Polar bears can’t catch a break anywhere, least of all Fox News.
On Fox and Friends this morning, Fox Legal Analyst Peter Johnson Jr. was asked about last week’s ruling by the D.C. Circuit to uphold the decision to protect polar bears as a “threatened” species. He made the case that environmentalists use polar bears as a fundraising tool, and that the threat to polar bears may be imaginary:
JOHNSON: It really depends upon whether you believe the global warming is real, whether polar bears are actually threatened or not. This has become a big fundraising tool and it’s become a problem, too, for oil interests throughout the world because they have to act in a way that is very expensive in terms of making modifications.… So is global warming real or not real? I’ve heard a lot of people say it’s not really real.
Global warming is undoubtedly real. In fact, the real climate debate has shifted to how much climate scientists have actually underestimated global warming impacts.
With regard to polar bears, the court said that the Fish and Wildlife Service listed the polar bear correctly as “threatened”:
“The Listing Rule rests on a three-part thesis: the polar bear is dependent upon sea ice for its survival; sea ice is declining; and climatic changes have and will continue to dramatically reduce the extent and quality of Arctic sea ice to a degree sufficiently grave to jeopardize polar bear populations…. No part of this thesis is disputed and we find that FWS’s conclusion – that the polar bear is threatened within the meaning of the ESA – is reasonable and adequately supported by the record.” [Page 14]
It went on to say that 13 out of 14 peer reviewers found the rule generally “represented a thorough, clear, and balanced review of the best scientific information available from both published and unpublished sources of the current status of polar bears.”
Polar bears depend on sea ice for feeding. Arctic sea ice volume has collapsed. The question on threats to polar bears is not over whether general population estimates are stable. (Where there is sufficient data, many more subpopulations are decreasing than are increasing.) If Fox and Friends wants to get to the root of the issue, they should host a discussion about whether polar bears should be classified as “threatened” or “endangered.”
Polar bear ranges will only get more crowded by other animals. Under an incorrect-yet-ironic headline (“Study: Global Warming Helps Polar Bears,”) Fox News reported in January that many mammal species will expand their ranges northward as the Arctic warms. As the sea ice melts, the polar bears will surely welcome their new grizzly bear overlords from the south.