Posted onMay 13, 2023|Comments Off on 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.
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.
Posted onApril 15, 2023|Comments Off on 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).
Posted onMarch 20, 2023|Comments Off on 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.
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).
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).
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).
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. 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, https://doi.org/10.25923/0je1-te61
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. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00177-3
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.
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. https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.15572
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. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2022.e02319
Posted onFebruary 27, 2023|Comments Off on 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.
Posted onFebruary 23, 2023|Comments Off on 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).
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!
Posted onJanuary 18, 2023|Comments Off on No more WEF backroom deals for Sir David Attenborough?
On the first anniversary of Fallen Icon, I wonder if Sir David has made his last backroom deal? His years of relentless messaging anti-capitalistclimate doom seemed like a concerted plan to build a legacy based on something other than smooth talking: I am convinced Attenborough saw the shocking film footage of walrus falling to their deaths presented in the Netflix/WWF extravaganza Our Planet as the leverage he needed to kick-start an aggressive campaign to promote action on climate change and curb capitalism. But it all collapsed at COP26 in 2021 with his failure to make any difference at all.
Posted onJanuary 4, 2023|Comments Off on Inuit in Arctic Canada now observing higher numbers of polar bears, says government report
A 2021 publication by the government of Canada released last month called Species at Riskin Nunavut says the region is “now observing higher numbers of polar bears“, and that management goals are “more focused on maintaining or reducing numbers in communities and in sensitive areas (i.e. bird colonies)“. Local Inuit are said to be “concerned about the increasing number of encounters and property damages” caused by polar bears.
Polar bears in Canada are considered a species of ‘special concern’ (COSEWIC 2018), not threatened as they are in the USA. See the map of Nunavut below.
Posted onJanuary 3, 2023|Comments Off on Where were the starving W. Hudson Bay polar bears in 2020 if the population had declined by 2021?
Polar bears are supposed to starve before they die, the experts said. They said only a few years ago that dead or emaciated individuals onshore were evidence that many polar bears would soon be dying of starvation out on the sea ice. So, if the Western Hudson Bay (WH) subpopulation had indeed dropped by 27% by late summer 2021 as researchers claimed, where are all the photos of starving bears in the fall of 2020, the year before the count? The photo below of a thin female and cub was taken in late fall of 2021 (the year of the count) by a stationary web cam. In other words, some bears came off the ice without an optimal amount of fat because of poor hunting conditions over the winter but they were still alive. We know that 2020 had the shortest ice-free season in at least 20 years (and no similar images were captured), so bears went into the winter of 2020/2021 in good condition. Ditto for 2017-2019. In contrast to 2021, in 2016 (the year of the previous survey that also indicated a declining population size), bears reportedly came off the ice in good condition.
All I’ve seen are photos of fat bears and fat cubs, even a triplet litter in fall 2020. The shore of WH near Churchill should have been abounding with starving bears in 2020 (and in 2015), if the experts were right about starving bears preceding a population decline. More importantly, where are the studies on food-deprived bears onshore, as were done in the 1980s when WH bears were emaciated and cub survival poor (e.g. Ramsay et al. 1988)? WH bears are being used exclusively to model an implausibly pessimistic future for polar bears across the entire Arctic (Molnar et al. 2010; 2020), which means lack of good science for WH polar bears has big consequences. Covid restrictions in two of those ten years don’t excuse lack of study on this phenomenon.
In fact, the summer sea ice trend has been pretty much flat since 2007, with ice covering about 42% less area than it had done in 1979, yet polar bears in many regions are doing better now than they were in 2005, especially in Davis Strait, the Barents and Chukchi Seas and the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.
Posted onSeptember 3, 2022|Comments Off on Fact check: Polar bears breaking through thin ice is not evidence of climate change, it’s a drone chase
This morning, self-professed ‘climate campaigner’ Mike Hudema posted a short video of two polar bears seemingly struggling to survive as they repeatedly break through newly-formed ice, with the message “Polar bears are up against a huge problem. They are losing their habitat. As the Arctic becomes increasingly warm & sea ice disappears its harder to find a mate & food.”
This was clearly designed to elicit an emotional response from viewers but it’s every bit as manipulative and false as the video of the emaciated polar bear shamelessly promoted by National Geographic as ‘what climate change looks like’, which I describe in detail in my new book, Fallen Icon(Crockford 2022a).
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