Inhofe Says Listing of Polar Bear Based on Politics, Not Science
May 14, 2008

Contact:

 

Marc Morano 202-224-5762

marc_morano@epw.senate.gov

Matt Dempsey 202-224-9797

matthew_dempsey@epw.senate.gov   

 

Inhofe Says Listing of Polar Bear Based on Politics, Not Science

“With the number of polar bears substantially up over the past forty years, the decision announced today appears to be based entirely on unproven computer models.”

WASHINGTON, DC – Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, today expressed disappointment with the U.S. Department of Interior's final decision to list the polar bear as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act.

“Unfortunately, the decision to list the polar bear as ‘threatened’ appears to be based more on politics than science,” Senator Inhofe said. “With the number of polar bears substantially up over the past forty years, the decision announced today appears to be based entirely on unproven computer models. The decision, therefore, is simply a case of reality versus unproven computer models, the methodology of which has been challenged by many scientists and forecasting experts. If the models are invalid, then the decision based on them is not justified. It’s disappointing that Secretary Kempthorne failed to stand up to liberal special interest groups who advocated this listing.

“Lost in the debate is the fact that polar bear numbers have dramatically increased over the past forty years – a fact even liberal environmental activists are forced to concede. According to Canadian scientists, 11 of the 13 bear populations are stable, with some increasing. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service now estimates that there are currently 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears. These numbers are substantially up from lows estimates in the range of 5,000-10,000 in the 1950s and 1960s. Credit should be given to protection already provided the polar bear by way of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the several international conservation treaties including the 1973 Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears and the U.S.-Russia Polar Bear Conservation and Management Act of 2006, as well as conservation, education, and outreach agreement with native peoples.

 

“Today’s decision will have far reaching consequences. Liberal special interests have employed hundreds of lawyers to try and convert current environmental laws such as the Endangered Species Act into climate laws. Yet the ESA is simply not equipped to regulate economy-wide greenhouse gases, nor does the Fish and Wildlife Service have the expertise to be a pollution control agency.  The regulatory tools of the ESA function best when at-risk species are faced with local, tangible threats.  Greenhouse gas emissions are not local. The implications of today’s decision, therefore, will undoubtedly lead to a drastic increase in litigation and eager lawyers ready to use this listing to do exactly what they have intended to do all along – shut down energy production.”

 

Related Information:

U.S. Senate Minority Report Debunks Polar Bear Extinction Fears
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service is considering listing the polar bear a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. This report details the scientists debunking polar bear endangerment fears and features a sampling of the latest peer-reviewed science detailing the natural causes of recent Arctic ice changes. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service estimates that the polar bear population is currently at 20,000 to 25,000 bears, up from as low as 5,000-10,000 bears in the 1950s and 1960s.  A 2002 U.S. Geological Survey of wildlife in the Arctic Refuge Coastal Plain noted that the polar bear populations “may now be near historic highs.”  The alarm about the future of polar bear decline is based on speculative computer model predictions many decades in the future. And the methodology of these computer models is being challenged by many scientists and forecasting experts. (LINK)

 

Impact: New York Times Features EPW Polar Bear Report
The New York Times reported this week on the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) Minority report debunking fears of polar bear extinction. John Tierney's January 31 article, titled "Polar Bears and Seer Suckers," called the EPW Minority's report "persuasive at debunking the predictions of polar bears going extinct this century." Tierney noted that polar bear extinction fears are "being stoked to build support in the U.S. for listing them as a ‘threatened' or ‘endangered' species even though it's not clear that their overall numbers are declining." (LINK) Tierney noted that the EPW Minority's polar bear report featured "one very hard piece of evidence that casts doubt on the doomsday predictions: a polar bear jawbone that appears to be at least 110,000 years old, meaning that polar bears have survived eras with considerably warmer temperatures than today." […]  "Dr. Armstrong and his coauthors, Kesten C. Green of Monash University and Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, conclude that the most influential forecasts of polar-bear populations violate at least 73 of the 90 relevant principles of scientific forecasting," Tierney wrote. "They criticize the forecasters for making large extrapolations based on sparse data and questionable models, relying too heavily on a single expert, ignoring contradictory data and tailoring conclusions to fit a political goal (listing the polar bear as a ‘threatened' species)," Tierney added.

Polar Bears Potential ESA Listing Called ‘Regulatory Monster’

William P. Horn, former Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish, Wildlife and Parks in 1985-1988 (responsible for the ESA program) and experience serving on the Board of Environmental Sciences and Toxicology of the National Academy of Sciences, testified today:  “It would be a mistake to list the presently healthy and sustainable polar bear populations as a threatened species under the ESA. Such action will produce a variety of adverse consequences including (1) creating an ESA listing precedent that opens Pandora’s Box in the form of other unwarranted listings that will diminish resources available for bona fide wildlife conservation and recovery efforts, (2) setting the stage for new rounds of litigation and judicial activism to turn the ESA into a regulatory monster of unprecedented proportions, and (3) harming existing successful polar bear conservation and management programs…A decision to list a presently healthy species – exhibiting no present trajectory toward endangerment − based on large scale hemispheric models forecasting problems 50 years in the future is a radical departure from the language of the ESA. It pushes the decision horizon far into the genuinely unseeable future, is predicated on uncertain intervening events where it is difficult if not impossible to tie those events directly to specific on-the-ground situations, and will likely precipitate the subsequent listing of an array of otherwise healthy species which might also be forecast to face problems a half century or more from now.

 

Polar Bear Pandering By Debra Saunders (San Francisco Chronicle) 

Sunday, November 4, 2007 - Sen. Barbara Boxer of California delivered a speech in the Senate last week in which she linked global warming to the San Diego wildfires, Darfur, the imminent loss of the world's polar bears and even a poor 14-year-old boy who died from "an infection caused after swimming in Lake Havasu," because its water is warmer. Forget arson. Forget genocide. Forget nature. There is no tragedy that cannot be placed at the doorstep of global-warming skeptics. Oh, and there's no need to acknowledge that the regulations or taxes necessary to curb emissions by a substantial degree might damage economic growth. According to Boxer, laws to curb greenhouse gases - this country would have to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in half over 12 years to meet the latest international community goals - will do good things for the American economy and create lots of jobs. It's Nostradamus Science wedded to Santa Claus economics. It is rhetoric such as Boxer's - an odd combination of the-end-is-near hysteria and overly rosy economic scenarios - that keep me in the agnostic/skeptic global-warming camp. Boxer and Sen. James Inhofe, the ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that Boxer chairs, have been engaging in a running debate on global warming. Last month, Inhofe took on the Al Gore suggestion that polar bears are in peril because of global warming. Inhofe pointed to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services estimates that show the polar bear population at about 20,000 to 25,000 bears - up from the estimated 5,000 to 10,000 polar bears in the 1950s and 1960s.

 

Canadian Survey Reveals Polar Bears Populations Increasing - Nearly Tripled Since 1980's By Don Martin (National Post)

Tuesday, March 06, 2007- Their status ranges from a "vulnerable" to "endangered" and could be declared "threatened" if the U.S. decides the polar bear is collateral damage of climate change.Nobody talks about "overpopulated" when discussing the bears' outlook.Yet despite the Canadian government 's $150-million commitment last week to fund 44 International Polar Year research projects, a key question is not up for detailed scientific assessment: If the polar bear is the 650-kilogram canary in the climate change coal mine, why are its numbers INCREASING?

Many Agree Polar Bears Should Not Be Listed As Threatened Under ESA

EPW FACT OF THE DAY February 7, 2007 - FACT: Many Canadian indigenous peoples, international governments and conservation groups clearly agree with Dr Foote’s position that the polar bear should not be listed. The following comments below were submitted by groups during the US Fish and Wildlife Service petition process regarding the listing of the polar bear: Inuvialuit Game Council (Represents the collective Inuvialuit interest in wildlife and wildlife habitat) "Sound polar bear populations all overlap the ISR ("Inuvialuit Settlement Region"). These populations of polar bears have helped sustain the Inuvialuit for generations to do so. Currently, these populations are healthy and thriving … we can see no justification for up-listing polar bears to ‘threatened status’ under the U.S. Endangered Species Act … "at this point in time, there is not enough information to say that polar bears are in danger of becoming extinct due to predicted shift in climate … Due to our close relationship with these populations, we, along with other user groups, would be the first to see signs of trouble and we would make sure, through the co-management system, that appropriate management actions are taken to ensure the sustainability of these populations."

Inhofe Speech On Polar Bears And Global Warming

January 4, 2007 - Mr. President, I rise today to address the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s recent action to begin formal consideration of whether to list the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  Over the next year, the Fish and Wildlife Service will examine scientific and commercial data regarding the health of the polar bear population and evaluate the presence of any threats to its existence.  The question that the Fish and Wildlife Service must answer is:  Is there clear, scientific evidence that current worldwide polar bear populations are in trouble and facing possible extinction in the foreseeable future? As the Fish and Wildlife Service reviews the issue over the next year, I feel confident they will conclude as I have, that listing the polar bear is unwarranted. In the proposal, the Fish and Wildlife Service acknowledges that for seven of the 19 worldwide polar bear populations, the Service has no population trend data of any kind.   Other data suggest that for an additional five polar bear populations, the number of bears is not declining and is stable.  Two more of the bear populations showed reduced numbers in the past due to over hunting, but these two populations are now increasing because of hunting restrictions. 

Polar Bear Politics (The Wall Street Journal Editorial) January 3, 2007; Page A12

Unless you've been hibernating for the winter, you have no doubt heard the many alarms about global warming. Now even the Bush Administration is getting into the act, at least judging from last week's decision by Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to recommend that the majestic polar bear be listed as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act. The closer you inspect this decision, however, the more it looks like the triumph of politics over science. "We are concerned," said Mr. Kempthorne, that "the polar bears' habitat may literally be melting" due to warmer Arctic temperatures. However, when we called Interior spokesman Hugh Vickery for some elaboration, he was a lot less categorical, even a tad defensive. The "endangered" designation is based less on the actual number of bears in Alaska than on "projections into the future," Mr. Vickery said, adding that these "projection models" are "tricky business." 

### 

 

 




Majority Office
410 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg.Washington, DC 20510-6175
phone: 202-224-6176
Minority Office
456 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg.Washington, DC 20510-6175
phone: 202-224-8832