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Polar bear returns

Written By: - Date published: 11:28 am, November 14th, 2008 - 17 comments
Categories: climate change, national/act government - Tags:

From Scoop:

The hapless polar bear that emerged during the recent TVNZ You-Tube leaders debate has resurfaced to issue a plea to Prime Minister-elect John Key. “The planet is on the slide due to climate change,” stresses the bear. “Me and my ilk are like canaries in the coal mine. But by-God we’re not the only canaries.”

Having left the confines of a suburban pool somewhere in Grey Lynn, the displaced bear now seems to have found itself a headquarters in the city.

It urges Mr Key that he use his new position to help save the climate; otherwise it’s over rover for polar bears and Parnell.”

17 comments on “Polar bear returns”

  1. tsmithfield 1

    What a joke. Polar bears have survived previous periods when there was no ice. There numbers are actually doing quite well at the moment if anyone cares to research it. Wrong species to pick for AGW sympathy.

  2. Boy this is going to get old fast, but knowing our, the person behind this will get their own reality show.

  3. Conrad 3

    The Polar Bear should do us all a favour and drown himself in his swimming pool.

  4. Tigger 4

    tsmithfield – what species would you suggest they select? Or do you think global warming is having no effect on any animal life?

  5. Roflcopter 5

    That bear could be turned into a nice coat

  6. tsmithfield 6

    Tigger: “what species would you suggest they select? Or do you think global warming is having no effect on any animal life?”

    I would describe myself as an agnostic with respect to AWG. However, I would select a species that actually does show some evidence of being threatened through a rapidly changing climate that could possibly be attributed to AGW. For heaven’s sake, not the polar bear. There has been so much emotive stuff put out about polar bears and global warming that has been shown to be complete nonsense.

  7. Tigger 7

    Point taken, I choose sea turtles instead. And plankton.

  8. tssmithfield,

    polar bears and global warming that has been shown to be complete nonsense.

    proof please..

    Nay not mere assertion, but actual proof. Online link/s preferable

  9. tsmithfield 9

    northpaw: Here is a quote from the only peer-reviewed paper on the subject:

    “Given the enormous uncertainty involved in long-term forecasts of polar bear populations, the lack of accurate time-series data on these populations, and the complex relationships that are subject to much uncertainty, prior evidence from forecasting research calls for simple and conservative methods. This means that one should follow a trend only if such a trend has been persistent and there are no strong reasons to expect the trend to change. Given the upward trend in polar bear numbers over the past few decades, a modest upward trend is likely to continue in the near future given the lack of strong reasons for it to stop.”


    In the 1950’s the polar bear population was approx 5000, now it exceeds 25000.
    The status of the bears being “endangered” is largely premised on the view that AGW is correct rather than on observational data.

  10. Dave 10

    Sounds like our very own Jeanette 🙂

    good on ya Ms. Fitzsimons, hahahaha @ the canary crack 😛

  11. tssmithfield,

    Thank you for that. The abstract reads to me as though authors Armstrong, Green & Soon have been ignored insofar as their own ‘proposed scientific’ methodology.

    Would you concur. And if so, explain to me and the folks here why that is the case.

  12. tsmithfield 12

    Northpaw, I am not going to do your research for you.

    The point is that the body of literature if you care to look agrees that Polar Bears are not currently threatened as a species. It is more to do with future threats to their habitat that could result in them becoming threatened.

    Polar bears have been around for more than 100000 years and have survived previous periods of global warming when there was no ice at the artic. Therefore, they obviously have the inherited genetic capability to survive in an environment without ice. So, it is a mystery as to why they would be considered threatened at all by global warming. If anything, it seems likely that over-fishing is likely to be a much greater threat to the species IMO.

    The point is that there is simply no justification for polar bears being the pin-up species for the global warming brigade.

    There is a similar situation with the tuatara. The male sperm count decreases with increasing temperature, causing alarm about the effect of global warming on the population. However, these reptiles have been around a lot longer than polar bears and survived numerous periods warmer than we are experiencing at the moment. Therefore, it seems that nature finds a way.

  13. tssmithfield,

    Responding in kind,
    It is more to do with future threats to their habitat that could result in them becoming threatened.

    the precise point I take from the Armstrong, Green & Soon’s paper of Kevin Trenberth’s viewpoint, included therein.

    Not so much NOW as NEXT, and all catalysable from AGW. Then no ice = more guns of which there were none at all 100,000 years ago.

  14. tsmithfield 14

    northpaw: “Then no ice = more guns of which there were none at all 100,000 years ago.”

    Actually, there is a general prohibition on hunting polar bears now which accounts for their dramatic recovery over recent years.

    However, I think you are starting to see my point. 100,000 years ago the food supply was undoubtably much better than what it is today, hence the polar bear could probably survive periods of natural warming and cooling because the food supply could sustain a viable population of bears in the worst case. Therefore, the problem today is more likely food supply rather than global warming (natural or man-made).

    What if it is discovered that current warming is part of a natural cycle? Then, obviously, the only thing that can be fixed is the food supply side of the equation. This is something we can and should do something about, not just for the polar bears, but also for the rest of the species dependant on sea life for existence.

    AGW (even if it is true) is a problem that the Kyoto Protocol is going to have very little effect on (as accepted by its proponents). But we can break the problem down into more manageable, achievable objectives, such as reducing over-fishing, reducing deforestation, etc that will have immediate benefits for affected species that have previously been able to ride out periods of natural global warming and cooling but now are unable to do so due to other factors that have changed.

    Surely our resources are better focussed on problems we can actually fix rather than problems we can’t.

  15. Akldnut 15

    Skin em and eat em.
    Use skin for shelter from the sun (shade) or coats during winter.

    Let me loose up there and they’ed definately be endangered. 🙂

  16. Chris G 16


    Okay, firstly, I am going to talk about the USE of polar bears. The following is not me discussing or citing anything about the risk of extinction of the polar bear, simply its use as an environmental awareness mascot. Although there are bits about the threats towards polar bears in the article albeit quiet a minor part of the article as a whole.

    You question the use of a polar bear as an advertisement for raising awareness of AGW/ GCC / what ever you want to call it. So here is some research that investigates its use.

    An interesting article here – if you can deal with reading human geography type speak infused with feminist analysis (Tough, but I have to every now and then considering I major in geography as science) – It talks of why the polar bear has since the 90s been used as a symbol to increase awareness of the impacts of climate change and it is used as a result to make the problem a question of scale and appeal to peoples tendency to think on a local scale:

    Because its a lengthy article ill try and extract the more appropriate parts but you are most welcome to look at it yourself:

    The article, Im unsure if you’ll be able to access it as I get it through my Uni account (Id suggest google scholar’ing the title, but its:

    Slocum R, 2004, “Polar bears and energy-efficient lightbulbs: strategies to bring climate change home” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 22(3) 413 438

    The problem of Scale:
    “Climate change has been framed by the physical and natural sciences (Taylor, 1997) as a threat to the planet as a whole and to `our common’ future (Demeritt, 1998a;1998b; Hinchliffe, 1996; Taylor, 1997; Taylor and Buttel, 1992). Approaches based in an appeal to the global and to scientific certainty avoid “the more difficult work of making global warming meaningful” to different publics (Demeritt, 1998a, page 6). They fail to see that socio-environmental change is local and that “most people do not have problems of a global nature” (Taylor, 1997, page 151, his italics)”

    Possible Solution:
    “The strategies of the CCP and GPC are a response to this framing. To campaign proponents, polar bears and energy-efficient lightbulbs are more local to citizens than the tons of green-house gases collecting in the atmosphere. They are closer to home – they fall within some people’s scope of concern or interest according to the CCP campaign and GPC”

    Discussion of said solution:
    “Climate change is at once local and global, and, although
    people do not necessarily acknowledge this, political strategies can make the relation-ship visible. Revealing how an issue is at once local and global and changing how people think about their relationship could be practiced for progressive purposes.” “Doing this can help people to grasp the extent of an issue, its relevance to their lives, and its relationship to the lives of others”

    To summarise: By using the example of a polar bear it breaks down peoples less global oriented view and puts the problems of a global issue in a local context. This has an appeal about it as it provides a link of local-global.

    I hope that made sense.

    Your next issue as to whether they will be affected by global warming and/or if they are infact threatened by climate change. Ill attempt to discuss that if I have enough time, but as you should be well aware, researching and trawling academic journals is a time consuming task let alone reading the papers which are 95% boring with only about 5% of them with juicy stuff worth reading.

    I had a look at the article you link and it was essentialy a critique of the methodology employed by research in to polar bears habitat distribution and things like that. Just out of my own speculation and experience, it is so easy to find conflicting scientific papers with regard to a range of debates, not just climate change. eg. Aspartame, Marijuana, Evolution etc etc. Obviously I’m not disregarding the article, nor should you disregard the one I linked, but I just think we all need to be careful even when examining academia.

  17. Chris G 17

    okay had to run but here for example is an article talking about decreased range in polar bears, increased pressures. Good article, seems clear to me they are pretty endangered other than the rosy picture you like to attribute to things!

    Saffron J. O’Neill (2008) “Using expert knowledge to assess uncertainties in future polar bear populations under climate change” Journal of Applied Ecology
    Volume 45 Issue 6, Pages 1649 – 1659

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