Tag Archives: population size

Emperor penguins join polar bears on ESA list of threatened species based on flawed climate models

Yesterday, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced it will classify the Emperor penguin as ‘threatened’ with extinction under its Endangered Species Act (ESA) based on what are known to be flawed climate models, to take effect next month. This is despite the fact that Emperor penguin numbers increased between 2009 and 2019, an IUCN Red List reassessment in 2019 did not reverse its 2018 decision (still listing it as ‘near-threatened’, not ‘vulnerable’), and member-nations refused earlier this year to enact an Antarctic Treaty to protect the birds. Conservation activists of all stripes are filled with glee at this bettter-than-nothing decision for a species nowhere near extinction because it means more money for them.

Bottom line: An article by the US National Public Radio (25 October 2022) admits the real reason for this listing:

Though emperor penguins are not found naturally in the U.S., the endangered species protections will help increase funding for conservation efforts. U.S. agencies will also now be required to evaluate how fisheries and greenhouse gas-emitting projects will affect the population…

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Barents Sea good news: researcher reveals polar bears, even females, still in excellent condition

Barents Sea polar bears had another good year in 2022 despite having lost the most sea ice of any subpopulation but the media and activists can’t help themselves insisting a dismal future is ahead.

Oddly, Norwegian polar bear researcher Jon Aars recently said the quiet part out loud: that he expects Barents Sea polar bear numbers to keep rising, which is rather at odds with the standard narrative:

“What we think is that in the future, if you get less and less sea ice and more and more bears, at some stage they will start struggling and you get fewer bears,” Dr. Jon Aars, a research biologist at Norwegian Polar Institute, told CTV News. [CTV News, 8 May 2022]

This despite the fact that recent research results showed the bears have been doing fine despite declining ice and a study on females up to 2017 compared to 1997-2005 showed the bears were in significantly better condition in recent years:

Unexpectedly, body condition of female polar bears from the Barents Sea has increased after 2005, although sea ice has retreated by ∼50% since the late 1990s in the area, and the length of the ice-free season has increased by over 20 weeks between 1979 and 2013. These changes are also accompanied by winter sea ice retreat that is especially pronounced in the Barents Sea compared to other Arctic areas. Despite the declining sea ice in the Barents Sea, polar bears are likely not lacking food as long as sea ice is present during their peak feeding period. Polar bears feed extensively from April to June when ringed seals have pups and are particularly vulnerable to predation, whereas the predation rate during the rest of the year is likely low.” [Lippold et al. 2019:988]

This is has been upheld this year as well, with Aars saying in the video below (6 May 2022) that bears were found to be in excellent condition this spring. In contrast, the media framed this good news within the false ‘polar bear numbers are declining’ narrative, urged on, no doubt, by doom-monger Steve Amstrup.

Amstrup is the paid spokesman for activist organization Polar Bears International, who is identified in this ‘news’ report only as a ‘scientist’, as if he were unbiased, banging on about bears in Western Hudson Bay, where sea ice decline has been a fraction of what the Barents Sea has experienced.

Sea ice charts for the Barents Sea

Compared to previous years, ice extent around Svalbard is above average now (in May) but in contrast to last year, was well below average for much of March, leading to a huge hue-and-cry of impending doom:

Amstrup’s prophet-of-doom side-kick, Dr. Andrew Derocher (University of Alberta), who worked in the Svalbard area in the 1990s, was wringing his hands in public over sea ice loss in March:

and…

It turned out, this wasn’t an “early melt” but pack ice moving in response to wind, as it often does. A bucket-load of angst, all for nothing. Oddly enough, the polar bears figured out a way to not just survive, but thrive! Who would have thought?

References

Lippold, A., Bourgeon, S., Aars, J., Andersen, M., Polder, A., Lyche, J.L., Bytingsvik, J., Jenssen, B.M., Derocher, A.E., Welker, J.M. and Routti, H. 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.

State of the Polar Bear 2021: polar bears continued to thrive

The current health and abundance of polar bears continues to be at odds with predictions that the species is suffering serious negative impacts from reduced summer sea ice blamed on human-caused climate change.

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Accepted sea otter population estimate at 1911 as inaccurate as rejected polar bear estimate for 1960s

Sea otter specialists, without shame or apology, routinely use a benchmark figure of ‘about 2,000’ for the pre-protection population size of the species at 1911 based on extremely limited evidence yet polar bear specialists refuse to accept a benchmark figure for the 1960s despite the existence of eight published estimates made by experts at the time. Sea otters came much closer to extinction than polar bears did and are not out of the woods yet, for reasons that are not entirely understood (Doroff et al. 2021).

Andrew Derocher, 22 February 2022: ‘There never was a population estimate of global abundance in the 1960s.’

Derocher’s statement and those of his colleagues, discussed at length in The Polar Bear Catastrophe That Never Happened, makes them look biased and unprofessional. There is absolutely no rational scientific justification for holding this stance.

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Statement of polar bear population size estimates by polar bear scientists in 1965

Polar bear scientists in 1965 published a consensus statement on population size, with no caveats that these were ‘wild guesses’ or not to be taken seriously. They quoted some of the same authorities that I did when I suggested a plausible baseline figure. Andrew Derocher, Steven Amstrup and others who say there has never been population estimates for the 1960 or 1970s are not defending science, they are lying to protect their ‘polar bears are all gonna die because of climate change’ narrative. No other biologists do this, even those who insist the species they study are at risk from human-caused global warming. You should ask why.

This controversy is why archives like the one I created yesterday are so important: they make it impossible to re-write history as some insist on doing:

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Fact checkers defend activist scientists because they agree with them not because they are right

The so-called fact-checkers are out again trying to insist one side of a scientific debate is wrong and another is right because they happen to agree with one side. That’s advocacy, not science.

Here are some facts (check the links provided for additional references):

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‘Already too late’ to save Churchill polar bears claim a false NY Times climate change cliché for COP26

Not only is it prime polar bear viewing week in Churchill, Manitoba but it’s the week of the 26th international elite COP climate change gab-fest: every media outlet on the planet is eager to promote climate catastrophe talking points.

Hence totally expected that the New York Times would print someone’s unsupported claim that the polar bears of Churchill (part of the Western Hudson Bay subpopulation) are on the verge of extirpation due to lack of sea ice and other similar nonsense. Also not surprising to find that Canadian government biologist Nick Lunn used the occasion to again offer unpublished and misleading data to a reporter. However, this time it’s good news meant to sound like an emergency: if correct, the data he shared indicate polar bears are heavier now than they were in the 1990s and early 2000s.

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How are polar bears doing 15 years after the IUCN declared them ‘vulnerable’ to extinction?

The beginning of this month was the 15th anniversary of the day the IUCN declared polar bears ‘vulnerable’ to extinction because of climate change, the first time such a designation had ever been made. It was based on the opinion of polar bear specialists who examined the vague information available at the time and decided that in 45 years the bears might be in serious trouble. This decision changed the way the IUCN assessed species risk and led to mass confusion for the general public, who falsely assumed polar bear numbers had already declined by a huge amount.

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Polar bears are thriving: an ICSC Canada short video

From Tom Harris at ICSC Canada: Polar bears are nowhere near as sensitive to declining sea ice than originally thought. In fact, their population is now three times higher than in the 1960s. 17 March 2021 [1:28]

 

Top six polar bear stories of 2020

Here are the six most important polar bear stories I wrote about in 2020 that are worth reading if you missed them.

 

These posts cover new evidence that polar bears are thriving (including more populations stable or increasing) despite recent declines in summer sea ice blamed on climate change, an explanation of why the simplistic ‘less ice, fewer bears’ is false and a short post that shows a much-publicized new model predicting future extinction of polar bears is scientifically implausible. Honourable mention goes to a story refuting the claim that Alaskan polar bear cubs are at risk from oil exploration in coastal Wildlife Refuge.

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