Posted onOctober 24, 2017|Comments Off on Death of the polar bear as climate change icon validates Mitch Taylor’s skepticism
You could call it karma — the death of the polar bear icon after the shameful hubris of polar bear experts back in 2009.
That year, the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group booted 20-year member Mitch Taylor out of their organization, explaining that his skeptical views on human-caused global warming were “extremely unhelpful” to their polar bear conservation agenda.
It’s now clear that Mitch Taylor was right to be skeptical of sea ice models based on pessimistic climate change assumptions; he was also right to be more optimistic than his PBSG colleagues about the ability of polar bears to adapt to changing sea ice conditions (Taylor and Dowsley 2008), since the bears have turned out to be more resilient than even he expected.
Fat polar bears — not starving ones — dominate photos taken in recent years. The total failure of polar bear numbers to crash as predicted in response to the abrupt decline in summer sea ice in 2007 and persistent low summer sea ice levels since then (Crockford 2017), is vindication for Mitch Taylor. It’s time someone said so.
Posted onOctober 4, 2017|Comments Off on Breaking: Pacific walrus is not threatened with extinction says US Fish & Wildlife
“U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials said they cannot determine with certainty that walruses are likely to become endangered “in the foreseeable future,” which the agency defines as the year 2060.”
“The agency said in 2011 that walruses deserve the additional protection of being declared threatened, but delayed a listing because other species were a higher priority.
The agency revised the decision based on new information, said Patrick Lemons, the agency’s marine mammals management chief.
“Walrus demonstrated much more ability to change their behaviours than previously thought,” Lemons said. Their ability to rest on shorelines before swimming to foraging areas makes the threat of less sea ice uncertain, he added.”
Posted onOctober 1, 2017|Comments Off on Fat healthy polar bear update: hundreds of not-starving bears attracted to dead whale
Are the hundreds of polar bears spending the summer on Wrangel Island in the Chukchi Sea starving and desperate for any scrap of food? Hardly! Photos taken by Russian tourists on a cruise ship (19 September 2017) show a huge number of already-fat, healthy bears converging on a dead bowhead whale washed up on a beach. Most of these bears would have been without food since at least early August, when the last sea ice disappeared around the island, and will return to the ice by November.
The extraordinary sight was witnessed by tourists on an Arctic cruise aboard the Finnish-built MV Akademik Shokalskiy.
A source at Wrangel Island Nature Reserve said: “There were at least 230 polar bears, including single males, single females, mothers with cubs and even two mothers with four cubs each.”
Experts called the sight of so many polar bears together “unique”.
The huge number could in fact amount to as much one per cent of the entire world’s population of the creatures.
Tourists initially thought the bears were a flock of sheep after viewing them from a distance, The Siberian Times reports.
But as the boat drew closer, the lucky holidaymakers realised what they were witnessing.
Fat cubs of the year are seen in the photo below, from the Siberian Timesstory:
A self-proclaimed science-based news site (LiveScience,29 September) that picked up the story of this unique event had the temerity to suggest the bears might have been “hungrier than usual” due to global warming.
It deliberately conflates predictions of future starving bears due to low sea ice levels with this observation of many obviously not-starving bears checking out an attractive food source (my bold):
“It’s unclear, however, whether climate change had made these particular bears hungrier than usual. The frequency of starving polar bears is expected to increase as the climate warms and sea ice declines — not just because of climate change directly, but because ice loss is taking away seals, their main food source, Steven Amstrup, chief scientist at Polar Bears International, a nonprofit research organization dedicated to studying polar bears, told Live Science in 2015.”
Except that there is no evidence that ice loss is “taking seals away” — certainly not in the Chukchi Sea. Chukchi Sea seals have been found to be doing better with less ice than they were when there was more ice in the 1980s.
More below, including the location of Wrangel Island and sea ice maps.
UPDATE 2 October 2017: Sea ice in the Chukchi Sea has been lower this summer than over the last few years but the polar bears spending the ice-free season on Wrangel Island are still in good to excellent condition:
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