Real ‘threat’ is to industrial civilization

Goosed by an environmentalist lawsuit seeking a decision by Thursday, the Interior Department Wednesday declared the polar bear a “threatened species,” saying it must be protected because of the decline in Arctic sea ice caused by global warming.

The department certainly couldn’t say it was because polar bear numbers are down. Both the Edinburgh Scotsman and the London Telegraph report there are some 25,000 polar bears in the wild and their numbers are growing explosively — an increase of between 15 and 25 per cent over the past decade.

“We’re seeing an increase in bears that’s really unprecedented, and in places where we’re seeing a decrease in the population it’s from hunting, not from climate change,” Canadian polar bear expert Mitch Taylor told the Scotsman in 2005. “In the Davis Strait area, a 140,000-square kilometer region, the polar bear population has grown from 850 in the mid-1980s to 2,100 today,” added the Telegraph, last year.

Rather, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne cited dramatic declines in the size of Arctic sea ice sheets over the past three decades and computer projections of continued losses. These declines, he told a news conference, mean the polar bear is a species likely to be in danger of extinction in the near future. (Polar bears are experts at hunting ringed seals and other prey on sea ice. But they’re so unsuccessful on land that they spend their summers fasting, losing more than two pounds a day.)

The secretary failed to mention that “three decades” was used as the measurement period because we’ve only had sea ice satellite data since 1979 — the Arctic is a famously difficult place to survey by any other means, so there’s simply no information from previous decades or centuries to tell us to what extent such changes are normal and cyclical.

Secretary Kempthorne did say it would be “inappropriate” to use his listing decision as an excuse to seek a reduction in man-made greenhouse gas emissions, or to broadly address climate change.

But the secretary is either disingenuous or whistling past the graveyard. Environmental extremists have sought the listing precisely because the Endangered Species Act now allows them to sue any federal agency, demanding that said agency no longer license or allow any behaviors that might further “endanger” the “threatened” species — such as, to their way of thinking, allowing the continued burning of fossil fuels in power plants … not just in Alaska, but anywhere.

“If the bears were listed,” the Boston Herald warned in an editorial Sunday, “The Endangered Species Act provides that each federal agency would have to ‘insure that any action authorized, funded or carried out by such agency is not likely to jeopardize any endangered species or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification (our italics) of (critical) habitat of such species.’

“The environmentalists, if not the service, could claim that any activity that emitted carbon dioxide, the chief gas causing the supposed warming, could not be authorized, financed or done by a federal agency,” the Herald continued. “The agencies would have to bring the modern world to a crash as no fossil fuels could be burned in power plants, no highways built and so forth throughout the economy.”

Although Arctic ice is shrinking, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in October this was caused not by warming but a shift in wind patterns that pushed more ice out of the Arctic. Another report in January said surface warming in the Arctic was caused by unexplained atmospheric heat transfer from the tropics.

“Polar bears have been around for 100,000 years, surviving much warmer temperatures before the last ice age,” the Herald noted. “Canada, on whose territory about two-thirds of the bears live, has refused to classify them as threatened or endangered. The United States should follow suit.”

Unfortunately, the deed is done, the precedent now set. The theory embraced is that the animal is somehow “threatened” by consumers burning fossil fuels in their SUVs in Georgia or Alabama, where the lumbering predator has never been seen outside a zoo, all based on cobbled-together computer models ignoring the ice-core evidence that global warming follows a predictable 15,000-year cycle far more dependent on solar activity than the notion that aboriginal peoples in 13,000 B.C. got carried away and burned too many buffalo chips.

If polar bears are placed on the endangered species list, “the legal hurdles to oil and gas drilling will increase,” warns biologist Kenneth P. Green of the American Enterprise Institute. “Last year, Shell Offshore Inc. was about to start drilling in the Beaufort Sea when a court order halted the activity on the grounds that the federal government did not thoroughly assess the environmental impact before granting Shell permission to drill.

“In petitioning against the drilling, environmental groups invoked sea ducks, whales, and, of course, polar bears. … The U.S. Minerals Management Service estimates that the area holds the potential for 7 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 32 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas.”

Fuel to help hold down gasoline and energy prices — fuel the green extremists hope we’ll never see.

Never forget that the goal of the green extreme is to shut down our modern industrial and technological civilization entirely, returning mankind to the “more pristine” state of existence last seen seven centuries ago, when wolves roamed the outskirts of Paris and the average human being died before age 40, toothless, crippled, and shivering in the dark.

“Notwithstanding the secretary’s disclaimers, this is the first time the Endangered Species Act has been used to protect a species threatened by the impacts of global warming,” The Associated Press noted Wednesday. “There has been concern within the business community that such an action could have far-reaching impact and could be used to regulate carbon dioxide.”

Here it comes.

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