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Obama Throwing Polar Bears Under the Bus?

There’s a mystery at the normally quiescent Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement.  The suspension of Charles Monnett from his government job is either the collapse of yet another powerful claim of the environmental movement, a normal government personnel action blown out of all proportion, or a cynical decision by the Obama administration to throw the polar bears under the bus in its haste to ‘drill, baby drill’ in pristine arctic waters.

Monnett is the scientist who famously brought the drowning polar bears to the world’s attention. Global warming was melting the ice; polar bears were drowning in the open arctic seas.  The plight of the polar bear became a rallying call for global greens and featured in Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.  The May 2008 decision to list polar bears as the first species to be specifically threatened as a result of global warming was a major step forward for the climate change movement.

Now Monnett has been suspended amid concerns about his scientific work and nobody (yet) is talking to the press.  Monnett’s green supporters are attacking the Department of the Interior and the Obama administration for silencing an important environmental scientist ahead of a decision on Alaskan oil and gas drilling.

But that’s not the whole story.

Jeff Gleason, Monnett’s copilot on the trip that discovered the dead polar bears in the first place, said “I don’t remember anything in the way of dead polar bears”.  Suzanne Goldenberg at the Guardian quotes Gleason as telling investigators “he [Gleason] had consulted a data base which showed no record of polar bear drowning going back 30 years.”

Fox News has also jumped on that angle: Monnett was suspended “possibly over the accuracy of his observations” says the ‘fair and balanced’ network.

We shall see; whatever happens, I’m rooting for the bears.

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  • Robert Johnson

    I really don’t get why this story is particularly relevant. Whether polar bears were drowned seems a pretty insignificant consequence to the climate change situation. Leave it to the media to create a firestorm over nothing. Unsurprising action from Fox, but considering the stretching of the truth that goes on on a daily basis, this seems pretty inconsequential.

  • Philip Shehan

    The comment about Gleason not seeing dead polar bears is a misrepresentation.

    He is the author of the paper where he and Monnett report their observation.

    The refernece to there being no observed dead bears in open water refers to the the period to their subsequent questioning of scintists on flights in prvious years and decades and an examination of the written record.

    The accusation of scientific misconduct is a clumsy, baseless smear.

    It is based on a ridiculous arithmetic blunder, or worse, by the anonymous complainants.

    The background is that the scientists were actually surveying whale numbers, but noticed four dead polar bears floating in the open sea. The sighting of that many bears swimming in open water was itself extremely unusual. But in over twenty years of observation no drowned bears had been seen in open water. And it coincided with a record low ice sheet cover in 2004.

    The four bears were swimming in a survey area just prior to a severe storm. Four drowned bears were observed after the storm, but one of those was outside the survey area (transect). So they used those three rather than the total four in the calculation of the proportion of drowned bears.

    Strangely honest for fraudsters.

    The complainants add the four live bears seen swimming before the storm to the three dead ones seen floating in the same area after the storm and come up with a total sample size of seven bears. This is from the transcript of the interview following the complaint.

    Everyone but the complainants and initially the person investigating the complaint understands that the three post-storm dead bears floating way out to sea belonged to the pre-storm group of swimming bears:

    ERIC MAY: Okay, and we‟ll – let me, let – “of bears before the storm, then the total number of bears after the storm is 63,”
    and that‟s where I came up with the sixty –

    CHARLES MONNETT: That‟s just stupid. I – did you do that?

    ERIC MAY: No.

    CHARLES MONNETT: That is stupid.

    ERIC MAY: I‟m a, I‟m just – I interview –

    CHARLES MONNETT: In the first place, there‟s – it‟s 200 percent, okay?

    ERIC MAY: So explain – tell me why that‟s wrong.

    CHARLES MONNETT: Well, because acting like they were all seen at the same survey. We flew the whole thing twice to see that, right?

    ERIC MAY: – they – it occurred on different trips.

    [The investigator finally gets it.]

    CHARLES MONNETT: Somebody is deficient in fifth grade math.

    ERIC MAY: (Laughing)

    CHARLES MONNETT: Seriously. I mean, give me a break…

    ERIC MAY: Like I said, we receive allegations; we investigate.

    CHARLES MONNETT: Don‟t you wonder why somebody that can‟t even do math is making these allegations and going through this stuff?


    Why do we even HAVE a Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement?

  • Luke Lea

    Is there a genealogical link between academic Marxism and the anthropogenic global warming movement? I have heard it asserted but never seen it documented?

  • Kris

    Obama or the bears?
    Da Bears!

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