Money quote from Bjorn Lomborg’s response to being ‘fact-checked’ on polar bear numbers, Wall Street Journal, 26 January 2023:
“It does more good for polar bears, and the rest of us, if those trying to help them use accurate facts.”
Relying on the data I referenced used to be uncontroversial. When a CNN science journalist did an investigation similar to AFP’s in 2008, he spoke to numerous scientists and they agreed “that polar bear populations have, in all likelihood, increased in the past several decades.” When polar bears in 2008 were listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, the decision noted that the population “has grown from a low of about 12,000 in the late 1960’s to a current worldwide estimate of 20,000-25,000.” The data here haven’t changed, only the media’s willingness to disregard annoying facts.
The result is that the public is denied access to accurate data and open debate about these very important topics. Ridiculous points on one side are left standing while so-called fact-checking censors inconvenient truths. If we’re to make good climate policy, voters need a full picture of the facts. Lomborg 2023, backup link
I would add this fact: in 1982, polar bears were listed by the IUCN as ‘vulnerable’ but by 1996, that had changed to ‘lower risk/conservation dependent’–now called ‘least concern‘ (see screencap below) because population numbers had rebounded after more than 20 years of international protection from over-hunting. The reversion to ‘vulnerable’ in 2006 was based entirely on predictions that population numbers would decline in the future due to see ice loss, which so far has not happened (Crockford 2017, 2019; Crockford and Geist 2018).
.Crockford, S.J. 2017. Testing the hypothesis that routine sea ice coverage of 3-5 mkm2 results in a greater than 30% decline in population size of polar bears (Ursus maritimus). PeerJ Preprints 19 January 2017. Doi: 10.7287/peerj.preprints.2737v1 Open access. https://peerj.com/preprints/2737/
Crockford, S.J. and Geist, V. 2018. Conservation Fiasco. Range Magazine, Winter 2017/2018, pg. 26-27. Pdf here.