Center for Biological Diversity provides a public disservice on polar bear status

Media agency Aljazeera gave free advertizing the other day (June 16, 2014, “New TV ads focus on plight of polar bears in warming world, by Renee Lewis) to the Center for Biological Diversity’s TV fear-mongering campaign about polar bears.

USFWS photo

USFWS photo

With unmitigated gall, it’s being billed as a “public service announcement.”

Scientists predict ‘ice-free’ summer Arctic by 2020 due to global warming; polar bears could be extinct by 2100 said the Aljazeera lede.

“More than 450 television stations around the United States will soon start airing a public service announcement showing two polar bears desperately trying to find sea ice sturdy enough to stand on, highlighting the effects of climate change.

The ad, which is being launched Monday by a conservation nonprofit group, includes a call to action with a petition to curb global warming, which is causing arctic ice melt.

“Global warming is pushing polar bears to the absolute brink,” said Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, the group behind the campaign.

“It’s one thing to read about their plight, but to witness them struggling, even on a screen, is incredibly powerful,” he said. “We’re hoping these public service announcements will help galvanize national action to curb the climate crisis, not only for the bears’ sake but for all of us.”

Rubbish.

The video footage the CBD plan to show is animal tragedy porn – live! But they don’t actually show the bear drowning, because it almost certainly did not. You are expected to conclude they stopped the film short to protect you from witnessing a horror but it’s more likely they stopped the film short to prevent you seeing the bear save itself and walk off to kill another baby seal.

On top of that, there are about as many polar bears now as there were 30 years ago, at least in the areas that have been counted. Polar bears are not on the brink of extinction: global warming is not killing them off. While such a scenario is said to be on the agenda for the future, that prediction is not based on what is happening now, but on computerized conjecture.

The Center for Biological Diversity is fear-mongering for cash — spreading misinformation to you and your children for the sake of increasing donor revenues.

pbear_swimming_USGS

Polar bears are excellent swimmers and very unlikely to drown if they fall through the ice. But even if a bear did drown, it would say nothing about the threat of extinction to the species or the impact of global warming.

Note that the CBD doesn’t actually do anything to help polar bears, it just takes your money and tells more emotion-filled anecdotes about bears needing help. As far as I can see, none of the money donated goes for anything other than a bit of lobbying and more advertizing with yet more fear-mongering aimed at generating more donations.

In fact, the CBD campaigned heavily for months to raise the money to run these TV ads, which are expected to spawn even more revenue – what a fabulous scam! Actually, the whole thing says more about the psychology of why appeals to emotion can be effective at parting fools from their money than it does about the so-called “plight of the polar bear.”

See a copy of the email sent to solicit funds back in February 2014 here (sent to me by a reader), and an excerpt below:

Global warming is killing polar bears.

It’s melting the Arctic sea ice in record amounts, causing bears to drown, starve to death, and in some cases even eat each other in desperation.

It doesn’t have to be this way. With your help the Center for Biological Diversity can educate and mobilize 100 million people to take action to throw these bears a lifeline. Please donate today to help us get the word out to save polar bears.

If we can raise $40,000 more in the next three weeks, we’ll run three visually stunning ads on television and cable networks across the country. With incredible simplicity, beauty and emotional power, the ads will show people that polar bears are dying…but they don’t have to.”

This sort of emotionally-laden nonsense about polar bears will likely never end, which means you will have to de-program your TV-watching children. Here’s my suggestion for a statement that might help:

Polar bears are not on the brink of extinction and global warming is not killing them off. This is an ad aimed at getting people to give money to an organization so it can scare more people into donating more money. Giving them money won’t help polar bears.

There is more information below and elsewhere on this site.

Figure 1. Current conditions on Hudson Bay, the region where polar bears are said by biologists to be the most at risk. Spring and early summer is the most important time for polar bears, when they all feed heavily to put on fat to last them through a fast later in the summer if need be: lots of ice on Hudson Bay for the feeding bears right now, even in the south. Map courtesy the Canadian Ice Service.

Figure 1. Current conditions on Hudson Bay, the region where polar bears are said by biologists to be the most at risk. Spring and early summer is the most important time for polar bears, when they all feed heavily to put on fat to last them through a fast later in the summer if need be: lots of ice on Hudson Bay for the feeding bears right now, even in the south. Map courtesy the Canadian Ice Service.


See these posts for more info, with references:

Polar bears have not been harmed by sea ice declines in summer – the evidence August 18, 2013

Record sea ice loss in 2007 had no effect on polar bears, Chukchi study confirms September 15, 2013

Eemian excuses: the warm was different then, polar bears were fine November 12, 2013

Buffet time for polar bears – spring/early summer is for eating baby seals May 25, 2013

Graphing polar bear population estimates over time February 18, 2014

IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group says its global population estimate was “a qualified guess” May 30, 2014

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