Monday, May 20, 2019

What's Natural about Jim Steele's Safe Space?

My intention is a review of 'libertarian' deception in action.
Click on image for better viewing and comparing.

Steele never explains that "safe space", instead he used his soapbox to praise Nunavut’s Inuit hunters for their superior wildlife observation skills that, according to Steele, put scientists to shame.
This column was so lacking in anything to do with climate science, that I have to change my approach again, this time simply dissect and comment.
The column’s title proclaims: “Can We Kappiananngittuq?” - subtitled, “We need a safe place to discuss global climate topics.” - and the center-piece quote reads: I suggest we all could benefit by debating kappiananngittuq style.” 
Begs the question, what would a public “safe space to discuss” climate science look like Jim? 
What guidelines would you expect us to follow?  
Would honesty be important?
When I’m discussing facts I’ve gathered, would there be an expectation that I be truthful?  That I honesty and accurately represent the information I’ve collected?
When I’m describing the data and work of an ‘opponent’ would there be an expectation that I honesty represent my adversary’s data?
Would it be a general betrayal to substitute a dishonest argument that prop up false assertions, while hiding my opponent’s facts?
In a kappiananngittuq, is there an expectation to respect the experience, knowledge and merits of each individual, even your opponents?
In a kappiananngittuq, if it’s explained to you, how you are mistaken about something, do you sit there striving to listen, understand and absorb the lesson?
In a kappiananngittuq, is learning and a better communal understanding of our collective real world situation the goal?  
These are important questions.  I believe the answers are self evident: YES on all counts.  I wonder how Jim Steele would answer?  
I believe,
We The People of the United States have a moral, ethical right - along with a pragmatic need - to learn what scientists have learned about this planet's biosphere and climate engine without constant dishonest crossfire. 
1¶  Steele’s first paragraph starts with Inuit prowess and that in 2010 polar bears were thriving.  His third sentence
“No known environmental or other factors are currently posing a significant or immediate threat to polar bears overall.”
“Immediate” like in the next couple years?  Also, there’s more to polar bear health than population numbers.  
Here Jim uses creative license to deny the obvious, global warming has already begun to radically alter the Arctic landscape and seascape, which can not help but adversely impact polar bears.  
Jim would learn a lot by listening to what folk from Nunavut have to say.  Maybe the following study by the Nunavutians themselves will help him take climate change and its impacts seriously.
Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation in Nunavut
“Climate change presents one of the more significant challenges facing Nunavummiut. Elders, scientists and many others are increasingly observing unusual weather events that are impacting many facets of life in Nunavut.” …  “Upagiaqtavut sets the strategic direction for climate change adaptation in Nunavut.”  … “Nunavummiut are equipped with the tools, skills and knowledge needed to adapt to the projected impacts of climate change.”
The Honourable Daniel Shewchuk Minister of Environment
These seascape changes, specifically losing the Arctic ice sheet, turns out to have far reaching impacts on the Arctic food chain.  
High contributions of sea ice derived carbon in polar bear (Ursus maritimus) tissue
“ …  our data illustrate that for future Arctic ecosystems that are likely to be characterised by reduced sea ice cover, polar bears will not only be impacted by a change in their physical habitat, but also potentially in the supply of energy to the ecosystems (think ‘food web’) upon which they depend. 
This data represents the first quantifiable baseline that is critical for the assessment of likely ongoing changes in energy supply to Arctic predators as we move into an increasingly uncertain future for polar ecosystems.”
¶2 Starts with Jim lauding how the Inuits truly practice “it takes a community” and then introduces the concept of “kappiananngittuq,” a community discussion where hunters “respectfully share their observations of wildlife movements, etc.
Then he tells us that Inuits say this is “The Time of the Most Bears.”  Next sentence acknowledges that over-hunting lead to a near population collapse by the mid twentieth century.  Then Jim credits bear recovery to,
“wise hunting regulations, now honored by the Inuit.”
Jim neglected to share credit with the biologists and other scientists, who in the ‘70s helped establish those laws and regulations, who were equally responsible for this restoration of a balance between hunting and sustainable populations.
Highlights in the history of the polar bear protection regime
~ ~ ~ 
~ ~ ~
Then ¶3 goes off the rails:
In contrast, based on questionable computer models, some western scientists have argued two-thirds of all polar bears will be extinct by the year 2030. Climate scientists like Gavin Schmidt sitting in his New York office, suggested the Inuit are in total denial. Sadly, in climate politics there is no kappiananngittuq where people safely discuss divergent knowledge. If you dare disagree with models of gloom and doom, you are attacked as an ignorant denier. 
(Let’s be clear Jim, your words are being attacked for exactly this sort of deception that you pepper your column with!)
This seemed very weird to me.  Since I’ve learned I can’t trust Steele’s word, I emailed Dr. Gavin Schmidt to see if he could shed any light on this.  Gavin’s reply was revealing.  
Believe me, it’s certainly not the first time I’ve received a scientist’s response telling me, ‘I haven’t a clue what Steele’s going on about.’
(I added paragraph breaks for clarity - shared with Dr. Schmidt’s permission)
On Wed, May 15, 2019 at 12:01 PM Schmidt, Gavin A. (GISS-6110) wrote:
Hi, thanks for sending. I hadn’t seen that, and 
frankly I was not aware that I had ever made a prediction about polar bear semi-extinction, 
nor ever stated anything about Inuit attitudes. 
Neither do I have any insight into the history of Bowhead whale surveys and hunting permits in Nunavut. 
In fact, I have no idea why Steele would bring me into it at all.
Gavin A. Schmidt
NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
Why does Steele have such a need to deceive?
As for the “2030” claim, at the end of this review I including some links to relevant reading that explains details Steele ignores.
¶4 Lauds the Inuits,
“amazing ability to correctly diagnose changes…”  
“far superior to western science.”
¶5,¶6,¶7 Jim now switches to telling the Bowhead whale story, with its history of over hunting, then a wise protective hunting ban in 1951, which included an exception for Inuit hunters.  
Their exception was removed in 1979.  When the Inuits started petitioning the government to remove the ban, they contended that whale counts were much higher than scientists had been estimating.  At first scientists were dismissive, but…  
¶8 Jim doesn’t acknowledge that these were pioneering days for scientific polar bear population studies.  A learning curve was to be expected.  
Think about what happened, Inuits and scientists learned to speak with each other. Inuits started providing information that met more rigorous standards and scientists listened, investigated and learned.  
It’s how science tries to function.  Human egos make it complicated but with all sides working for a common good, that usually becomes secondary to the constructive dialogue and the commitment to learning and achieving common goals.
¶9 Discusses some of the short coming of 1970s “western” research, which incidentally the scientists themselves were widely discussing within the research community.  Point being, it’s not like they weren’t aware of errors, difficulties and challenges, they were busy figuring out how to resolve those issues.  
This is important because we must keep it straight that scientists are always striving to move forward.  Yes they make mistakes, but within the scientific community, experts are constantly checking each other’s work, trying to be the first to find flaws and then to learn from those flaws.
¶10 Returns us to Inuit practices and how they achieved a 'much greater sampling area than scientists did.’ (mind you back in the ’70 and ‘80)
To Jim’s credit he does at least acknowledge that:
“To their credit, western scientists re-designed their surveys to address Inuit’s criticisms.”
With further data collection scientists did what scientists always do, allowed the data to do the talking.  Okay, yes the Inuit numbers which were some three time higher than the early scientific guestimates, was indeed the more accurate count.
Seems to me this is an example of learning from mistakes and moving forward with the science, which has been a cornerstone of “western” science all along.
What’s to deride?  And why the constant melodrama, everyone Jim likes is the smartest, while all the scientists and evidence he don’t like are treated with utter contempt and dismissal.
Them comes Jim’s final ringer:
"I suggest we all could benefit by debating kappiananngittuq style.”
Jim Steele, What About You!?
Why don’t you debate kappiananngittuq style?  
Why are you constantly demeaning your opponents?
Why do you make up shit out of thin air? 
While grossly distorting the rest.
What is going on in that contrarian mindscape?
Do you actually believe the things you write and say?
How do you manage to turn such a blind eye to so much down to Earth rock solid, not to mention logical and internally consistent, evidence that’s been accumulating for decades?
Why that sneering attitude towards climate experts?
Why this bizarre pattern of denigrating wildlife scientists, then implying their short-comings proves conventional climate science is a fraud?  How on Earth does that work Jim?
Why don’t you try the kappiananngittuq style of dialogue with your opponents?
For me acquiring the most realistic understanding of our global heat and moisture distribution engine is the highest goal of this public climate science dialogue.
What’s your goals?  Simple climate science obfuscation?  No taxes?  Or is it extra cash for your retirement years?  Or is it altogether something else?  It sure isn’t constructive learning!
Further reading:
Dramatic title, but it lived up to it’s billing, very thorough, not pushing any ideological line.  Notice the difference in the narrative style that Zac Unger employees compared to Jim Steele’s belligerent and manipulative salesmanship.  This is followed by other related articles.

The truth about polar bears
By Zac Unger  |  December 1, 2012
Depending on whom you ask, the North’s sentinel species is either on the edge of extinction or an environmental success story. An in-depth look at the complicated, contradictory and controversial science behind the sound bites.

“. . .  Despite all this hedging, the numbers still tell a powerful story. It’s just not always clear what that story is. In Davis Strait, between Greenland and Baffin Island, the polar bear population has grown from 900 animals in the late 1970s to around 2,100 today. In Foxe Basin — a portion of northern Hudson Bay — a population that was estimated to be 2,300 in the early 2000s now stands at 2,570. And in specific areas of western Hudson Bay, the most-studied, most-photographed group of bears on Earth seems to have been on a slow but steady increase since in the 1970s.
News like this leaves climate-change deniers crowing from the rooftops. But a closer look reveals that everything may not be quite so sunny. “Some populations appear to be doing OK now, but what’s frightening is what might happen in the very near future,” says wildlife biologist Lily Peacock, who has worked with polar bears for the Government of Nunavut and the U.S. Geological Survey. “All indications are that the future does not look bright.” 
While population trends might appear stable, she says, “we’re picking up declines in body condition that are really frightening.” Scientists have shown a direct correlation between warm years and skinny bears. Even more distressing, one study predicted that 40 to 73 percent of pregnant females could fail to deliver healthy cubs if ice breakup happens one month earlier than in the 1990s. Polar bears are long-lived animals that reproduce slowly; counting the number of animals that are alive today might not paint an accurate picture.    . . .”

“… Changing environment
Warming temperatures are affecting the range of polar bear populations, shrinking their habitat and eventually, scientists fear, their numbers. While some northern bears may benefit from a more readily available diet, southern bears could find that food sources such as seal are more difficult to hunt and that human-bear encounters occur more frequently. Melting sea ice forces polar bears to fast for longer periods of time, impacting reproduction rates and the overall health of a population. Warming temperatures also increase human traffic, bringing pollution that impacts the health of both the bears and their prey.” 
Polar bears could be struggling to catch enough prey, study shows
Daisy Dunne  |  February 2018 
High-energy, high-fat lifestyle challenges an Arctic apex predator, the polar bear
  • A. M. Pagano, G. M. Durner, K. D. Rode, T. C. Atwood, S. N. Atkinson, E. Peacock, D. P. Costa, M. A. Owen, T. M. William
Science  02 Feb 2018:  Vol. 359, Issue 6375, pp. 568-572
A demanding lifestyle
Polar bears appear to be well adapted to the extreme conditions of their Arctic habitat. Pagano et al., however, show that the energy balance in this harsh environment is narrower than we might expect (see the Perspective by Whiteman). They monitored the behavior and metabolic rates of nine free-ranging polar bears over 2 years. 
They found that high energy demands required consumption of high-fat prey, such as seals, which are easy to come by on sea ice but nearly unavailable in ice-free conditions. Thus, as sea ice becomes increasingly short-lived annually, polar bears are likely to experience increasingly stressful conditions and higher mortality rates.
Trends in body condition in polar bears (Ursus maritimus) from the Southern Hudson Bay subpopulation in relation to changes in sea ice
M.E. Obbard, M.R.L. Cattet, E.J. Howe, K.R. Middel, E.J. Newton, G.B. Kolenosky, K.F. Abraham, C.J. Greenwood
Published on the web 3 March 2016.

“… We examined trends 1980–2012 in break-up and freeze-up dates within the entire SH management unit and within smaller coastal break-up and freeze-up zones. We examined trends in body condition for 900 bears captured during 1984–1986, 2000–2005, and 2007–2009 and hypothesised that body condition would be correlated with duration of sea ice. The ice-free season in SH increased by about 30 days from 1980 to 2012. Body condition declined in all age and sex classes, but the decline was less for cubs than for other social classes. If trends towards a longer ice-free season continue in the future, further declines in body condition and survival rates are likely, and ultimately declines in abundance will occur in the SH subpopulation.”
One reason there’s an impression of more bears is that more ice melt forces them in land.

What polar bears in a Russian apartment block reveal about the climate crisis
Arctic bears are being driven off their normal migration routes and into human habitation. We should feel pity – and fear
Jonathan Watts  |  February 11, 2019
“… No other animal symbolises global warming like the polar bear. Over the past three decades, we have grown used to images of malnourished or solitary animals cast adrift on broken ice. But this time it’s different. There is a pack instead of a solitary beast, humanity is near rather than distant and the mood is not just of pity but fear – entirely fitting for a period in which the climate crisis suddenly feels as if it is upon us rather than a future threat.
It also highlights other problems of the Anthropocene – the name that scientists have given to our geological era, which is being shaped less and less by natural forces and more and more by human behaviour.
Experts deployed to remove dozens of hungry bears besieging Novaya Zemlya
Marc Bennetts in Moscow | February 11, 2019
A Nunavut perspective: the state of polar bears in Canada
February 27, 2013 - by Joseph Cheek - 
Interview with Marcus Dyck, a polar bear biologist working for the Government of Nunavut who resides in the Canadian Arctic community of Igloolik, Nunavut.
It get’s complicated,
To kill a polar bear
The fate and ferocity of the North’s greatest predator has pitted the Inuit against southern scientists, leading to an extraordinary moment in a Nunavut court
By Aaron Hutchins
Published: April 15, 2019

"There are no roads in or out of Naujaat. Some residents drive trucks around the Nunavut hamlet, located precisely on the Arctic Circle, but many prefer snowmobiles or ATVs and plenty more get around on foot. Pretty much everything in the town is within walking distance.
Look out toward the horizon from the edge of Naujaat, however, and it’s dif´Čücult on a cloudy day to tell where the land ends and the sky begins. It’s a breathtaking landscape of endless ice, water and wilderness. Also danger.
It was about one hour before sunset on Sept. 8 when one local looked out toward the waters of Repulse Bay, at the northwestern edge of Hudson Bay. Almost immediately, anyone within earshot of a CB radio—most hunters keep theirs on all the time—heard the one word spoken aloud far too often as of late: Nanuk. Polar bear.
The animal was just a couple of hundred metres from town when another voice came over the airwaves, that of respected elder and once-active hunter Charlie Tinashlu: “Kill that polar bear before it gets too close,” he broadcast. “Kill it before it kills one of us—again.”
It had been only 10 days since Naujaat buried one of its own, …”
Outfitter #062
“This outfitter is the longest operating outfitting company in Nunavut offering the very finest in polar bear, Greenland and Barren-Ground Muskox, Central Canada Barren-Ground and Arctic Islands Caribou, Barren-Ground Grizzly and Atlantic Walrus hunts. Actually, this outfitter has pioneered polar bear hunts in the high arctic since 1981, and has maintained virtually 100% hunting success rate for the Resolute area.
Hunting is done from camps situated in prime areas that may be up to 100 miles from the village of Resolute. …

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