Category Archives: science

Emperor penguin ESA listing in 2022 used Antarctic sea ice models known to be flawed

While Arctic sea ice has declined remarkably since 1979, Antarctic ice has been unexpectedly stable. Experts acknowledge that existing climate models–which assume that CO2 emissions drive global sea ice loss–had predicted Antarctic sea ice would have declined over the last several decades–and would decline even more in the future. They’ve finally admitted they were wrong.

John Turner (British Antarctic Survey) and Josifino Comiso (NASA) in a NATURE paper in 2017:

Current climate models struggle to simulate the seasonal and regional variability seen in Antarctic sea ice.

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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.

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Polar bear specialist calls Hudson Bay freeze-up ‘late’ yet bears were moving offshore 2 weeks ago

Predictably, polar bear specialist Andrew Derocher has finally posted a tracking map of the Western Hudson Bay bears his team has fitted with collars and eartags–two weeks after bears were released from Churchill’s polar bear jail, which is the local signal that there is enough sea ice for bears to leave shore. As I reported two weeks ago, release of jailed bears happened this year on 10 November. And as I predicted in that post, by waiting so long after that event to post his map, Derocher can make it seem to his naive followers on Twitter that the bears are just starting to leave now (the last map he posted was on 11 November, when none of his bears had moved). He reinforces this by calling WH freeze-up “late”, when by all objective measures (including local informants reporting bears on the ice) it was as early as it had been in the 1980s (Castro de la Guardia et al. 2017).

Recall that fall is the second-most important feeding season for polar bears, due to the fact that seals are strongly attracted to newly-forming sea ice. It’s their chance to regain some or all of the weight lost over the summer, before the long winter fast begins (while bears indeed hunt when they can, they are not often successful during the depths of the Arctic winter: most bears are at their lowest weight by March).

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Allow children to learn about the Arctic without terrifying them with fantasies of climate catastrophe

This is a reminder that I have written three Arctic animal picture books, a polar bear ecology reference book, an Arctic ecology teaching guide (free) & a polar bear attack thriller suitable for teens, all of which let kids be kids.

In contrast to a book reviewer at the New York Times (30 October 2020), see image above:

Two new picture books and a novel for young readers place children at the center of climate calamity. Fittingly, they are stories of homes under threat; home, after all, is the thing climate change stalks, be it a house, a community or a livable planet. Each book offers its own lessons on how to cope with life under the monster we’ve created. The novel even shows how kids can help slay it.

No child needs this. Children need to be allowed to learn without being used as pawns in an adult political battle. Activist authors suggesting that climate change is a predator waiting to ‘stalk’ children’s homes and communities through floods and wildfires is reprehensible, not only because it isn’t true. Kids don’t need a ‘mini-primer on climate change’. Adults should fight their own battles and leave the kids alone. List of my books and links below and in the sidebar.

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Polar bear no closer to extinction than it was 18 years ago as Arctic sea ice resists ‘tipping point’

All predictions of disaster aside, in fact the polar bear is no closer to extinction than it was in 2005 as Arctic sea ice again steadfastly resists slipping past a catastrophic ‘tipping point’ — or the ‘death spiral’, as some chicken-littles continue to call it.

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.

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Where were you in ’72? On this day 50 years ago I began my Zoology degree

A CBC News report last week on the 1972 historic Canada/USSR hockey series made me think about where I was in early September that year: starting my degree in Zoology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

The Stanley Park Zoo in Vancouver housed a polar bear exhibit consisting of four, formerly ‘orphaned’ cubs from Churchill. The zoo was located near the West Vancouver bus exchange that I went through every day on my way home from university. I visited the zoo often just to watch the bears.
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Watch me talk polar bears with Tom Nelson

Recorded 12 August 2022, here’s the full podcast (his ‘#5’), some short snippets of this can be found on Tom’s Twitter feed and a list of his podcasts is here (you may notice I’ve let my curls come out to play!).

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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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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Ancient polar bear remains explained by sea ice and polynyas: my peer-reviewed paper

My open-access, peer-reviewed paper on the ecology of ancient polar bears in relation to sea ice has just been published in Open Quaternary. It’s called ‘Polar Bear Fossil and Archaeological Records from the Pleistocene and Holocene in Relation to Sea Ice Extent and Open Water Polynyas’.

A unique compilation of more than 104 polar bear skeletal records from the Holocene and late Pleistocene shows that most ancient remains are associated with existing or ancient open water polynyas or the expansion of sea ice during past cold periods. This big-picture analysis indicates that as they do today, polar bears were most commonly found near polynyas throughout their known historical past because of their need for ice-edge habitats.

Read my longer summary below and download the paper here. This is a much-updated and expanded analysis based on an informal study I did in 2012.

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