Tom Toles notes the lack of response to what appears, to all scientists except those at the No Longer The Tobacco Institute Research Laboratory, a crisis significantly hastened, if not spawned, by the world's increasing industrialization and overall modernity.
Which is to say, we have met the enemy and he is us, but as long as we don't lock eyes and acknowledge it, things will be cool.
So to speak.
But I've expended enough time and brain cells lately arguing the "people believe what they want to believe" game. I'm more interested in the response than in the actual analysis at this stage, so let's switch to a less confrontational cartoon:
My suspicion is that Dave Blazek was making a joke, not a point, and Loose Parts is one of those panels that hits well above .333 in the joke-making division.
On the other hand, the idea of bears sleeping late does bring all sorts of things to mind, none of which have much to do with delayed spring but rather premature spring. To kill Dave's joke entirely, the bears are more apt to kick off the blankets and wake up early because it's too hot to sleep.
The whole thing is no longer hypothetical. It's on.
Montana has just cancelled wolverine trapping season, in response to petitions from environmental groups. In doing so, the wildlife agency said that trapping isn't a particular threat to wolverine populations in the state, but that climate change is, particularly in league with loss of habitat.
Wolverines require a cold climate and prefer high altitudes. And, given the barren sorts of places where they hang out, it's not surprising that they have a considerable range, meaning that, the more houses are built on the mountainsides, the more the wolverine is apt to pack up and move on.
Not all animals have that response to human intrusion.
Deer are happy to eat our fruit trees and die on our interstates, and coyotes are delighted to make a snack of housecats and small, wandering dogs. Even cougars hang out in the foothills over Denver, occasionally mistaking a suburban jogger for a deer or possibly a laser-pointer. (Cats are cats in that regard.)
But wolverines are not like that. They move on, so long as there is anywhere to move on to.
As the climate shifts, we've heard reports of robins not migrating and we've certainly seen how the combination of warmer winters and large, open spaces like golf courses and college campuses have persuaded Canada geese to shorten their migration routes.
But the warming trend that keeps them farther north in winter is apparently sending the wolverines farther north as well, into Canada in search of cold, while substantially thinning their ranks at the same time.
Which is to say, it's not that there is some wildebeest-like migration of the animals, but, rather, if you find them, that's where they'll be now, rather than where you used to find them. Not necessarily the same ones, and certainly not in the same numbers.
Wolverines are being considered for the federal endangered species list and, if they are added, they would become only the second species listed because of climate change. The other is the polar bear.
Which brings us to Fox News, and this astonishing piece of analysis from yesterday:
But there's a reason this headline and picture seem so counterintuitive: The Smithsonian article cited is about a study of sub-arctic, not arctic animals. Polar bears are nowhere mentioned in the Smithsonian piece or in the study itself because they don't live in the region being examined and so were not studied.
Let's be clear: This is not a matter of misinterpreting what the study says about polar bears. The study doesn't even mention polar bears. The phrase "polar bear" appears nowhere in the text at all. You don't have to read it to know that -- simply using your search function would suffice.
Which raises two questions:
1. Is Fox News staffed by incompetents or by liars? Are they that stupid? Do they not know how to read, much less enough basic journalism to follow the links back to the original study and doublecheck? Or are they actively dishonest?
2. Getting back to Toles' cartoon, how can we possibly have an intelligent response when one side to the debate is actively promoting not just prejudiced findings but total nonsense and misinformation?
The problem is, a lie will go halfway round the world while truth is putting its boots on. This falsehood is already being circulated here and here and who knows where else? Certainly -- and I don't recommend it -- reading the comments on any of these articles lets you know the story is being swallowed whole.
This documentary is available for streaming on Netflix. And, no, goddammit, they don't "all do it."