You can stop worrying about the polar bears
The Kansas City Star
Given the miserable predictive record of so many environmentists (the latest word from the ever-gloomy Paul Ehrlich is that we have only a 10 percent chance of avoiding a collapse of global civilization) it’s surprising so many people still pay attention. Maybe as a species we’re simply inclined to believe the worse, or at least worry about it.
Case in point: When a green group sued the U.S. government demanding that polar bears be placed on the endangered species list because Arctic sea ice was disappearing, the polar bear suddenly became the poster child for the latest enviro scare.
Zac Unger was one of those who went north to write about the looming polar bear extinction. “I wanted to be a hero of the environmental movement and write a poetic obituary for a doomed species,” he said in a recent Wall Street Journal article.
But when he got to polar bear country, he was no longer sure the problem existed. What he did find was that some environmentalists saw only what they wanted to see.
When he was in Churchill, near Hudson Bay (“ground zero for anything having to do with polar bears”), a woman from an enviro group told him the “bears all look so skinny … It’s so sad.” The next person he talked to was a biologist from the Manitoba Conservation Department who said, “The bears look good. I haven’t seen them this fat in years.”
Once again, an environmental cause becomes less dire and maybe not even a problem on closer study. There are a lot more them that there were 40 years ago. Yes, there are worrisome omens: Fewer females seem to be bearing twins or triplets. But the notion that polar bears are on the verge of extinction now seems ridiculous.
Unger also explodes the theory that the bears’ future depends on sea ice: He points out that bears in more southerly latitudes have been accustomed to ice-free summers “since before the Industrial Revolution.”
The wildlife director for the Canadian territory of Nunavut tells Unger, “Polar bears are one of the biggest conservation success stories in the world.”
Sometimes, it seems a good rule of thumb for any environmental scare story would be to flip the scenario 180 degrees; you’d have a reasonable chance of being closer to reality than the environmentalists.