Ron Bailey reflexively jumps to the defence of Bjorn Lomborg:

Begley cites three examples from Friel about Lomborg’s errors, e.g., polar bear population trends and climate change, human deaths from heat versus cold, and the implications of Antarctic ice shelf disintegration. You can read Begley’s reporting and judge for yourself. (With regard to polar bears, let’s assume that Begley’s reporting of Friel’s analysis is accurate and that Lomborg’s sourcing is, how should one put it, thin and misleading. However, I do note in passing that a 2009 review article in the journal Environmental Reviews cited literature that found that only four of 13 Canadian polar bear subpopulations were declining, four were stable, three were increasing, and two were unknown. Canada is home to about 60 percent of the world’s polar bears. Since Cool It was published in 2007, Lomborg couldn’t cite this literature, but Begley could have.)

Since Friel checked Lomborg’s references, it is only appropriate to check Bailey’s. The literature Bailey refers to is the report from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). Here is what the review article says about the conclusions of that report:


Based on the best available information, COSEWIC concluded
that polar bear was a species at risk in Canada, formally
advising the federal government of its assessment of
special concern in August 2008. COSEWIC identified the
primary threats facing polar bear to be: (1) reduction in sea
ice, caused by climate change, particularly for subpopulations
in the southern part of the species’ range; (2) overhunting
for subpopulations shared by Canada and Greenland;
and (3) habitat threats from industrial development. Inuit
have also observed deteriorated ice conditions in some
areas (e.g., reduction in multi-year ice, fewer icebergs, thinner
ice, earlier ice break-up) and have expressed concerns
about the consequences that changes in sea ice may have on
polar bears (Atatahak and Banci 2001; Dowsley 2005; Keith
et al. 2005; NTI 2005). While assessing polar bear as a single
unit throughout its range, COSEWIC made it clear that
some subpopulations of polar bear, such as those in the
Southern Beaufort Sea, Western Hudson Bay and Baffin
Bay, faced very high probabilities of decline.

Yes, that’s right, Bailey has done a Lomborg — his reference says the opposite of what he implies. Of course Bailey was Lomborging references even before Lomborg started doing it. Here he is doing it in 1993.

Comments

  1. #1 Jeff Harvey
    February 26, 2010

    In my view Bailey has long been one of the leaders in the field of anti-environmental writing. I was bemused when, in an article for the Reason Foundation in 2003, he refereed to me as a ‘harpy’ for my ongoing criticism of Lomborg. Paul and Anne Ehrlich do a nice job of dismantling some of Bailey’s gibberish in “Betrayal of Science and Reason” (1997).

  2. #2 Jeff Harvey
    February 26, 2010

    I would also suggest that the readers here check out the responses to Bailey’s article on the Reason web site. Calling most of them ignorant is still giving them too much credit. As Clive Hamilton accurately said, anti-environmentalism and right wing anti-intellectual populism are two sides of the same coin. The political right in the United States has chanelled this kind of sentiment through groups such as Wise Use that act as conduits for those on the far right who feel excluded from the mainstream while embracing their outsider status. Many commercial elites, with huge amounts of money at their disposal and who abhor the role of the government in the economy, fund the libertarisn think tanks and astroturf lobbying groups as a way of organizing dissent.

  3. #3 Paul UK
    February 26, 2010

    It is clear that ‘doing a Lomborg’ as a term should be spread wide and far.

  4. #4 Lionel A
    February 26, 2010

    Re. 3 Paul UK

    ‘Lomborging’ and ‘Lomborgism’ perhaps, although there could be other names used for the root e.g. Plimer, Monckton. Whatever goes down in history could find its way into the OED at some point.

    Of course there was a well known other case specifying which could invoke Godwin’s Law.

  5. #5 Lotharsson
    February 26, 2010

    …doing a Lomborg…

    He Lomborged the summary.

    She is a frequent Lomborger.

    Lomborgisation has proven to be a useful propaganda strategy.

    Lomborging requires a specially developed set of skills.

    The catalogue of Lomborgery is extensive.

    That characterisation looks Lomborgish to me.

    Yep, it could catch on – but maybe not that last one ;-)

  6. #6 Marred
    February 26, 2010

    this blog is just sad. everytime i come here its the same swill. I guess, any rational person has left here and moved on to more intelligent sites such as WUWT.

  7. #7 Bud
    February 26, 2010

    Re 6: DNFTT

  8. #8 WAG
    February 26, 2010

    The “polar bears are increasing” argument is classic denier logic: assume that because a dangerous trend may not have started yet, it never will.

    These sound like the people on Wall Street who assumed that because housing prices were increasing at the moment, they always would.

  9. #9 Jeff Harvey
    February 26, 2010

    Marred is full of you-know-what. His is the usual intellectually bankrupt behavior that I have come to associate with many of those on the far right. Let me tell you this Marred: you are welcome to stick with the anti-scientific blogs whose ‘research’ would never see the light of day in a rigid scientific journal. They cater to those promoting a pre-determined worldview.

    To Marred: Bye bye now.

  10. #10 Lotharsson
    February 26, 2010

    DNFTT

    Fair call, but it’s too late to stop me laughing.

  11. #11 Lotharsson
    February 26, 2010

    It seems kind of desperate to come here shilling for WUWT when the audience can deliver a devastating and factual smackdown without breaking a sweat.

  12. #12 winnebago
    February 26, 2010

    To add to Bailey’s misrepresentation, the article he cites clearly argues that consideration of polar bear population should not be divided into subgroup populations (DUs), yet he goes ahead and does it anyway

  13. #13 liberal
    February 26, 2010

    Jeff Harvey wrote, Calling most of them ignorant is still giving them too much credit.

    They’re so-called libertarians. From from being the true heirs of Adam Smith, most libertarians are actually crypto-feudalists. They despise true liberty.

  14. #14 Tom Fuller
    February 26, 2010

    Off topic, forgive the intrusion, but Mr. Lambert, I have never deleted any comment of yours, despite your assertion at Examiner.com this morning. I have deleted comments on five occasions in the past year. Twice for profanity, notifying commenters and inviting them to repost without the profanity, and three commenters who, after repeated warning, I asked to leave this space. They were Dano, Alan and Paul Klemencic. I repeat that I have never deleted any comments of yours, and for you to say that is simply untrue.

  15. #15 Chris O'Neill
    February 26, 2010

    Marred:

    this blog is just sad

    And being an off-topic troll is not? Suuure.

  16. #16 Marion Delgado
    February 26, 2010

    There are two sites and site-runners that are easily dealt with.

    ClimateAudit and Steve McIntyre:

    Steve McIntyre, an American (though he studied in Canada and CA is basically a Canadian blog), filed FOI requests in the UK over, and in a careful campaign depicted a researcher as fraudulent and secretive over, data he requested from people and an institution that was not the source of the data. He made a public campaign over the data for years, and all those years, he had already gotten the data, from the original source.

    Anthony Watts and WattsUpWithThat?

    Anhony Watts and Watts up ran a disorganized, statistically biased, unsupervised, unscientific field testing program consisting of taking photos of weather stations and writing nasty things about them on a blog. The centerpiece of the project, the web site, and Anthony Watts’ involvement in the climate debate, was that properly accounting for the growing UHI effect and poor practices at the weather stations would reduce the warming from surface records in the US and Canada to a negligible amount and also show that the surface records had been misleading. When THEIR data was finally available, it still showed what every other investigation into this hypothesis had found, and there were several: the gross effects of simply averaging all the stations in without any adjustment made very little difference. The current system of adjustmeants means the allegedly bad stations made no difference at all.

    In short, McIntyre’s longest most public crusade was a fraud perpetrated by him. That an American badgered and slandered a British institute over this fraud when he’s not even a British taxpayer is the icing on the cake.

    Watt’s crusade was false even using his own data and methods. He’s simply deep-sixed the results.

    Neither of these are so very bad in and of themselves, but the fact is, non-scientists Watts and McIntyre conducted an allegedly scientific debate entirely in the political and media arenas, and sought to convince and stir up those with the least knowledge.

  17. #17 VikingMoose
    February 26, 2010

    “In my view Bailey has long been one of the leaders in the field of anti-environmental writin”

    besides this latest article, how familiar are you with Ron’s work of late?

  18. #18 Ron Bailey
    February 26, 2010

    Tim: May I suggest that your readers check out the summary at Table 1 on page 48 in the review article I cited. Just so that they can do a bit of fact checking to see if I have accurately summed up the findings with regard to current population trends among Canadian polar bears, e.g., “only four of 13 Canadian polar bear subpopulations were declining, four were stable, three were increasing, and two were unknown.”

    I’m sure that no one this blog would want to indulge in any reflexive attacking of Lomborg.

  19. #19 Bud
    February 26, 2010

    Ron, may I suggest you don’t ascribe to the readers here the same level of idiocy you apparently do to your own. Tim is explicitly not questioning that the article contains that statement.

    However, you quote an article as suggesting Canadian polar bears are not at risk. The article says that Canadian polar bears are at risk.

    What are you guilty of? Deliberately misinforming your readers? An inability to distinguish relevent from irrelevent information? Or do you are you just attempting to imbue in your environmentalist readers the power of positive thinking?

    If it’s the latter, I apologise, and please disregard the above post.

  20. #20 Dave Andrews
    February 26, 2010

    Tim,

    What then do you make of the following?

    “At present, the main limiting factor affecting the species is human-caused mortality, almost exclusively from regulated hunting.”

    ” An ongoing decline in seasonal availability of sea ice would likely lead to a contraction in parts of the species’ range.

    “By altering the extent of the sea ice and the distribution of the seals that reproduce on the sea ice, climate warming will definitely have an impact on the distribution of Polar Bears.

    http://www.sararegistry.gc.ca/species/speciesDetails_e.cfm?sid=167

    All from Canadian Species at Risk Public Registry.

    Perhaps it didn’t say things in quite the same way as you report it did.

  21. #21 Ron Bailey
    February 26, 2010

    Bud: Interesting interpretation of why I cited the review article. My readers (and now Tim’s) can take a look at the article to which I linked and decide for themselves.

  22. #22 VikingMoose
    February 26, 2010

    thanks, Ron!

  23. #23 luminous beauty
    February 26, 2010

    Ron,

    [First](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/02/lets_hope_this_reference_check.php#comment-2305899), you cite one of three studies in that table. The other two show five sub-populations in decline and only two, in the case of Schliebe et al., a possible third, increasing.

    [Second](http://pbsg.npolar.no/en/meetings/resolutions/15.html#res03),

    >Recognizing that the Canadian COSEWIC report treats all 13 Canadian subpopulations as a single designatable unit and notes that the current overall trend for polar bear subpopulations in Canada is a slow decline.

    [Third](http://www.polarbearsinternational.org/polar-bear-status-report/) the COSEWIC only covers 60% of the global polar bear population.

    >Resources, the PBSG renewed the conclusion from previous meetings that the greatest challenge to the conservation of polar bears is ecological change in the Arctic, resulting from climatic warming. Declines in the extent of the sea ice have accelerated since the last meeting of the group in 2005, with unprecedented sea ice retreats in 2007 and 2008. Evidence of these environmental changes, in conjunction with a re-evaluation of the polar bear subpopulations, have led PBSG to list __eight of 19 subpopulations as currently decreasing, three as stable and one as increasing__. For seven, data were insufficient to assign a trend.

    Obviously, to refute Lomborg, Begley couldn’t have cited the most recent UICN/SSC PBSG report, but you could have. If you were being accurate, that is.

  24. #24 Tom Fuller
    February 26, 2010

    I’m sure you’ll all want to note that Lomborg has responded to Friel: http://www.lomborg.com/dyn/files/basic_items/118-file/BL%20reply%20to%20Howard%20Friel.pdf

  25. #25 Ron Bailey
    February 26, 2010

    luminous:
    First, you’re right, I cite data in my blogpost from only the most recent of the three studies in the table on population trends. Fortunately, I linked to the article so that interested readers could follow up with any questions about it that they might have.

    Second, I was only looking online at recent peer-reviewed bear population trend literature, so I missed the December 2009 PBSG resolution to which you link. Thanks for the link. And while I might have cited it had I come across it, Lomborg couldn’t have.

    Third, I noted in my brief post that Canada is home to only 60 percent of polar bears.

  26. #26 jakerman
    February 26, 2010

    After reading Tom Fuller’s claims about who he did and didn’t delete from his blog I wondered what type of credibility he has, the first thing I found [was this](http://scienceblogs.com/illconsidered/2006/02/antarctic-ice-is-growing.php#comment-1044015):

    >*A lot of laypeople (like myself) have no quarrel with the concept of global warming–it’s the postulated effects that sound extreme.*

    Fair enough, extreme they are. Lets get to the mea, what are the specific of the extreme claims that bring the science under Tom’s scrutiny?

    Fuller writes:

    >*…I didn’t really have a problem with the global warming thing until people started making obviously absurd statements like ‘if we don’t change everything this decade we’re all doomed.’*

    Tom, this reads like a mis-caricature to me. I remind Tom that he used this statement to complain about:

    >*people started making obviously absurd statements*

    Who said if we don’t **change everything** this decade we’re **all doomed**? It reads like the propaganda from distortion central.

    I’ve heard and read statements to the effect that we need to act fast, and longer delays will increase the risks and costs, that there is more warming in the pipeline, and that it may already be too late to prevent some of the calamity. All based in evidence.

    But Tom, your mis-caricature is based on an obviously absurd statement.

    Tom fishes with:

    >*That actually got me to read the latest IPCC report–not the politician’s summary. I must say the more extreme alarmists regarding global warming cost the entire movement a lot of credibility.*

    Big non-sequitur there Tom. You missed the bit where you accurately discuss evidence to explain the case.

  27. #27 Tom Fuller
    February 26, 2010

    Hi jakerman, I don’t want to walk away from what I said in a light hearted comment (remember when we could be light hearted about this?) on a blog two years ago, but I think I do go into a bit more detail on my own space at Examiner.

    Or did you stop at the first thing you found?

  28. #28 Tim Lambert
    February 26, 2010

    No more off topic discussion, please. Take it to the open thread.

  29. #29 Gaz
    February 26, 2010

    We are the Lomborg. You will be misrepresented. Resistance is futile.

  30. #30 Tim Lambert
    February 26, 2010

    Yes, I think it is instructive for any reader to read the paper Bailey cited and discover just how hard he had to work to Lomborgize it. The data Bailey cited was from the COSEWIC report. From this and other data COSEWIC concluded that polar bears were a species at risk. I quoted the COSEWIC conclusion and Bailey did not.

  31. #31 jakerman
    February 26, 2010
  32. #32 Phila
    February 26, 2010

    Fortunately, I linked to the article so that interested readers could follow up with any questions about it that they might have.

    “Might” being the operative word.

  33. #33 frankis
    February 27, 2010

    To Lomborgise is to not only ignore what the original researchers conclude about their own work but to actually quote- and/or data-mine their work to dredge up justification for arriving at the opposite conclusion to them.

    What to make of this behaviour? The things that occur to me are that to Lomborgise is to 1) have no need ever to do the hard work of science for yourself because there is always someone else’s work to steal from (sorry, it’s what occurs to me), 2) believe that you know better than the experts in a specialist field, since you are so comfortable with drawing opposite conclusions from them about their own data, and 3) be so dishonest (sorry again I suppose) as to not explain to your readers what you have done ie reversed the conclusions drawn by the experts whose work you’ve appropriated, having done no original work of your own.

    OK now someone tell me that I’ve only seen the downside of the Lomborg phenomenon and have overlooked all the great antiscientific breakthroughs that have been achieved only through Lomborgy.

  34. #34 Ian Gould
    February 27, 2010

    “May I suggest that your readers check out the summary at Table 1 on page 48 in the review article I cited. Just so that they can do a bit of fact checking to see if I have accurately summed up the findings with regard to current population trends among Canadian polar bears, e.g., “only four of 13 Canadian polar bear subpopulations were declining, four were stable, three were increasing, and two were unknown.””

    Yes, unforuntely the four that are declining are the four largest and contain over 50% of Canada’s polar bear population (from memory).

  35. #35 Lotharsson
    February 27, 2010

    To Lomborgise is to not only ignore what the original researchers conclude about their own work but to actually quote- and/or data-mine their work to dredge up justification for arriving at the opposite conclusion to them

    Might I humbly suggest that the descriptor be amended to “Lomborgotomise the research”? ;-)

    Maybe not – doesn’t really roll off the tongue. Carry on.

  36. #36 Bernard J.
    February 28, 2010

Current ye@r *