Polar Bears might be OK — Time will Tell

Last week Forbes, Fox News and the Globe and Mail  (a Toronto based Canadian publication) all reported on a survey conducted  of Polar Bears in the Hudson Bay area of Canada.  I discussed the article in my most recent post.

The Polar bear population in the critical Western Hudson Bay area is probably near twice the number predicted by the experts.   This area supposedly has been impacted by human activity and global warming.  Scientists were wrong.  What happened?

Experts (you know the definition of an expert — someone more than 50 miles from home) were convinced the area population was in decline.  Global warming was taking its toll as the world has warmed faster than it has in the past according to these same experts, and the UN’s own Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the source of this knowledge.

Warming faster today than in the past?   Come on guys.  It is predicted that it could warm faster….but it hasn’t happened yet.

The IPCC admitted in their  1990 Climate Assessment that sudden changes of up to 2 degree C in a relatively short period of time (less than a century) could be normal climate variation because there is evidence that a 2 degree C change happens with some regularity throughout  ice age cycles.  So far we have changed a bit more than 1 degree C in about 150 years.  Not exactly extraordinary.

Warming seen since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution has not yet been unusual Ice Age warming.  It warmed very rapidly for a few years in the late 1990’s but there was also a significant volcanic eruption (Mt. Pinatubo in June of 1991) that might have impacted that warming.  Warming peaked in 1998 and any change since then has been at a much slower rate.  It appears the experts might have been relying on an IPCC prediction rather than empirical data.  Maybe…maybe not.

The IPCC offers a cornucopia of predictions for the year 21oo in their 2007 Synopses report (the current report). The IPCC does this by providing carbon dioxide scenarios predicting the future, and then they run lots of computer models.   Output of the models predict a wide array of results that vary from mild warming to severe warming.  The IPCC  summary reports offer multiple scenarios, and each scenario has within it a wide range of possible results.

There is no predicted result, just a range of options and the IPCC does not quantify the options in any significant way.  We are left to guess…to pick the one we like.

The most extreme scenario (the press and environmental groups like to use this one), the A1F1 predicts the climate will increase by at least 2.4 degrees C and it could increase by as much as 6.4 degrees C by the year 2100.  That’s quite a wide range only 88 years into the future.  The IPCC does provide a best estimate value of about 4.0 degree C, but they don’t ever define best estimate statistically.

This scenario requires man produced carbon dioxide to almost triple from 2000 levels by 2050.  That is not going to happen.  Right now we are about 25% higher than we were in 2000, we are going to have to accelerate our human output of carbon dioxide rapidly to get to the A1F1 scenario.  All other scenarios offer less warming…but similar variability in the results.

The IPCC states in their Synopses that no attempt as been made to attach probabilities to any of the scenarios.  Widely varying results, no probability analysis, science the IPCC way!

If Polar bears lived through the frequent warming and cooling  of the Pleistocene Era (the great ice age), and a recent study suggests the species has survived several complete ice age cycles, then they probably experienced greater temperature changes than we are seeing today.  Perhaps scientists are underestimating their ability to adapt.

Perhaps they are also overestimating the effects of climate change…pick your scenario….and pick your favored output….. pick a SWAG, I’ll pick mine and we’ll meet in a few hundred years and see who was the better guesser.

2 responses to “Polar Bears might be OK — Time will Tell

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