Does the End Justify the Means?

The Interior Department’s Inspector General has started preliminary investigations into why the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is delaying its decision on whether polar bears ought to be listed as a threatened species due to global warming.
Bloomberg even brings breaking news today that the greens are going to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the two months delay as compared to the initial projected processing time.

I can come up with two very good reasons for the delay:

1. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service do not consider the polar bear as threatened, but does not have the political cojones to just say so outright. The ostrich tactic of sticking one’s head in the sand is not working, so the USFWS might want to consider to just ‘fess up to the lack of scientific evidence to support the claim that the bear is threatened.

2. The evidence for the polar bear status as threatened is shaky at best. It is based on selective use of statistics and models that assume that the current trends in climate change will continue perpetually, which is highly unlikely.

Morten Jødal, the chair of Norway’s Biology Society, has criticized the World Wildlife Fund’s selective use of population statistics in this debate in a recent commentary in the largest newspaper in Norway. Here is a translation:

Polar bear populations has increased dramatically from the 1960s to our time from about 5,000 individuals to about 25,000 individuals. It appears to be stable.

It is correct, as they point out, that the population is down from 1,200 individuals in 1987 to about 950 individuals in 2004. What they omit is that the same population increased from 500 individuals in 1981. That gives a different picture, which does not indicate a species on the brink of extinction.

Another piece of information that changes the statistic is that 49 polar bears are shot annually in the Western part of Hudson Bay. 833 polar bears have been shot over 17 years from 1987 to 2004. That is far more than the ones assumed to have lost their lives due to global warming.

There is no doubt that the listing of polar bears as an endangered species will have an enormous symbolic effect for the alarmists, but I was not aware that the endangered species list was a political propaganda tool, I thought it was a conservation tool. Then again, maybe I am naïve when it comes to politics and the things people are willing to do in the name of a cause.