More politics of polar bears courtesy WWF: impaled polar bear sculpture

The offensively tasteless “art” produced by Danish sculptor Jens Galschiøt, in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund, for the specific purpose of influencing politics has reappeared.

‘Unbearable’ is a portable exhibit originally designed for the Paris COP21 climate talks in December 2015 but here it is again in Copenhagen. [h/t Tom Nelson]

It’s simply the Politics of Polar Bears on a global scale that has no basis in science: polar bear numbers have not declined as CO2 has risen. Jens Galschiøt’s tasteless and costly message funded by WWF is not much better than Plane Stupid’s 2009 ad of polar bears falling from the sky (see below). It’s just about as asinine and not supported by science.

Here is how Reuters describes the recent installation:

A sculpture of an impaled polar bear went on display on Friday in front of the Danish parliament to highlight the impact of global warming.

The seven-meter high metal sculpture named “Unbearable” depicts a graph of carbon dioxide accumulation in the atmosphere sky-rocketing into the belly of a polar bear, gutting its abdomen and almost penetrating the back of the beast.

The sculpture was first unveiled at the Paris climate summit last December where world leaders pledged to do more to curb greenhouse gas emissions. A Danish opposition party Alternativet used crowdfunding to finance its transfer to Denmark. [my bold]

Here’s how the creator describes it (poster here):

“The natural-size copper polar bear is impaled on an oil pipeline in shape of a graph showing the cumulative global fossil fuel carbon emissions. The graph shows the emissions since year 0.

It continues along the ground for 17 metres, then rises dramatically around year 1850 as human consumption of fossil fuels like coal and oil takes off.

The graph end in year 2015 five metres above ground impaling the polar bear.”

So here’s my question: Did WWF plow as much money – or more – into this project than the widely self-touted programs  developed by the WWF to keep the citizen along western Hudson Bay safe from polar bears?

Moving the impaled polar bear installation must come with a hefty cost – even storage must cost a bundle. In my opinion, WWF financial support of this recurring political stunt shines a new light on more practical uses of WWF funds such as the programs it has initiated to reduce polar bear problems in communities around the Arctic.

While WWF-sponsored polar bear patrols might appear to reflect an organization selflessly stepping up to deal with a serious problem, it seems to me that WWF this is just more PR. The patrol programs are just a feel-good part of WWF’s on-going message that global warming is a problem for politicians to solve – using the specific message that increasing problems with bears onshore are due to declining sea ice caused by global warming.

No mention in their polar bear patrol press releases or interviews – ever – that polar bear numbers have not declined (either locally or globally) in recent years or that summer sea ice (both regionally and globally) has shown no declining trend since 2007 (globally – see below), or since 2001 in Western Hudson Bay and Southern Hudson Bay.

From my February post, “Ten dire polar bear predictions that have failed as global population hits 20-31k” [see that post for references]:

Prediction 10. Summer sea ice will decline as CO2 rises; 2007 marked the beginning of a sea ice ‘death spiral’ that is expected to continue as CO2 levels rise.

FAIL – Sea ice at September has been variable since 2007 but there has been no declining trend, a pattern sea ice experts admit may continue for 10 years or more beyond 2014 even if declining sea ice predictions are true (Swart and colleagues, 2015). In other words, CO2 levels have not been the control knob for polar bear health.

WWF staffers simple repeat the myth of declining polar bear numbers and declining summer sea ice initiated by polar bear specialists even though recent collected scientific data refutes it. Here’s a summary of the 2015 Red List assessment (Wiig et al. 2015) assessment which polar bear biologists, WWF and other agencies keep ignoring:

The previous status of ‘Vulnerable’ was upheld but no projections were made beyond 2050. They said there is only a 70% chance that numbers will decline by 30% over the next 35 years, which is only slightly higher than a 50:50. It also means there is a 30% chance that the numbers WILL NOT decline by 30% over the next 35 years. It stated explicitly that the risk of a population decline of 80% or greater by 2050 is virtually zero (pg. 16).

In other words, the status of ‘Vulnerable’ is based only on a possible decline in population numbers and there is no imminent risk of extinction. The current population trend is stated as UNKNOWN and the population size given as 20,000-31,000.



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