Friday, June 7, 2019

Fabrications, and half-truths in Climate Change denialists' bear party

Global warming deniers had a bear party, a polar bears party. Early this century concerns were raised that the observed decrease in the surface of arctic sea ice in the summer, will lead to their extinction due to loss of habitat. Apparently that did not happen. And now there is a debate as to the exact numbers of polar bears population today, especially in North America. The mainstream scientific community is convinced some impact had taken place. While one Canadian zoologist by the name of Dr. Susan J Crokford introduced data that doubt it. Her data is backed by claims of the Inuit community in Canada, saying that the numbers had increased in a way that threatens the lives of the Inuit population.

For the community of global warming deniers this was enough to turn them both into heroes and a cause for celebration. Their logic, if polar bears are not facing extinction, global warming is not taking place. As one critic of this party pointed out: "If they can push over the polar bears domino, all other examples of climate change are dismissed by association." Ironically Dr. Susan Crokford and the Inuit council are not exactly global warming deniers. While Dr. Corkford had some past association with global warming minimalists, in an interview she gave Glenn Beck, she acknowledged that the surface of the arctic sea ice is decreasing (minute 1:58). And the Inuit council agrees that climate change is taking place, it's just that the Polar bears are not affected by it, not yet. Here is their statement quoted in several news outlets: "Although there is growing scientific evidence linking the impacts of climate change to reduced body condition of bears and projections of population declines, no declines have currently been attributed to climate change," ….. "(Inuit knowledge) acknowledges that polar bears are exposed to the effects of climate change, but suggests that they are adaptable."

To the Inuit council, climate change is a fact, why wouldn't it be? After all they see the changes all around them, changes that their ancestors and their oral traditions do not recall. They also agree with the science that raised the original concerns. In their opinion it did not materialized not because climate change is wrong, but because the bears adapted. Naturally these facts are absent from the denialists bears party.

As the provided link show, the denialists also rely on other dubious arguments. One of them is the failure of worst case scenarios that warned of an ice free Arctic Ocean within a few years. If a concerned and inquisitive mind is honest and authentic than more questions should be asked. Are these the only scenarios? Are there best case scenarios? What is the likelihood of each scenario, or each type of scenario, best, medium, or worst? These questions are not asked by the denialists because propagandists and ideological fanatics do not need to ask questions. Once an argument is formed in-favor of the ideas and causes they promote, they do not need to ask any questions about it. Facts checking and self-criticism are redundant. Without these questions we all allow a deception to occur, as if there were only worst case scenarios to consider. It is important to emphasize here that this deception was helped by the global media giving attention only to the worst case scenarios.

Another denialist's argument is an outright lie, (even if they believe it to be true). "No other icon of 'Global Warming' epitomizes its very own false narrative like the polar bear does for 'Climate Change'." The idea that the size of the polar bears population is an argument that can debunk climate change is ludicrous not just because of the fact that Dr. Crokford and the Inuit council do not make that claim, (on the contrary, they acknowledge that sea ice is decreasing, see above); But for other reasons as well. First, bears are indeed adaptable. As these two videos show, you do not need to be an Inuit or to live near the North Pole in order to know that. Bears are curious creatures that like to explore new territories, and new things. And they are curious enough to test them and benefit from them if they work. It also helps when you are big and strong. Second, we also have to take into account the impact of past preservation efforts. Forth, there is no doubt that there are other factors to look at, factors that experts and local people know better than a Mediterranean person like myself.

The actual size of the polar bears population is therefore no argument against climate change, unless you find a way to exclude all the other factors, and their combined effect. Just think of this lopsided logic. The sun keeps us warm, therefore if we are warm than the sun is shining. If we are cold it isn't shining. Therefore, if its night time and we are warm, the sun is shining. And if it is day time, and we are cold, the sun is not shinning. Giving critical dominance to one factor, without examining other factors, is therefore not the responsible way to handle the data. Unfortunately, the worst case scenarios suffer from a similar problem. But at least they do not manipulate the data.

The biggest lie in the quote is the impression it create, as if other "icons" of climate change had also been debunked. They haven't. To start with these "icons", indicators, are too numerous to debunk. They come from the fields of biology, ecology, climate sciences, oceanography, and demography, and various inter disciplinary fields of research. There are not enough scientifically trained denialists to debunk all of them.

The icons they have targeted have missed the mark by a mile or more. For example, the Great Barrier Reef in Eastern Australia has been a point of concern for a long time. Here, denialists have on their side Dr. Peter Reed, a marine physicist from James Cook University in Northern Queensland. His "debunking" of those concerns is based on faults he found in 9 old studies he reviewed and dozens of others that he ignored. This gross selectivity a major short coming and I am been diplomatic here.

When it comes to the most immediate concern, the rise of sea level, denialists rely on another gross selectivity. They pick trends of decrees in the sea level that do not change the total trend, and use that as an argument against the existence of the total trend. This manipulation of data had been dubbed cherry picking by main stream science. And as this video shows, it has a simple explanation.

This video also shows that there is more than one type of scenarios as to the progress of climate change.

This cherry picking practice is used in the related debate regarding the amount of Arctic sea ice, and it is easily debunked, as I show in the image I have provided below, a child can do that.

While the population of polar bears may or may not have been affected by the decrease in Arctic sea ice, one species had defiantly been affected, human beings, us. As the ice decreases new economic opportunities opened up, in the form of new trade routes, and access to undersea row materials. These opportunities are so hot that leading powers on this planet are now engaged in a new competition, often described as 'the New Cold War'. Armed forces alongside science research crews and representatives of commercial interests, private and governmental, are racing across the new ice-free portions of the Arctic Ocean. The title of this new race may suffer from sensationalism; if so it is only drawback it has as 'icon' of global warming. It will be interesting to see how denialists "debunk" this icon/indicator.