Saving Polar Bears: Let’s start with not shooting them.


I know next to nothing about science. When scientists (or at least those who aren’t on the payroll of Exxon) agree that human beings are having a significant effect on the climate, I tend to believe them.

That’s not some sort of hipster affectation, mind you. When people with doctorates in earth sciences speak in one voice, I try to set down the PBR and the graphic novel and listen. But what throws me for a loop is when good people, with the right idea, go off the rail.

Like the “Save The Polar Bears” crowd.

But really… Who should the polar bears fear the most? Local Sierra Club boss Mike O’Brien and his Nissan Pathfinder? Or some drunk Canuck with a shotgun?

The Canuck, it turns out.

Polar bears would stand a greater chance of avoiding extinction if people stopped shooting them than if they reduced greenhouse gas emissions, according to a book by a leading environmental skeptic.

Bjorn Lomborg, the Danish professor who achieved international fame with his previous book, The Skeptical Environmentalist, examines and rejects claims by environmentalists and the former president Al Gore that polar bears are drowning because the sea ice they hunt on is melting.

Lomborg says the story about drowning bears is taken from a single sighting of four dead bears the day after an abrupt windstorm. The bears came from a population that was actually increasing, which has been the overall trend in the polar bear population since the 1960s.

Lomborg, whose PhD is in political science and who doesn’t claim to be a scientist, gets all sorts of hisses and boos when he speaks. He even got nailed with a custard pie in Oxford. Hmm… Pie target Bill Gates is still shipping software, and the mannish Ann Coulter hasn’t been eaten by wolves. Perhaps the “pie throwing as a means of affecting public policy” meme is a bit played out, no?

Lomborg continues:

[He] points out that over the past decades, the global polar bear population has increased dramatically from about 5,000 members in the 1960s to around 25,000 as a result of the regulation of hunting.

Even if a decline in the bear population has taken place since the 1980s, he says, if we try to help them by cutting greenhouse gases we can at the very best avoid 15 bears dying, with realistic option meaning that it is probably only around 0.06 bears per year.

But he says, if we care for stable populations of polar bears, dealing with the 49 polar bears from the same population around Hudson Bay that get shot each year might be a smarter and more viable strategy.

I’d much rather see enviro groups pushing an American-style “cap and trade” system for controlling carbon dioxide in a way that would spur innovation and reward creativity, rather than more of these goofball vanity campaigns.


  1. 1

    2nd Amendment Democrat spews:

    Will; I am ONLY GUESSING at the basis of Lomburg’s comments. Hunting can have a significant impact upon carnivorous animals at the top of the food chain. I have no knowledge of the polor bear hunting regulations (which probably vary considerably among Norway, Canada, USA & Russia. However, the boar (males) Polar as well as the boar Alaskan Brown Bear, are known to kill bear cubs. Hunting on Kodiak Island has reduced the number of boars. The resulting reduction of mortality of cubs has resulted in a population explosion. 15 years ago cubs surviving through their first year was a rare event. Today triplet cubs are a common sight. In conclusion, Lomburg’s comments may be B/S, but a good lie has an element of truth.

  2. 2

    Noble spews:

    I am shocked that anyone could want that bear to die. That they are doing it in the name of “animal protection laws” is just disgusting. Knut is literally the cutest animal on the planet.

  3. 4

    bbill spews:

    The guy telling us that replacing failing bridges is bad for the polar bears drives a fucking SUV? You have to be kidding me.

  4. 5

    stinky suv spews:

    Mike you just use it to go skiiing and ice climbing right?

    You are making global warming worse.

  5. 8

    my little black back pack spews:

    How many polar bears is the Sierra Club killing every time they send me one of those back packs with their logo made in China using power from one of the 3 new coal plants opened every week?

  6. 9

    my little black back pack spews:

    I can already hear Mike “SUV driving” O’Brien’s explanation – “but I only drive it to Whole Foods down the street when I run out of pinot” “It is my weekend SUV” “I bike a lot don’t you know” “I put the Nissan in neutral down hills” “always drive with the AC off” “I have kids!” “Prop one isn’t about me, it is about you” “I need the space in the back for my pet polar bear” “my pet polar bear won’t fit in a Civic”

  7. 10


    The Sierra Club lit bombed the U-District with what appeared to be a few Pathfinders full of those polar bell cards. They were all over the sidewalk and street. Maybe I’m wrong, but that doesn’t seem all that environmentally friendly.

  8. 11


    will….excellent post! excellent, excellent, excellent…can’t say it enough.
    the canadians are not the enviro friendly people they like to be portrayed as…..sadly. but the PR they put out is too often taken as the truth in a knee jerk reaction by too many people.
    harp seal pups ring any bells for any one? how about what they did to the wolves? [never cry wolf…by farley mowat is a must read]
    and the “animal rights” activists are ANYTHING but wildlife friendly….everyone should wake up and smell the coffee on an active wildlife rescue ‘person’ i can vouch for the fact that even if you explain the situation to them plainly….”we have an immense impact on the planet,this is NOT 50 BC, and we have a responsibility to try our best to lessen the impact and if that means that we have to rescue and raise animals …then that’s what we have to do.”
    most of the animals that i deal with are in the situation they are in BECAUSE of people.
    and i couldn’t have put it better than you did. “vanity campaign” is EXACTLY what they are. and that’s all.

  9. 12


    bbill@4…… shouldn’t be that surprised! my best friend of 32 years is also the biggest liberal ever. can she tell you how the govenment works? oh, hell no. but she can bitch about BIG OIL causing all the problems…i just have a really hard time taking her seriously as she is usually driving her giant black suburban with it’s leather seats talking to me on her cell phone as she drives up to her “cabin” [since when are cabins 7000 feet in size anyway?] at lake tahoe.
    but hey, no worries….she has a “save tibet” and “keep tahoe blue” sticker on the bumper.
    so she’s cool….right?
    where my dad ,who has been palnting trres on his land and talking [and doing] conservation his entire life is BAD just because he’s a republican.
    ah….marin county. that’s why i moved.
    go figure!

  10. 13

    busdrivermike spews:

    Have you idiots even looked at the taxing district for RTID?

    People in Carnation, Fall City, Duvall are not in the taxing district, yet get a defacto new freeway. Thanks Madison Park, Ballard, and Lake City, who get NOTHING.

    After years and years of the eastside blathering about how “the market solves all ills”, you guys act like a dog who just heard the fridge open, in your quest to help these Republicans get double the freeway on the east side. No wonder nobody respects most liberals, you guys cannot smell out this scam. If RTID passes,I’m sure the Republicans will use global warming to get another tax break, less Medicare, and Rudy elected.

    I hope you guys never land in jail, because you would go bitch simply out of habit.

    RTID is a corporate and Republican dream tax, mostly apportioned to the poor and middle class, while Republicans on the eastside get most of the spoils.


  11. 14

    Bobby_C spews:

    Your right Christmasghost, most save the earth wack-jobs are liberal frauds.They talk a good game,know all the buzz words and may have a bumper sticker or 2, but in the end they are user uppers just like the rest of humanity. Sad Really!

  12. 15

    ArtFart spews:

    12/14 A half century or so ago, the political landscape was different in many ways, one of them being that “conservative” and “conservation” frequently went hand in hand.

  13. 16

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Will, Will, Will! The “C” word is to Canadians what the “N” word is to African-Americans. No, no, no.

  14. 17

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    No to Prop. 1, too. Unless your name is Rip Van Winkle, you probably know why I’m against it. In case you’ve been sleeping under a log:

    It’s too expensive.
    It taxes the wrong people.
    It doesn’t fully fund 520.
    It’s premature to expand light rail, when Phase 1 isn’t even running yet.

  15. 18

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    And, I should add, Prop. 1 reflects political dealmaking, not what our transportation priorities are.

  16. 20

    James spews:

    @ 17

    And it doesn’t begin to address our congestion issues (despite what the glossy brochures suggest). And good luck obtaining the RTID studies behind the limited congestion projections that do exist for 20 years down the road (so to speak), because RTID will not make them available. There hasn’t been near enough focus on this aspect of the discussion, and projections have been passed around with little scrutiny.

  17. 21


    know next to nothing about science. When scientists (or at least those who aren’t on the payroll of Exxon) agree that human beings are having a significant effect on the climate, I tend to believe them.

    Are you referring to the lefty,liberal,democrat,enviro-terrorists lighting forrests on fire???? Just wondering.

  18. 22


    This post is pretty disturbing. With friends like this, who needs the right wing. Seriously, this kind of non-science based “skepticism” looks like something that would be posted on Sound Politics, not Horse’s Ass. I’ve been campaigning for Prop. 1 and my organization, Environment Washington, is supporting the measure. But all of us in the environmental community who support Prop. 1 acknowledge the validity of Sierra Club’s concern about building new roads and climate change. We only disagree as to the benefit of the 50 miles of new light rail and the best tactic for addressing emissions from the new road projects.

    We feel like we’re betting off fighting the worst road projects through legal challenges and a push for system-wide congestion pricing rather than jeopardizing this opportunity to build out a full light rail system. But, the Sierra Club is absolutely right that transportation is our biggest and fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions and building new roads exacerbates that problem.

    It’s absolutely ridiculous to be buying into right-wing tropes that global warming isn’t really the problem, or that a stopping a few redneck Canadians from shooting polar bears will save that species. No one should hunt threatened or endangered species, but if that was the real problem, we would have solved it a long time ago. The last thing those of us working to address global warming need is folks from the left feeding into right-wing, anecdote-based “skepticism” of climate science. We need a cap and trade system to limit emissions, and we need to rapidly and drastically reduce our use of carbon-based fuels to make those caps achievable. That includes changing how we get around.

  19. 23


    @ 22

    It’s absolutely ridiculous to be buying into right-wing tropes that global warming isn’t really the problem

    You’re right, it is ridiculous. That’s why I said, in the post you’ve just commented on, that I believe that global warming is not only real, but that it’s man-made.

    We need a cap and trade system to limit emissions, and we need to rapidly and drastically reduce our use of carbon-based fuels to make those caps achievable.

    Did you read the post? Did you? You may have missed this, Bill:

    I’d much rather see enviro groups pushing an American-style “cap and trade” system for controlling carbon dioxide in a way that would spur innovation and reward creativity, rather than more of these goofball vanity campaigns.

    That’s what I wrote.

    Polar bears may face a greater threat from being hunted than from climate change, but that doesn’t mean climate change is no big thing. After all, on the list of species that are totally fucked by rising sea levels, humans are at first place. Perhaps, instead of looking out for the polar bears, we should be looking out for numero uno.

  20. 24

    joe pine spews:

    Most ‘naturally occurring’ greenhouse gases are water vapor. So when WingNutz™ say 97% of greenhouse gases are naturally occurring, it’s water vapor that they are unknowingly referring to.

    “The amounts of all these gases in the atmosphere are now being increased as a result of man-made processes, such as fossil fuel burning and deforestation. The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, for example, has increased by 30% since the 18th century, whilst levels of methane have more than doubled. Water vapour, whilst not directly released by man-made processes in substantial quantities, may be increasing as a result of climate feedback effects.”

  21. 25

    joe pine spews:

    Q- Did you know that the ‘Nobel Prize’ that Milton Friedman won is fake. It has nothing to do with the real Nobel Prizes.

    A- JANE BALOUGH’S DOG says: “Roof! Roof!”

  22. 26

    Friends? spews:

    @ 22 – Bill, glad your environmental group is supporting Prop 1 and its landmark investment in transit funding, but just because we sane people agree with the Sierra Club that global warming is real – does that make us friends?

    I think not.

    The Sierra Club has called the rest of the environmental community sellouts. The Sierra Club has snuggled up with Kemper Freeman and the anti-transit crowd. Lest we forget that the national Sierra Club thinks that cracking down on immigration is how we can solve environmental problems – let fewer people succeed therefore they won’t use as many resources as we do…that’s messed up thinking.

    Vote yes on 50 miles of light rail otherwise how will we ever get people out of their cars?

  23. 27

    Friends? spews:

    BTW – does Mike O’brien really drive a Pathfinder?

    If that is a fact and not some funny line for this post, then that hypocrisy is that of the right-wing and not of progressives.

  24. 28

    James spews:

    We feel like we’re betting off fighting the worst road projects through legal challenges and a push for system-wide congestion pricing rather than jeopardizing this opportunity to build out a full light rail system.

    All well and good, Bill. But meanwhile taxpayers are socked with taxes for years to come for a project loaded with problems (see 17, 20 above) while you fight the good fight. That’s a big gamble. If you want rail let’s have a more sensible plan. If people believe in rail as part of our transportation infrastructure, they’re support it. I do – but not this way.

  25. 29


    You gotta learn your sources, Will. Lomborg is a pretty serious skeptic who just has fancier justifications for why we shouldn’t worry about global warming. He’s not a good source to quote for these sorts of things.

  26. 30



    Nicholas@29 is exactly right. Lomborg is not a good source. It’s pretty unlikely, just because Lomborg says so, that hunting is the more significant threat to polar bears. Even with your caveat that you accept the science that says climate change is real and human caused, it’s disturbing that you implicate reactionary, right wing arguments/sources to support your arguments against the Sierra Club in favor of Prop. 1. This is exactly the kind of thing that Sound Politics does in arguing against other actions against global warming. It’s a right-wing trope that undermines our efforts to address the problem.

  27. 31

    otterpop spews:

    Gosh, Will, way to go.

    As Bill LaBorde said, your writing is becoming “pretty disturbing.”

    You probably don’t get a chance to read the paper much, with that whole community college/GED think you’ve got going, but you should probably check this article out.

    “Chilling outlook for polar bears. Scientists say two-thirds, including all in Alaska, could be gone by 2050″

    Funny, they didn’t mention the cause being hunting, but then again they were talking to REAL scientists…not people with a PhD in Political Science.

    And to think you guys make fun of Rossi’s nutjob guru…

  28. 32

    papao spews:

    I know Mike, and he bikes to work every day. So he has an SUV. BFD. He hardly ever drives it. Compare your carbon footprint to his, and if its better, cast the first stone.

  29. 33


    @ 29

    Yeah, you might be right. I saw the article and didn’t do a whole lotta research. I thought it was funny. If Lomborg is some sort of closet case who’s really an Exxon shill, I’ll buy you a drink at DL.

    @ 30

    Point taken. That said, “undermine the movement”? Really? I think that’s a bit much, but I’m flattered you think people derive their worldview from this blog.

    @ 31

    Hey, thanks for the article. I am busy, what with school and all… (its for a BA, not a GED. But I laughed when I read that.) Even though we don’t agree on light rail/RTID, I hope we’re both on board with the whole “cap and trade” thing.

    @ 32

    I met Mike (once), and I like him too (even though I think he’s wrong wrong WRONG on Prop 1 and on light rail, which he doesn’t think should go to Tacoma).

    I live near downtown, don’t own a car, walk everywhere, and when I don’t I’m using our bus system, Flexcar, or cabs.

    Mike needs a car, as he has kids (I don’t, because I don’t have kids). So do I really blame him for owning an awful SUV while at the same time making global warming his big reason for opposing Prop 1? Ehh… Not really. I’m glad he has option for his commute. Lots of people don’t (which is why light rail and other highway improvements might be useful to those folks.)

  30. 34

    rtidstinks spews:

    Wow, Will, a new low.

    Global warming is real and RTID makes it worse. You have no substantive response, other than gimmicky attacks and quotes from a right wing loony.

    Some progressive you are, pushing for regressive taxes to make global warming worse.

    Here is what real progressives do – use their brains and analyse the facts, not engage in cheap, misleading tactics. Try it sometime.

  31. 35


    @ 34

    My favorite quote from that article:

    “[Prop 1] would build light rail where there is little demand for it”

    Which is, of course, total bullshit. I don’t want to slag off ETS too much, as it was founded by fellow HA contributor Geov, but… that screed leaves a lot to be desired in the “facts” department. But, to their credit, that article is more coherent than the Seattle Times’ NO endorsement.

  32. 37


    Will: ok ‘undermine the movement’ is a bit over the top. I just meant that we don’t need people from the progressive side of the aisle who, as you do, lead a pretty low carbon impact life themselves and understand that we need to cut our emissions, to be propagating crap from people like Lomborg. It’s enough of a diversion coming from Sharkansky and his comrades. I’d really like the see the progressive community keep the debate over Prop. 1 and global warming as an issue of tactical choices and not question their sincerity about addressing the underlying problem. As I’ve said on other blogs, we all need to come together after election day, whether Prop. 1 passes or fails, to work to reduce emissions from the transportation sector.

    BTW, I’ll also attest to O’Brien being a dedicated bicycle commuter. I’ve only ever seen him traveling by bike, even in the heaviest of rain storms.

  33. 38

    remmy spews:

    If it is ok for Mike O’Brien to drive a SUV than why is is not ok for us to imrove SR 9 and build more park and rides and provide better bus service to people who don’t have much of any today?

    Mike’s SUV good, people scraping by that can’t afford a house in Phinney Ridge and have little choice but to get in their car – bad.

  34. 40

    suv spews:

    Let’s auction off Mike’s Nissan to somebody in Montana who really needs it to get around snowy two lane roads and use the proceeds to adopt a polar bear and bring it to the Pt. Defiance Zoo.

  35. 42

    Green Thumb spews:

    Will, if they gave a Nobel prize for the most disingenuous right-wing hack “scientist,” Lomborg would win hands down. He has been so thoroughly discredited within the scientific community that he’s a laughing stock. Best to ignore him because even his numbers are often bogus.

    The eco-hypocrite charge seems to be one of the most potent attacks against those who champion anti-global warming policies. It’s easy to make the charge, since pretty much EVERY affluent American could be criticized in one way or another for their consumptive habits. That’s particularly true if the criticizer is willing to distort the truth into a mangled pretzel, as the right wing did regarding Al Gore’s home energy consumption.

    If Mike does indeed have a SUV he might consider trading it in on a vehicle less susceptible to swiftboating. Alas, even if he did, they’d find something else to nail him on. (Or if Mike turned out to be a paragon of environmental purity they’d make fun of him for being a wacko who doesn’t live like “normal” Americans.)

    It’s fascinating to me how quickly and easily many commenters on left-leaning blogs will buy into the swiftboating of an enviro leader if it involves alleged hypocrisy. Perhaps this is because many enviros truly believe that global warming is primarily a product of bad character rather than obsolete energy production/use systems.

    I wish we could put to rest the hypocrisy meme. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter a whole lot whether Al Gore’s house is an energy hog — what matters is that his policy proposals regarding global warming are grounded in solid science. Unlike Lomborg’s.

  36. 43

    proud leftist spews:

    Except for the occasional sociopath, every human being I have ever encountered, including myself, is a hypocrite. What we say compared to what we do may rarely be reconciled. Our aspirations and values tend to be better than what we can consistently live up to. So, the way to avoid hypocrisy is to limit aspirations and minimize values. That does not seem to be something any of us should want. I could give a rat’s ass if an environmentalist drives a gas guzzling SUV.

  37. 44

    rtidstinks spews:


    You are getting justified grief for engaging in some pretty dumb tactics. Just pull down the post, it is beneath you. Although, really, based on your prior willingness to parrot right wing type attacks against the Sierra Club, maybe it is not beneath you. But it should be.

    By the way, eatthestate is right, as is Ron Sims, that there are better places for light rail than a connection from the Tacoma Dome to Seattle that is slower than the Sounder line, or even buses. Tacoma would do better by building lines out from the center of Tacoma that would have higher ridership.

    But the main problem is the climate-changing highways. Desperate for light rail, you have become an apologist for the roads crowd and decided to attack environmentalists trying to win the fight on global warming. I’ll bet the business roundtable types and the asphalt lobbyists will enjoy a few laughs over your post. Helluva job, Willie.

  38. 45


    I could care less about the polar bears. I could care less about any predator that interfaces with human settlements. For that matter I am rooting for Global Warming.

    Yes, we will need to build dikes, levees and pump stations around most lowland cities. Holland already does that and has so for the last 500 years. Yes, rain patterns will change and yes the jet stream will shift, causing other weather patterns to shift. All those issues can be engineered around. And yes, it will cost the government and us taxpayers a pretty penny to make those engineering feats.

    Humans adapt, both their environment and strategies for surviving. They will adapt after Global Warming stabilizes. In fact, there will be more arable land, not less. Canada, Russia, Greenland and other Artic nations will have longer growing seasons and very fertile ground that used to be tundra suddenly available for farming and settling in. Also, if you have been paying attention to the news, there is now an polar passage for shipping that cuts the miles traversed drastically from having to use the Panama Canal.

    This is not to say that I don’t believe we shouldn’t modify our behaviors to promote cleaner air. It doesn’t mean that I want the Global Warming to not have control breaks to slow it down and to promote stability. It does mean I don’t believe that Global Warming is all that bad of a thing.

    Nature does not occur in a stasis. Attempts to put it in stasis usually turn out worse than what was attempted to be prevented. Nature is dynamic and life will find a way to live. It may not be what was there before. It may not be some we are expecting. But Nature is constantly creating new forms of life and killing off old forms as conditions change.

    More than likely, where you are currently sitting reading this post was wilderness less than 100 years ago and almost for certain 150 years ago. No longer living within miles are the cougars, bears, coyotes and wolves, nor beavers, otters or any other typical forest creature that used to live in the area but now, if they are here, are pets or zoo animals. When you have cougars, bears, coyotes and wolves running around the city, you can have a say in whether or not to kill a polar bear or an alligator that wanders into town.

  39. 46

    Pathfinder spews:

    Will’s post is dead on and completely relavent to this debate. The Sierra Club is turning down 50 miles of new light rail based on the notion that fixing interchanges in Snohomish County, etc. will “make global warming worse.” (not building roads for 30 years in this region hasn’t made global warming “better” but that is a nother point). Mike’s position is very clear. No light rail because the roads will make global warming worse. That is his litmus test not mine. So forgive me when I question Mike’s own choices when he tries to influence the one I am about to make about 50 miles of more light rail.

  40. 47

    Pathfinder spews:

    I think what Mike’s decision to drive an SUV shows is that this little problem of global warming is a bit more complex than the Sierra Club’s campaign against Prop One would have us all believe. And the solution even more so.

    And if they buy into their own rhetoric about “making global warming worse” they should stop driving SUV’s.

  41. 48

    bob spews:

    It is interesting that none of the usual 700 Clubbers like James, Kevin, Mike M., Tim or Kathy have come to Mike’s defense.

    I guess I am left to believe that he, Mr. Obrien, the chair of the Sierra Club, really does drive a SUV.

  42. 49


    @ 44

    By the way, eatthestate is right, as is Ron Sims, that there are better places for light rail than a connection from the Tacoma Dome to Seattle that is slower than the Sounder line, or even buses. Tacoma would do better by building lines out from the center of Tacoma that would have higher ridership.

    Amazing. Go talk to the Federal Way city council, or Fife cc, or others. They are gearing development around the proposed line. Light rail is more reliable than buses. (Also, the Sounder doesn’t serve Federal Way, Fife, Des Moines, and other cities. Sound runs in the East Valley.)

    I love it supposed “progressives” go from attacking freeways (which is fair) to attacking light rail. You guys sound like Kemper Freeman Jr.

  43. 50

    rtidstinks spews:


    It is not an attack on light rail to state that there are routes that would serve more people. Please, a little intellectual honesty.

    And on that point, are you going to leave the post up when it contains points that you conceded are wrong?

  44. 51


    This time I’ll jump to Will’s defense. In terms of pure ridership, it may have made more sense to extend light rail into Tacoma neighborhoods, but Tacoma is working on that anyway (also remember, ST’s mission is regional, not intraurban transit). The city is studying a couple different options for streetcar lines, which would deliver commuters from the city’s densest neighborhoods to that Tacoma Dome hub. And, as Will says, there are some great transit-oriented development opportunities at those Federal Way and Fife stops. Federal Way has already approved a development of 4 high-rise residential towers near the likely location of the primary Federal Way stop. The Sea-Tac to Tacoma extension is a great opportunity to bring some order to the chaos of past development patterns on the SR 99 corridor.

  45. 52


    @ 50

    Show me a single ridership study that shows that light rail to PLU (or somewhere else near TAC) would exceed that ridership of a TAC to SEA line. You can’t, and neither could Ron Sims (who should really know better).

    People in Tacoma don’t want to build light rail to PLU, or Lakewood. They want light rail to points north.

    If you read my comments, I didn’t concede that any of the points are wrong, just that LaBorde et al made good points about how this Danish guy is a nut. People can read the comments and make up their own minds. Deleting posts is serious business, and it is frowned apon, not to be done except under certain circumstances. I’m certainly not going to pull a post for someone who doesn’t even comment under their own name.

  46. 53

    scotto spews:

    @52, here’s an alternative to pulling the post: a public apology for destructive, asinine behavior.

    Also, I might add, hypocritical, as you fancy yourself an environmentalist, yet are spreading vicious anti-environmental propaganda because somebody got between you and your shiny trains. That’s slash and burn politics, Will, and if you want to be effective, you’ve gotta grow out of it.

  47. 54

    julie spews:

    The whole premise of the post, hunters are killing polar bears, not global warming, is silly and really just an excuse to yell out “Mike O’Brien drives an SUV, therefore vote YES on RTID”. This is what desperate campaigns do in desperate times.

    The Yes campaign and its supporters can’t refute the global warming arguement because they know it is true. Like any losing campaign, they change the topic, make personal accusations and attack.

    Congratulations Mike, your arguements are working.

  48. 55



    REALLY!?! Global Warming is for real! That in order to change the flow of CO2 into the air, we need to build rail? Too bad that isn’t in Prop 1… Oh wait a minute… It is!

    You are pissed because it also includes roads. Roads that will include HOV lanes and exits so Buses are less likely to get stuck in traffic.

    Yes, it is widening roads to areas that have seen significant growth in the last decade. I understand that you would rather they all move into “dense urban areas” but those “dense urban areas” also cost 2-3 times as much for half the living space. Until you manage to figure out how lower the cost of housing in the “dense urban areas” those people still need to be able to get to and from their houses.

    Eco-nuts like you are to the Democratic Party what the Religious Right is to the Republican Party. A bunch of loud mouths that don’t know shit but try to dictate to everyone else how they must live. No wonder you two teamed up against Prop 1. Yall are soul mates.

    There is not going to be an alternative. You may be able to get it on the ballot but voters on the Eastside are going to remember that dipshits like yourself caused them to get stuck in longer and longer traffic jams. That is how your new found buddies are going to paint it and that is what they are going to believe. They will shoot down every one of your Initiatives.

    If it actually manages to squeak through, they will bring it up for a re-vote and another and another until they kill it. That is their M.O. For some reason, you believe that this time will be different. There is a diagnosis for such behavior and it is why people like you have been labeled Eco-nuts. Because your actions are those of a lunatic.

    You believe what you want and disregard anything that mars your pristine BS. You are no different than Bush, his Neocon ideologues and the Religious Right. There is no room for compromise, even if it costs you the whole shebang. You would rather cocoon yourself in your smug self-righteousness than actually consider that you are wrong.

    In this one, you can’t be any wronger. It is far better to start walking down the path now than continually wait for the perfect moment in some imaginary future. One way starts to address getting a control of Global Warming and the other says we can do it some time in the future, maybe.

  49. 56

    otterpop spews:

    Are you the same “Michael Caine” who just said @45 they believe that “global warming is not all a bad thing” and that you were “rooting FOR global warming?”

    OK, ya got me. I disagree with this and that makes me an “eco-nut.”

    I’m against global warming and I’m an environmental extremist.

    Fine. I stand convicted.

    Will, your posts are attracting an interesting crowd for a so-called progressive blog site. First, you tout the rantings of the “ignore” global warming movement. And then in the comments, we hear the chorus from the “embrace” global warming crowd.

    You must be so proud.

    But please don’t apologize, or pull the post. It’s really more fun to watch your half-assed personal attack on Mike O’Brien blow up in your face.

    PS Actually, the more I read of this Lomborg guy, the more it makes sense that you would give a voice to his views. He basically says, global warming is real, but screw it there’s more important issues. That’s kind of like your position on RTID.

    And here’s a good in-depth critique of his “science” that was published in Grist – and can you believe it – they talked to actual SCIENTISTS:

  50. 57

    Scottoriffic! spews:

    Hey Scotto and rtidstinks –

    Why doesn’t this post matter? How is this swiftboating “environmental leaders”?

    First off, Mike O’brien is running around saying stuff like “before I put my kids to bed every night, I know I’m doing all I can to stop global warming.” What he fails to mention is that in his ivory tower it is alright to drive a gas hog SUV on the weekends to ski hills and people in Puyallup can’t have fucking HOV lanes on 167.

    Secondly, cry me a river. The Sierra Club was absent during the 5 years the RTID was being put together and when they didn’t like the finished product with a few months to go – they run to the Stranger and call every other enviro group in the state sellouts. Tell me how that helps the environmental movement? How do you feel about that treatment Bill LaBoarde (I ask because Bill is a true environmental leader)?

    Not only did you bag on every other enviro group, but you also laid down in bed with road warriors like Kemper Freeman. Kemper will dump money into any anti-transit campaign, but the Sierra Club gave him cover.

    You guys are hypocrits and your douche-baggery is tiresome.

    Don’t bag on Will for exposing your political purity for what it is…hypocrisy.

  51. 58

    rtidstinks spews:


    On transit-

    And I am not asking you to pull down your post for me. I suggested that you do so for your own sense of integrity on the issue of global warming. Look, you just pushed the propaganda of a discredited right wing loony.

    As a better choice of who to stand with, how about the American Academy of Pediatrics:

    “Global warming is likely to disproportionately harm the health of children, and politicians should launch ‘aggressive policies’ to curb climate change, the American Academy of Pediatrics said today.”

    If we listened to them we would tell our elected officials to “get aggressive about global warming” and not build 182 new lane miles of highways.

  52. 59

    rtidstinks spews:

    Hold it, I am sure at least one of those doctors drive an SUV. Hypocritical bastards. I take it all back, don’t listen to kids’ doctors. Whoo, thank goodness I got that out, we’ve saved Will some investigative reporting on those wacky doctors looking out for kids’ health.

  53. 60

    scott spews:


    so the Sierra Club is against extending light rail to Tacoma?

    Which is it? Mike has changed his tune out in debates saying “we need light rail everywhere!”

    You seem to be saying, uh not so much. It only works in really dense areas. Where have I heard that before. Oh yeah your buddy Kemper uses that line a lot.

    So with your transit plan, I get less light rail? No thanks.

  54. 61

    rtidstinks spews:

    @ 60,

    Did you read the link?

    You may have noticed, the Sierra Club’s issue is global warming. So, what are the best investments on the transit side and road side to move us to 80% reductions in global warming pollution by 2050? It is a great question, and one that Sound Transit and RTID did not even attempt to answer. But we know building more highways is a really bad idea that makes global warming worse.

    If all you care about is getting the light rail proposed in this ballot measure, then vote yes. Hey, go crazy, if you sign off on a couple more highways, maybe they’ll toss in light rail from the Tacoma Dome to downtown Tacoma.

    It is apparent that many people have the capacity to rationalize away the global warming argument in the face of all the evidence (e.g., Will “hunters kill polar bears, not global warming.”) So go ahead, make it all about light rail, that’s just what the road advocates wanted to happen when they held Sound Transit hostage to climate changing highways.

    If we vote this down, we have the chance to implement congestion pricing, which is a far more powerful tool to reduce congestion, reduce global warming pollution, finance transit (even more than in this ballot measure) and pay to maintain our roads. A solution that actually addresses our problems and can build transit faster than this severely compromised ballot measure.

  55. 62

    please pay attention spews:

    Your link proves beyond a doubt that the Sierra Club is against 50 miles of light rail. The Sierra Club board uses bogus numbers which mis-state both ridership and costs to come up with this argument. And they use the right-wing argument that sets up a short period of time to judge capital investments.

    Make no mistake–the Sierra Club board is against light rail to Tacoma. They know better than the elected leaders of Pierce County and tons of public process. From the link above:

    “The point has been made many times, but it’s worth repeating: the light rail extension from SeaTac to Tacoma is not cost-effective. There are lots of places in Pierce County (such as downtown to UPS or PLU) and south King County (still no light rail to Southcenter or Renton) that would generate more riders at lower cost. And the savings could be invested in serving even more potential riders with improved bus service or other light rail investments.

    The proposed light rail line is also duplicative, since much faster service already exists from Tacoma to Seattle via Sounder trains. Existing train, express bus, regular bus, vanpool, and carpools are all faster than the new light rail line would be, due to the circuitous route.

    While it’s hard to imagine that access to a slower transit option will drive new development and density, the station design even forestalls much of this. Most of the new stations are built around parking lots, and you have to walk a block out of your way around and through the parking lot to get to the train.

    Next time, let’s do better”

    OK, to recap. The Seattle-based Sierra Club board knows better what investments the rubes in Tacoma need. They favor:
    1) Using right-wing analysis to disprove light rail investments.
    2) Extending Tacoma Link instead–even though that is highly likely to happen incrementally instead.
    3) The club says Sounder is good enough…they do know it is on the other side of the valley, don’t they?

    This Naderite thinking is what happens when the left gets in bed with the right. Kemper and the Sierra Club are wrong. Vote yes on Prop. 1

  56. 63

    scott spews:

    I wonder if the Sierra Club can tell me the ridership figures for a Tacoma light rail extension to PLU or TCC.

    Does anyone believe they actually know?

    I don’t. It is like when Kemper says rail works in big cities. Think if he lived in NYC he would be at the front of the parade for taxes to support rail. I don’t. Nor do I believe that the Sierra Club will ever come to terms with what they believe when it comes to effective transportation policy, other than that they like polar bears and like to drive SUV’s.

  57. 64

    rtidstinks spews:

    The Sierra Club post sounds sensible. However, you left the part out about how the Sierra Club would support the light rail proposal if it were on the ballot alone. What is so difficult about the following concepts — the Sierra Club supports light rail, would urge a yes vote if it were on the ballot alone, but also thinks that there are more cost effective places for light rail than what is proposed. In other words, if light rail were on the ballot alone, the Sierra Club would not “let the perfect stand in the way of the good.” You know that argument, don’t you?

    Of course, when you add 182 miles of new highways the ballot measure is not good anymore. It makes global warming worse.

    This is really simple stuff. But go ahead, join Will in denying that global warming has anything to do with this ballot measure or polar bears. We understand, the truth is too inconvenient for you.

  58. 66

    scott spews:


    and your point is? That we shouldn’t care that Mike Obrien is making global warming worse by driving a SUV and is telling me to vote against 50 miles of new light rail because fixing interchanges will make global warming worse?

  59. 67

    otterpop spews:

    Oh, please. Fixing interchanges? 182 miles of new highways is “fixing interchanges” to you?

    Do you really believe that? Can you defend it?

    Your argument must be pretty weak if you’re engaging in that much intellectual dishonesty.

  60. 68

    Gorebasm spews:

    Wonderful, Will. At last someone here understands what Lomborg understands, that most of our important decisions are made at the margin, and that probability is a better guide to policy than are phantom absolutes and absolutism. Lomborg is trying to help the Left get over its secular faith-based fanatacism about enviro issues, and his straight talk about glamorous megafauna may pull some of you back to reality.

    The rest of you, of course, will still be throwing pies at the tellers of inconvenient truths.

  61. 69


    I’ll add my two cents to the pile to say that Will’s “hunting kills more polar bears than global warming” reference is garbage and counterproductive politics.

    and 67:

    For the umpteenth time, RTID funds lanes almost entirely on existing highways, with the single new highway (Cross-Base) highly unlikely to ever be built. There are new lanes, but not new highways. Many of the projects are fixing bottlenecks or extending the HOV network, so “fixing interchanges” is a lot closer to the truth than “182 miles of new highways.”

    We need a regional light rail network now, and these 50 miles get us a good way toward that goal. There’s not a single rail line in the package that isn’t needed and hasn’t been needed for years, though certainly other routes are also needed and can be added later. The longer we wait, the harder the politics and the more expensive the cost. I’d prefer a different mix of road projects, though as a political compromise that gets us the rail alternative we need, RTID’s the best we’re going to get. Without ST2, all of these projects would still be funded–we just wouldn’t have the light rail that we need.

  62. 70

    scott spews:


    It is you and the Sierra Club that are clasifying fixing interchanges as bad for global warming. And when you are using the “182 lane mile” figure you are also classifying HOV lanes as bad for global warming. I am just going off of what the 700 Club’s own letters about this topic state.

    Perhaps that letters themselves aren’t intellectually honest.

    Keep defending Mike’s SUV though.

  63. 71

    rtidstinks spews:

    Oh, now I get it. If the new lane is on an existing highway, the cars that fill it don’t spew carbon dioxide. And the vehicles in new HOV lanes don’t spew carbon dioxide either. Thanks for clarifying. Plus, sorry, I didn’t realize we had 182 miles of choke points and interchanges to fix.

    These arguments are ludicrous. They aren’t even argument, they are euphemisms masquerading as argument.

    Instead of trying to build our way out of congestion (impossible) why don’t we use existing resources more efficiently? If we used congestion pricing every existing lane could flow smoothly for cars, carpools, vans and buses, without building new lanes. That is the smart climate policy smart congestion policy, and smart financial policy. 182 new miles of highway is none of the above.

  64. 72

    my little black back pack spews:

    rtid you smell

    Oh I get it too, if a Sierra Club self rightous Seattle elite green-xtremist drives an SUV it spews fragrent perfume that makes the birds chirp in the morning. If a guy in the suburbs who needs to get to work wants a complete HOV system or a park and ride to get him out of his car he is someone who made a bad housing choice and should be punished with tolls, unsafe roads and crumbling bridges. And he certainly doesn’t deserve light rail.

    rtidstinks – I think the expression is that your shit stinks too. Or in this gas the CO2 spewing from Mike O’Brien’s SUV’s tailpipe.

  65. 73

    ben p. spews:

    thank you little black back pack … you left out otterpoop and he stinks too. The Sierra club is full of shit and smells too. So adding HOV lanes for additional bus service, carpools, all those new hybrids, not to mention moving vehicles through intersections more quickly rather than just sitting idle and polluting is a bad thing? Add light rail and you have the most environmental friendly transportation package in the country. But the lefty eco nazis have climbed into bed with Kemper and want to do nothing … yep, more of the same will really help those polar bears … I can see where that no vote gets us actually less than nothing — good plan smelly boys and what should we do with the next million people moving to the Puget Sound, have them car pool with Mike in his Nissan suv or ride a polar bear into town since doing nothing should melt the ice that much sooner … clue phone is ringing smelly boys, might want to pick up and vote yes so we can actually start making progress.