Följande gästinlägg kommer från professor J. Scott Armstrong, som jag träffade på konferensen i New York. Här i Sverige är Världsnaturfonden i full gång att annonsera om adoption av isbjörnar. När isbjörnsstammen i själva verket befinner sig i mycket god form.
In an appeal for members and donations, commercials by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have claimed that the number of polar bears is decreasing rapidly, thereby putting the entire species at risk of extinction. For example, here are excerpts from a TV commercial, “Noah Wyle for the WWF,” posted on YouTube and stating that because of climate change:
“Polar bears are on their way to extinction. If we don’t act now, most will die in our children’s lifetime. But you can help change that. Call now and join the Wildlife Rescue team. . . . If we don’t act now, it could be too late for the polar bear.”
Professor Scott Armstrong, a Wharton School professor, wondered what the basis was for these claims. The statement that “polar bears are on their way to extinction” is at odds with the conclusion of his recently published paper which showed that there were no scientific forecasts to support such a claim (Armstrong, Green & Soon, ”Polar Bear Population Forecasts: A Public-Policy Forecasting Audit,” Interfaces (2008), 38, 382–405).
As was discussed at the Hearings by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on January 30, 2008, there are apparently many more polar bears now than there were a few decades ago because the ban on hunting has been so successful in protecting them.
Interestingly, as of February 2009, the WWF website claims that:
“The general status of polar bears is currently stable, though there are differences between the populations. Some are stable, some seem to be increasing, and some are decreasing due to various pressures. The status of several populations is not well documented.” This statement contradicts the claim in their advertising campaign.”
Do the WWF commercials represent a case of false advertising, that is, of soliciting money under false premises? If so, should the WWF be required to return the donations that might have conceivably been raised from this campaign? What actions might be taken? Is it a case for federal regulators?
Professor Armstrong has been attempting to contact the WWF’s President and CEO and seven of its trustees by mail, phone, and e-mail since December 12, 2008. Armstrong recommended that the campaign be stopped and that corrective ads should be run to offer to return donations and membership fees. He also mentioned that he would discuss this case in his talk at the International Conference on Climate Change in New York City on March the 8th to 10th and, to be fair, he would like to present the WWF’s side of the story. To that end, Armstrong said he would circulate a WWF response at his talk. The correspondence for this case is posted at theclimatebet.com.
As of March 7, he had not received a response from the WWF.