Global Warming Link to Drowned Polar Bears Melts Under Searing Fed Probe Polar bears drowning in an Alaskan sea because the ice packs are meltingits the iconic image of the global warming debate. But the validity of the science behind the imagepresented as an ignoble testament to our environment in peril by Al Gore in his film An Inconvenient Truthis now part of a federal investigation that has the environmental community on edge. Special agents from the Interior Departments inspector general's office are questioning the two government scientists about the paper they wrote on drowned polar bears, suggesting mistakes were made in the math and as to how the bears actually died, and the department is eyeing another study currently underway on bear populations. Biologist Charles Monnett, the lead scientist on the paper, was placed on administrative leave July 18. Fellow biologist Jeffrey Gleason, who also contributed to the study, is being questioned, but has not been suspended. The disputed paper was published by the journal Polar Biology in 2006, and suggests that the drowning-related deaths of polar bears may increase in the future if the observed trend of regression of pack ice and/or longer open-water periods continues. It galvanized the environmental movement that led to the bears controversial listing in 2008 as threatened, and it is now protected under the Endangered Species Act. Although the four dead bears cited in the paper were observed from 1,500 feet during flights over the Beaufort Sea, and the carcasses were never recovered or examined, Gleason told investigators it is likely the creatures drowned in a sudden windstorm that produced 30-knot winds, not for lack of an ice pack. We never mentioned global warming in the paper, Gleason told the investigators, according to the transcript. But its inferred, responded investigator Eric May. Thats why the world took it up as a global warming tangent. -- In particular, investigators are asking questions about the peer review work on Monnetts drowned polar bear paper, which was done by his wife, Lisa Rotterman, as well as Andrew Derocher, the lead researcher on the Canadian study under review by the inspector general's office. -- Dr. Rob Roy Ramey, a biologist who specializes in endangered species scientific issues for Wildlife Science International, Inc., reviewed Monnetts paper as well as the inspector general's interviews for HUMAN EVENTS and said that the authors made unwarranted assumptions and large extrapolations based on a single event. They did not know if the polar bears actually drowned, they assumed that they had drowned. There were no statistical tests, just extrapolations made with no accounting for measurement error, Ramey said. The paper gives the appearance that rigorous surveying was done for polar bears, when it was not, Ramey said. They were flying at 1,500 feet with the purpose of looking for bowhead whales, which are much larger and easier to spot. Ramey also says he sees a conflict of interest for Monnetts wife to be part of the internal peer review, and questioned the awarding of a contract to Derocher, who also participated in the peer review. Thats not impartial, Ramey said. Its really important that peer review be truly independent. If they cant be, then everyone has to state their conflict right up front.