Category Archives: Advocacy

Activist explorer blames more polar bear encounters since 1985 on reduced sea ice

Activist polar explorer Børge Ousland’s told National Geographic that more polar bear encounters on land are due to reduced sea ice –  without any reference to population changes over that time or revealing when or where these observations were made.

IceLegacy_NG video Sept 30 2015

More vague anecdotal observations and opinions posing as scientific evidence.
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Barents Sea polar bears in excellent condition say Norwegian biologists

Conditions this year (2015) in the Barents Sea were excellent according to the polar bear researchers who work there (Polar bears were as fat as pigs”).

Barents Sea bear 2015 August Cobbing_NPI
A new survey just completed for a population count showed the bears were are in excellent condition – except the injured ones, of course, which some news organizations are promoting as evidence of harm from global warming-induced sea ice changes because an activist photographer  – not scientists – said so.

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Last year’s dead Svalbard polar bear used for this year’s propaganda

Via Mashable yesterday: “Global warming may have led to the death of this polar bear, researcher says”  Note this is about a death that occurred last year (2014), but Mashable author Andrew Freedman implies it happened this year.

Stirlings other pb that died of climate change_Sept 8 2015

The polar bear death occurred last year in Svalbard in the Barents Sea after a fall (2013) and winter (2014) of poor ice conditions due to well-known cyclical sea ice and weather patterns (not global warming). There is no doubt that 2014 was an unusually bad year for sea ice around Svalbard during the fall and winter. This year, however, conditions improved markedly: Norwegian researchers earlier this year reported a good crop of females with cubs this spring, many more than last year (see previous post Many polar bears cubs seen in Svalbard this year, says Norwegian biologist).

The photo above was taken by National Geographic photographer Paul Nicklan, who sent the instagram on 6 September 2015, with a photo and comments about a trip he’d taken to Svalbard in 2014.

Yet the Mashable article says the photo was taken “in recent days” and includes some quotes from Ian Stirling suggesting that the death relates to low summer sea ice and makes no mention of the fact that condition this year were excellent from fall 2014 through at least early July 2015 (see sea ice map below).

I guess if sea ice won’t cooperate and cause polar bears to die this year, it’s OK to use last years’ deaths instead and imply this year was just as bad. Oh, and none of them mention that starvation is the leading cause of death for all polar bears and always has been.

UPDATE 9 September 2015:Mashable’s Andrew Freedman has amended his article:

UPDATED 9:10 a.m. ET: This story was updated to indicate that Micklen’s photo was taken in 2014, not 2015. As Ian Stirling told Mashable, 2015 was also a year that featured extensive sea ice loss in parts of the Svalbard archipelago.”

Freedman’s update, especially the second sentence, is clearly a response to this post. The implication is that any amount of late summer sea ice that’s below average around Svalbard is a threat to polar bear survival. However, there is no published scientific evidence to support that. The evidence that links sea ice levels with polar bear body condition for Svalbard area bears is for spring and early summer ice, and for denning success, fall ice arrival dates. Many Barents Sea bears never come to land, they travel with the sea ice as it expands and contracts, and females den on the ice.

As I tweeted last month, with two maps (3 August 2015)

“Svalbard #polarbears den in the EAST, critical #seaice levels in fall, vary by yr; lots of hunting habitat N & E”

Low ice levels in western Svalbard in late summer are of little consequence for the polar bear population there. Sea ice in the Barents Sea varies with the state of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) — even the US National Snow and Ice Data Center says so.  Those changes are not evidence of global warming. And I reiterate: starvation is the leading cause of death for polar bears.

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Polar bears will not be considered for severe CITES trade restrictions

The CITES working group meeting that just concluded in Tel Aviv, Israel a few days ago decided it would not recommend a vote to move polar bears from Appendix II, where they are now, to Appendix I, at the next general CITES meeting in 2016.

CITES 2015 meeting logo

It appears, however, that the US – which was behind failed petitions in the past (in 2010 and 2013) and voiced an official objection to this 2015 decision – is threatening to raise the issue again at the next all-nations meeting of CITES in September 2016 (probably with a petition at that meeting).

The USA is trying to bully Canada and the international community to adopt its own shaky interpretation of what constitutes good polar bear science and it looks like it may refuse to give up until it has won.

UPDATE: 7 September 2015,  CITES press release (pdf here, relevant passage marked by me):

“The Committee’s Review of Significant Trade concluded that the current level of trade in polar bears, amongst others, is not detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild.
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Pacific walruses hauled out at Point Lay Alaska again this year

A photo of a mass walrus haulout at Point Lay, Alaska taken a few days ago from a distance show thousands of animals. But no one’s counting because apparently, no one’s interested.

Walrus Pt Lay ADN story Aug 27 screencap
The picture on the left (above, courtesy Alaska Dispatch News) was taken 23 August by global warming activist photographer Gary Braasch, the day after a news report appeared about the US Fish & Wildlife Service and aviation authorities asking the media to approach USFWS about walrus photos and information that gave no hint that a large haulout of walruses was already in place (22 August 2015, “Federal agencies, Point Lay seek to minimize walrus disturbances” ):

“Federal agencies are stepping in to shield a North Slope village from the possibility of a deluge of international attention should a large walrus haulout develop nearby, as it has in years past — agreeing to act as an information clearinghouse on behalf of the Native Village of Point Lay.” [my bold]

Here is what the global warming activist site that published the pictures says about the haulout:

“Thousands of Pacific walrus are coming ashore near Point Lay, NW Arctic coast of Alaska. The huge sea mammals and young began coming up on this barrier island along Kasegaluk Lagoon about August 20, according to local natives. This is one of the earliest known summer haul outs of the walrus along the Alaska coast of the Chukchi Sea, according to wildlife biologists.” [my bold]

They say “thousands.” But the photos taken, reproduced in the Alaska Dispatch News story I read, were taken from a greater distance than the famous photo of ~35,000 animals released by government officials last year and looks like the total could be as large, or larger, than the 2014 haulout.

Said a Washington Post story (27 August 2015):

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed to the Post Wednesday evening that a mass of walruses had “hauled out,” or gathered on shore, near the remote community of Point Lay. The service did not estimate the number or provide images. But photojournalist Gary Braasch has posted dramatic photographs, taken during an Aug. 23 flyover, of what appear to be at least several thousand walruses crowding onto a barrier island.” [my bold]

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Polar bears fine now but give us more money: US Fish & Wildlife Management Plan subtext

Between-the-lines message of the recently released (and hyped to death) Conservation Management Plan for polar bears by the US Fish & Wildlife Service is that the bears really have nothing to worry about except human-caused global warming but it will cost tens of millions of dollars over the next five years to study and manage them.

polar_bear_usfws_no date_sm

So filled with double-speak, misinformation, and obfuscation [including the newly-invented term, “quasi-extinction floor”] that it’s no wonder some news outlets got it wrong (nowhere in this document does it say that polar bears might go extinct within ten years“). The document does, however, lay out the FWS budget for polar bears over the next five years – and it’s a real eye-opener.

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Polar Bear Science envy – polar bear biologist Andrew Derocher steals my blog name

I’ve got an imitator! It appears that a recently created website promoting polar bear biologist Andrew Derocher’s lab at the University of Alberta just happens to have the same title as my blog: Polar Bear Science.

Derocher lab website title page_July 5 2015

Oscar Wilde said:

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.”

Gosh, I’m seriously chuffed.

From the look of it, Derocher and his students would like to ride on the coattails of my online success and garner some Google-search views for themselves – check my blog stats, lower right: I’m coming up on half a million views in just under three years (since 26 July 2012).

Sadly for them, it does not appear to be working.
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