What Fresh Hell Is This?

February 7, 2013

The Trib: Leaving Out Important Info. Again.

From today's Tribune-Review:
A funny thing happened on the way to the “demise” of the polar bear. For years, climate cluckers have been sounding the death knell for the bears and won “endangered species” status for them. But writer Zac Unger concludes that more polar bears are alive today than 40 years ago. And this from a guy who previously was convinced that “man-made global warming” was leading to polar bear extinction. Throw another log on the fire, honey; it's cold outside. [Bolding in original.]
It's all part of the plan by Scaife's braintrust to undermine the credibility of climate science.  But since this is the braintrust we're talking about here, we can be more or less assured that what they leave out is just as important as what they put in.  Perhaps more so.

Take a look at this from NPR.  This is what Zac Unger said about his book on the polar bears:
"My humble plan was to become a hero of the environmental movement. I was going to go up to the Canadian Arctic, I was going to write this mournful elegy for the polar bears, at which point I'd be hailed as the next coming of John Muir and borne aloft on the shoulders of my environmental compatriots ...

"So when I got up there, I started realizing polar bears were not in as bad a shape as the conventional wisdom had led me to believe, which was actually very heartening, but didn't fit well with the book I'd been planning to write.

"... There are far more polar bears alive today than there were 40 years ago. ... In 1973, there was a global hunting ban. So once hunting was dramatically reduced, the population exploded. This is not to say that global warming is not real or is not a problem for the polar bears. But polar bear populations are large, and the truth is that we can't look at it as a monolithic population that is all going one way or another." [Emphasis added.]
Ah, so by omitting any mention of The International Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears, the braintrust effectively skews the true picture of the bears' population.  If they didn't know about the agreement, they're guilty of not researching their position fully enough before writing about on the subject and if they did know about the agreement they're guilty of misleading their reading public.

So which is it, folks - incompetence or dishonesty?

But is what Unger said true?  I haven't read his book so we'll just have to rely on what the science has to say.  The area where Unger visited (Churchill Manitoba), is in the "Western Hudson Bay" region and according to this report from the "Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) Working Group of the Arctic Council":
For the Western Hudson Bay subpopulation, the decline is linked to the impacts of climate warming and loss of sea-ice habitat on body condition and demographic rates of polar bears.
And as Mediamatters points out:
And while Gallagher suggested that the prevalence of polar bears in the town of Churchill indicates that the population is "exploding," it may actually be a result of climate change. Polar bears in the region return to shore each year to await the freezing of the Hudson Bay in early autumn. But experts say that Arctic warming has already shortened amount of time that the bears can hunt for food in the bay, increasing the risk that bears will wander into town in search of food.
So it's entirely possible that Unger saw more bears - but incorrectly assumed that that meant that more bears exist.  Could be that more bears are showing up in town because climate change has affected their environment negatively.

Now go back and read what Scaife's braintrust said about the bears.

Which do you think it is?  Incompetence or dishonesty?

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