Global Warming’s Poster Child

As a girl, I had a poster of a polar bear cub on my bedroom wall. Global warming alarmists often use this same image — a fuzzy white ball of fluff with large dark, sad eyes — to evince feelings of sympathy from people who imagine its extinction due to global warming. Indeed, “the World Wildlife Fund actually warns that polar bears might stop reproducing by 2012 and thus become functionally extinct in less than a decade,” according to Bjorn Lomborg, in his new book, “Cool It.” But despite increasing CO2 levels, Lomborg continues,

The global polar-bear population has increased dramatically over the past decades, from about five thousand members in the 1960s to twenty-five thousand today, through stricter hunting regulation…Nowhere in the news coverage is it mentioned that 300 to 500 bears are shot each year…Even if we take the story of decline at face value, it means we have lost about 15 bears to global warming each year, whereas we have lost 49 each year to hunting.

Yes, it is likely that disappearing ice will make it harder for polar bears to continue their traditional foraging patterns and that they will increasingly take up a lifestyle similar to that of brown bear, from which they evolved. They may eventually decline, though dramatic declines seem unlikely. But over the past forty years, the population has increased dramatically and the populations are now stable. The ones going down are in areas that are getting colder.

So when pictures of Knut and Leo appear on the cover of Vanity Fair, you can tell those heartstrings to get in line, at least for Knut. (By the way, if you would like to be emailed our weekly three page Cooler Heads Digest on what’s happening in the global warming policy world, email me at [email protected].)