Category Archives: Conservation Status

17 years of near-zero trend in September sea ice demolishes claim that more CO2 means less sea ice

If the hottest year ever can’t precipitate ‘ice-free’ conditions in September, what’s it going to take? Arctic sea ice failed to nose-dive again this year, undoubtedly disappointing expects who have been anticipating a ‘death-spiral’ decline for ages. Arctic sea ice hit its seasonal low sometime around mid-September this year and although the precise value hasn’t been published, the average September ice coverage will likely be about 4.2 mkm2 once it gets announced in early October.

This means we have now had 17 years of a near-zero trend for September sea ice, extending the nearly-flat trend NSIDC sea ice experts acknowledged four years ago. This surely busts a huge hole in the prevailing concept that more atmospheric CO2 causes less summer sea ice. Note that CO2 levels measured in August 2023 were 419.7 parts per million (ppm), compared to 382.2 in August 2007, a rise of 37.5ppm with no corresponding decline in summer sea ice (and vs. 314.2 ppm in 1960). Measured in metric tons, CO2 emissions due to fossil fuels rose from 31.1 billion in 2007 to 37.1 billion in 2021 (last year of data), again with no corresponding decline in summer sea ice.

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W. Hudson Bay polar bear numbers declined 27% in 2021 but not because of missing ice: secret paper

As will become apparent tomorrow, Western Hudson Bay polar bear numbers apparently declined 27% between 2017 and 2021 but not because of sea ice loss. This fact, gleaned from a secret government report leaked to the media, emerged just before Christmas last year and spread around the world. I commented on it here at the time.

It will also be apparent tomorrow why that government report is still unavailable. Thursdays are when the big two science magazines publish their papers, which means associated news stores promoting preferred narratives are embargoed until then. Stay tuned.

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Climate activists are silent on polar bears because their doom-mongering blew up in their faces

A Grist article last week pandered to activist polar bear specialists over their failed climate change agenda as it tried to minimize why the climate movement doesn’t talk about polar bears anymore. Apparently, the Arctic icon has “largely fallen out of fashion” through “overexposure” resulting in polar bear images invoking “cynicism and fatigue.” But that isn’t really true, is it?

While there is an admission that the over-hyped lies about starving bears promoted by National Geographic in 2017 and 2018 were a factor, there is no mention in the article of the well-known, documented evidence of scientists’ own failed assumptions that polar bears require summer sea ice for survival have had any impact on public opinion (Amstrup et al. 2007; Crockford 2015, 2019, 2022, 2023; Lippold et al. 2019; Rode et al. 2021).

Thriving populations in the Chukchi Sea and elsewhere amid low summer ice levels have busted the myth that polar bears need ice year-round.

Andrew Derocher was also allowed to repeat, unchallenged, the ridiculous narrative he and his activist supporters have peddled before, that insists the polar bear had become a climate change icon by accident rather than design, a lie I addressed in detail last year. Some excerpts from that 2022 post are copied below.

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More Barents Sea polar bear habitat at mid-July 2023 than in 2012 despite more atmospheric CO2

Despite more CO2 in the atmosphere (424 vs. 392, for June), there was more sea ice cover in the Barents Sea at mid-July this year than there was in 2012.

This region has seen about 6 times the amount of summer sea ice loss as any other region of the Arctic (Regehr et al. 2016): Barents Sea bears now have a longer ice-free season than the famous Western Hudson Bay bears that we hear so much about.

Yet contrary to predictions, which insisted that protracted poor ice conditions in summer would inevitably result in catastrophic rates of starvation and death (Amstrup et al. 2007; Crockford 2017, 2019), polar bears in the Svalbard region have so far not had any documented any harm to their health or population size. In fact, field data show bears in Svalbard are in better condition than they were in the late 1990s (Lippold et al. 2019), almost certainly due to the documented increase in primary productivity that has resulted from longer ice-free summers since 2003 (Frey et al. 2022; Crockford 2023).

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New evidence that polar bears survived 1,600 years of ice-free summers in the early Holocene

New evidence indicates that Arctic areas with the thickest ice today probably melted out every year during the summer for about 1,600 years during the early Holocene (ca. 11.3-9.7k years ago), making the Arctic virtually ice-free. As I argue in my new book, this means that polar bears and other Arctic species are capable of surviving extended periods with ice-free summers: otherwise, they would not be alive today.

Money quote: Here we show marine proxy evidence for the disappearance of perennial sea-ice in the southern Lincoln Sea during the Early Holocene, which suggests a widespread transition to seasonal sea-ice in the Arctic Ocean. [Detlef et al. 2023: Abstract]

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Polar bears in W. Hudson Bay are in good shape, says researcher. So are numbers really falling?

We’ve got ourselves another round of field data–i.e., facts–not fitting the polar-bears-are-starving-to-death narrative. According to polar bear specialist Andrew Derocher, Western Hudson Bay polar bears his team saw in April while installing collars and ear tags were in good shape this year, as he said they were last year. There was no spring field work in 2021 and 2020 but in 2019, he also said the bears he saw were in good condition.

Andrew Derocher 4 May 2023, reporting on Western Hudson Bay field work

Two years in a row of bears in good condition in spring–with no mention of starving bears–does not fit the picture of a population supposedly declining due to starvation. The most recent population count for WH, which garnered wide-spread media attention just before Christmas last year, claims that a 27% decline in numbers took place between 2017 and the fall of 2021 even though sea ice conditions had been good during those five years as well. It’s a perplexing situation. Makes me really wonder what that survey report actually says, but it still hasn’t been released, five months after the results made news around the world.

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Russian walrus and polar bears continue to thrive US researchers tell the Washington Post

Interviews with US researchers for a piece in the Washington Post earlier today contain revelations that walrus and polar bear populations in the Russian Far East continue to thrive, despite insisting that polar bears face a dire future without human interference.

This article on collateral damage of Russia’s war with Ukraine comes with this stunning sub-headline:

The invasion [of Ukraine] is first and foremost a human tragedy, but it is also dire for wildlife, stalling scientific work on polar bears and other wildlife threatened with extinction.

The article prominently features a researcher working on Chukchi sea polar bears, which are currently thriving but still tagged with a status of “threatened” based entirely on computer models that predict a dire outcome 30 years from now. The writer also interviewed a scientist working on Pacific walrus, which likely number more than 200,000 animals and are not considered “threatened,” a point oddly not mentioned by the author or the researcher interviewed (Crockford 2023; MacCracken et al. 2017; Fischbach et al. 2022; USFWS 2017a,b).

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15 years after ESA listing as ‘threatened’ due to sea ice loss polar bears are abundant & thriving

Experts who used the American Endangered Species Act (ESA) to list polar bears as ‘threatened’ in May 2008 were mistaken: sea ice authorities got their predictions wrong about future ice extent and polar bear specialists erroneously declared that two-thirds of polar bears would disappear if summer sea ice declines continued unabated.

By 2007, there was even less summer sea ice than computer models of the day had predicted (Stroeve et al. 2007, see red line on graph below) and in 2012, it dropped to just above 3 mkm2.

Simplified Arctic sea ice predictions vs. observations up to 2007 by Stroeve et al. 2007 (courtesy Wikimedia). Sea ice hit an even lower extent in 2012 and all years since then have been below these predicted levels.

Updated sea ice predictions published in 2014 by the Stroeve team (see below) went to the other extreme, using totally implausible RCP 8.5 scenarios to predict a virtually ice-free Arctic (< 1 mkm2 ice extent) before 2040, which seem just as likely to be just as wrong as their 2007 attempt (Hausfather and Peters 2020; Pielke and Ritchie 2021; Stroeve et al. 2007, 2014; Swart et al. 2015).

From Stoeve et al. 2014, courtesy NSIDC January 2015.

In fact, for 12 years out of the last 15, summer ice extent has been below 5.0 mkm2 (often well below), which polar bear experts had not anticipated would happen until at least 2050 (Amstrup et al. 2006).

In 2012, NOAA sea ice experts summarized this sea ice loss as “reduced by nearly 50%” since 1979:

Despite this dramatic decline in sea ice, polar bears are still abundant and thriving because polar bear specialists got it wrong about the bears’ need for this habitat in summer (Crockford 2017, 2019; Crockford and Geist 2018). Polar bear turned out to be more flexible and resilient than predicted and many subpopulations are better off than before. Davis Strait and Chukchi Sea bears are doing very well: Barents Sea bears in particular are thriving despite by far the most sea ice loss of any Arctic region (e.g. Conn et al. 2021; Frey et al. 2022; Haavik 2022; Lippold et al. 2019; Peacock et al. 2013; Regehr et al. 2018; Rode et al. 2014, 2018, 2021, 2022).

This was not what had been predicted when the bears were listed as ‘threatened’ in 2008.

Conclusion: Despite the Arctic warming four times as fast as the rest of the world with rising CO2 levels and almost 50% less summer ice than there was in 1979, polar bears are no closer to extinction than they were 15 years ago, according to the results of field studies. There is no existential emergency for polar bears or any other Arctic sea mammals due to declining summer sea ice, despite continued messages of doom from remorseless experts.


Amstrup, S.C., Marcot, B.G. & Douglas, D.C. 2007. Forecasting the rangewide status of polar bears at selected times in the 21st century. US Geological Survey. Reston, VA. Pdf here

Conn, P.B., Chernook, V.I., Moreland, E.E., et al. 2021. Aerial survey estimates of polar bears and their tracks in the Chukchi Sea. PLoS ONE 16(5): e0251130.

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.

Crockford, S.J. 2019. The Polar Bear Catastrophe That Never Happened. Global Warming Policy Foundation, London. Available in paperback and ebook formats.

Crockford, S.J. and Geist, V. 2018. Conservation Fiasco. Range Magazine, Winter 2017/2018, pg. 26-27. Pdf here.

Frey, K.E., Comiso, J.C., Cooper, L.W., et al. 2022. Arctic Ocean primary productivity: the response of marine algae to climate warming and sea ice decline. 2022 NOAA Arctic Report Card,

Haavik, E. 2022. ‘Svalbard’s polar bears persist as sea ice melts — but not forever. The World, 21 July.

Hausfather, Z. and Peters, G.P. 2020. Emissions – the ‘business as usual’ story is misleading [“Stop using the worst-case scenario for climate warming as the most likely outcome — more-realistic baselines make for better policy”]. Nature 577: 618-620.

Lippold, A., Bourgeon, S., Aars, J., et al. 2019. Temporal trends of persistent organic pollutants in Barents Sea polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in relation to changes in feeding habits and body condition. Environmental Science and Technology 53(2):984-995.

Pielke, R., and Ritchie, J. 2021. How climate scenarios lost touch with reality. Issues in Science and Technology 37(4): 74-83.

Pielke Jr, R., and Ritchie, J. 2021. Distorting the view of our climate future: The misuse and abuse of climate pathways and scenarios. Energy Research & Social Science72: 101890.

Regehr, E.V., Laidre, K.L, Akçakaya, H.R., Amstrup, S.C., Atwood, T.C., Lunn, N.J., Obbard, M., Stern, H., Thiemann, G.W., & Wiig, Ø. 2016. Conservation status of polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in relation to projected sea-ice declines. Biology Letters 12: 20160556. Supplementary data here.

Rode, K.D., Regehr, E.V., Douglas, D., et al. 2014. Variation in the response of an Arctic top predator experiencing habitat loss: feeding and reproductive ecology of two polar bear populations. Global Change Biology 20(1):76-88.

Rode, K.D., Olson, J., Eggett, D., et al. 2018. Den phenology and reproductive success of polar bears in a changing climate. Journal of Mammalogy 99(1):16-26. here.

Rode, K. D., Regehr, E.V., Bromaghin, J. F., et al. 2021. Seal body condition and atmospheric circulation patterns influence polar bear body condition, recruitment, and feeding ecology in the Chukchi Sea. Global Change Biology 27:2684–2701.

Rode, K.D., Douglas, D.C., Atwood, T.C., et al. 2022. Observed and forecasted changes in land use by polar bears in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, 1985-2040. Global Ecology and Conservation 40: e02319.

Stroeve, J., Holland, M.M., Meier, W., Scambos, T. and Serreze, M. 2007. Arctic sea ice decline: Faster than forecast. Geophysical Research Letters 34:L09501.

Stroeve, J.C., Markus, T., Boisert, L., et al. 2014. Changes in Arctic melt season and implications for sea ice loss. Geophysical Research Letters 10.1002/2013GL058951.

Swart, N.C., Fyfe, J.C., Hawkins, E. et al. 2015. Influence of internal variability on Arctic sea ice trends. Nature Climate Change 5:86-89.

Polar Wildlife Report reveals Arctic and Antarctic animals were thriving in 2022

The Polar Wildlife Report is a peer reviewed summary of the most recent information on polar animals, relative to historical records, based on a review of 2022 scientific literature and media reports. It is intended for a wide audience, including scientists, teachers, students, decision-makers and the general public interested in animals that live in Arctic and Antarctic habitats, including polar bears, killer whales, krill, and penguins.

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Published field study observations – not population size – prove polar bears are thriving

There is irrefutable evidence from Barents and Chukchi Sea subpopulations, among others, that polar bears are fat and reproducing well despite marked declines in summer sea ice over the last two decades. These indicators of physical and reproductive health, in any species, are signs of thriving populations. However, these facts negate the premise that polar bears require abundant summer sea ice to flourish, and that creates a problem for polar bear specialists who continue to make that claim (Amstrup et al. 2007; Crockford 2017, 2019).

Enormously fat Chukchi Sea polar bear, USFWS.

In other words, the assessment that polar bears are currently thriving is not based solely on estimates of a slight increase in global population size but on published data gathered from field studies on the bears’ physical and reproductive health.

Oddly, biologists repeatedly turn to data from Western Hudson Bay to drive home to the public their preferred message that polar bear health and abundance are being negatively affected by recent summer sea ice declines. However, they fail to mention that robust field data from many other regions, including the Barents and Chukchi Seas, support the opposite conclusion. Moreover, wherever possible, they mumble under their breath (or leave out entirely) the fact that poor ice conditions could not be blamed for a 27% decline in polar bear numbers in Western Hudson Bay since 2016 — because their own data showed sea ice conditions had been strong!

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