Saturday, December 15, 2007

Doubting Global Warming? Ask the Walruses

For those still doubting global warming, check out this story on the thousands of walruses killed in stampedes this year.

"Unlike seals, walruses cannot swim indefinitely. The giant, tusked mammals typically clamber onto the sea ice to rest, or haul themselves onto land for just a few weeks at a time.

But ice disappeared in the Chukchi Sea this year because of warm summer weather, ocean currents and persistent eastern winds, Garlach-Miller said.

As a result, walruses came ashore earlier and stayed longer, congregating in extremely high numbers, with herds as big as 40,000 at Point Shmidt, a spot that had not been used by walruses as a 'haulout' for a century, scientists said.

Walruses are vulnerable to stampedes when they gather in such large numbers. The appearance of a polar bear, a hunter or a low-flying airplane can send them rushing to the water."

The one bright spot of the article was the mention of the worldwide walrus population: approximately 200,000. But these are not encouraging trends.

As an aside on global warming denialists, take a gander at this post by Tim Lambert which answers a denialists claim with a complete graph of the data. I mention this because I think it typifies the difference between people who look at things scientifically, and those who are pushing a predetermined viewpoint. Those with the scientific view tend to want to look at all the data, like Lambert's graph. Denialists, by contrast, almost never do this. They like to pick and choose the data they talk about. Go look around at the global warming denialist sites and see how many complete graphs like this are out there. You won't find many.

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