Bjørn Lomborg made his name with The Skeptical Environmentalist, a 2001 book in which he challenged some of the conventional wisdom behind the theory of anthropogenic global warming. Now Lomborg is back with a follow-up entitled "Cool It", which gets an unflattering review here. Elsewhere in Salon, Lomborg is interviewed.
I don't really have time to get into this today, but the interview is pretty tough-minded, especially the parts where interviewer Kevin Berger presses him over the fate of the polar bear and Lomborg's contention that the polar bear can survive by "evolving backwards":
That just seems so shortsighted, Bjørn. The report concludes: "Future challenges for conserving polar bears and their Arctic habitat will be greater than at any time in the past because of the rapid rate at which environmental change appears to be occurring." Now, you write that polar bears "will increasingly take up a lifestyle similar to that of brown bears." Then, in a footnote, you quote from the report: "The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment finds it likely that disappearing ice will make polar bears take up 'a terrestrial summer lifestyle similar to that of brown bears, from which they evolved.'" Are you saying that polar bears will be OK, that the species will survive if they evolve backward?
Yes, that's certainly how I read it.
But you edited the quote. The whole thing goes like this: "It is difficult to envisage the survival of polar bears as a species given a zero summer sea-ice scenario. Their only option would be a terrestrial summer lifestyle similar to that of brown bears, from which they evolved. In such a case, competition, risk of hybridization with brown bears and grizzly bears, and increased interactions with people would then number among the threats to polar bears." That sounds like the species faces much more dire chances to survive, wouldn't you say?
They're saying that it's difficult. Their only option would be this summer lifestyle. So this is what they can do. Yes, this is not going to be easy, but this is exactly what they can do.
Hard times for the polars bears, in other words, and Bjørn wishes 'em luck. Also some good stuff just following where Lomborg denies that comparing Al Gore to the Inquisition is alarmist.