- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 23, 2009

It’s a good time to be a polar bear. Unusually cool temperatures in the northern climes last winter produced thicker-than-usual polar ice. This gave the lucky bears an extra two weeks to roam the ice floes to hunt ringed seals. As a result, adult bears are better fed and more cubs are surviving their first year. The bears will go into the winter with greater energy stores, which will mean a better chance of survival and even more cubs.

Last May, the Obama administration took some heat for continuing the Bush-era polar-bear policy. On May 8, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that his department would maintain a rule adopted in 2007 that barred the Endangered Species Act from being used to try to force carbon-emission limitations. This rule was put in place when the administration listed the polar bear as “threatened” to prevent activists from using the law as a back-door method to force carbon caps on businesses. Mr. Salazar offered an original-intent defense of continuing the policy, saying that when the Endangered Species Act was passed, “it was not contemplated it would be the tool to address the issue of climate change.”

This is highly uncharacteristic reasoning from a liberal administration, but we definitely approve.

The polar bear was chosen as a marketing tool for the global-warming alarmists since they are more cuddly looking than, say, the Burrington jumping slug. But if numbers begin to increase significantly, the Arctic mammals could be equally effective as symbols of global cooling. Activists dismiss this year’s cold conditions as a blip, but global temperatures have generally been declining over the last decade, an inconvenient truth for those who like to think in terms of “tipping points” and other panicky cliches.

The global-warming religion is highly resistant to facts. This came home to us recently when Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Michigan Democrat, told the Detroit News that global warming is increasing “volatility” in the atmosphere. “I feel it when I’m flying,” she claimed. “We are paying the price in more hurricanes and tornadoes.” The notion that Mrs. Stabenow can sense climate volatility while jetting about is risible, but the fact that she serves on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and is a leading proponent of the job-killing, growth-destroying cap-and-trade legislation is no laughing matter.

Compare the senator’s sensory perception to hard data. In the past three years, the number of hurricanes has fallen dramatically, and tropical-cyclone activity is at one of the lowest points in the last 50 years. We hope that facts such as thickening Arctic ice and decreasing climate volatility can overcome the almost mystical attachment some politicians have to global-warming orthodoxy.

Bad legislation based on faulty science is something our country simply cannot bear.

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