Yesterday, Senator Inhofe delivered a speech that addressed the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s (FWS) recent action to begin formal consideration of whether to list the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The speech is now available to read, listen, or watch on the EPW Web site. Additionally, included here, is the the Wall Street Journal Editorial, “Polar Bear Politics” (January 3, 2007) that Senator Inhofe cited.
Senator Inhofe also addressed the issue of polar bears and global warming in his speech last year on the Senate Floor titled, “Hot & Cold Media Spin: A Challenge To Journalists Who Cover Global Warming.” From his speech:
POLAR BEARS LOOK TIRED?
Finally, a September 15, 2006 Reuters News article claimed that polar bears in the Arctic are threatened with extinction by global warming. The article by correspondent Alister Doyle, quoted a visitor to the Arctic who claims he saw two distressed polar bears. According to the Reuters article, the man noted that “one of [the polar bears] looked to be dead and the other one looked to be exhausted." The article did not state the bears were actually dead or exhausted, rather that they “looked” that way.
Have we really arrived at the point where major news outlets in the U.S. are reduced to analyzing whether or not polar bears in the Arctic appear restful? How does reporting like this get approved for publication by the editors at Reuters? What happened to covering the hard science of this issue?
What was missing from this Reuters news article was the fact that according to biologists who study the animals, polar bears are doing quite well. Biologist Dr. Mitchell Taylor from the Arctic government of Nunavut, a territory of Canada, refuted these claims in May when he noted that
“Of the 13 populations of polar bears in Canada, 11 are stable or increasing in number. They are not going extinct, or even appear to be affected at present.” http://meteo.lcd.lu/globalwarming/Taylor/last_stand_of_our_wild_polar_bears.htmlSadly, it appears that reporting anecdotes and hearsay as fact, has now replaced the basic tenets of journalism for many media outlets.