Report: Harry Reid’s Wrong on Effects of Climate Change

As President Obama headed for Las Vegas on Monday to kick off an energy summit hosted by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), media reports are surfacing of a recent FactCheck.org report that challenges Reid’s record of honesty in respect to statements he has made on climate change — in particular, the effects on bear hibernation.

“Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has said at least twice that climate change is causing bears in the Sierra Nevada mountains to change their hibernation patterns. There is no evidence that climate change is actually having such an effect,” reported Dave Levitan for FactCheck.org, which was republished by Philly.com.

Levitan examined two recent floor speeches that Reid delivered prior to August recess, where Levitan is challenging Reid’s accuracy on statements he has made to tout the effects of Climate Change.

For example, on July 29th, Reid blamed the drought in the West for bears not hibernating anymore.

Reid made a similar statement on the Senate floor on July 15th, “We have things happening that have never been recorded before. In the Sierras some bears are not hibernating.”

FactCheck.org noted it couldn’t find any evidence that there have been changes to bear hibernation after speaking to California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Jesse Garcia. He told FactCheck.org, “We have no data or specific evidence” of changes in black bear hibernation in the Sierra.

According to Levitan’s report, black bears’ metabolisms and body temperatures don’t decrease dramatically like other animals.

Additionally, Garcia noted in an email to FactCheck.org:

We have no reason to believe that the drought or climate change is significantly changing hibernation behavior in California black bear populations. This statement is mainly due to the fact that we observe great variability of black bear denning or hibernation chronology throughout different regions of our vast state. And even in specific areas (such as around Lake Tahoe), black bears will often display some mid-winter activity even during non-drought years.

Levitan noted that a spokesperson for Reid provided two news articles to support his claim on bear hibernation decreasing because of climate change, “But neither offers more than anecdotal evidence of any particular increase in winter bear activity.”


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