Media Advisory: Polar Bear Decision Defies Scientific Evidence

Published May 14, 2008

(Chicago, IL — May 14, 2008) The U.S. Department of the Interior decided today to list polar bears as a “threatened” species under the Endangered Species Act. The decision was based on predictions that future global warming will negatively affect polar bear populations.

Experts contacted by The Heartland Institute note global temperatures have not risen in the past 10 years, and scientists with the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predict temperatures will cool for at least the next 10 years. Moreover, polar bear populations have been increasing during recent decades.

The expert statements below can be quoted directly, or the experts can be contacted for additional information at the telephone numbers and email addresses provided below.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has just taken its place alongside Miss Cleo and the Psychic Friends Network in terms of a complete divorce from scientific reality. FWS apparently believes it has the clairvoyance to forecast sharp declines in polar bear populations even though temperatures for most of the past 10,000 years have been warmer than today and polar bears have flourished. Moreover, global polar bear populations have been rising for decades, even as temperatures have recovered from the end of the Little Ice Age 100 years ago.

“The only plausible basis for ruling polar bears as threatened is blind faith in alarmist computer models that have been no more accurate than Chicken Little’s claim that the sky is falling. Compare the alarmist computer models to the real world. Global temperatures have not risen one bit during the past decade. Before that, for 30 of the preceding 50 years, global temperatures fell. And now even IPCC scientists are predicting global temperatures will cool for at least the next decade.

“Only by completely ignoring real-world scientific evidence and jumping head-first into the world of special-interest group propaganda can one justify listing polar bears as a threatened species.”

James M. Taylor
Senior Fellow for Environment Policy
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

“This decision represents a conflict between politics and science. Polar bear populations have been increasing in recent decades, so there is no current problem. The concern is based on forecasts. However, the government forecasts used to support the decision violate basic scientific principles, and thus provide no scientific support for the listing.

“There are no scientific forecasts that would suggest a reduction in polar bear populations. It would be improper, then, to designate polar bears as endangered. Application of proper forecasting methods suggests a small short-term rise in polar bear populations followed by a leveling off. We provide full disclosure to support these statements at and at In the long term, science will prevail.”

Scott Armstrong
Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
[email protected]

“Canadians, who manage two-thirds of all polar bear populations, just reviewed their listing status and decided not to up-list the bear to a more serious status. Activists are attempting to politically interfere and change that reasonable and informed decision so today’s U.S. listing would not look extreme, unwarranted, and political, which it is.

“The listing is lunacy because carbon dioxide emissions–the real target of activists–are surging worldwide, and unless all other countries cut their carbon emissions, atmospheric concentrations will continue to rise even if the entire West shuts down its emissions. If the United States were to go 100 percent CO2 emissions-free, just the projected growth in China’s and India’s emissions would replace U.S. ‘savings’ in about a decade.

“The self-inflicted economic wound of making the use of carbon fuels more expensive in the United States than in China will merely transfer carbon emissions and jobs to that regime, which already has one of the worst environmental records in the world, and will deploy the profits toward the continued expansion of its own network of uniquely dirty, coal-fired power stations, to the detriment of the environment, without any benefit to the climate or polar bears whatsoever.”

Robert Ferguson
Science and Public Policy Institute
[email protected]

Nothing in this Media Advisory is intended to influence the passage of legislation, and it does not necessarily represent the views of The Heartland Institute. For further information, contact Dan Miller, publisher, The Heartland Institute, at 312/377-4000, or [email protected].