“There have been documented reports of polar bears drowning and starving — and of snowy dens collapsing on newborn cubs and their mothers from unseasonable rains.” — NRDC fundraising letter from Lenardo DiCaprio.
The Bush Administration is under a judge’s order to act on an Endangered Species Act listing for the polar bear by May 15th, as environmental groups abuse the legal system to try to enact global-warming policy through activist courts and regulations.
Well, science and population surveys indicate the polar bears aren’t endangered, as AEI resident scholar Kenneth P. Green explains in The Orange County Register. Green also relates:
Environmentalists have long used charismatic megafauna as poster children in their ongoing crusade to wall off as much of the world as possible from human encroachment.
Environmental activist Eric de Place observes that using these types of animals as “poster children” for broader conservation has worked with grizzly bears, wolves, and sea otters. And the money follows the glamour.
For a particularly cynical and mawkish example of this “poster children” fundraising approach, take a look at a recent solicitation mailing from the Natural Resources Defense Council and its Polar Bear SOS campaign. (The inset photo comes from the campaign’s website.)
It starts with the appeal from Leonardo DiCaprio quoted above, page 1 and page 2. Then there’s a NRDC polar bear S.O.S. petition, asking, “Can you give $20 or more to throw the polar bears a lifeline?” The NRDC solicitation letter is over the top, but apparently they think that sells:
If you’re like me, I’m sure it pains you deeply to imagine …
…The last gasp of a polar bear before it drowns in the vast waters of the Arctic, unable to reach the increasingly distant ice floes it needs to find food.
…The muffled cries of newborn polar bear cubs as they are buried alive when their snowy den collapses from unseasonable rains.
…The exhaustion of a mother polar bear and her young as they succumb to starvation after enduring longer and longer periods without food.
And if that doesn’t get you, we’ve got a tote bag!
The arguments appeal to emotion because can’t effectively appeal to science. As the AEI’s Green summarizes in a paper, “Is the Polar Bear Endangered, or Just Conveniently Charismatic?“
At present, polar bear populations are robust and, according to native people, are considerably larger than they were in previous decades. Predictions of polar bear endangerment are based on two sets of computer models: one set predicts how much Arctic sea ice will melt as a result of global warming, and the other predicts how polar bear populations will respond. But computer models of climate are known to be fraught with problems, and the ecological models used to predict polar bear response are equally limited.
Because of extreme limitations in data, it is essentially impossible to decide whether polar bears are endangered and whether their habitat is threatened by man-made global warming or other natural climate cycles. This is acknowledged by the experts themselves–the actual IUCN/SSC report is more broad in naming causes and more conservative about estimating their effects.
The policy implications of an ESA listing for the polar bear are breathtaking…and jobs-killing and economy-crushing and so radical that Congress, the policymaking branch of government, would never enact them. As Hugh Hewitt explains the listing would bring every carbon-emitting federal action under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
Can’t you hear the muffled cries of the children of laid-off employees?
Here, give ’em a tote bag.
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