The Double Bind:
Here's a story guaranteed to induce manic-depression in Global Warming advocates. The Daily Telegraph reports "Polar bears thriving as the Arctic warms up".
A survey of the animals' numbers in Canada's eastern Arctic has revealed that they are thriving, not declining, because of mankind's interference in the environment. In the Davis Strait area, a 140,000-square kilometre region, the polar bear population has grown from 850 in the mid-1980s to 2,100 today. "There aren't just a few more bears. There are a hell of a lot more bears," said Mitch Taylor, a polar bear biologist who has spent 20 years studying the animals.
Naturally, this can't be. So the conservationists have trotted out other arguments to explain what is happening.
Polar bear experts said that numbers had increased not because of climate change but due to the efforts of conservationists. The battle to ban the hunting of Harp seal pups has meant the seal population has soared - boosting the bears' food supply.
But isn't it possible that the same environmental trends which make the polar bear thrive are similarly boosting the harp seals? Or they simply deal dismiss the evidence by calling it irrelevant.
"I don't think there is any question polar bears are in danger from global warming," said Andrew Derocher of the World Conservation Union, and a professor of biological sciences at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. "People who deny that have a clear interest in hunting bears."
Bear numbers on the west coast of Hudson's Bay had shrunk by 22 per cent over the past decade, he said. "They are declining due to global warming and changes in when the ice freezes and melts in Hudson's Bay," he added. He and other scientists in his group are concerned that the retreating ice in the Arctic may pose a danger to future generations of polar bears because of 'habitat loss'. "The critical problem is the sea ice is changing. "We're looking ahead three generations, 30 to 50 years. "To say that bear populations are growing in one area now is irrelevant."
Derocher's need to "patch up" the Global Warming theory adduced as fact by introducing the environmental equivalent of phlogistons, ether and gravitational constants is an indication that maybe we don't really understand what is going on very clearly after all. My own personal worry about enshrining the Global Warming model as "fact" (remember it is not about whether the world is warming, it is a theory that spells out the causal relations between certain activities and warming) and creating internationally binding policies based upon it is that it becomes a kind of terraforming project in disguise. It's really a policy of consciously altering the environment in order to make it conform to a state which environmentalists believe to be "better".
That wouldn't be too bad if we knew what we were doing. But do we? The environment is a dynamic, complex entity. It makes sense to proceed with caution. The polar bear moment is reminiscent of the fictional scene in Jurassic Park when the protagonists discover that the dinosaurs are not behaving according to the predicted model. But they realize it too late.