Category Archives: Advocacy

Research misconduct in fish ecology and what it means for those who dare to challenge experts

This has nothing to do with polar bears but everything to do with the scientific shenanigans that blight virtually all the fields that purport to support the human-caused climate change rhetoric, including polar bear research. The parallels of this example (published in Science Magazine yesterday) with my experience challenging the polar bear cabal is obvious, as it is with Dr. Peter Ridd’s battles with colleagues over the state of Great Barrier Reef corals, recently shown to be in spectacularly good condition.

Dr. Roger Pielke Jr., who’s had more than his fair share of trouble challenging climate change rhetoric, tweeted about this development yesterday but today he’s published a comprehensive essay explaining the whole sordid story, called ‘Fish and Foul: Three lessons from a massive research misconduct case in marine science‘. It’s well worth a read all the way through but I’ve provided a few excerpts below.

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Most Hudson Bay polar bears are still offshore, excellent ice conditions for late July

With only a few days until the end of July, most Western Hudson Bay polar bears are still on a thick band of thick first year ice that remains close to shore. The few bears that have come off the ice appear to be nice and fat, indicating they had good spring feeding conditions.

Untagged bear with cub, near Churchill River, 18 July 2022

We’ll have to wait a few more weeks to see if this year shapes up as it did in 2020, when the last of bears didn’t come ashore until the third week of August, despite there being very little visible ice. Last year, most of the bears were ashore by the end of July.

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New paper polar bears attracted to garbage dumps blames lack of sea ice without any evidence

A paper published yesterday discusses polar bears that get into human garbage and cause other problems due to community attractants. Most of the incidents recounted and the issues they’ve raised have been reported by the media and are ones I’ve discussed here over the last few years in detail, including here and here, as well as in my recent book (Crockford 2019).

Churchill dump 2003. Dan Guravich photo, Polar Bears International handout.

All you need to know about the motivation behind the paper comes from the authors’ acknowledgement:

This paper developed from a meeting in Churchill, Manitoba, in autumn 2019 where the issue of dump use by polar bears arose. We thank Dan Cox [a photographer for PBI] for suggesting exploration of this issue and Polar Bears International for arranging this meeting.

So, six months or so after my book came out in March 2019, in which these issues were discussed in detail, polar bear experts decided it was time to write a paper on the topic. The open access paper, by Tom Smith and colleagues (Smith et al. 2022), is accompanied by an online essay published the same day by the lead author and picked up at least one cheer-leading media outlet via Reuters. See what you think.

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Arctic sea ice still quite abundant for early summer

Despite rhetoric to the contrary, there is still plenty of sea ice over Arctic regions this summer, supplying feeding platforms for polar bears, ice-dependent seals, and walrus cows nursing their young calves. Forget about whether the numbers are below or above some short-term average, there is no catastrophe in the making for marine mammals in the Arctic at this time.

Remember, by early summer, young seals have left the surface of the ice and are in the water feeding; predator-savvy adults and subadults are hauled out on broken chunks of ice moulting their hair-coat. They may look like sitting ducks but polar bears have a hard time catching them because the seals are vigilant and have many escape routes available (due to all the open water). Most polar bears in Hudson Bay are still on the ice (you’ll see why below): the live cams near Churchill set up to watch polar bears are presently showing images of ravens with sea ice in the background, not bears.

This post is predominantly sea ice charts for mid-July, what we in the science field call observational evidence, aka ‘facts’. Keep in mind that satellites used to produce these images have an especially hard time distinguishing ice topped with melt water from open water, which means much more ice useful to these marine mammals is almost certainly present than is shown in the charts (as much as 20% more in some regions).

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Arctic sea ice is constantly changing which means polar bears must be flexible in their requirements

In honour of upcoming ‘Arctic Sea Ice Day’ (15 July), I revisit my 2015 essay on sea ice stability and polar bears, called The Arctic Fallacy. It challenges the flawed and out-dated ecological concept that under natural conditions, sea ice provides a stable and predictable habitat for polar bears, walrus and seals. The wide-spread adoption of this fallacy has allowed the present-day doom and gloom attitude of most Arctic specialists to develop.

[Polar Bears International have declared July 15 to be ‘Arctic Sea Ice Day’ to further its propaganda efforts to ‘save our sea ice’, which they claim is disappearing at an alarming rate due to global warming.]

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Claim: data exists showing polar bear body condition improves over summer on sea ice

Do polar bears increase their body condition if they stay on the sea ice over the summer? Do they continue to hunt successfully from broken ice in July and early August in areas like Hudson Bay where ice eventually melts out completely? There seems to be an assumption that they do but one polar bear specialists repeatedly claims there is data showing this is the case.

A polar bear breaks through thin Actic Ocean ice Aug. 23, 2009.

Anyone saying sea ice at this time of year doesn’t affect polar bears is ignoring research showing their body condition continues to increase through summer if they’re out on the ice.” [Andrew Derocher 28 June 2022]

I would seriously like to know which paper or papers this data appears in but of course, he doesn’t provide that information. Instead, it’s ‘trust me, I’m the expert’.

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Svalbard polar bear data for spring 2022, low June ice unlikely to affect health or survival

Sea ice around Svalbard, Norway has receded dramatically over the last few weeks and is now at levels similar to 2018 and 2006. But the data are in for the 2022 spring season and they show the bears are still thriving.

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New polar bear subpopulation update: more background facts and details from the paper

Here are the facts you need to put into context the claim that the estimated 234 polar bears recently discovered in SE Greenland have been living ‘without sea ice‘.

The unique genetic isolation of this new subpopulation makes it one of the most interesting discoveries about polar bears we’ve seen in decades, yet the media were primed by a press release loaded with dooms-day climate rhetoric to focus exclusively on the model-predicted precarious future of the species, like this gem from the lead author:

“In a sense, these bears provide a glimpse into how Greenland’s bears may fare under future climate scenarios,” Laidre said. “The sea ice conditions in Southeast Greenland today resemble what’s predicted for Northeast Greenland by late this century.”

As a consequence, the media have been trying to out-do each other with the most over-the-top climate catastrophe headlines, see here and here. The authors of paper itself and a companion piece do the same: instead of focusing on the exciting scientific implications of the genetically isolated population they discovered, they promote the preferred narrative that polar bears have a bleak future and lecture the public (yet again) about the need for limiting CO2 emissions (Laidre et al. 2022; Peacock 2022).

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My scientific blog posts contributed to the failed Antarctic Treaty bid to protect Emperor penguins

There is actual evidence that two of my fully-referenced blog posts caused some Antarctic Treaty delegates to reject a bid for special protected status for Emperor penguins. Activist heads have exploded.

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China ruins Antarctic Treaty attempt to enact special protection status for Emperor penguins

China has thwarted an attempt by members of the Antarctic Treaty organization to enact special protection status for the Emperor penguin, which would have generated a ‘Species Action Plan’. Apparently, such a proposal required a consensus of all parties and China wouldn’t go along.

But as we know from past actions by the IUCN Polar Bear Specialists Group against former member Mitch Taylor, such impediments are easily sidestepped when a decision requiring consensus doesn’t go your way.

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