Sunday, February 25, 2018

GWPF Newsletter: Polar Bear Battle In Toronto








It’s Good Science vs. Climate Do-Gooders

In this newsletter:

1) False Alarm: Russia’s Polar Bears Adjusting To Climate Change, Officials Confirm
The Arctic, 20 February 2018
 
2) Terence Corcoran: Polar Bear Battle In Toronto! It’s Good Science Vs. Climate Do-Gooders
Financial Post, 22 February 2018 
 
3) GWPF To Launch State Of The Polar Bear Report 2017
Global Warming Policy Foundation, February 2018
 
4) ‘Cross Examination Is Going To Be Brutal’: NYU Law Prof Says Climate Change Litigation Is A Loser
Karren Kidd, Forbes, 20 February 2018
 
5) Mugged By Reality, Washington Post Discovers Fatal Flaws Of Paris Climate Agreement
The Washington Post, 19 February 2018

Full details:

1) False Alarm: Russia’s Polar Bears Adjusting To Climate Change, Officials Confirm
The Arctic, 20 February 2018

A Russian delegation, including representatives from Chukotka, took part in a meeting of member-states of the Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears. The meeting took place in Fairbanks, Alaska.



The head of the Russian delegation, the Deputy Director of the International Cooperation Department at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Irina Fominykh, said the meeting was a success and even more productive than expected. In her opinion, it encouraged optimism and gave hope for further cooperation in developing uniform standards and approaches to recording and analyzing information.

Ms. Fominykh also expressed appreciation for the report by the head of the Wildlife Conservation and Usage Section at the Regional Department of Industrial and Agricultural Policy of the Chukotka Autonomous Area Yegor Vereshchagin, which was given during the meeting.

“This document contains relevant and valuable information on the conflicting situation between people and polar bears. This information is extremely important for working out a joint strategy on polar bear conservation,” the head of the Russian delegation said.

Mr. Vereshchagin presented a report in Fairbanks that reviewed the long-term observation of polar bears in Chukotka, including the base of conflicting situations, which was proposed for keeping and maintaining in other Arctic countries for a consistent analysis and comprehensive view of the overall situation.

“Representatives of other Arctic regions and the scientific community were more concerned about climatic change and its negative effect on polar bears, but these issues do not loom large with us. Both scientific data and traditional knowledge prove that nothing threatens our bears. During spring counts of dens we often find female bears with three cubs, which proves that the population is in good shape and there is no danger of a decrease in the population,” Mr. Vereshchagin said.

Full story

2) Terence Corcoran: Polar Bear Battle In Toronto! It’s Good Science Vs. Climate Do-Gooders
Financial Post, 22 February 2018 

Coming next Tuesday to Toronto’s swanky Yorkville district, it’s the 2018 Polar Bear Showdown, an international display of conflicting views on the state of polar-bear science. Are the great, charismatic creatures, all white, cuddly-looking and dangerous, caught in the death grip of climate change?



At one corner in Yorkville, in the ballroom of the upmarket Four Seasons Hotel, Polar Bears International (PBI) will stage a grand, $15,000-a-table gala to raise funds to protect the allegedly threatened Arctic species from the ravages of our addiction to fossil fuels. Sponsored by a klatch of corporate goody-two-shoes — a couple of Canadian banks, a major accounting outfit, The Globe and Mail — and filled with razzle-dazzle entertainment and good food, the purpose of the event is to mark International Polar Bear Day and draw attention to PBI’s science-based effort to sound a global polar-bear alarm.

At another corner, exactly one block away, in the Founders’ Room at the down-market Toronto Reference Library, the Global Warming Policy Foundation of London, England will launch a new report on the state of polar bears by Susan Crockford, adjunct professor at the University of Victoria. There will be no entertainment, and no food, but the science will be far superior.

As a science showdown, the Yorkville events juxtapose two conflicting conclusions on the current health and future prospects for polar bears amid climate change. Behind the science, there’s also a juicy personal clash.

The chief scientist at Polar Bears International is Steven Amstrup, adjunct professor at the University of Wyoming and a leading purveyor of the theory that climate change could exterminate polar bears from the Arctic regions. In recent months, Amstrup has launched direct attacks on Crockford and joined others in producing what can only be described as junk-science attempts to undermine her polar-bear research. In return, Crockford recently published a critique of Amstrup’s decades-long campaign to portray polar bears as an endangered species and establish them as the poster-species for climate change.

Crockford’s conclusion is that PBI’s chief scientist and prime motivational guide, whose biographic page contains a catalogue of polar-bear alarmism, spent more than a decade creating a media scare that drove many (including Al Gore) to believe in a threat that didn’t exist. As Crockford wrote in a posting on her  polarbearscience.com  blog last month: “Polar bear experts who falsely predicted that roughly 17,300 polar bears would be dead by now (given sea ice conditions since 2007) have realized their failure has not only kicked their own credibility to the curb, it has taken with it the reputations of their climate change colleagues.”

Crockford’s new paper is aimed at a wide audience of teachers, scientists, students, decision-makers and the general public. It should be required reading for attendees at the Polar Bear Day gala. An executive summary of the report, State of the Polar Bear Report 2017, says that global polar-bear numbers have been stable or have risen since 2005, despite lower summer sea ice levels: “Overly pessimistic media responses to recent polar bear issues have made heartbreaking news out of scientifically insignificant events.”

As of this writing, one of those insignificant heartbreaking events — the video of a lone and apparently starving polar bear — adorns PBI’s website and serves as part of the sales pitch for next Tuesday’s gala in Yorkville. The video went viral in December, but has since been widely criticized. As veteran British environment writer Fred Pearce wrote recently in New Scientist magazine: “Emaciated, it stumbled across a green Arctic landscape without a speck of snow or ice in sight …Media outlets seized on the video as an example of how climate change is killing its poster child. But behind the headlines is an awkward question: have climate change activists chosen the wrong mascot?”

Pearce notes that the theory of looming polar-bear extinction has proved wrong. With rising temperatures in the Arctic and less ice “the polar bear population should have crashed. It hasn’t. If anything, numbers are up compared with 10 years ago.” Population numbers are also up since 1973, when hunting bans were put in place. While Pearce still sees the bears at some risk from a variety of threats, current estimates suggest “the species is not at immediate risk of extinction.”

Another recent commentary makes a similar point. In a release summarizing a recent polar-bear conference in Fairbanks, Alaska, an organization funded by the Russian Geographical Society quotes a Russian conservation official, Yegor Vereshchagin, on the fate of polar bears in Russia’s Chukotka region, across the Bering Sea from Alaska. “Both scientific data and traditional knowledge prove that nothing threatens our bears. During spring counts of dens we often find female bears with three cubs, which proves that the population is in good shape and there is no danger of a decrease in the population.”

Surely the attendees, corporate sponsors and organizers of that big Yorkville gala will find it instructive if they were to download Crockford’s paper when it is released by the Global Warming Policy Foundation next Tuesday, a few hours before their ritzy event.

Full post & comments

3) GWPF To Launch State Of The Polar Bear Report 2017
Global Warming Policy Foundation, February 2018

Global Warming Policy Foundation To Launch State of the Polar Bear Report 2017


Coinciding with International Polar Bear Day (27 February), the GWPF’s State of the Polar Bear Report summarizes clear, reliable and concise information on the current state of polar bears in the Arctic since 2014, relative to historical records. It highlights up-to-date data and research findings in a balanced and factual format that avoids hype and exaggeration. It is intended for a wide audience, including scientists, teachers, students, decision-makers and the general public interested in polar bears and Arctic ecology.

The launch will be held on Tuesday 27 February at 11:00am at the Toronto Public Library, Founders’ Room, 789 Yonge St, Toronto, ON M4W 2G8.

Programme

* Welcome (Dr Benny Peiser, Director of the GWPF)
* Introduction: Prof Chris Essex (Chairman of the GWPF’s Academic Advisory Council)
* Short video screening
* Presentation: Dr Susan Crockford (author of the report)

For further information, please contact Harry Wilkinson (harry.wilkinson@thegwpf.org)

4) ‘Cross Examination Is Going To Be Brutal’: NYU Law Prof Says Climate Change Litigation Is A Loser
Karren Kidd, Forbes, 20 February 2018

California officials who made dire climate change predictions about their localities’ futures in litigation against energy companies, but not in bond offerings, probably know by now their litigation is doomed, a New York University law professor said during a recent interview.

“My guess is they know they’re going to lose those lawsuits,” Richard Epstein, who also is director of NYU’s Classical Liberal Institute, told Legal Newsline. “I certainly believe they will.”

However, backing out of the lawsuits brings its own potential liability issues, especially with a possible Securities and Exchange Commission investigation looming, but if the cities and counties do soldier on and take it to court, “the cross examination is going to be brutal,” Epstein said.

Epstein’s comments are among a number of voices claiming the counties’ and municipalities’ lawsuits against the energy companies are inherently flawed.

Epstein and those other voices point out that California, which includes the counties and cities that filed the lawsuits, is both a great consumer and producer of the same fossil fuels the litigation claims are sowing the seeds of imminent climate change disaster.

Those same fossil fuels also help drive the state’s economy, the sixth-largest in the world, Epstein and others say.

“These counties and cities are huge consumers of energy,” Epstein said.

None of that stopped Marin, Santa Cruz and San Mateo counties and San Francisco, Oakland, Santa Cruz and Imperial Beach in California last year when they filed lawsuits against dozens of energy companies, including Exxon Mobile Corp. and 17 other Texas-based businesses, over climate change.

Those lawsuits, pursued by private lawyers working on contingency fees, included predictions about the futures of those cities and counties should the worst of the climate change predictions pan out.

“Everyone should be devoutly praying that what they claim in their complaints was an exaggeration,” Epstein said.

For example, San Mateo County claimed in its complaint to be “particularly vulnerable to sea level rise” with a 93 percent the county will experience a “devastating” flood before 2050. Imperial Beach and Marin County also claimed in their separate complaints to be vulnerable to devastating floods because of climate change.

“If sea levels were to raise that high, it most certainly would be catastrophic,” Epstein said.

However, bond offerings in the last few years by those counties and cities weren’t so forthcoming about those predictions, Exxon said in a verified petition filed last month with the District Court in Tarrant County, Texas. […]

Since Exxon’s petition was filed, the Competitive Enterprise Institute sent an open letter to the SEC calling for an investigation of potential fraud in the inconsistent climate change claims in the cities’ and counties’ litigation and their bond offerings.

The cities and counties “are now in a tough position” because if officials admit their litigation claims were flawed, they kill their own lawsuits. But if they admit they lied to or withheld information from investors, they open themselves up to potential fraud liability, Epstein said.

Either way, officials in the cities and counties have only themselves to blame, Epstein said.

“I think they have put themselves into a very hard place,” he said.

Full post

5) Mugged By Reality, Washington Post Discovers Fatal Flaws Of Paris Climate Agreement
The Washington Post, 19 February 2018

Barely two years ago, after weeks of intense bargaining in Paris, leaders from 195 countries announced a global agreement that once had seemed impossible. For the first time, the nations of the world would band together to reduce humanity’s reliance on fossil fuels in an effort to hold off the most devastating effects of climate change. “History will remember this day,” the secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, said amid a backdrop of diplomats cheering and hugging. Two years later, the euphoria of Paris is colliding with the reality of the present.

Global emissions of carbon dioxide are rising again after several years of remaining flat. The United States, under President Trump, is planning to withdraw from the Paris accord and is expected to see emissions increase by 1.8 percent this year, after a three-year string of declines. Other countries, too, are showing signs they might fail to live up to the pledges they made in Paris.
In short, the world is off target.

“It’s not fast enough. It’s not big enough,” said Corinne Le Quéré, director of the Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research in England. “There’s not enough action.”

Even as renewable energy grows cheaper and automakers churn out battery-powered and more efficient cars, many nations around the world are nonetheless struggling to hit the relatively modest goals set in Paris.

The reasons vary. Brazil has struggled to rein in deforestation, which fuels greenhouse gas emissions. In Turkey, Indonesia and other countries with growing economies, new coal plants are being planned to meet the demand for electricity. In the United States, the federal government has scaled back its support for clean energy and ramped up support for fossil fuels.

There’s still time for the world to set itself on a more sustainable track; many countries have until 2030 to meet their initial targets. But when policymakers from around the world gather at a key U.N. climate meeting in Poland later this year, countries will be forced to reckon with the difference between how much they say they want to limit the warming of the planet and how little they actually are doing to make that happen.

Because the Paris agreement does not legally force countries to cut emissions, world leaders in Poland will have to rely on political and moral persuasion to push for more action.

“More than two decades ago, the world agreed to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in our air to prevent dangerous climate outcomes,” said Rob Jackson, an energy and climate expert at Stanford University, referring to the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change that set international negotiations in motion. “To date, we have failed.”

“Tremendous gains in energy efficiency and renewable power aren’t yet reducing our global hunger for fossil fuels, especially oil and natural gas,” he added. “Until they do, greenhouse gas concentrations will keep rising.”

The Paris agreement laid out ambitious goals to limit the planet’s warming — world leaders knew they would be difficult to achieve. The deal called for finding ways to remain “well below” a rise of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels, and if possible, not above 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit). A rise of about 1 degree Celsius already has occurred.

But at the same time, the emissions-cutting pledges that countries brought to the table in Paris were nowhere near sufficient to meet such goals, which world leaders acknowledged at the time. The plan was for nations to ramp up their ambition over time.

“There’s this inherent conflict between the global goals and the national contributions,” said Niklas Höhne, a founder of the NewClimate Institute and professor at Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

Now, after the United States has said it will withdraw from the process and as many other nations struggle to meet even the modest pledges they made, the world must begin to wrestle with the forces that have so far prevented climate action from matching climate rhetoric.

In many corners of the world, emissions have continued virtually unabated, raising questions about how countries — even well-intentioned ones — can make bolder promises down the line when they have so far been unable to follow through on their current ones.

The struggles of Germany, one of the globe’s most progressive nations when it comes to embracing renewable energy, illustrates the problem.

The country’s “Energiewende,” or “energy transition,” aims to generate 80 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2050. The country also has set an aggressive near-term goal of cutting greenhouses gas emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2020.

But Germany is struggling to meet its goals. The county’s emissions actually rose slightly in 2015 and 2016 because of continued coal burning and emissions growth in the transportation sector. That failing trajectory won’t change without “massive and rapid efforts,” according to the German Environment Agency.

The European Union faces a similar quandary. Third after China and the United States in total world emissions, the bloc has pledged a 40 percent cut below 1990 levels by 2030. Time remains for the E.U. to meet that promise, but according to the European Environment Agency, it is on track to fall well short of its goal.

Full story

Told You So: GWPF Report — Paris Agreement: A Blank Cheque For CO2 Emissions For China And India

The Paris Climate Agreement, far from securing a reduction in global CO2 emissions, is fundamentally a blank cheque that allows China and India to increase their emissions as they see fit in pursuit of economic growth. Full paper

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at www.thegwpf.com.

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