Proper Policy Goals

The official framework for the CLEAN Future Act repeatedly alludes to “the scientific consensus that all countries must shift to net-zero GHG emissions by 2050 to avoid the most devastating consequences of climate change,” and it cites the UN’s IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C as the source for this claim. As this statement is the bedrock upon which the entire CLEAN Future Act rests, it’s worth analyzing.

In the first place, even on its own terms, and even if there were nothing misleading about it, the statement does not justify a policy of moving to net-zero GHG emissions by 2050. Don’t believe me? Consider this analogous claim: “The medical consensus is that Americans must stop driving motorcycles to avoid the most devastating consequences of traffic accidents.”

If we play with definitions, this claim about motorcycles is true. After all, “the most devastating consequences” of traffic accidents are that people die, and apparently you are 37 times more likely to die in a motorcycle accident than a car accident. So QED, we should ban motorcycles, right?

Most readers will probably disagree, or at the very least will understand that a mere statement about the downside of an activity—in my example, motorcycle riding—is not proof that it should be eliminated.

The same principle holds with respect to human-caused climate change. Even if we disregard the overstated confidence in modeling projections (which I documented in a 3-part series), and took everything the UN’s IPCC said about emissions and climate change at face value, it still would remain an open question about what we should do about it. After all, there’s a reason that humans rely so heavily on fossil fuels to produce electricity and move their vehicles. Switching to energy sources with lower carbon intensity will necessarily make energy and transportation more expensive and less convenient than they otherwise would be.

So it’s not enough to merely state that moving to net-zero GHG emissions by 2050 would “avoid the most devastating consequences of climate change.” To repeat, even if that were true, the advocates of this policy would still need to demonstrate that the costs of such a policy wouldn’t be even higher than the benefits.


Climate Religion versus Climate Science: Washington Post slurs legendary physicist, even in death

By Caleb S. Rossiter, Ph.D.

The Washington Post, the long-time leader of the Climate Religion media, seems to never pass up an opportunity to slip allegations of undefined "climate change" into every section of the paper - News, Metro, Sports, Travel...

Of course the Post bars any contrary analysis, either in these stories or in letters and opinion responses.

But the Post reached a new low by throwing its climate narrative into its obituary for physicist Freeman Dyson:

Here's how the Post slurred this towering figure in American, indeed global, science:

"His technophilia may explain his apostasy on global warming ... (H)e thought the environmental movement had overstated the threats to the planet: 'I just don't see any evidence that global warming is particularly dangerous.' That view is not shared by the overwhelming majority of scientists".

This last sentence is simply not true. The data generated to date by the world's scientists do not show any statistically significant increases in rates of extreme weather or sea-level rise as global average temperature increased by one degree over the past 120 years. And the UN IPCC, a political, not a scientific body, admits that the temperature increase was largely natural anyway, with only a quarter of a degree attributable to industrial emissions of the non-pollutant CO2.

The danger behind the controversial 2009 "endangerment" finding by President Obama's EPA has not occurred. It only lives on in the ever-extended projections of computer models of the climate.

Freeman Dyson knew John von Neumann, the father of climate models. Von Neumann wanted to use modeling as a Cold War military tool, to figure out how to create drought in the Soviet Union. The effort failed due to the complexity of the actual climate system, and Dyson often recounted von Neumann saying, "With four (free) parameters I can fit an elephant. With five I can make him wiggle his trunk."

By now, of course, climate computer models have thousands of free parameters, which are estimates that modelers enter to create a "backfit" where the model runs close to the actual historical temperature record. Dyson called these "fudge factors," much to the displeasure of the modelers. But the modelers are embarrassed whenever they run the models forward into the future, and watch them, as always, run far too hot.

Mother nature still isn't cooperating with the narrative of "dangerous warming" from CO2 emissions. Dyson was right, and the Post is still stubbornly wrong.

Via email from Dr. Caleb S. Rossiter, the Executive Director of the CO2 Coalition

The Shallow Symbolism of Fossil Fuel Divestment
Global divestment day coincides with Valentine’s Day, so February has become a favorite month for climate change activists to demand that universities divest from fossil fuels. There was no shortage of such demands on campuses this year. Students — and in some cases, faculty — at Brandeis, Harvard, MIT, Penn, Loyola, the University of Pittsburgh and a slew of other schools staged protests, passed resolutions, circulated petitions, and took to social media to pressure college administrators to stop investing in corporations that produce coal, oil, and natural gas. Most of the demands were politely brushed off. Harvard’s president, for example, promised to present the faculty’s call for divestment to the university’s top directors, saying he was “confident” it would receive “the thought and consideration it deserves.”

But some institutions gave in to the pressure. Georgetown University announced on February 6 that it will stop investing in fossil fuels within 10 years. Of course Georgetown’s trustees know that selling the university’s shares in publicly-held companies like ExxonMobil or Chevron won’t have the slightest impact on the price of the companies’ stock. Nor will it affect their ability to raise funds or supply energy to customers around the world. And it won’t reduce the world’s supply of fossil fuels by a single barrel of oil or cubic foot of natural gas.

The point is worth underscoring. Student activists may sincerely imagine that getting their school to divest from fossil fuel stock is an effective way to weaken fossil-fuel companies. But capital markets don’t work that way. Every share of ExxonMobil stock sold by Georgetown is a share simultaneously purchased by some other investor — almost certainly an investor with no desire to demonize or punish fossil fuel companies. As an ExxonMobil investor, Georgetown may have some leverage over company policies. As an ex-investor, it has none.

In financial terms, as Oxford professor William MacAskill observed in a New Yorker essay a few years ago, disinvesting because of ethical scruples about an industry creates buying opportunities for investors who don’t share those scruples. “The market price stays the same; the company loses no money and notices no difference,” wrote MacAskill, whose research focuses on effective altruism. “As long as there are economic incentives to invest in a certain stock, there will be individuals and groups … willing to jump on the opportunity.”

That may not matter to teenage activists filled with righteous indignation, but the savviest climate activists certainly know it. Bill McKibben, a longtime environmental campaigner and foe of fossil fuel companies, has acknowledged that divestment crusades aren’t aimed at “affecting share prices” of oil, gas, and coal companies. The goal, rather, is to “revoke the social license of these firms” and turn them into “pariahs.” In The American Prospect, divestment advocate Jennifer Stock made a similar point: “At its essence, divestment is a symbolic, culturally punitive act,” she writes. And such “symbols are powerful,” since they help “shape the narratives we espouse as a culture.”

Maybe so. But if the divestment movement is merely a form of hostile symbolism — if it asks of its adherents only that they join in stigmatizing fossil-fuel companies — does it really amount to anything more than moral preening? It’s easy for college students to march and picket and chant “Divest Now!” What are they prepared to do that isn’t so easy? Stop buying gasoline for their cars? Give up hot showers? Renounce their electronic devices? If it weren’t for fossil fuels and the corporations that extract, refine, and sell them, there would be no air travel, no central heating or air conditioning, no internet, no fresh produce in the middle of winter. Those things aren’t absolutely essential to life on earth; after all, human beings lived without them for millennia. But how many of those clamoring for divestment from fossil fuel stocks are willing to go beyond cost-free symbolism and actually divest themselves of the myriad benefits they reap every day from fossil fuels?

To be sure, there are sources of energy other than fossil fuels. But wind and solar power, the “greenest” renewables, account for only 8 percent of the electricity generated in the United States. Even if someday they account for all of it — which is likely only in the realm of science fiction — modern life would still be unthinkable without fossil fuels. Thousands of indispensable products, from plastic to asphalt to fertilizer, are derived from petroleum. No less than gasoline or jet fuel, they cannot be had without refining crude oil, and the carbon footprint that entails.

The benefits of fossil fuels have been incalculably vast. Thanks to coal, oil, and natural gas, billions of human beings live better, safer, healthier, cleaner, and richer lives than they otherwise would have. Certainly there is a case to be made that those gains have come at the cost of some negative environmental impacts. But those impacts will not be mitigated by getting colleges to sell off their shares in fossil fuel companies. If all you want to do is strike a self-righteous pose, a divestment campaign is the way to go. If you’re hoping to change the energy that makes the world go ‘round, divestment won’t accomplish a thing.


Australia: CSIRO omits a key finding which doesn't link bushfires to climate change

Senator Matt Canavan reveals during Senate Estimates that the CSIRO failed to include a finding that “there are no studies linking climate change to fire weather” in a bushfire ‘explainer document’.

During Senate estimates a CSIRO official failed to explain why a previous CSIRO finding which said there was no evidence to suggest a link between climate change and bushsfires was not found in the recent document explaining the “climate change and science about bushfires”.

Mr Canavan told Sky News host Paul Murray omitting such a finding is like “writing a report for a newspaper about a football match and not including the final score”.

Speaking about Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese’s net-zero emissions target by 2050, Mr Canavan said Mr Albanese “doesn’t understand what he’s signed up to will devastate Australian farming”.

This is unbelievable that a government or any opposition that’s going for election every three years would get away with making a promise that’s going to be at least ten elections away,” he said.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


No comments: