Global Warming Science - www.appinsys.com/GlobalWarming
[last update: 2013/01/10]
While the global warming scare got rolling, climatic events such as receding glaciers, fears of polar bear declines have garnered much alarmist attention.
Animals are the focus of this document.
Other documents in Climatic Events include:
Claims have been made that global warming is currently adversely affecting many different animal species.
However, examination of the details leads to either an untrue claim or a misrepresentation of the effects of local land use change – usually deforestation.
See the following for more examples:
This document contains the following sections:
Polar bears are often referred to as going extinct due to global warming. Polar bears use the sea ice as hunting platforms to hunt seals and Arctic sea ice has been declining with recent Arctic warming. But the reality is that:
a) some polar bear populations are increasing, some are declining, some are stable and
b) similar temperatures and conditions existed in both the 1930’s and during the Medieval Warm Period.
The following figure is from the World Wildlife Fund (whose position is that global warming will cause the polar bears to become extinct). According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), there are about 20 distinct polar bear populations accounting for approximately 22,000 polar bears worldwide. Population patterns, according to the WWF data, do not show a temperature-linked decline:
Polar Bear Population Status 2002 (left), Polar Bear Distribution (right)
A 2007 article in the Christian Science Monitor http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0503/p13s01-wogi.html discusses the results of a study of polar bears in Canada by biologist Mitchell Taylor (Canada hosts about two-thirds of the world’s estimated 25,000 polar bears): “the number of polar bears in the Davis Strait area of Canada's eastern Arctic – one of 19 polar bear populations worldwide – has grown to 2,100, up from 850 in the mid-1980s. Dr. Taylor explained his conviction that threats to polar bears from global warming are exaggerated and that their numbers are increasing… The battle to ban the hunting of harp seal pups has meant that the harp seal population has jumped from 2 million to 5 million. It also means sealers, especially those from Norway, are no longer hunting the polar bears, which they used to do when the seal hunt was larger.”
There is a shortage of long-term temperature records for the polar bear inhabited regions. The following figure shows the temperature trends for various “polar bear” regions (the representative rectangles on the map are approximate since the temperature graphs are for latitude / longitude areas, but the map projection is not rectangular). Somehow the polar bears managed to survive the 1930s.
May 14, 2008: the polar bear was declared a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act [http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/15/us/15polar.html?_r=1&em&ex=1210910400&en=4a56875483b0a38b&ei=5087%0A&oref=slogin]. The NY Times article states: “There are more than 25,000 bears in the Arctic, 15,500 of which roam within Canada’s territory. A scientific study issued last month by a Canadian group established to protect wildlife said that 4 of 13 bear populations would most likely decline by more than 30 percent over the next 36 years, while the others would remain stable or increase.” “Never before has a thriving species been listed” under the Endangered Species Act, he said, “nor should it be.”
The US Department of the Interior Secretary Kempthorne is also into modeling. In her speech [http://www.doi.gov/secretary/speeches/081405_speech.html] she : “Although the population of bears has grown from a low of about 12,000 in the late 1960’s to approximately 25,000 today, our scientists advise me that computer modeling projects a significant population decline by the year 2050. This, in my judgment, makes the polar bear a threatened species – one likely to become in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future.”
Professor J. Scott Armstrong of the Wharton School (author of Long-Range Forecasting, the most frequently cited book on forecasting methods, and Principles of Forecasting.) says “In fact, the polar bear populations have been increasing rapidly in recent decades due to hunting restrictions. Assuming these restrictions remain, the most appropriate forecast is to assume that the upward trend would continue for a few years, then level off. … a key feature of the U.S. Geological Survey reports [on polar bears] is not scientifically supported” [http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080508132549.htm]
According to Dr Andrew Derocher of Polar Bear
“you cannot simply
summarize the status of polar bears—the information lies in the individual
populations. … After the signing of the International Agreement on Polar
Bears in the 1970s, harvests were controlled and the numbers increased. Some
populations recovered very slowly (e.g., Barents Sea took almost 30 years)
but some recovered faster. Some likely never were depressed by hunting that
much, but the harvest levels remained too high and the populations
subsequently declined. M'Clintock Channel is a good example. The population
is currently down by over 60% of historic levels due only to overharvesting.”
The whole “polar bear issue” is based on recently reduced summer sea ice (the winter sea ice has still been normal). But a study of Greenland’s north coast (“Less Ice In Arctic Ocean 6000-7000 Years Ago” [http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081020095850.htm]) states: “The climate in the northern regions has never been milder since the last Ice Age than it was about 6000-7000 years ago. … such old beach formations require that the sea all the way to the North Pole was periodically ice free for a long time.”
In 2006 Canadian polar bear researcher Mitchell Taylor sent a letter to the US Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the proposed listing of polar bears as “threatened”: “Polar bears were well developed as a separate species by the Eemian interglacial approximately 125,000 years ago. This period was characterized by temperature fluctuations caused by entirely natural events on the same order as those predicted by contemporary climate change models. Polar bears obviously adapted to the changing environment, as evidenced by their presence today. That simple fact is well known and part of the information contained in the reference material cited throughout the petition, yet it is never mentioned. This fact alone is sufficient grounds to reject the petition. Clearly polar bears can adapt to climate change. They have evolved and persisted for thousands of years in a period characterized by fluctuating climate. No rational person could review this information and conclude that climate change pre-destined polar bears to extinction.” [http://www.ff.org/centers/csspp/pdf/200701_taylor.pdf]
Mitchell’s views are apparently “unhelpful” to the alarmist cause: “Polar Bear Expert Barred by Global Warmists”
[http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/5664069/Polar-bear-expert-barred-by-global-warmists.html] Taylor was denied permission to attend the PBSG meeting: “Top of the agenda at a meeting of the Polar Bear Specialist Group [PBSG] (set up under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature [IUCN] Species Survival Commission) will be the need to produce a suitably scary report on how polar bears are being threatened with extinction by man-made global warming. … Dr Mitchell Taylor has been researching the status and management of polar bears in Canada and around the Arctic Circle for 30 years, as both an academic and a government employee. More than once since 2006 he has made headlines by insisting that polar bear numbers, far from decreasing, are much higher than they were 30 years ago. Of the 19 different bear populations, almost all are increasing or at optimum levels, only two have for local reasons modestly declined. … Dr Taylor was told that his views running "counter to human-induced climate change are extremely unhelpful" and "inconsistent with the position taken by the PBSG"”
See also: http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/originals/Nova-Exile_for_non_believers.pdf for more information on the Mitchell Taylor exile.
Canada’s growing polar bear population ‘becoming a problem’ locals say: “Harry Flaherty, chair of the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board in the capital of Iqaluit, says the polar bear population in the region, along the Davis Strait, has doubled during the past 10 years. He questions the official figures, which are based to a large extent on helicopter surveys. … The on-the-ground reports, if accurate, seem to contradict the official story of the beleaguered polar bear. … “We’re not seeing negative effects on the polar bear population from so-called climate change and receding ice,” he says. He is convinced that some scientists are deliberately “using the polar bear issue to scare people” about global warming, a view widely shared by many Nunavut locals.”
See the regional summary for the Arctic www.appinsys.com/GlobalWarming/RS_Arctic.htm for more information on the Arctic.
The IUCN provides a map of polar bear populations:
The above map from 2012 shows the total polar bears in the range of 22,600 – 32,100.
More information about polar bears: http://polarbearscience.com/
The abstract for a paper published in the State of the Arctic (SOA) 2010 states: “The Arctic Species Trend Index (ASTI), like the global Living Planet Index (LPI), illustrates overall vertebrate population trends by integrating vertebrate population trend data of an appropriate standard from across the Arctic and over the last 34 years (1970 as the baseline). A total of 965 populations of 306 species (representing 35% of all known arctic vertebrate species) were used to generate the ASTI … the average population of arctic species rose by 16% between 1970 and 2004. … This increasing trend however, is not consistent across biomes, regions or groups of species.” [http://soa.arcus.org/abstracts/tracking-trends-arctic-wildlife-arctic-species-trend-index]
The Alarmist Version
The Zoological Society of London (an ASTI partner, as is the WWF) reports the same ASTI results by selectively reporting the bad news area: “A new assessment of the Arctic’s biodiversity reports a 26 per cent decline in species populations in the high Arctic. Populations of lemmings, caribou and red knot are some of the species that have experienced declines over the past 34 years, according to the first report from The Arctic Species Trend Index (ASTI), which provides crucial information on how the Arctic’s ecosystems and wildlife are responding to environmental change.” [http://www.zsl.org/science/news/high-arctic-species-on-thin-ice,694,NS.html] They don’t mention that the ASTI report states: “High Arctic species show an overall decline in abundance of 26% with populations levelling off in the mid-1990s.” and re: polar bears: “we are unable to ascertain the extent to which sea-ice associated species, such as polar bear, have already been affected by these [declining sea-ice] changes.”
The full ASTI report is available here: [http://www.asti.is/images/stories/asti%20report%20march%2017%20final%20low%20res.pdf]
The following figure from the ASTI report shows the difference – the High Arctic is the lighter pink area (“26% decline”) while together both pink areas plus the green Sub-Arctic area represent the Arctic (“16% increase”).
The following figure from the ASTI report shows the average population trends by area. The High Arctic decline is mainly due to lemmings and caribou declines. “The reasons for this decline are not known and may be due, in part, to the cyclical nature of some species and populations (e.g., Barren Ground Caribou)”
The report goes on to state: “during two winters in the 1990s, the Peary Caribou population in the western Queen Elizabeth Islands was reduced by more than 95%. This was due to heavy snow conditions and the presence of ice layers in the snow that made it difficult for the Caribou to reach ground forage. …The population trends shown in Figure 11 are clearly cyclical and also show striking similarities between Eurasia and North America, suggesting that there may be circumpolar factors underlying these trends.”
See: www.appinsys.com/GlobalWarming/ArcticAnimals.htm for more details on this study.
A 2004 International Symposium on Climate Change in the Arctic provides some information on Arctic fish [http://amap.no/documents/index.cfm?action=getfile&dirsub=%2FACIA%20International%20Scientific%20Symposium%20on%20Climate%20Change%20in%20the%20Arctic%20-%20Extended%20Abstracts&filename=ACIASymposiumAbstracts-Oral0-3.pdf&CFID=3341130&CFTOKEN=65373972&sort=size]
“Marine Ecosystem Responses to the Warming of 1920s and 1930s” by K. Drinkwater stated: “In the 1920s and 1930s there was a dramatic warming of the air and ocean temperatures in the northern North Atlantic ... These high temperatures match, and in some cases exceed, the present day warming. … The most well documented change was the increase in abundance of Atlantic cod off West Greenland … The increased cod abundance led to the development of a large cod fishery … Prior to the warming in the 1920s, the Atlantic cod spawned almost exclusively off the south coast of Iceland. As the waters warmed, cod spawning spread northward until there were major spawning locations completely surrounding Iceland”. The paper is interesting since the warming resulted in positive effects of increased fisheries throughout the Arctic and North Atlantic.
“Char as a Model for Assessing Climate Change Impacts on Arctic Fishery Resources” by Reist, Power and Dempson stated: “Summer air and sea surface T’s affected the biological system on an annual basis likely by increased nearshore marine productivity which for individual fish led to increased weight, length and growth, and thus to better overall condition for the population. Winter precipitation the season before the first summer of life of individual fish increased the snow pack and decreased seasonal freezing thus indirectly provided more overwintering habitat; this led to increased overwinter survival thence to more fish in the population. Similarly decreased energetic demands over winter increased growth, leading to earlier recruitment to the fishery (measured as lower age at catch). Finally, summer air T and precipitation during the fourth year of life (~first year at sea for most char) increased nearshore nutrient loading and productivity which led to increased growth and survival of this age class as seen in increased weight and decreased age of fish at catch.”
Even though global warming alarmists pretend that warming will decrease species diversity, the reverse is actually true. Habitat destruction is the greatest threat to the world’s species. “Although tropical forests cover only about 7 percent of the Earth’s dry land, they probably harbor about half of all species on Earth.” This is illustrated in the following figure showing species by environment. [http://www.mongabay.com/brazil.html]
Global warming alarmists pretend that warming will kill many animals, whereas cold is actually more devastating.
The following article is from Feb 11, 2010. [http://news.discovery.com/animals/florida-wildlife-cold-weather.html]
Florida Keys Coral
The cold has also been killing coral and causing “coral bleaching” in Florida. See: “Cold kills coral; 1st time since 70s” [http://keysnews.com/node/20365] “A cold-water bleaching and die-off hasn't occurred in Florida since the late 1970s Former sanctuary superintendent and 39-year Keys resident Billy Causey vividly recalled the damage from the winters of 1977 and 1978, when he saw "light flurries" of snow in Big Pine Key … He fears the long-term effects of the recent cold snap, which lasted much longer than the previous event, when Keys corals were much healthier than today. Years of pollution, overfishing and global warming have taken their toll, he said. Since (1977), our corals have been struggling," Causey said. "Our corals were just starting to see recovery”.”
It is interesting that while alarmists have been blaming coral declines on global warming, in the Keys “corals were just starting to see recovery” until the 2010 cold weather arrived. The following figure shows the average annual sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies for the 5x5 degree grid encompassing the Florida Keys (from the CRU HadSST2 data plotted at http://www.appinsys.com/GlobalWarming/climate.aspx) for 1930 – 2008.
The following figures show the same data as above but limited to the month of January (left) and the July-August average (right).
The following figures show the same data as above but including monthly data (blue) as well as annual average (red). The 1930s were warmer than recent temperatures.
The WWF [http://www.worldwildlife.org/species/finder/americanpika/americanpika.html] warns: “American pikas are particularly vulnerable to global warming because they reside in areas with cool, relatively moist climates like those normally found in their mountaintop habitat … American pikas may be the 'canary in the coal mine' when it comes to the response of alpine and mountain systems to global warming.”. The Pika alarm has been sounded in the various AGW believer media.
However, “The mountain-dwelling pika, which many predicted might be one of climate change's first casualties, is thriving in the Sierra Nevada.” [http://news.discovery.com/animals/american-pika-global-warming.html]
A 2010 study (Millar and Westfall, “Distribution and Climatic Relationships of the American Pika…” [http://www.fs.fed.us/psw/publications/millar/psw_2010_millar001.pdf]) concludes: “the pika populations in the Sierra Nevada and southwestern Great Basin are thriving, persist in a wide range of thermal environments, and show little evidence of extirpation or decline.”
Alarmist groups have sued the US government to try to force the listing of the Pika as endangered. The US Fish and Wildlife service “reviewed scientific literature on the pika, said the creature can adapt and find suitable habitat despite a predicted summertime rise of 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit in the animal's current range by 2050. … The pika is thriving at low mountain elevations near Bodie, Calif., at California's Lava Beds National Monument and at Idaho's Craters of the Moon National Monument.” [http://articles.latimes.com/2010/feb/05/local/la-me-endangered-pika5-2010feb05] The Fish & Wildlife Service press release on the issue states: “Although the American pika is potentially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change in portions of its range, the best available scientific information indicates that pikas will be able to survive despite higher temperatures. Pikas will have enough suitable high elevation habitat to prevent them from becoming threatened or endangered.”
The Fish & Wildlife Service report used a NOAA climate model to estimate future increases due to CO2 “The models indicate summer temperatures were likely to increase an average of 5.4 degrees Farenheit in pika habitat.” That may sound like a lot of warming – however, the variation in historical data put this in perspective.
The following figures show maximum July temperatures at several locations (July being the warmest summer month in the pika area). The plots show several stations from the NOAA GHCN database (plotted at http://www.appinsys.com/GlobalWarming/climate.aspx). Although there are no GHCN stations at the elevations where pikas actually live, these high-elevation stations give an indication of past maximum summer temperature variation. Temperatures were higher in the 1930s.
Arctic warming is apparently beneficial to plants.
A 2009 study (Hudson and Henry, “Increased plant biomass in a High Arctic heath community from 1981 to 2008”, Ecology 90(10), 2009, [http://www.esajournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1890/09-0102.1]) states: “The Canadian High Arctic has been warming for several decades. Over this period, tundra plant communities have been influenced by regional climate change, as well as other disturbances. … the community became more productive over time, suggesting that this ecosystem is currently in transition. Bryophyte and evergreen shrub abundances increased, while deciduous shrub, forb, graminoid, and lichen cover did not change. Species diversity also remained unchanged. Because of the greater evergreen shrub cover, canopy height increased. … We attribute the increased productivity of this community to regional warming over the past 30–50 years. … from 1982 to 2000, a 1.88C increase accompanied an 18% increase in vegetation productivity in Alaska and northwest Canada (Kimball et al. 2006). Our study has provided ground-based observations of this increased productivity. Although many heath species are predicted to become endangered by their inferior competitive abilities (Callaghan et al. 2005), our results indicate that heath plant communities may persist in a warmer future in the High Arctic.”
The following figure is from that paper.