Category Archives: Sea ice habitat

“10k dead penguin chicks” more animal tragedy porn used to advance global warming agenda

Like the 2017 video of the National Geographic starving polar bear, the 2022 deaths of emperor penguin deaths promoted last week is emotional blackmail. Both are examples of preposterous fear-mongering pushed by activist scientists and the media for political purposes. Don’t fall for it.

Despite the hype last week over the newly published paper by Peter Fretwell and colleagues, there is no plausible ecological rationale for proposing that that a single season’s reproductive failure in four small colonies of emperor penguin (Aptenodytes fosteri), due to La Nina conditions — phenomena unrelated to carbon dioxide emissions — are signs of a future “quasi-extinction” of the species, as proposed in the BAS video here. None of the estimated 282,150 breeding pairs of adult emperors were lost in 2022 off the Antarctic Peninsula and chicks born in several dozen other emperor colonies around the Antarctic continent survived, which means this was a tiny bump in the road rather than a catastrophe for the species.

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Activists try to reboot Pacific walrus as climate change icons just as numbers reach a new high

Activists have again resorted to using documentary film to promote Pacific walrus haulout deaths as contrived “proof” of gruesome climate change impacts even as evidence emerges that walrus numbers are higher than at any other time since the late 1970s. Oops! Busted by facts yet again!

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Conservation officers misleading the public about polar bear problems in Churchill

Canadian government-funded media outlet CBC ran a story this morning about problem polar bears in the town of Churchill, Manitoba, the self-described “Polar Bear Capital of the World” that contains some very misleading statements from Manitoba Conservation officers.

Breakup of sea ice on Hudson Bay was earlier this year than it has been in more than a decade (17 June) and some people are trying to hype the significance of this phenomenon to support a tenuous link to human-caused climate change, even though bears out on the ice this spring were reportedly in good condition and one of the problem bears captured on 8 August was also in good condition (a male weighing 910 lbs, photo above). Unfortunately, reports for similar early breakup years in the early 2000s have not been made public. However, I’ve been keeping track of these Polar Bear Alert Program Reports since 2015 and have read the available literature about their history: these records simply do not corroborate the statements in this CBC account.

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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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Polar bear habitat around Svalbard Norway above average despite high temps in N. Atlantic

Sea ice extent for Svalbard was above average yesterday and has been since 17 July, despite “record-breaking” sea surface temperatures in June.

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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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Hudson Bay sea ice loss has not accelerated since 2014: in fact, summer ice cover has improved

This is an early breakup year for Hudson Bay but sea ice loss has not been accelerating. While some Western Hudson Bay bears have been on land for weeks, others are still out on melting remnants of sea ice, much of it invisible to satellites. This is only the third year since 2014 that the bay has had less than usual amounts of ice, which means most years since then have had normal or nearly normal ice coverage, similar to the 1980s. Hardly the ever-worsening catastrophe of sea ice loss story being spun in the media for Western Hudson Bay polar bears.

From the tracking map above, out of the 38 visible tags or collars on bears at 11 July 2023, 16 bears (42%) were on land and 22 (58%) were still out on the sea ice. That’s virtually identical to the 40/60 percent split last week when there was even more ice.

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Natural flexibility explains W Hudson Bay polar bear movements at breakup better than climate change

Hudson Bay in early July this year is a mosaic of more-than-average and less-than-average sea ice coverage but apparently, only the less-than-average ice areas constitute the “early breakup” caused by climate change, and only “deniers” would say otherwise.

I say some folks are cherry picking the ice conditions that support a story line they prefer, forgetting that polar bears know better than they do when to come in off the ice.

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Early sea ice breakup in W Hudson Bay caused by “record breaking” warmth in 2023 but not 2015?

According to Polar Bears International, the “3rd-earliest” breakup date for Western Hudson Bay was caused by a “record breaking” heat wave in May. Western Hudson Bay sea ice hit the 30% coverage threshold used by PBI to define “breakup” on 17 June this year, prompting speculation about potential future impacts on polar bear survival should breakup come even earlier.

This year’s break-up date of June 17 is the 3rd earliest in the 45 years of satellite-based sea ice data from Western Hudson Bay, after 2015 and 2003.” [Flavio Lehner, PBI]

17 June 2023 is day 168 on the Julian calendar used to graph the data in the image included in the PBI essay (see copy below). However, the data point for 2003 is about three days earlier, on day 166 (14 June) and the point for 2015 is on day 152 (1 June).

If “record-breaking” heat caused this year’s early ice retreat, what caused the ice to retreat more than two weeks earlier in 2015? May was warm that year along the west coast as well but obviously not “record-breaking” warmth, because the records were broken this year. In fact, whatever warmth that occurred only affected ice melt in the western sector, while very thick ice over the rest of the bay resisted melt and allowed bears to stay out many weeks later than usual.

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No evidence polar bears survived Eemian warmth because they were not yet fully ice-dependent

Is evolution primarily fast or slow? Does it take hundreds of thousands of years or a few generations to produce a new species? Ignoring vast evidence to the contrary, most geneticists insist that evolutionary change is imperceptibly slow and one of them is using this misconception to support the human-caused climate change narrative.

For polar bears, the question is this: could brown bears (aka grizzlies) have survived for hundreds of thousands of years living in a completely different habitat–the perpetually-frozen world of Arctic sea ice–before significant biological changes took place? I contend the answer is no. Moreover, if I am correct that polar bears arose ca. 140,000 thousand years ago (140kya) during the height of an extreme glacial period, the fossil evidence concurs. Analysis of fossil remains show that by about 115-130kya at the latest (after perhaps 10k years), polar bears were primarily eating seals as their modern counterparts do and their bones had lost the distinctive features of their grizzly ancestors.

But that’s the maximum time frame: research on other animals indicate that such critical changes almost certainly took place long before that, within the first few generations of life on the sea ice. If coordinated changes had not taken place very quickly, within ecological time, brown bears would simply not have survived the harsh life on Arctic sea ice.

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