Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Conference to Nowhere....?

University of Alaska Anchorage professor Rick Steiner will most likely not be invited to participate in what Anchorage Daily News reporter Tom Kizzia calls, "an "academic based" conference that highlights contrarian scientific research on global warming. Legislators hope to undermine the public perception of a widespread consensus among polar bear researchers that warming global temperatures and melting Arctic ice threaten the polar bears' survival."

From the Department of You Can't Make This Kind of Shit Up comes the proposal by Sen. John Harris (R. Lysenko City) and Sen. Lyda Green (R. Flat Earth Borough) to shell out $2,000,000 to get the worst scientists money can buy to come up with a pre-determined result, at the end of a so-called "science" conference.

We're already the laughingstock of the country, John and Lyda, thanks to your colleagues in the GOP.

Please, please, please call your conference.

Please don't veto the funds, Gov. Palin.

Actually, why don't you fund it to the tune of, say $10,000,000 or so, and invite Art Bell, Charles Thaxton and Ben Stein to chair the various panels.

What better way to make a very clear distinction nationwide between our outstanding Democratic candidates for offices in Alaska and people like Lyda and John. What a great fundraising tool for our candidates a conference like this will be. I suggest you convene this conference right after the August primary. Make it last into the last week of October.

Steiner has been trying to obtain correspondence and documents from the state about how internal discussion, debate and decisions on the vulnerability of Polar bears to an array of ongoing and possible changes to their environment and habitat have been handled. The Palin administration has stonewalled Steiner, demanding he fork over $500,000 or so to get the information.

Needless to say, Steiner is skeptical of the conference's objectives, quipping, "This truly is the conference to nowhere."

By the way, it is about time that somebody in the ADN writes about Steiner's treatment by the Palin administration other than the Alaska Ear!

Excellent article, Tom.

Face-to-Face by Fred Machetanz


CelticDiva said...

You should DKos Diary this one, Phil.

Alaskans Helping Animals said...

Glad you're doing this blog! Come visit me at

Robert W Gilcrease said...

All the squirrels here at the Permafrost Ranch
are in complete agreement. What a bunch of nuts down our politicians are.

Polarbear said...

Now we at least we know the going market value of integrity - $2,000,000. Is $2M also your new price tag for ConocoPhillips, Rep Harris, Sen Green?

Anonymous said...

Let's see, our current Ice Age began about two million years ago when Antarctica moved onto the south pole and disrupted the ocean currents that normally keep global climates and temperatures on a geological even keel... and in that intervening time there have been twenty worldwide cycles of glacial and inter-glacial epochs, known as the Malenkovich Cycle. Basic Ice Age Primer 101 stuff.

In these cycles of planetary climate change, the sea levels can rise and fall up to 1,000 feet, vast ice sheets up to two miles thick can appear and then disappear on continental scale,temperatures and climates vacillate widely, with huge effects on ecosystems across the world.

Twenty such cycles on a planetary scale in the past two million years, and with estimates that Antarctica ain't moving its behind off of the south polar region for another 18 million or so years, predictions estimate about 80 or more such cycles to continue in the ensuing years...

Now comes Again the tired theme of Apocalypse Science. The latest claim is that Global Climate Change tied to directly to Humans and the Human Condition - Global Climate Change is now heretofore to be known as a human induced event caused to Greenhouse Gases through Industrialization.

No need to understand the quite complex science literacy of our geologic past - why bother actually learning about the Ice Ages and their place in the geological cycles of the Earth's past - when the story is so much better told with the Human at the heart of the story line.

Didn't we just see this same type of Apocalypse Science - called Intelligent Design - with claims of the actual creation and evolution of the Globe as a human centered event? Again, no need to understand the scientific literacy of the Earth's past - cause the story is so much better when the Human is at the heart of the story line.

Two Peas in a Pod - but keep that a Secret - such opposite ends of the literacy spectrum would not like to learn about their commom human centered hubris.

A prediction: in light of the generalization that both of these camps have their Cultish followings and tendencies (their view is the Orthodoxy and anything against their view is Heresy) and both have significant protagonists, provocateurs, and partisans coming out of the ME generation, this too will fade as a fad of faux science.

Support Science Literacy at a brain near you.

Polarbear said...

anonymous: Your are correct in asserting there is nothing worse than science incompletely practiced. Science, well practiced, is about a credentialed peer group interconnected by agreed common practice and ethics, objective communications, reproducible results, hypotheses tested by all for accuracy, and peer-reviewed publication of results. Indeed, it is hard to sort through the hyperbole these days - you know, like so-called "creation science" and similar nonsense.

With regard to the polarbear, the situation is, there are a number of well-known denning areas around the arctic, each contributing to a regional population of bears. Unusual open water conditions appear to be resulting in lower cub survival, as well as displacement of prey species. Some regional counts of adult bears are showing lower numbers, but those might also be attributable to some redistribution of adults - hard to say without subsequent year trendline data. The combination of environmental stress, lower cub survival, and new distribution of prey suggests a cautious approach to polar bear management to be a wise course. I am not privy to the raw data currently being exchanged between Russian, US, Canadian, Danish, and Norwegian biologists, but I suspect we'll have better handle on the situation soon.

I do not know whether it is appropriate to list the polar bear as 'threatened' or 'endangered'. The only factors we humans can really control are our own disturbance of the bears and hunting mortality. It is likely the international community of polar bear biologists will help us with that determination soon. I could make a bad pun about "polar-izing" the situation, but seriously, all concerned would be better off for calm, and avoiding political conferences with a predetermined outcome. I know Rick Steiner to be a data-oriented, informed observer of polar bear biology, and a good scientist in his own field.

There is another political aspect of the polar bear discussion. If the State of Alaska ever hopes to regain management of some federal lands in Alaska, then the state is going to have to demonstrate a higher standard of science, scientific stewardship, and publication of data than the Ak Department of Fish and Game is currently showing on the polar bear issue. U.S Fish and Wildlife Service science in one hand - Ak Dept of Fish and Game science in the other; the credibility goes to USFWS.

Anonymous said...

From what I understand- the polar bears can do and probably willjust interbreed with the brown bears when the climate warms up. When the next ice age comes- obviously the Polar bear traits will just crop out once again. No worries.

I wonder just WHO warmed up the earth from the past ice ages?? Was it those brown bears and their industry??