406 Dirksen EPW Hearing Room
James M. Inhofe
Good morning. Much has been said about the polar bear, the threats it allegedly faces and what should be done about it. In 2006, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, under force of litigation, proposed to list the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act based on concerns over retreating Arctic sea ice.
The Service asserts that the reason for a decline in one or two bear populations is climate change. To make that assertion, they rely on hypothetical computer models showing massive loss of ice, including a recent US Geological Survey modeling predicting that shrinking sea ice could eliminate 2/3 of the world’s polar bears by 2050.
This is a classic case of reality versus unproven computer models. I look forward to the testimony of Scott Armstrong, an Ivy League professor and the nation’s leading expert in forecasting methodology, who, along with an arctic climate change expert, authored a paper that challenges the USGS modeling. The decision on whether or not to list the bear rests entirely on computer models. If those models are invalid, then any decision based on them is not justifiable.
Ironically, physical observation of the bear tells a much different story. The Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that there are currently 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears. In the 1950s and 1960s, estimates were as low as 5,000-10,000 bears. Canadian biologist Dr. Mitchell Taylor, the director of wildlife research with the Arctic government of
Just last month, researchers discovered an ancient polar bear jaw that dates back more than 100,000 years, to a time far warmer than the present. One award-winning geologist and professor from the
The fact is that the polar bear is simply a pawn in a much bigger game of chess. Listing the bear as a threatened species is not about protecting the bear but about using the ESA to achieve global warming policy that special interest groups can not otherwise achieve through the legislative process. These groups have made their agenda clear. In comments filed with the Fish and Wildlife Service, Greenpeace and the Center for Biological Diversity urged the Service to force greenhouse-gas-emitting projects, even those not in
But the people who will suffer first under an ESA listing are the local, indigenous people in
The bear is also being used as a tool to stop or slow natural resource development in
The bottom line is that the attempt to list the polar bear under the ESA is not based on any current polar bear decline but is founded entirely on computer climate models and predictions that are fraught with uncertainties. Unfortunately, the bear is being used as a back door to climate change regulation. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses.
- Senator Steven's Polar Bear Comments to EPW - (27.0 KBs)