I'm reading "Cool It" by the "skeptical environmentalist" Bjorn Lomborg. Lomborg is a Danish political scientist, associate professor of statistics at at Denmark's University of Århus, and author of the 1998 book "The Skeptical Environmentalist."
So far the book seems to be a very refreshing and measured alternative to heated rhetoric and the headlong rush to solutions.
On polar bears: Lomborg argues that the "plight" picture falls apart when one looks at the supporting data. Referring to data from the Polar Bear Specialist Group of the World Conservation Union, Lomborg relays that of 20 distinct subpopulations of polar bears, "one or two were possibly declining in Baffin Bay; more than half were known to be stable; and two subpopulations were actually increasing around the Bering Sea. Moreoever, it is reported that the global polar bear population has increased dramatically over the past decades, from about 5,000 members in the 1960's to 25,000 today, through stricter hunting regulation. ..the two populations in decline came from areas where it has actually been geting colder over the past 50 years, whereas the two increasing populations reside in areas where it has been getting warmer." He argues that since we're losing 49 bears a year to hunters, and that's where we can have the greatest impact. Curbing greenhouse gases may save 15 bears a year at best, with a more likely figure being .06 bears a year.
Lomborg puts together data that is not in dispute -to give a richer picture of environmental concerns, all with a goal to shape global priorities based on reason, rather than hysteria.
For more on Lomborg click here or here.