Tuesday, November 1, 2011

More updates in Settled Science

Please enjoy this terrifying propaganda piece while contemplating the following info from Don Surber:

Today in settled science: A bird expert sees blobs in a photo, and promptly declares polar bears headed to extinction.

Remember the U.S. government report report five years ago that polar bears were drowning? Kassie Siegel, director of the U.S.-based Center for Biological Diversity, cited the report in her call to place the polar bear on the endangered species list. Never mind that we now have 5 times as many polar bears today than we did 50 years ago. We must take action immediately. Based on one report. Because that’s how science works. One report is all it takes to leap to a conclusion that may cost society billions.

In December 2006, Kassie Siegel told the Ottawa Citizen: “This is a watershed decision in the way this country deals with climate change. The science of global warming and the impact to polar bears are so clear that not even the Bush administration can deny that polar bears are threatened with extinction because of global warming.”

Well, it turns out that report was likely crap. The Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of the Interior is investigating the veracity of the report.

From the Independent: “The 2006 report from American wildlife researchers Jeffrey Gleason and Charles Monnett told of dead bears floating in the Arctic Ocean in 2004, apparently drowned, and focused attention on the vulnerability of the animals to the melting of the Arctic ice, which they need for hunting. Widespread references were made to the dead bears and they figured in the film An Inconvenient Truth, made by Al Gore to highlight the risks of global warming.”

Drowning polar bears made no sense since polar bears are sturdy swimmers. But then considering Jeffrey Gleason is an avian biologist, perhaps the researchers did not know that. In July, the government suspended Charles Monnett from his job as an Arctic wildlife biologist at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, a Department of the Interior agency. He has since returned to work.

But Jeffrey Gleason now faces a lie detector test to determine his integrity, the London newspaper reported. Jeffrey Gleason’s lawyer, Jeff Ruch, told the Independent: “There appears to be kind of a desperate, almost fierce nature to pursue this until they find something.”

ERIC MAY: When you did take the photos, were you able to tell what they were?
JEFFREY GLEASON: Most of the time, yeah. We saw some dead polar bears at one time, and it was pretty obvious with the naked eye what it was. But the pictures, they just kind of turned out to be a white blob in the photos. And I can’t remember, we probably took three or four pictures, and it’s sort of white blob floating in the ocean, so it’s pretty hard to tell.
ERIC MAY: Dead polar bears, how far off the land were you?
JEFFREY GLEASON: I can’t remember. We published a paper on that as well, 20 to 50 kilometers I suppose.

And there was this:

JEFFREY GLEASON: And it was not just the dead polar bears that was of interest to us, but it was the number of swimming polar bears and the distance we observed some of those polar bears offshore. And we went back, you know, you noted at the time and I was pretty curious. So we went back into the database, which is, you know, 30 years of records, and it was the most swimming polar bears that had been observed and the distances. And there were no records of any dead polar bears floating out there.

You start thinking about probabilities, detection probabilities, which is basically what is the potential that I’ll actually observe an individual on these surveys, on these transects. It’s not like you’re covering the entire ocean. It’s a needle in a haystack. And when you start thinking about seeing a swimming polar bear or a dead polar bear out in the middle of an ocean from an aircraft moving that fast, covering roughly an observation transect of maybe a mile, half a mile out of each window under ideal conditions, it’s staggering what the potential is. I mean, it’s really low.

So when we started putting it together, that particular paper, there was a windstorm that came up. I’m trying to remember how that fell out that year. There was a windstorm. We had done some survey work about three days prior, and there was about three days of very strong winds. And we had seen these animals swimming offshore that last survey. And then, following that windstorm, it was pretty calm, and that’s when we saw the dead ones.

ERIC MAY: So is that what attributed to them dying?
JEFFREY GLEASON: We attributed it to that. Of course, we have no way to determine actual cause of death. We can’t pick them up. There’s no way. But given the distances and the number of polar bears we saw preceding the storm, and then the dead polar bears after the storm, it seemed probably the most parsimonious explanation for what happened.
JOHN MESKEL: The most what?
JEFFREY GLEASON: The simplest sort of rationale and reason.

So we have an expert on birds guessing that white blobs on a photo are drowned polar bears.
That’s it.
That’s the science.
He called it a parsimonious explanation. I call it Rorschach.

Well said, sir !!!


Cedric Katesby said...

...the following info from Don Surber...

Oh, he runs a blog on the Charlseton Daily Mail.

So...where does he get his information from?

Hmm, let's see.

(reads the article)

A newspaper...and...another newspaper...and another newspaper.
Journalism at it's finest.

You never use primary sources of information. Only secondary. You always avoid them.

Maybe you shouldn't get your science information this way. Try a little skepticism for a change.
That way, you won't get led by the nose.

Anonymous said...

Cedric, just out of curiosity, what is your input on Roy Spencer who works for NASA? Personally I think the guy is a nut, but he is a NASA scientist.
I am not leaning one way or the other in this climate debate.

Cedric Katesby said...

...but he is a NASA scientist.

He stopped work at NASA over ten years ago.

I never bother with individual scientists nor individual papers. It's the vast, overall body of peer-reviewed scientific research that attracts my attention.
Only the work matters.

NASA arguably does the best work. They have been pioneers in climatology for many decades. To honestly understand climate change it is necessary to understand NASA and the work NASA does.

I am not leaning one way or the other in this climate debate.

That would greatly disappoint NASA and every single scientific community on the planet.

Yet, on the other hand, the George C. Marshall Institute can congratulate themselves on a job well done.