Friday, September 28, 2007

Dolphins in the Baltic NOT a sign of global warming.

A couple of dolphins were spotted in the Baltic Sea recently. So what does that mean? Global warming, of course. There are two things which seem universally true. 1.) Everything causes cancers; 2) and everything is caused by global warming.

Spiegel claims that the appearance of the dolphins “is the result of warmer temperatures due to global warming.” And that dolphins were spotted in the Baltic in 2001 as well.

DPA News doesn’t seem to be aware of the previous sighting in 2001 and claims that this appearance is the first in “more than two centuries.” But the head of Poland’s Gdansk University marine biology station, Prof. Krzysztof Sikora, says: “Our records show dolphin sightings in this area in the 17th and 19th centuries, so this really is a special event.”

A special event it may well be but that pretty much the kabash on the claim that this is due to global warming, as Spiegel reported. Considering that global warming supposedly didn’t kick in until rather recently it is a bit hard to claim global warming accounts for the sightings in the 17th century. And in the past dead dolphins were found on several occassions on the beaches. In 1998 one washed up on the beach in Latvia and this report mentioned the same thing happening in 1908.

And this report on the species range of the bottlenose dolphin says it is found “in all temperate to tropical oceans and seas worldwide, including the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea, the North Sea (scarce) and the Baltic Sea (this includes the Gulf of Finland).” This dolphin website says the White Beaked dolphin “is often found in the Baltic Sea as well.”

The second report, from Deutsche Presse-Agentur, also gives another explanation for the sitings: “Sightings of species have increased in recent years owning to the rise in the number of pleasure craft and the prevalence of mobile phones with cameras.” Of course when Communism controlled much of the Baltic region there were no pleasure craft from those countries allowed out on the sea -- to prevent people from fleeing the people’s paradises. With more people on the sea than ever before dolphins that might have gone unnoticed before are more likely to be seen and reported.

The original August 19 DPA report said nothing about warming. Over a month later Spiegel sexed up the story with the addition of claims that this is due to global warming. And they deleted the mention that sitings of dolphins in the Baltic go back for several hundred years, only mentioning the 2001 siting -- recent enough to blame on warming unlike the earlier appearances.

But the Convention on Migratory Species, appendix II, lists common dolphins as being present in the Baltic. And in 2003 the BBC was reporting “EU plans for dolphin-friendly Baltic” which was about bans on driftnets to prevent the accidental killing of dolphins in the Altantic, North Sea and Baltic.

Spiegel, ignoring the fact that several species of dolphins are common to the Baltic reports that “Scientists are assuming that their [the dolphins] sudden appearance is linked to global warming.” As if often the case with such media no actual scientist is named saying this. It appears the presence of dolphins in the Baltic is not sudden nor an indication of global warming.

But Spiegel wasn’t alone in reporting that dolphins in the Baltic are a sign of global warming. Monsters and Critics reported it, Expatica reported it, the Independent-on-line reported it and they all mentioned the dolphins as evidence of global warming. That several species of dolphins have been found in the Baltic Sea for centuries, if not longer, is not mentioned. Since this is a relatively new story, just appearing on news services today, I expect this false claim will find its way into more and more newspapers over the next few weeks. Once again when warming is mentioned the media shuts down their critical faculties.

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