Enter the Inhofian Polar Bear Expert

What a coincidence.

Just as the Alaska State Legislature allocates $2 million for a conference promoting climate change deniers' “expert” analysis of why polar bears aren't really endangered, a poster boy for polar bear junk science emerges from the woodwork.

Enter J. Scott Armstrong, who is a marketing professor at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. His research emphasizes forecasting methods, which he has used as the cornerstone for - you guessed it - claims that the IPCC climate change projections are actually all wrong.

Now he's extended his “forecasts” to say that polar bears are doing just fine. He alluded to his research when Sen. James Inhofe called him as an “expert” to testify before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee regarding the proposed endangered status of the polar bear; now, Armstrong has released an official statement advertising his paper.

Here's the link (warning, slow website):

Research done by the U.S. Department of the Interior to determine if global warming threatens the polar bear population is so flawed that it cannot be used to justify listing the polar bear as an endangered species, according to a study being published later this year in Interfaces, a journal of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS®).


Professor J. Scott Armstrong of the Wharton School says, “To list a species that is currently in good health as an endangered species requires valid forecasts that its population would decline to levels that threaten its viability. In fact, the polar bear populations have been increasing rapidly in recent decades due to hunting restrictions. Assuming these restrictions remain, the most appropriate forecast is to assume that the upward trend would continue for a few years, then level off.


Prof. Armstrong and colleagues originally undertook their audit at the request of the State of Alaska. The subsequent study, “Polar Bear Population Forecasts: A Public Policy Forecasting Audit,” is by Prof. Armstrong, Kesten G. Green of Monash University in Australia, and Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. It is scheduled to appear in the September/October issue of the INFORMS journal Interfaces.

Armstrong's claims regarding the increasing polar bear population have been debunked again and again (which doesn't stop Inhofe and others from repeating the claims, of course).

Also, those who are familiar with climate change deniers will recognize Willie Soon 's name. He's one of the true believers that solar activity causes global warming, which has also been repeatedly debunked (quite conclusively , in fact).

Click here (pdf) to read the paper.

My forecast is that it will be quoted over and over again throughout the deniersphere.

As the saying goes, “if you can't dazzle them with brilliance, then baffle them with..,” well, you know the saying.


Mort Sahl said satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize. Now, maybe, satire is extinct. I mean, who could invent this? A marketing professor, of all things, being presented as a climate expert and wildlife biologist?

The trouble is that these people are making the decisions that will affect everything.

I know that it is terribly shallow of me, but I just have to ask: why are all of these guys so woefully lame in the facial hair department? Do they really not know how awful that stuff looks? (reference to Avery)

Shallow reference to personal appearance aside, the very idea that a marketing expert could comment in any meaningful way about the plight of the polar bear and be taken seriously about it in the face of research by qualified and published experts on arctic matters defies any standard of credibility. WHAT ARE THESE PEOPLE THINKING?

Fern Mackenzie

Fern, I trust you’ve heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect. If you haven’t, wiki it – this explains so, so very much about this argument.

(Side note: CAPTCHA can go [do something unsafe].)

I am familiar with the Dunning-Kruger effect, Brian, and you are right – it explains a lot. There’s a lot to be said for knowing one’s own limitations. I think some of these guys would actually attempt DIY brain surgery!

Fern Mackenzie

… perhaps we can get the Heartland Institute to provide a “safe” work space, some garden implements and a few  outlying “experts ,” who will argue that experiments with a 90+ per cent chance of failure are nevertheless worth trying - downside risks be damned.

“The trouble is that these people are making the decisions that will affect everything.” - Fern

Uh, no. The decisions are made by our elected representatives. A tough concept for radical greens to understand but true nonetheless.

is that the Alaska State Legislature has allocated $2 million for a conference promoting climate change deniers’ “expert” analysis of why polar bears aren’t really endangered.

I think the Alaska State Legislature qualifies as elected representatives.

Fern Mackenzie

Please take the time to read the studies abstract, only one of the nine papers supporting the polar bears being listed even came close to qualifying as using scientific methods.

What does that matter, Ray? My mind is made up. If you are still examining ‘evidence’you are way behind the times. This is beyond science now.


Oops sorry, I woke up this morning to a fine looking spring day, a little cool for this time of year but fine regardless, birds were busy building nests, buds just starting to open on the trees I have planted over the years, everything vibrant and healthy….a fine looking day! Then remembered I am the scourge of the earth and felt guilty for being born.

Clearly some commenting here haven’t (“it’s way beyond science now” - certainly in some people’s minds it is - but not for whom the commenter implied.)

Anyone ever try doing science or talking to a real scientists in the field about any of these issues? It’s funny how the conversation changes when it isn’t framed in a political diatribe.

In any case, last February when I was up the Churchill Northern Studies Centre along the coast of Hudson Bay I had the opportunity to meet Biologist and one of the leading Canadian polar bear experts. I was there to help collect data for a scientific project monitoring environmental changes along the subarctic/arctic zone.

My group had left and I stayed behind a day or so to clean up some of the lab work. Nick had just shown up to carry out some of his ongoing work monitoring the Hudson Bay bear population, one of 13 polar bear populations in the world, and we ended up after dinner one night discussing polar bear and many other environmental issues.

I posted about the conversation on my blog so I won’t rewrite the entire exchange here. If you’re interested, here’s the link:

Tom Schueneman
Editor/Publisher - Global Warming is Real Blog www.globalwarmingisreal.com/blog

Good article over there on Global Warming is Real Blog. Alas, the trolls here really do believe that the UN is trying to take over the world etc, so I doubt it will make any difference to them.

Fern Mackenzie

Thanks Fran - though I fear that you’re right about the… hold on, I have to duck because there’s a black helicopter swooping in…

Tom Schueneman
Editor/Publisher - Global Warming is Real Blog www.globalwarmingisreal.com/blog

Oops! I just realized my mistake and went to edit - too late. (I’ll get your name right anyway.) Well - seems like it’s too late to edit my 1st reply.

Sorry Fern!

Tom Schueneman
Editor/Publisher - Global Warming is Real Blog www.globalwarmingisreal.com/blog

Tom: that isn’t fair :-) … you actually talked to a field scientist with numerous, well-cited publications on polar bears (and also does seals) in refereed journals, frequently as lead author.

Google scholar: NJ Lunn

You’re right. Sorry about that. Next time I’ll chat with someone from the Heartland Institute! ;-)

Tom Schueneman
Editor/Publisher - Global Warming is Real Blog www.globalwarmingisreal.com/blog

It sure looks like ‘a done deal’ [Jeb Bush’s own words], or a stitch-up - just like when Jeb. Bush promised Florida to his Bro on camera. And Dubya was sitting next to him, just grinned. That’s why they sing “Hail to the Thief”, when George Dubya appears.

In the best (or worst) traditions of blatant chicanery, the Alaska State Legislature are just scouting-around for any pseudo-evidence that they can use to put some phoney gloss of research on the process and justify what has been long already decided. Isn’t this all just too reminiscent of the bizarre courtroom logic [‘Sentence first - verdict afterwards.’] in Lewis Carrolls “Alice in Wonderland”.

Hey, isn’t that exactly what the Heartland Institute, Hudson Institute, CEI, Tech Central, etc., etc. do? So now we know where they got the idea!

A few days ago, I posted the following on the Anchorage Daily news story on this. No answer/comments so far.
Maybe Alaskans can help out a puzzled Californian.

In Fiscal 2000 (last year I have), from


I find that AK sent $4.4B to the Federal Government, and got $6.2B back, or $1.8B extra, a return of 142%. AK and CA had similar (above average) per capita incomes in 2000, and most states that have returns >100% are below-average in income.

CA sent $253B and got $190B back, or -$63B, a return of 75%. The -$63B was the largest, although ~10 states had even lower return percentages. The total of contributing states was $363B, i.e., CA provided about 1/6, which means that some amount of CA taxes went to AK … and since money is fungible, part of it would help pay for this study, if it happens.

Can someone from AK explain to me why all this should make any sense? And why it should continue?

I might be convinceable that there are sensible reasons why AK should be a net recipient of Federal funds, but if they spend them *this* way, I will be writing letters to several US Senators & the Speaker of the House, all of whom live within 50 miles of here and ask why CA money gets used for this.

Check your state out in balance of payments and consider doing the same, especially if you’re in one of the states that puts more money in than it gets back.

Alaska gets more money because it’s better than California. We have better scenery, more wildlife, looong summer days, smoked slamon, the world’s baddest fishermen, and a hottie for a governor.

California has some nice scenery, scarce (and tamer) wildlife, smoggy summer days, tract homes, gay parents, and Ahnold for governor.

You get what you pay for.

Willie Soon is already a polar bear expert, having written, with others like David Legates and Sallie Baliunas, a “viewpoint” (non-peer reviewed) published in “Ecological complexity” last year.

That paper, quoted by the Alaskan Governor in the submission on the polar bear listing, said that of course global warming wasn’t happening and that polar bears were more threatened by tourism.

It has been soundly countered by the polar bear experts, but interestingly, is a reference in this latest paper.

Willie Soon, in that paper, acknowledges with gratitude the grant he got from ExxonMobil to complete it.