Before reading this letter, I recommend that the reader read Andy’s piece (and the comments on it) at the New York Times.
I’m going to be blunt. This post is a perfect example of why I have so little respect for you as a writer on global warming. Your wishy-washy prose and, worst of all your, failure to provide any context (and I know that you are perfectly aware of the context) for your stories make you a great source of comfort for the denialist ideologues and ignoramuses who frequent this site.
It is a fact that polar bears can spend long amounts of time in the sea and swim long distances. Historically, they have swum between chunks of sea ice, which they hunt from. One doesn’t need to do years of studies to understand that the huge summer sea ice melt of the last few years inevitably makes their lives harder, because there is less ice, it is farther from shore and the distances to be swum are greater. Are the bears drowning in greater numbers? We don’t know yet, but simple logic says that we ought to entertain the possibility and do the research.
But the big story in the Arctic isn’t the polar bears. It’s the rise in temperature and the melting of the ice and permafrost and the feedbacks from reduction of the earth’s albedo and the potential for methane release. Denialists want to talk about polar bears precisely because they don’t want to talk about these other issues where the evidence is irrefutable.
See my post, Temperatures Hit 80 Degrees in the Arctic: 2008 May See a Record Sea-Ice Melt After All, on this topic at
In the meantime, the latest news will serve, I’m sure, to heat up the climate fight, providing powerful imagery for climate campaigners and more ammunition for foes of greenhouse gas restrictions who argue that such imagery belies the marine mammals’ resiliency in both watery and frozen seas.
Explain to me, if you can, how the latest news provides ANY ammunition for foes of greenhouse gas restrictions. It may not provide evidence for those concerned about Climaticide (although it raises questions), but it provides N0 support for the denialist position.
Is it the faux sense of “balance” that hobbles the Traditional Media, which makes you write so tentatively that you end up distorting the truth? To report facts out of context is to enable people who have no real interest in facts at all, and, frankly, not much better than publishing out-and-out lies (which, by the way, you let people do in your comments section all the time).
Blogging for the future at Climaticide Chronicles
[I have also posted this letter as a comment to Andy’s post on his blog Dot Earth at the New York Times web site.]