Polar Bear Numbers

About this Item
SubjectsEnvironment; Animals: Polar Bears
SpeakersJenkins The Hon Jon

Page: 16109

    The Hon. JON JENKINS [5.58 p.m.]: Polar bears are very cute—as long as one stays a reasonable distance from them. In a recent article in a leading Australian newspaper it was said that the bodies of polar bears are becoming thinner. However, it turned out that that was true only in one area of Canada during a particular year: the Hudson Bay region in 1999. A study found that the average weight of female polar bears was 80 per cent lower than was found in a previous survey. The research was conducted by Dr Ian Stirling, a researcher with the Canadian Wildlife Service. In the study Dr Stirling stated, "I am reluctant to speculate too widely", but then went on to speculate very widely that the causes may be anything from chemical composition of seals in the area to pollutants, hydroelectric developments and, of course, climate change.

    However, at a conference of science journalists in Montreal in 2004, Dr Stirling advocated curbing carbon dioxide by 60 to 80 per cent to save the polar bears! The World Wildlife Fund [WWF] picked up and broadcast his statement predicting the extinction of polar bears if climate change continues. Such wild speculation is the fuel that drives the climate change industry: scientists carry out studies with speculative conclusions, which are then paraded as conclusive evidence of imminent doom by the extremist politicians. The real problem is that there is no evidence of Dr Stirling or any other scientist either standing up to set the record straight or of castigating groups like the WWF for misrepresenting scientific research, which, as any scientist will tell you, is considered the greatest of all scientific sins!

    So are polar bears being endangered by an early melting of the Arctic ice, as was suggested by Dr Stirling and the WWF? Not according to the WWF's own study "Polar Bears at Risk". The report found that polar bear populations are stable and in many areas are actually increasing. In fact they were found to be in decline in only 2 of the 19 areas studied. True to form, the WWF press release only referred to areas that were in decline, and did not mention the 17 areas where polar bear numbers were actually increasing! This is typical of the lies and falsehoods propagated by some of these environmental groups.

    More recent studies have found a 20 to 25 per cent increase in polar bear numbers across Canada. In some areas the numbers have increased to the point where the indigenous Inuit have increased the number of polar bears available for hunting. In a number of Arctic villages polar bears are so abundant there is a serious public safety issue. Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans, which monitors the relationship between shifting sea ice and global warming, has concluded that:

    The overall possible impact of global warming appears to play a minor role in changes to the Arctic sea ice.

    Why do the scientists go along with these deliberate misrepresentations of their research by others when, if they misrepresented their own research in this way, they would be castigated and cast out of the scientific community? This question is particularly vexing in view of the fact that it is considered to be the ultimate scientific sin to misrepresent your research. So why then do so many of the scientists passively allow their own research to be misused? The first possible reason is fear of retribution. As a scientist myself, I have witnessed this unwritten code of silence within the medical fraternity. The old adage about doctors burying their mistakes arose because of the reticence of other practitioners to dob in their colleagues. There is absolutely no doubt that there is an element of this within the scientific community.

    The second possible reason is related to government funding, which is of course intrinsically linked to political ends. The cycle is really quite simple. A scientist makes a speculation or ambiguous statements particularly directed at a non-scientific government official. These comments are picked up by the extreme green propagandists who use their—usually government funded—propaganda machines to influence public opinion, which in turn is perceived by the politicians as a desire to fund the necessary scientific research. Very quickly scientists learn that they can get cyclic funding by including alarmist scenarios in their research, with desired feedback into the public funding spectrum. The fact is it works! Somewhere in excess of US$4 billion is being allocated to climate change research in the United States alone. In Australia the figure is $100 million, a large amount of which goes to the Greenhouse Office, which does nothing but produce some media campaigns. So even the non-scientific groups are benefiting from the climate change industry.

    The third reason is related to political influence. In many countries the extreme green element holds the balance of power between the two opposing parties in our political system. They use this balance of power as leverage to not only fund their green political arms while masquerading as environmental groups but also to place ideologically kindred spirits into the senior executive service. I am sure the Government sees this happening constantly. These people then propagate the extremist ideology from the inside as well. In many cases the senior executive positions are filled by, shall we say, left-leaning scientists.

    The possible final reason is what I call the noble cause. This is where scientists or other government officials accept their misdeeds but placate their own consciences with the belief that what they are doing is for a noble cause. This noble cause is, of course, the saving of the planet from evil industrialists and capitalists of the world that are hell-bent on destruction of our natural environment at all costs. The problem is that the real loser in all of this is good, solid science. But all is not lost! The Oregon petition has been signed by 17,000 of America's leading scientists, and the Heidelberg appeal has been signed by 4,000 scientists, including 70 Nobel prize winners, who have decried this bad use of science.