New ecology book: 25 MYTHS THAT ARE DESTROYING THE ENVIRONMENT

Veteran Yale University research ecologist Dan Botkin has a new book coming out tomorrow (Saturday 15 October) that you might want to look at:

botkin-2017-25-myths-cover

A number of chapters are relevant to polar bears, including these three:

“Myth 11: Without Human Interference, Earth’s Climate is Stable”

“Myth 13: Climate Change Will Lead to Huge Numbers of Extinctions”

“Myth 25: Compared to Climate Change, All Other Environmental Issues Are Minor”

I found the book clearly written in a readable style (Table of Contents here). It provides timely insight into critical issues related to conservation and species extinction, with many real-world examples that counter theoretical assumptions (polar bears are discussed in the Overview). I found the energy issues (Myths 23 and 24) an awkward distraction but others might find them of interest. It’s a good companion to Bjorn Lomborg’s The Skeptical Environmentalist (an excellent reference from 2001 but much more detailed).

Pre-0rders now being taken:

Twenty-five Myths That Are Destroying the Environment: What Many Environmentalists Believe and Why They Are Wrong. Daniel B. Botkin 2017. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., Lanham, MD 20706. $12.71 PAPERBACK; $7.51 KINDLE

Peak inside via Amazon, more about Dan Botkin and his publication record, and the book below.

Dan has done some important background work relevant to polar bears, walrus, and Arctic seals. He and colleagues reconstructed sea ice data for the period 1850-1910 in the Bering and Chukchi Seas from whaling records (as well as estimating bowhead whale and walrus pre-slaughter population sizes for the western Arctic)(see Bockstoce and Botkin 1982, 1983; Mahoney et al. 2011). Companion data to the Mahoney et al. paper on Bering/Chukchi sea ice is here (other related papers here).

In addition, Dan and a host of prominent specialists co-authored a critical ecology paper entitled “Forecasting the Effects of Global Warming on Biodiversity” (Botkin et al. 2007).

The blurb about the new 25 Myths book is copied below:

Daniel B. Botkin is an ecologist who has been conducting and writing about ecological research for 45 years. After hearing so many false or flawed statements passed off as fact, he decided to write this book to give readers a more complete understanding of their environment. 

 For decades, environmental scientist and conservationist Daniel B. Botkin has studied the world around us. He has traveled the globe observing nature and the human impact on the environment, and now he has collected his keen observations into this accessible and informative book.

 25 Myths That Are Destroying the Environment explores the many myths circulating in both ecological and political discussions. These myths often drive policy and opinion, and Botkin is here to set the record straight. What may seem like an environmentally conscious action on one hand may very well be bringing about the unnatural destruction of habitats and ecosystems.

 If our society is to sustain the environment around us for future generations, solving environmental problems by understanding how nature works is not just helpful, it’s necessary.

 Topics include:

  •  Is life really that fragile?
  •  Is consensus science?
  •  Are recent weather patterns truly proof of long-term weather change?
  •  Are wildfires really all that bad?
  •  Are predators absolutely necessary to control populations of other species?

In a world awash in misleading or false information about the environment, Daniel Botkin has written a straightforward and concise examination of the biggest myths hurting conservation efforts today.

Written in a clear manner that dissects each myth one by one, 25 Myths That Are Destroying the Environment offers readers an informative guide to navigating discussions on environmental issues.

Here is a selection of previous Botkin books.

References

Bockstoce, J.R. and Botkin, D.B. 1982. The harvest of Pacific walruses by the pelagic whaling industry, 1848 TO 1914. Arctic and Alpine Research 14 (3):183-188. Get pdf here.

Abstract

From 1848, when the western Arctic whaling grounds were discovered, to 1914, when the whaling industry collapsed, the bowhead whales of the Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort Seas were systematically hunted by whaling vessels of several nations. this report attempts to determine the impact of the pelagic whaling industry upon the western Arctic bowhead whale. Data have been drawn from the logbooks and journals of the whaling industry representing 19% of all known whaling cruises made to those waters during the period. From these records we estimate that 18,650 whiles were killed and 16,600 were taken by the pelagic whaling industry, an average of about 280 whales killed and 250 whales taken per year. DeLury estimates of the bowhead whale population for 1847 (the year before the beginning of exploitation by the whaling industry) suggest that the population numbered approximately 30,000, and was no less than 20,000 and no more than 40,000. The population appears to have been depleted rapidly: one-third of the total number of kills during the entire period of commercial whaling occurred in the first decade, and two-thirds of them in the first two decades. The ships’ records also suggest that the species was rapidly eliminated from major parts of its range.

Bockstoce, J.R. and Botkin, D.B. 1983. The Historical Status and Reduction of the Western Arctic Bowhead While (Balaena mysticetus) Population by the Pelagic Whaling Industry, 1848-1914. Reports of the International Whaling Commission Special Issue 5. Get pdf here.

Abstract: From 1848, when the western Arctic whaling grounds were discovered, to 1914, when the whaling industry collapsed, the bowhead whales of the Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort Seas were systematically hunted by whaling vessels of several nations. this report attempts to determine the impact of the pelagic whaling industry upon the western Arctic bowhead whale. Data have been drawn from the logbooks and journals of the whaling industry representing 19% of all known whaling cruises made to those waters during the period. From these records we estimate that 18,650 whiles were killed and 16,600 were taken by the pelagic whaling industry, an average of about 280 whales killed and 250 whales taken per year. DeLury estimates of the bowhead whale population for 1847 (the year before the beginning of exploitation by the whaling industry) suggest that the population numbered approximately 30,000, and was no less than 20,000 and no more than 40,000. The population appears to have been depleted rapidly: one-third of the total number of kills during the entire period of commercial whaling occurred in the first decade, and two-thirds of them in the first two decades. The ships’ records also suggest that the species was rapidly eliminated from major parts of its range.

Botkin D. B., Saxe H., Araújo M. B., Betts R., Bradshaw R. H. W., Cedhagen T., Chesson P., Dawson T. P., Etterson J. R., Faith D. P., Ferrier S., Guisan A., Skjoldborg Hanson A., Hilbert D. W., Loehle C., Margules C., Newl M., Sobel M. J., Stockwell D. R. B. 2007. Forecasting the Effects of Global Warming on Biodiversity. BioScience 57 (3): 227-236. doi: 10.1641/B570306  http://bioscience.oxfordjournals.org/content/57/3/227.abstract

Abstract: The demand for accurate forecasting of the effects of global warming on biodiversity is growing, but current methods for forecasting have limitations. In this article, we compare and discuss the different uses of four forecasting methods: (1) models that consider species individually, (2) niche-theory models that group species by habitat (more specifically, by environmental conditions under which a species can persist or does persist), (3) general circulation models and coupled ocean–atmosphere–biosphere models, and (4) species–area curve models that consider all species or large aggregates of species. After outlining the different uses and limitations of these methods, we make eight primary suggestions for improving forecasts. We find that greater use of the fossil record and of modern genetic studies would improve forecasting methods. We note a Quaternary conundrum: While current empirical and theoretical ecological results suggest that many species could be at risk from global warming, during the recent ice ages surprisingly few species became extinct. The potential resolution of this conundrum gives insights into the requirements for more accurate and reliable forecasting. Our eight suggestions also point to constructive synergies in the solution to the different problems

Mahoney, A. R., J.R. Bockstoce, D.B. Botkin, H. Eicken and R.A. Nisbet. 2011. Sea ice distribution in the Bering and Chukchi seas: information from historical whaleships’ logbooks and journals. Arctic 64(4): 465-477. Open access http://arctic.journalhosting.ucalgary.ca/arctic/index.php/arctic/article/view/4146

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