Only a 70% chance that polar bear numbers will decline by 30% by 2050

Despite the stupendously unwarranted hype being generated out of the recent release of the 2015 update to the IUCN Red List status assessment for polar bears, in fact the prognosis is better than it has been for years.

That’s because polar bear experts have been forced by the IUCN standards committee to acknowledge the great deal of uncertainty in their predictive models. They now admit there is only a 70% chance that number will decline by 30% over the next 35 years: only slightly higher than a 50:50 chance.

That means there is a 30% chance that the numbers WILL NOT decline by 30% over the next 35 years. See my detailed analysis, where you will find copies of the report and links to the online IUCN Red List assessment.

That has not stopped all major news outlets from treating this report as a new pronouncement of gloom:

CBC, Canada: (“Polar bear numbers to fall as Arctic ice shrinks: study
Population will decline by more than 30% over next 35 to 40 years, experts say”). Except the first sentence admits this is merely “likely”, not “will”:

“Polar bear populations are likely to fall by more than 30 per cent by around mid-century as global warming thaws Arctic sea ice, experts said on Thursday in the most detailed review of the predators to date.”

Mirror UK: “Polar bears facing extinction as numbers ‘to fall by a third over next 40 years’: There is now a high probability numbers of the species will decline by more than 30%, experts claim”

Express UK: “Nearly 8,000 polar bears to ‘DIE OUT’ as vulnerable giants hurtle towards ‘obliteration’: POLAR bears face a “decimation” in the next couple of decades with more than 30 per cent in population set for complete wipe-out in the most terrifying warning yet.”

The Guardian UK: ” Climate change is ‘single biggest threat’ to polar bear survival: ‘High probability’ of a 30% decline in polar bear numbers by 2050 due to retreating sea ice, IUCN study finds”

[Except, as I noted in my previous post, the IUCN report did not evaluate extinction risk].


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