Friday, May 31, 2019

Jim, What's Natural about Polar Bear habitat disruption?

Steele Which Narrative to Believe?
This review of May 1st What’s Natural? will take the form of a direct letter to Mr. Steele.

Jim Steele,
I thought your title “Polar Bears. Which narrative to believe?” was apropos considering your freewheeling narrative. You ask which narrative to believe?  Indeed, that is the question.  So, lets get on with it.  Why should we believe your’s?
In the first column (4/17/18) of this double-bill, you use an Inuit word in a way, which I found out, locals of Nunavut found foreign.  Yes, I shared your column with a few.  That got me to thinking that perhaps your usage was simply a gratuitous prop to impress your audience.  Or what?
Then you drag a scientist from the middle of New York City into the middle of the Nunavut Polar Bear controversy - though said scientist has never spoken on the topic in any way.  He’ll tell you frankly: “I know nothing about it.” 
Why did you need to fabricate words to put into Gavin Schmidt’s mouth?  Simply to set him up as the straight-guy for your zinger punchline:  
“If you dare disagree with models of gloom and doom, you are attacked as an ignorant denier.” 
The middle third of your column was about Bowhead whale counts and controversies from the middle of the past century.  You made much of Inuit hunter’s superior regional awareness, compared to that of scientists.  Why should that be a surprise to your readers, the individuals involved certainly weren’t.  Then even you had to acknowledge: 
“To their credit, western scientists re-designed their survey to address the Inuit’s criticisms.”
It’s how science works, so why all that negative tinting to your narrative Jim?  Besides, what does any of that way back when have to do with today’s public climate science dialogue, or the state of the science?
Then you finish with:
“I suggest we all could benefit by debating kappiananngittuq style”
Ironically, that seems not to be a thing either Jim.  
Now let’s move on to your May first second bill, “Polar Bears. Which narrative to believe?
My intention is a review of 'libertarian' deception in action.
Click on image for better viewing and comparing.
Most of the first paragraphs are a re-hash of Polar Bear’s recent history, you romanticize and over simplify the story.  You tout out Mitch Taylor as if he were the foremost of foremosts without mentioning he’s considered an extreme scientist by many of his colleagues.  Then you claim he did things he may not have. 

Looking around, I find Taylor has a hard time figuring out the science behind our AGW understanding, but he has figured out who’s got the money, Heartland Institute.
Then in ¶3 you pull out this gem.
“In 2013, extremist researchers like Andrew Derocher proclaimed,” 
Quite ironic considering your champ is a Heartland spokesman.  Whom to trust, the propaganda machine or the scientific community?
“All indications are that this population could collapse in the space of a year or two if conditions got bad enough," 
and the media echoed “bears were on the verge of collapse." 
Instead, that bear population has now increased.”
Here you neglect to include nuances.  Plus you are talking population increases around villages and such, this is caused by missing sea ice forcing more polar bears onto the mainland to congregate, not because Polar Bears are doing well. 
Derocher didn’t say, “in the next year or two.”  He was explaining that after slow declines and other environmental and health degradations, it could only take a year or two of really rough conditions to significantly impact a population of animals with such high metabolic demands.    We’ve seen this recently with Antelope die-off in Kazakhstan 2015,  Australian 2018 mass bat die off, Or the puffins washing up dead en mass around St Paul island in the Bering Sea and many more.
Jim I took a closer look at this from Dr. Derocher, a recent report he authored.  It sure didn’t seem at all extreme:
Western Hudson Bay Polar Bears
By Andrew E. Derocher, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta  |  10/31/2018
“… On the positive side of the equation, we still have every reason to believe that polar bears will persist to the end of the century. Yes, their range will be much smaller and they won’t likely be in Hudson Bay anymore but we have some time to strategize how to help the bears if we take on the challenge of dealing with greenhouse gas emissions. A vision of a world with polar bears for future generations to marvel at is one worth embracing.”
“The claim that less sea ice will cause polar bears to go extinct is just one narrative, not tested science
From a historical perspective, Derocher's claim that two-thirds of all polar bears could go extinct by 2030 is laughable.”   (¶4)
I’ll hand it to you Jim, that’s some impressive rhetorical fancy dancing.  
“Not Tested Science.”  Yes Jim you are right - not tested.  It’s wildlife and Earth sciences, scientists aren’t afforded the luxury of replication and retesting naturally evolving situations.  
Nor do we have the luxury of resetting the clock on humanity’s Grand Geophysical Experiment.
“From a historical perspective”  You betcha buddy.  From a historical perspective it might be laughable.  I remember historically, most did laugh back in the 70s, 80s, 90s when it was suggested an ice free Arctic Ocean during summers might happen in our lifetimes, now look at the situation.
Jim, this is 2019, our atmospheric insulation regulator has been cranked from 280ppm to 415ppm.  Wake up, we live on a planet who’s global heat and moisture distribution engine is inexorably warming and energizing, nothing will be like it was historically, ever again.  Ignoring that won’t help us face our future.
“Most importantly, Arctic studies show less sea ice promotes more photosynthesis. … More photosynthesis provides more food for fish. More fish feed more seals and fatter seals feed more polar bears.” 
Come on Jim, you’re supposed to have the biological background.  Do you really think it’s that easy?  What about the communities of life that forms on the bottom of ice sheets and is integral to the current food-web?  What about the warming waters that carry less nutrients?  What about ocean acidification?  What about the ecological rhythms that have been sustained for tens of thousands of years.
You speak of past adaptation, but don’t tell your audience that those climate changes unfolded slowly, whereas today we’ve supercharged those ancient rhythms to a gallup.  Let me spell it out.  Back then Polar Bears had generations to ease into it, not so today. 
“Conversely, there is solid evidence that thick ice is detrimental to seals and bears.” 
Oh come on Jim.  Occasional bouts of extreme ice.  Great, is that supposed to give us a reason to forget the overall melting of huge ice sheets, like nearly half a million sq.miles worth since I was a young man.  That was a landscape where life unfolded according to age-old seasonal migration and living patterns, that’s quite literally not there anymore, with what’s left shrinking fast, and back on land things aren’t looking so great either.
Then you spend the last third of your column on ringed seal habits and point out polar bears don’t stay put and that they can travel great distances.  You finish your column with this clincher:
“When winds shift, thick sea ice can be blown out into the relatively warm Atlantic. This allows new ice to form which then can support more seals and more bears. Based on this basic biology, the Inuits’ narrative, "It is the time of the most polar bears" is best supported by scientific evidence.” 
But wait a minute, weren’t you writing a few paragraphs back that no ice would be better for polar bears because of enhanced photosynthesis?  But now ice is good?  Yeah, I’m kidding you.  We both know it’s all about a balance between too much and not enough, right?  
And what regulates that balance?  Our atmospheric insulation.  This is where we get back to atmospheric insulation regulator, 280ppm to 415ppm and racing upwards.  Not much balance there.  Eh?
Then you drag the Inuits back into this as though to lend your words the authority of the aura surrounding their name.  That’s another cheap shot.
Time of most polar bears”  Hell yes Jim.  Time of most polar bears, around towns and around dumps and butcher yards and bone piles.  Why?  Because polar bears are losing their habitat, among other cascading consequences of a warming world.  

Jim, it's supported by scientific evidence, please peruse the reading list below.

Here’s an assorted collection of articles that helped me better understand the situation in the Arctic and Nunavut, and to better see through Jim Steele’s smoke and mirrors. 


Arctic species most threatened by global warming

The consequences of climate change are unfolding far more rapidly and intensely in the Arctic than anywhere else in the world. Soaring temperatures, rapidly melting ice and snow, rising sea levels and acidifying oceans are threatening all Arctic wildlife, from great whales to tiny plankton — not just the iconic polar bear.
A new report from the Center and Care for the Wild International, Extinction: It’s Not Just for Polar Bears, chronicles the most profound climatic changes in the Arctic and documents the impacts those changes are already having on wildlife, with a focus on 17 species at risk. The report concludes with a roadmap of actions needed to preserve the Arctic as we know it today. Because what’s happening in the Arctic is an early example of climate change’s frightening effects on the entire planet, we must protect this region if we want to protect ourselves.
Arctic meltdown: Losing the Arctic as we know it …
Wildlife on the edge: Species being pushed to the brink …
The way forward: A plan to protect the Arctic and the planet …

Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation in Nunavut

“Climate change presents one of the more significant challenges facing Nunavummiut. Elders, scientists and many others are increasingly observing unusual weather events that are impacting many facets of life in Nunavut.” …  “Upagiaqtavut sets the strategic direction for climate change adaptation in Nunavut.”  … “Nunavummiut are equipped with the tools, skills and knowledge needed to adapt to the projected impacts of climate change.”
The Honourable Daniel Shewchuk Minister of Environment

Western Hudson Bay Polar Bears
By Andrew E. Derocher, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta  |  10/31/2018

The truth about polar bears
By Zac Unger  |  December 1, 2012

Depending on whom you ask, the North’s sentinel species is either on the edge of extinction or an environmental success story. An in-depth look at the complicated, contradictory and controversial science behind the sound bites.

Are polar bear populations increasing: in fact, booming?
Answered by Dr. Steven C. Amstrup, chief scientist with Polar Bears International and USGS polar bear project leader for 30 years.


Key studies and observations documenting climate change impacts to polar bears are summarized below.

Polar bear populations are declining:
Polar bear survival and reproductive success are declining as sea ice disappears:
Declines in polar bear body size linked to nutritional stress:
Degradation of denning habitat due to sea-ice loss and increasing coastal erosion:
Starvation and fasting:
Increased long-distance swimming and drowning linked to sea-ice loss:
Desperate hunting behaviors linked to nutritional stress:
Bears are being forced onto land due to sea-ice loss and must wait longer to begin hunting on the ice: …
More bears are entering human settlements due to nutritional stress and are being shot:

Baffin Bay polar bears feel impact of shrinking sea ice: new report
Polar bears in region reacting to habitat loss


Baffin Bay polar bears, which travel less than their ancestors did a decade ago, may be showing the first signs of inbreeding due to their increased isolation from nearby polar bear populations.
That’s according to a new study written by a team of Canadian, Danish and Norwegian scientists and published in the Wiley Ecology and Evolution scientific journal.
The study compared tracking data collected from female Baffin Bay polar bears in the 1990s and 2000s, and marked significant decreases over that period in the overall range of polar bears travelling during the winter months by sea ice.
That’s in part because there’s significantly less ice to travel on,  …

The Portal:

Why Lost Ice Means Lost Hope for an Inuit Village


The only road to Rigolet, Labrador, is the ice. But climate change is
making that ice vanish, and the mental health impact runs deep.

‘The permafrost is dying’: Bethel sees increased shifting of roads and buildings

BETHEL — Along the main thoroughfare here, drivers brake for warped asphalt. Houses sink unevenly into the ground. Walls crack and doors stick. Utility poles tilt, sometimes at alarming angles.
Permafrost in and around Bethel is deteriorating and shrinking, even more quickly than most places in Alaska.


Polar bears could become extinct faster than was feared, study says
Oliver Milman in New York,   February 1, 2019

The animals facing an increasing struggle to find enough food to survive as climate change steadily transforms their environment

Out of balance in the Arctic
  • John P. Whiteman
As human activities lead to rising greenhouse gas concentrations in Earth's atmosphere, less incoming solar energy is released back into space, causing a net energy gain that increases global temperatures. The consequence of climate change for polar bears can likewise be understood in terms of an energy imbalance. Sea ice melting reduces the opportunities for polar bears to capture seals (see the photo), leaving them at risk of expending more energy in the pursuit of food than they can obtain. The magnitude of this imbalance is determined by their rate of energy use. On page 568 of this issue, Pagano et al. (1) quantify the energy expense of wild polar bears and show that it is higher than previously estimated.


High contributions of sea ice derived carbon in polar bear (Ursus maritimus) tissue
“ …  our data illustrate that for future Arctic ecosystems that are likely to be characterised by reduced sea ice cover, polar bears will not only be impacted by a change in their physical habitat, but also potentially in the supply of energy to the ecosystems (think ‘food web’) upon which they depend. 
This data represents the first quantifiable baseline that is critical for the assessment of likely ongoing changes in energy supply to Arctic predators as we move into an increasingly uncertain future for polar ecosystems.”

Declining sea ice is making the Arctic ocean warmer
December 5, 2018 

A new study shows that the largest influx of water into the Arctic Ocean takes place in autumn and early winter and that the water is also warmest at this time of year.
Powerful pulses of water warmer than five degrees enter the area at the time of the year when the sea ice should freeze. But even if the air temperature is far below freezing, even during the months without the sun to warm the ground, new sea ice fails to appear. …

Sundfjord and Renner point out that the Atlantic influx brings nutrients with it, which are necessary for the growth of phytoplankton and larger organisms such as copepods.
"This allows the fish that feed on such zooplankton to survive further north. So it is not just the physical environment that is changing; the ecosystem is changing as well. Research shows that global warming has sent a number of fish species in the Barents Sea farther northeast, at relatively great speed. We really need to keep our eyes open and monitor what is happening north of Svalbard," says Sundfjord. …

Increasingly threatened young ice is crucial in transporting nutrients to the deep, central Arctic Ocean

Climate Change in The Arctic Is So Severe, The Chemistry of Its Water Is Changing

DAVID NIELD  |   January 5, 2018

The planet's climate is incredibly complex, and scientists are still discovering the effects and consequences of a warming planet – such as a new study finding drastic changes in the chemistry of the ocean waters surrounding the Arctic.

… "We suggest that significant changes in the nutrient, carbon, and trace metal balances of the Arctic Ocean are underway, with the potential to affect biological productivity and species assemblages in Arctic surface waters," write the researchers in their paper. …

The scientists think reduced sea ice cover along the Russian coast has led to greater wave activity, as the increased areas of open water get chopped up by the passing winds. That would in turn churn up and release more sediment from the sea bed, including radium and other compounds.

Extra nutrients, carbon, and other chemicals would likely be released through the same mechanism, which would then provide additional food for the plankton at the bottom of the food chain. The whole ecosystem could be altered, say the scientists.
Other factors that could be at play include the way the extra wave activity might pull more sediment into the ocean though coastal erosion, and the possibility of warming temperatures removing permafrost cover and then leading to greater groundwater runoff. 
The end result is a whole new mix of chemicals in the sea.  …

Increased fluxes of shelf-derived materials to the central Arctic Ocean
  • Lauren E. Kipp1,2,*, Matthew A. Charette1, Willard S. Moore3, Paul B. Henderson1 and Ignatius G. Rigor4
See all authors and affiliations
Science Advances  03 Jan 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 1, eaao1302
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aao1302

Carbon Dioxide and Climate
An article from our July 1959 issue examined climate change: "A current theory postulates that carbon dioxide regulates the temperature of the earth. This raises an interesting question: How do Man's activities influence the climate of the future?”

Due to their lower water temperatures, Polar seas will be hit first by ocean acidification. Cooler water takes up more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere – while the ocean surface at the equator even releases this greenhouse gas.
Dissolved salt buffers the effect of acidification. But with ice sheets melting, the salinity declines and the sweeter water acidifies even faster. Also, the open water surface grows as ice covers melt and larger areas become available for carbon dioxide uptake. …
Arctic Ocean Acidification
Summary for Policymakers

What is ocean acidification?
Ocean acidification refers to an increase in the acidity of the ocean over an extended period, typically decades or longer, which is caused primarily by uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.1,2
Why are higher carbon dioxide levels over the world’s oceans a global
Higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are resulting in greater amounts of carbon dioxide being absorbed by marine waters. The result—ocean acidification—will affect marine ecosystems and organisms, from plankton to fish. The extent and consequences of ocean acidification effects are largely unknown.
Why does this issue matter to the Arctic Nations and
its Peoples?
Arctic waters are particularly vulnerable to ocean acidification due to the higher capacity of cold waters to absorb carbon dioxide. Other factors such as loss of sea ice resulting from a changing climate are also contributing to increased absorption of carbon dioxide at high latitudes. Regions of the Arctic Ocean are already showing the effects of acidification.
Ocean acidification within the Arctic has the potential to affect the livelihoods of northern communities, including those that rely on recreational and subsistence fishing and ecotourism.
Research shows ocean acidification is spreading rapidly in the Arctic
Monica Allen  |  March 29, 2017

Future change in ocean productivity: Is the Arctic the new Atlantic?
First published: 26 October 2015

The Disappearing Sea-ice Habitat of the Arctic
Author: Mitch Merry, Digital Director, Endangered Species Coalition

By Rebecca Noblin 
Alaska Director
Center for Biological Diversity
January 13, 2019

Those searching for unmistakable evidence of the global climate crisis should pay a visit to the Arctic. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. The average annual temperature in Barrow, at the northern-most tip of Alaska, has increased 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the last 50 years. 
Almost every week Alaskans see a news story about the impacts this rapid warming is having right here at home: coastal villages being forced to relocate because of accelerated erosion caused by climate change; Arctic ice cellars in the permafrost melting and causing the loss of stored food; violent fall storms threatening people and animals; walrus and polar bears coming ashore in greater and greater numbers because their sea-ice habitat is melting beneath them.
Arctic sea ice is one of the most endangered ecosystems on earth. 2007 was the lowest summer sea-ice year on record, and 2008, 2009 and 2010 followed close behind. Arctic species such as polar bears and walrus cannot survive without Arctic sea ice.

Polar Bear Habitat Loss is Pushing Them over the Edge
A new plan for resilience in a warming Arctic  |  Fall 2015

Communities in Canada’s east-Arctic say Inuit lives need to be protected over polar bear population

In communities along the west coast of Hudson Bay, Nunavummiut are both scared and angered by the increasing number of polar bear-human interactions.
Their concerns are being discussed this week in Iqaluit, Nunavut’s capital, during public consultations on a draft polar bear management plan for the territory.

Nunavut government wants more info on Iqaluit’s new dump
Beth Brown | January 19, 2019


Polar Bears Far from ‘Strong and Healthy’
Posted on March 8, 2016

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski said the “latest research” shows “polar bear numbers are strong and healthy” in her state. That’s false. Polar bears are listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. Of the two polar bear populations in Alaska, one is declining, and the status of the other is unknown, according to the latest research.
Murkowski was responding in a statement to a Feb. 29 court decision that granted permission to the Fish and Wildlife Service to designate roughly 187,000 square miles as critical habitat for polar bears in Alaska. The decision reversed a Jan. 10, 2013, lower court order, which ruled that the FWS had failed to provide “adequate justification” for its designation to the state of Alaska and that the critical habitat “went too far and was too extensive,” among other reasons.
The Feb. 29 court decision, however, ruled that “the FWS’s designation of polar bear habitat was not arbitrary, capricious or otherwise in contravention of applicable law.” …
Variation in the response of an Arctic top predator experiencing habitat loss: feeding and reproductive ecology of two polar bear populations
First published: July 30, 2013 

Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) have experienced substantial changes in the seasonal availability of sea ice habitat in parts of their range, including the Beaufort, Chukchi, and Bering Seas. In this study, we compared the body size, condition, and recruitment of polar bears captured in the Chukchi and Bering Seas (CS) between two periods (1986–1994 and 2008–2011) when declines in sea ice habitat occurred. 
In addition, we compared metrics for the CS population 2008–2011 with those of the adjacent southern Beaufort Sea (SB) population where loss in sea ice habitat has been associated with declines in body condition, size, recruitment, and survival. …

Climate Change In The Arctic: An Inuit Reality
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) characterizes the circumpolar Arctic as the world's climate change "barometer". The 160,000 Inuit who live in northern Canada, Greenland, Alaska and Chukotka in Russia have witnessed the changing of the natural environment as a result of global warming for almost 20 years.

Perennial Arctic Sea Ice Decline 1984 – 2016 (4K)

Published on Oct 29, 2016

Animation of Arctic sea ice between 1984 and 2016 showing the rapid decline in perennial sea ice. Perennial sea ice (or multi-year ice) is the portion of the sea ice that survives the summer melt season, may have a life-span of nine years or more, and can grow up to four meters thick. 
the collection

What's Natural about Jim Steele's Safe Space? (May 20)

My review and response to Jim Steele’s article “Can We Kappiananngittuq” published in the Pacific Tribune, April 17, 2019 under the column, ‘What’s Natural?”

Fundamentals - Earth's Carbon Cycle By The Numbers - R.Rohde (May 27)

A wonderful animation that explain’s Earth’s Carbon Cycle, it’s only tangentially related to Jim’s recent column - but since he likes dismissing the scientific consensus regarding CO2’s impacts on our atmosphere I added this excellent brand new video.

Kappiananngittuq, Inuits, Constructive Learning in Nunavut, The Safe Space (May 29)

Here I present what I’ve learned about the Inuit language and the Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit and I include info from a paper by Morgan Benthan - "The Changing Tides of Education in Nunavut: A Non-Inuit Perspective of Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit” - which I believe may be where Mr. Steele got his information, but I’m guessing, till I hear more.


What's Natural about Jim Steele's Astroturfing? (May 30)

This post is basically a reproduction of my google search for “Inuit Kappiananngittuq” which revealed Jim Steele is astroturfing his article.  Then I include links to a lot of article take look at 

What's Natural about Polar Bear Habitat Destruction? (May 31)

This is my review of Steele’s May first ‘What’s Natural?’ column who’s title invites: “Which narrative to believe?”  -  Well I certainly have a few things to say about the narrative in that column.  So, I’ve decided to address my observations directly to Mr Steele.


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