Drowning polar bears? Or drowning in images?
|July 29, 2011||Posted by News under Peer review|
At AP (July 29, 2011), Becky Bohrer reports that an Arctic scientist, Charles Monnett, is being investigated for “integrity issues” and some fear it’s really about a widely publicized claim that polar bears were drowning due to global warming. His agency, however, says his administrative leave is unrelated to that episode.
At the time, they were conducting an aerial survey of bowhead whales, and saw four dead polar bears floating in the water after a storm. There were other witnesses, according to Ruch, and low-resolution photos show floating white blobs.
Monnett and Gleason detailed their observations in an article published two years later in the journal Polar Biology. In the peer-reviewed article, they said they were reporting, to the best of their knowledge, the first observations of the bears floating dead and presumed drowned while apparently swimming long distances.
The article and presentations drew national attention and helped make the polar bear a symbol for the global warming movement. Former vice president and climate change activist Al Gore mentioned the animal in his Oscar-winning global warming documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.”
– “Arctic scientist under investigation”
Moral: Wild animals die all the time, and no one notices or cares. Then suddenly a scientist notices one such routine event and – for political reasons – the story acquires a life of its own. It grows vastly beyond the scientist because it accommodates the hopes and fears of millions of people. Global warming is especially attractive because it justifies hatred of unfashionable people.
Meanwhile, recent NASA data suggest global warming isn’t really happening, and the “drowned bears” scientist is in a spot of trouble with his bosses, perhaps over an unrelated matter.
In memory of the drowned bears (nothing else to be one, really) here’s a lovely vid of polar bears and dogs playing:
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