Mona Charen
In a better world, debates about science -- and nearly everything else -- would be conducted without resort to demagoguery, sentimentality, cynical manipulation, or hysteria. In the world we inhabit, those tactics are dismayingly routine. Still, the great weakness of overwrought predictions of doom is that they can be checked.

The past year has not been kind to the most potent symbols of climate change hysteria. Consider the polar bears. Among the most moving images of the warmists' warnings was the solitary polar bear, supposedly marooned on an ice floe. The image became iconic after it was published in Science Magazine. Among the most memorable moments in Al Gore's film, "An Inconvenient Truth," was an animated clip depicting struggling polar bears.

You don't hear stories, as you do with dolphins, of polar bears rescuing drowning humans. But polar bears, especially cubs, have a different claim on our sympathy -- they're adorable. We shudder to see winsome, furry mammals drifting off to sea on ice floes -- all because we couldn't part with our SUVs. A children's book prepared by the United Nations put it just that way.

Well, according to WattsUpWithThat.com, the picture of that "stranded" polar bear has been lampooned as "ursus bogus." Experts on those creatures always found the warmists' interpretation of that photo odd, since polar bears can swim for hundreds of miles at a time. The longest recorded polar bear swim, according to National Geographic, was 426 miles straight (though National Geographic is all in on climate change). Since polar bears swim for a living, they're probably pretty good at gauging where land and ice floes are.

A new study from Canada, based on aerial surveys along the western shore of the Hudson Bay -- a region considered a bellwether for bear numbers in the Arctic generally -- found that the polar bear population was 66 percent higher than expected. Drikus Gissing, director of wildlife management for the Nunavut region, told the Globe and Mail, "the bear population is not in crisis as people believed. There is no doom and gloom." Oh, and the scientist for the Department of the Interior whose 2004 work on drowning polar bears inspired Al Gore and others has been placed on administrative leave for unspecified wrongdoing.


Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
 
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