I’ve written a briefing paper for the GWPF refuting claims that huge herds of Pacific walruses hauled out on land are a sign of global warming.
Here’s the GWPF press release:
London, 20 October: A briefing paper published today by the Global Warming Policy Foundation refutes claims that Arctic walruses are in distress and danger due to global warming.
The paper, written by Canadian zoologist Dr Susan Crockford, assesses the recent mass haulouts of walrus females and calves on the beaches of Alaska and Russia bordering the Chukchi Sea. The events have been blamed by US government biologists and WWF activists on lack of summer sea ice, amplified into alarming scare stories by news media around the world.
Such claims ignore previous haulouts that suggest a different cause. Scientific reports about large walrus haulouts that have occurred repeatedly over the last 45 years show that they are not new phenomena for this region.
At least two documented incidents of similar magnitude have occurred in the recent past: one in 1978, on eastern St. Lawrence Island and the other in 1972, on the western end of Wrangel Island. The 1978 event involved an estimated total of almost 150,000 walrus hauled out within in a small geographic area.
Moreover, sea ice maps for the months when known mass haulouts occurred, compared to years when they did not, suggest no strong correlation with low sea ice levels.
“The WWF and American walrus biologists have categorically linked the Point Lay mass haulout event to global warming, but available evidence suggests that’s alarmist nonsense,” Dr Crockford said.
“Blaming lack of sea ice for recent events ignores the documented factor – large population size – that drove walruses onto beaches en masse in the past, when plenty of ice was available. Conservation measures have almost certainly led to a spectacular recovery of walrus numbers over the last few years. This suggests that recent mass haulouts are more an indicator that Chukchi walrus are nearing maximum capacity than a sign of impending global warming catastrophe,” Dr Crockford added.
Here’s the paper. [Link fixed, h/t HO]
Posted in Advocacy, Sea ice habitat, Summary, walrus
Tagged briefing paper, Chukchi Sea, global warming, Global Warming Policy Foundation, GWPF, haulouts, minimum ice extent, on the beach, population size, sea ice, St. Lawrence Island, Susan Crockford, US Fish and Wildlife Service, USGS, walrus, Wrangel Island, WWF
While I was in London, ahead of my House of Lords lecture on June 11, 2014 (“Healthy Polar Bears, Less Than Healthy Science“)*, I had a chat with Benny Peiser of the Global Warming Policy Foundation.
Have a listen here: “An Interview with Dr Susan Crockford on polar bears, evolution and Arctic controversies.”
I’ve been traveling for a month but I am finally home — tired and jet-lagged after a journey that took me two-thirds of the way around the world and back. More on my experiences as my energy for blogging returns.
*I shouldn’t have to point this out but I will: I was not paid for this lecture, nor for the airfare to London (I was passing through town anyway). As the timing of the lecture required an overnight stay, GWPF did pick up the tab for a hotel room and dinner, as hosting organizations for such events do as a matter of course.
Posted in Conservation Status, Summary
Tagged Benny Peiser, Dr Susan Crockford, evolution, Global Warming Policy Foundation, GWPF, healthy polar bears, House of Lords, interview, lecture, less than healthy science, London, polar bears
Benny Peiser of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) has arranged for me to give a lecture at the House of Lords (London) on June 11.
Healthy Polar Bears, Less Than Healthy Science
A lecture by Dr. Susan J. Crockford
When: 11 June 2014, 6pm
Where: House of Lords, Committee Room 3, London
This lecture focuses on recent research results that have shown that polar bear populations are not responding as predicted to recent declines in Arctic sea ice. Despite the fatalistic attitude of many polar bear field biologists, real-world evidence indicates that polar bears are well equipped to survive substantial variations in their Arctic sea ice habitat and have not been harmed by recent low ice coverage. Such resilience over the short term is hardly surprising, since polar bears are now known to have survived a multitude of past climate shifts of almost inconceivable magnitude.
As the venue has limited space, interested readers in the UK may contact the GWPF at firstname.lastname@example.org for an invitation. They will let you know if places are still available.
Hope to meet some of you there.
PS. I will be staying near Bristol later that week with relatives (June 13-15) and could take an afternoon or evening for a pub chat about polar bears and other issues, if anyone is interested. Send me a note via the contact page above.
With all the talk this week about future climate – the global warming imagined by IPCC crystal ball models, that is – the focus for many is rightly on the gulf between predictions and observations that have taken place so far. This follows on reminders a few weeks ago of the many failed predictions that we would have seen an “ice-free Arctic” by now.
[by “ice-free” they mean “nearly ice-free,” or “when ice coverage is less than 1 million square kilometers, or about 386,000 square miles.”]
But what about the polar bears? Is there a similar disconnect between predictions and observations for polar bear survival? Yes, indeed.
Many Arctic biologists insist that polar bears are not just threatened by future global warming and a “melting ice cap.” They contend polar bears are already being harmed by declines in summer sea ice coverage, or will be shortly.
The problem is, the results of scientific studies show otherwise. Virtually all of the evidence generated by polar bear researchers shows that polar bears are not being harmed by declines in summer sea ice, and in some cases, they are doing very well indeed. In other words, they are not responding as expected.
A few weeks ago, I summarized these studies, which reveal that:
Less summer ice ≠ few bears (evidence from Davis Strait; S. Hudson Bay; Barents Sea; S. Beaufort; W. Hudson Bay).
Less summer ice ≠ “skinnier” bears (evidence from Chukchi Sea; S. Hudson Bay).
“Skinnier” bears ≠ fewer bears (evidence from S. Hudson Bay; S. Beaufort; Davis Strait).
Less summer ice ≠ lower cub survival (evidence from S. Hudson Bay; Chukchi Sea).
Less summer ice ≠ more cannibalism & hybridization
Have a look if you missed it (August 18, 2013, with pdf copies to download), “Polar bears have not been harmed by sea ice declines in summer – the evidence.”
[Update Sunday Sept 29 2013: these two stories (on the temperature pause and polar bears thriving (in which I get a mention), just out in the Mail on Sunday (UK)]
Posted in Conservation Status, Sea ice habitat, Summary
Tagged Christine Graham, climate change, concerns about extinction, Daily Mail, David Rose, decline, global warming, GWPF, ice-free Arctic, IPCC, melting ice cap, observations, polar bears, polar bears thriving, predictions, sea ice loss, summer sea ice minimum