Some Amusing Musings On Polar Bears And Other Natural Wonders

My WordPress friend Caleb writes a lot about Arctic Sea Ice at his blog

Caleb likes to observe the Arctic ice from a layman’s point of view. Neither he nor I are scientists as such, but it’s a fair bet that we share an implicit understanding that Earth goes through natural cycles and that what man has come to know through the study of Geologic history and processes does shed some light on natural cycles big and small.

I like Caleb’s folksy style of writing, it’s like poking around in some farmer’s personal journal. He never attempts to go over your head, there’s no condescension. He just tells you what he observes, and posits thoughtful questions. His writing gets me to thinking. Good writers will do that. And sometimes that thinking is only indirectly related to his subject. My posts below about liquid CO2, and Arctic Methane are direct results of reading his works at Sunriseswansong. Cognitive stimulation is good for the mind.

Often, Caleb uses humor in a very friendly Easterner droll sense. I am going to share a couple of his musings here with you as you may not come across them any other way:

On Yellowstone

“I recall hearing a tale about Yellowstone, before it became a National Park. All sorts of fellows were roaming that landscape looking for gold and silver (thank heavens they didn’t find any) and they tended to get very dirty and stink, so they would take baths in the warm springs at one particular spot, so of course a saloon sprang up, and then a gentleman from China set up a laundry over a spring that was too hot to bathe in, and constructed a canvas roof to protect himself from the weather. But then it turned out there was a reason for that water being so hot. Once in a while that hot spring was a geyser.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

On Polar Bears

“This morning I pointed out polar bears don’t care if scientists state there is no food out beyond the continental shelf, they go out there and get fat. In a way bears are smarter than scientists. And in a way I was nearly as smart as a bear, at age ten.

A half century ago my gang was faced with crossing thin ice, and many doubted the ice would support our weight. I was a ten-year-old leader, oldest and wisest. Somewhere I had learned ice can support more weight if you spread your weight out, so I lay down and slithered across the ice spreadeagled on my belly.  Flush with success, I turned, raised an index finger, and grandly pronounced, “This ice is safe!” I also was so filled with confidence that I stood up, and promptly plunged down waist-deep into ice-water, to the joy of the rest of the gang, who didn’t always approve of the egotism involved in my leadership.

Polar Bears may be worse egotists, for all I know, but they do not raise index fingers and make ridiculous pronouncements, most likely because they don’t have index fingers and can’t talk to the verbose degree we can. Scientists, on the other hand, do have index fingers, and make a lot of scientific pronouncements, and can be verbose.

After making careful measurements of the load-bearing ability of ice, and the weight of a polar bear’s massive paws, and consulting engineers who know far more about such stuff than they do, they pronounce ice cannot hold up a bear. (They are much like my gang once was.) The bear doesn’t care. Even though they often swim ice water that would freeze a man in 300 seconds, and have been known to cross hundreds of miles of open water, they apparently don’t always like to get wet, if they don’t have to. So, when they get to thin ice they do exactly what I did at age ten:

A polar bear slides across thin Arctic Ocean ice Aug. 21, 2009.
(Photo Credit: Patrick Kelly)

In short, some scientists need to get out more. They have no actual experience of the outdoors. They spend far to much time glued to computer screens, and despite the exactitude of their measurements, Polar Bears are smarter than they are.”

That last link is chock full of information, from polar weather maps over the last few days, to many fantastic Ocean Buoy pictures of sea ice in various stages of melt and freeze, Polar Bears(of course!), and even some Icebreakers. It’s truly fascinating stuff. My hat is off, Good job Caleb!


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