American Elephants


Nature, science and politics…and oh yes, law too… by The Elephant's Child

Greg Pollowitz noted the following story in the Planet Gore blog on National Review Online. “It looks, he said, like ‘scientists’ have totally botched the count of the number of gorillas left in the world.”

(CNN) An estimated 125,000 Western lowland gorillas are living in a swamp in equatorial Africa, researchers reported Tuesday, double the number of endangered primates thought to survive worldwide.

“It’s pretty astonishing,” Hugo Rainey, one of the researchers who conducted the survey for the U.S. based Wildlife Conservation Society, told CNN Tuesday.

The last census on the species, carried out during the 1980s, estimated that there were only 100,000 of the gorillas left worldwide. Since then, the researchers estimated, the numbers had been cut in half.

WCS survey teams conducted the research in 2006 and 2007, traveling to the remote Lac Tele Community Reserve in northern Republic of Congo, a vast area of swamp forest.

This is the same organization that helped count polar bears in order to list them as ‘threatened’.

WCS scientists studied 28 years of satellite images of sea ice and contibuted key data to a study by the U.S. Geological Survey that helped inform the USFWS decision. The USFWS study says that polar bears traveling from retreating sea ice will soon have to go five times farther to reach maternity dens in Alaska, and that sea ice will no longer support polar bears in Alaska by the year 2050….

“The polar bear is the poster child of climate change and we need to do all we can to protect this species from the effect of global warming.” says Sanderson. “These preliminary results clearly show that Alaska’s polar bear population is particularly vulnerable to climate change and deserving of greater federal protection.”

Please note that what they counted is “satellite images of sea ice”, not polar bears. A little common sense should click in here. Wildlife counting is a pretty iffy endeavor and at best, amounts to educated guesses. Counting not actual bears, but past satellite images, gets even more questionable, yet such figures are used to determine lawsuits about other things such as, for example, oil drilling.

Mr. Pollowitz is back again today with an attack from the NRDC who took him to task for criticizing research, which he clarifies, and he adds some other examples. The exchange is illuminating and sheds a lot of light on the politics of nature and endangered species.




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