Posted on May 31, 2008
Bears now more equal than people
When the Interior Department placed the polar bear on the "threatened" list, it did so on the basis of predictions from computer models. One could easily have guessed as much, since that decision could not have possibly been based on anything that's actually happened.
Even as he announced this designation, Secretary Dirk Kempthorne noted that the world's polar bear population has more than doubled since the late 60s, from about 12,000 to 25,000. Yet the melting of the arctic summer sea ice, which is what's allegedly threatening the bears, has transpired throughout that same time frame. This is not to suggest a causal relation between the melting ice and the growing bear population, but it ought to be enough to cast doubt on Kempthorne's conclusion, that the shrinking ice may reduce the polar bear population by two-thirds by the year 2050.
Computer models are only as good as the presumptions upon which they are based, or to put it in geek-speak, "garbage in, garbage out." All you have to do is to start from a ridiculous premise, and the computer will very logically project a ridiculous outcome, like Manhattan sinking underwater in Al Gore's movie.
False but logically derived conclusions are not new to the computer age, though. Forty years ago, liberals hailed Paul Ehrlich as a visionary, much like they view Gore today. In his book, The Population Bomb, Ehrlich had predicted that overpopulation would cause widespread famine in the decades to follow, shrinking the population of the United States to below 23 million by the turn of the millenium. He was wrong, of course. There was plenty of food to go around, and will continue to be unless we burn it all up to make ethanol, in a banana-brained effort to save the polar bears from the melting ice caps.
In 2000, Texas alone had about the same population that Ehrlich had projected for the entire country, whereas our national population exceeded that figure 11 times over. He cannot have been more wrong, but that doesn't necessarily mean there was a problem with his methodology. It's just that he started from false premises, which underestimated people's ability to adapt and to solve problems. Garbage in, garbage out.
By today's standard, Ehrlich's projections would have easily qualified humans as a threatened species, but notice the difference with which the threatened bears and people have been treated. Ehrlich's proposed solution was to destroy humanity in order to save it. He speculated that the earth could only sustain 500 million people, at a time when the world's population was already 3.5 billion. To that end, he advocated compulsory sterilization, and worldwide legalization of abortion. Western governments that have been influenced by Ehrlich's work have spent decades reducing their birthrates through so-called "family planning" initiatives, to the point where they now complain about their aging populations due to low replacement rates.
Nobody today is proposing that we neuter the polar bears and kill their young. That's because the virtual threat in their case is global warming. Therefore, the culprit must be human activity, including the exercise of our most fundamental rights. Our right to life is a threat to the polar bear because nearly everything we do -- from driving cars, to turning on light bulbs, to breathing -- produces carbon dioxide. Liberty rights must be curtailed because, if people are allowed too much freedom of movement, this will result in sprawl and deforestation, as well as increased highway and air traffic. The right to property must also be denied, because people are likely to develop their property in ways that are deemed to be "unsustainable."
That's the common thread between these two synthetic crises. When the polar bears are perceived to be threatened, the answer is to punish humanity. When it's the human species that is supposedly threatened, it is nevertheless we who remain the enemy. In fact, it's not uncommon for environmentalists to muse that the human race is a cancer on the planet. That's merely the logical extension of their belief that the earth is an organism, and we are the source of all that ails it.
That this philosophy is influencing government policy should strike us as far more alarming than, say, a slight increase in the world's supply of carbon dioxide, a compound every bit as benign as water vapor. If there's any pollutant we should be seeking to stamp out, it is the "garbage in" that is the anti-human bias on which today's "green" movement is based.-- Daniel Clark is a Staff Writer for the New Media Alliance. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.
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