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May 23, 2008

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Discussion Topic: Alaska Governor To Sue Over Polar Bear Listing

From the Anchorage Daily News:

The State of Alaska will sue to challenge the recent listing of polar bears as a threatened species, Gov. Sarah Palin said Wednesday.

She and other Alaska elected officials fear a listing will cripple oil and gas development in prime polar bear habitat off the state's northern and northwestern coasts. . . .

Climate models that predict continued loss of sea ice, the main habitat of polar bears, during summers are unreliable, Palin said.

The announcement drew a strong response from the primary author of the listing petition.

"She's either grossly misinformed or intentionally misleading, and both are unbecoming," said Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity. "Alaska deserves better. . . ."

"Even the Bush administration can't deny the reality of global warming," she said. "The governor is aligning herself and the state of Alaska with the most discredited, fringe, extreme viewpoints by denying this."

What do you think?


Mike Diehl

I think you misunderstood Bob's post. Bob merely noted that climate change is not refuted by some Yokel observing that "it snowed a little extra by gumminy in his back yard last month therefore all them syintists is wrong."

Yes, it has occurred for ages. Often in the past because of simple orbital mechanics or variations in insolation. Morons, sophomores, and liars often latch on to paleoclimatic studies, ignorantly supposing that the existence of warmer or cooler episodes in the distant past somehow demonstrates that the current warming trend can't be human-caused.

It can be human caused of course. Humans now put more CO2, a known greenhouse gas, into the atmopshere each year, than all the volcanoes on earth typically dump out every 100 years. We have substantially undone tens of millions of years of carbon sequestration that occurred especially during the carboniferous.

So "humility in the face of mother nature or god and reflection that humans are a small thing in the grand scheme of things" is nothing more than a fool's denial. Humans CAN and may damned well be altering the climate far more effectively and rapidly than either the sun or orbital mechanics has ever done in the past.

Policy implications are unclear at this point. When it becomes more apparent where the chips will fall, we'll be better informed as to the degree we all should care. If it would bring more rain to the arid western US, it might be a good thing for the USA.

It remains the case that the best reasons for curbing our use of fossil fuels are ones involving American economic and strategic security. Nukes, wind farms, and solar are outstanding ideas regardless of the status of polar bears, unless one wants to continue funding Middle Eastern terrorists every time one fills tha gas tank.


Okay, I had a layer of ice in my wheelbarrow this morning. Its May 27th and that ice proves nothing.
First of all, can we prove that global warming is happening? Probably not. We've got roughly 150 years of reasonably accurate data over the 5 billion year life of the planet.
Second, if we were to assume that we had global warming, how would we know if its human caused?
As foresters, we've recently learned how handicapped we are because we don't understand the presettlement makeup of our forests. Now scientists are trying to tell us that events of the past two hundred years are dictating at least 100,000 years of this planet's evolution?
If you enjoy being entertained while learning, I heartily recommend STATE OF FEAR by Michael Crichton. This is a very well researched novel about global warming. He basically debunks the whole theory.

Clay Cooper

Archaeologists have found farmland under ice, is that what we get the iceberg lettuce brand


Thank you Mike. I wasn't trying to say that it is impossible to determine whether global warming is happening due to our relatively short lifespans, but rather that the recorded average changes in temperature are so slight from year to year on a global scale that it's impossible to determine the changes by any of our individual experiences.

Here's another analogy: If you were to play blackjack, and you won the first two hands, is it fair to assume you have a 100% chance of beating the house? What if you instead played 100 hands, and you won 58 times? Are the odds of beating the house 58%? It wouldn't be until you played thousands (or hundreds of thousands)of hands that you would be able to determine the true odds of beating the house at (roughly) 49.5%.
According to the EPA, the surface of the earth is currently warming at a rate of 3.2 degrees/century. When we are looking at changes so slight, over such a long period of time, over such a large area, each of our individual experiences can be compared to any one of those individual blackjack hands.

To say that global warming is or isn't happening because "it's been a hot or cold year in Milwaukee" is faulty logic.


I'm not trying to make a point here about the validity of global warming (scientists far smarter than me are doing a fine job), but I am trying to clean up the argument a little bit.


Okay, I'll concede.
After being lumped in with morons, sophomores, liars and fools, how can I hope to contend?
Just for fun, however, go to earthtimes.org and scroll down to a link to an article under Environment News by Vaclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic where he offers to debate Al Gore (warning, yes he is promoting a book) but he does offer some perspective, and the comments that follow are hilarious.
As CTB commented above, "The truth is nobody knows whether there is global warming or not".
We all have our theories, and beliefs, anecdotal evidence, studies, papers,etc.
We can agree to disagree.
But, Something Has to be Done, just gives the professional pocket-pickers permission to pick yours.


To challenge your comments a minute, I think very few (if any) bonafide climatologists deny that global warming exists. If there is a legitimate debate, it's the extent of the human population's contribution to this warm-up.
A rise in global temperature has been pretty thoroughly and repeatedly documented...


All said and done, Mother Nature will throw us hurricanes, tornados,volcanos,earthquakes,
natural fires, falling space crap, diseases....the whole nine yards....thus we will perish like all of the other plants and animals that are fighting for this Earthly life. So just sit back, soak it all in, and count your blessings and let MN decide our fate. That's all the polar bear has riding on his ass!

Mike Diehl

"First of all, can we prove that global warming is happening? Probably not. We've got roughly 150 years of reasonably accurate data over the 5 billion year life of the planet."

Actually, we can. We have 150 years of extremely solid data and about 50,000 years of outstanding paleoclimatic data from multiple data sets, and about 2 million years of 'reasonably good but we'd like to know more' from gas chromatography samples from ice cores, ocean sediments, and coral ring studies. So, when environmental scientists including the paleoclimate people say "the last 150 years are highly unusual" the statement is overwhelmingly supported by data, science, and most of the climate science community who have reviewed the data.

"Second, if we were to assume that we had global warming, how would we know if its human caused?"

We know it's human caused because none of the previous (ancient paleoclimtic) causes, such as solar variation, or orbital mechanics, can account for the 150 year trend. In contrast, CO2 concentrations correlate very well with the trend, and CO2 is a scientifically well known proven greenhouse gas.

Imagine arriving on the scene of an automobile crash. You've got 150 feet of skid marks, a crashed car, a straight road, a drunk driver, and nothing else. You probably wouldn't attribute the crash to space aliens, divine intervention, or a sudden earthquake.

"Now scientists are trying to tell us that events of the past two hundred years are dictating at least 100,000 years of this planet's evolution?"

Nope. They're telling you that events of the past 150 years can't be accounted for by the things that caused older cooling and warming episodes, and that they will drive climate for at least the rest of the century. Whether or not it has any evolutionary effect at all is something that only time will tell. But with the expansion of mid-latitude trees northward, if the trend continues, I suspect it will have evolutionary effects too.

"If you enjoy being entertained while learning, I heartily recommend STATE OF FEAR by Michael Crichton."

Stress *entertainment* and delete *learning* and you'll be near the mark.

"This is a very well researched novel about global warming."

Actually, it is a virtually unresearched novel about global warming. It is even less authoritative than the laughingly bad novel about complex adaptive systems and non-machines that he wrote a few years back. Frankly, his quality hit the skids after Jurassic Park hit the bookshelves. Of course, "Congo," and "Timeline" were trash too, so perhaps we should start thinking of "good" Crichton novels as the exception rather than the rule.

"He basically debunks the whole theory."

A medical doctor who hasn't practiced medicine in decades and who has no training in climatology, the man's opinion about climate change science and two dollars are worth about as much as a dark cup o coffee and a doughnut.


"An Inconvenient Counter Truth"
Don't dispute the other person's arguments, just denigrate the person.
DOCTOR Crichton writes novels, based on his learning, experiences, and opinions.
Scientists of all types agree and disagree on the topic.
Agree or disagree if you will.
Take a chill, go wet a hook, but guard your wallet.


Humans dancing with polar bears.

If only the polar bear could swat us a few times and slap some senses in us.


Polar bears, back on topic!
Thanks AV.
5,000 not that many years ago, estimated 25,000-30,000 now.
Up to our ears in polar bears.
Kinda like whitetail deer and wild turkeys. Nebraska's giving a free antlerless tag with each license this year, and you can buy several tags, special seasons in effect, and late seasons if not enough taken. Too many being killed by Chevy's rather than Winchesters.
Y'all come on and help.
Turkey population exploding, coming right into town, crashing into windshields (which is quite a mess).
Mother Nature's gone wild (new video maybe?).
Maybe we need to build a border fence to keep them polar bears from illegally immigrating. They'll be taking jobs from our regular bears. We had one (non-polar)in western Nebraska last week, first one since 1907.


Mike Diehl

Very well said indeed

Chimpy Mcshrub? LMAO

Grey Bear

I'm not a scientist and everything I know about global warming I have read somewhere, from both sides of the fence. And I don't know how many Polar Bears there are in Alaska as I have never been there. And I don't really care about "superstars" who use there fame as a political platform. What I do know is that oil drilling has detrimental effects on wildlife and the environment, no matter how green or enviro-friendly they try to be. I live in an area where refineries provide countless jobs and I have seen it first hand. Believe whatever you want, but if you let the oil companies drill in Alaska it'll soon be cluttered with people and industry and you can read about polar bears in history books.


Hey JohnL,

Isn't it amazing how we humans nowadays are exploiting our natural resources! Everything has a dollar sign or value to it.....and everyone under the sun thinks they have all the answers to human / wildlife conflicts. In the end...we are just animals as much as they are!

Hey, I have Pike Co. Illinois hunting property , care to swap hunt?? (no polar bears have been seen yet!)



A village idiot produces a movie about global warming, and the relationship between the use of carbon fuels anf this phenomenon. Now I'm supposed to believe this? That person uses more energy in his home, every month of the year, than I use in a year. That person uses more fuel in his jet plane every trip than I have ever used in my diesel truck (285,000 miles). I'm supposed to believe him? We had hard freezes here in the U.P., three days this week. My furnace, which is normally turned off by May 1st, has run every day this month. But I'm supposed to believe that I'm warmer today than I was a year ago.


The fact that you don't like and/or politically agree with Al Gore doesn't invalidate global warming.
The fact that Al Gore may be incredibly hypocritical in regards to his message about reducing emmissions vs. his own lifestyle also does not invalidate global warming. (How many republican politicians have talked about family values in the last two years only to be caught in extramarital affairs? That doesn't mean thier message about family-values was wrong...)

Also, I think we've already discussed ad nauseum that Michigan's weather is but a drop in the bucket when calculating average global temperature change. (For every Michigan that may be having an unseasonably warm spring, who's to say there arent five other places have an unseasonably warm one?)


Oops, make that "For every Michigan having an unseasonably cold spring..."


The Fact that Al Gore is getting wealthy (after failing at everything else) by scaring sheeple is what disturbs me.
We can't even change (or all that accurately predict) local weather, and we are told we can effect and change the GLOBAL climate, if only we Believe and Follow the intelligentsia.
Sorry, don't believe, won't do it. wouldn't be prudent.
Lay in some extra firewood, the caterpillars will be extra woolly this fall.
I think the "Old Farmer's Almanac" is a better oracle.


If only Michigan had colder than average, I would certainly agree! The mddle east (Iraq, Israel) both suffered unusual snowfalls last winter. Western Canada was very cold. They send their weather to us, so our weather people always report those temps. I don't know if they set any records. Also, please keep in mind that ice floe breakup is a common and normal occurance. They grow and eventually break off because of there size and weight.

I still don't know if global warming exists. More important, I am not convinced that its man-caused. With those two "ifs", I really don't want to see people thrown out of work because of a theory! please note, if there is a very large effort to eliminate global warming, I'll probably see more work and more money. This won't happen to everyone, though.


Polar bear count back in 1972 estimated a population around 5000. Today it is close to 25,000 (five times as much) and if global warming "is" going to reduce that population in 50 years by 66% , that leaves close to 8000 bears.....in the year 2058. That should still leave more bears than in the years past!

Seems to me that this is not good old rational thinking (global warming and man controlling animal's earthly existence), so all I can say is that rational thinking , not the polar bear,
should be put on the endangered species list!

Mike Diehl

I think people are missing the main point. Polar bear listing as "threatened" does not mean there's a hunt ban, and it does not imply that global warming necessarily has anything to do with the threat.

The real world implications are that in some areas where numbers are unusually low (which is apparently the demographically driven conclusion) there will be limits on activities that impact the population.


Hey Mike,
I wonder what the polar bear could say if he had the chance?

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthrone recently classified the bear under the protection of the Endangered Species Act. Doing so, makes it the first time that a healthy species is considered to be at risk. (They are
flourishing today.) So why is the government coming to the "rescue"?
Currently the Federal Fish and Wildlife Service mentioned any change.....may be benificial to the seals and the polar bears.

I think that our government lacks the true leadership required to concentrate on our nation's energy problem. Rather they distort and scapegoat the problems
as this imagined animal threat!

With science and politics hovering around the polar bear state of Alaska...how much more time and money will they spend to
validate the general publics concerns?


I have been a "weatherman" for the Air Force for 10 years now. I would like to envite all the global warming believers to listen in. Consider this leson 1 in atmospheric physics......
The atmosphere is a fluid dynamic, and it is in a constant battle to seek eqilibrium. The sun also plays a role in this. So it heats up in the spring and summer and then when the microwave is turned off the cold come rushing in (fall and winter). Based on that alone it is expected that much of the time when there are warmer summers there will be colder winters. Example this past winter season where there were record lows in the upper midwest. It is also this constant battle that gives us our historic ice ages. As stated by an Austrailian climate expert " the long range models aren't sure if we will see global warming or global cooling". So think about this....
Based on the historical trends we are due for another ice age. With our current oil crisis which do you think would be worse. The country would go into a frenzied panic if we hit the next ice age with fuel prices being what they are, and there would be major problems. So chew on that for a day or two and think what the potential damage of the governments current stand on global warming could be.


As far as earthquakes go I like to think of them as mothernatures way of population control.

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