Polar bear specialist Mitch Taylor emailed me and others his response to the New York Times article that appeared Tuesday (10 April) about the Harvey et al. (2018) BioScience paper attacking my scientific integrity. Here it is in full, with his permission, and my comments. Don’t miss the footnote!
Posted in Advocacy, Conservation Status, Population, Scientists hit back
Tagged accountability, Amstrup, CO2, consensus, Derocher, fake news, fake science, IUCN, Mitch Taylor, PBSG, peer-review, polar bear, predictions, Red list, Regehr, science, sea ice
A few days ago in a radio interview, a senior US Fish & Wildlife biologist repeated the tall tale that Southern Beaufort Sea polar bear numbers declined in recent years due to loss of summer sea ice. But restating this egregious misinformation does not make it true.
The Southern Beaufort population did decline between 2001 and 2006 but it was due to natural causes (thick ice in spring from 2004 to 2006) – it had nothing to do with recent summer sea ice loss and Eric Regehr knows it.
There is no evidence that the population decline continued after 2006, so it cannot be said to be still declining. Moreover, the situation in the Southern Beaufort does not support the predictions made by Regehr and his colleagues that polar bear populations will decline precipitously if summer sea ice declines further.
My recently published paper demolishes the message of doom for polar bears and the misinformation it’s based upon: it’s free and written in straight-forward scientific language.
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/ (pdf here).
Here’s an excerpt of the nonsense broadcasted on KNOM Radio Alaska by Regehr and transcribed for their website (29 January 2017) [my bold]: Continue reading
Posted in Advocacy, Population, Sea ice habitat
Tagged advocacy, Eric Regehr, hypothesis testing, KNOM, misinformation, polar bear, poster child, predictions, Regehr, Southern Beaufort, US Fish and Wildlife Service
Yesterday, the DailyMail (among others) was suckered into running virtually the same story The Guardian (among others) hyped last year about this time.
Using a science journal version of the 2015 IUCN Red List assessment report, polar bear data collectors and their fortune-teller colleagues have managed to get polar bears back in the news.
I wrote about this last year – it’s actually good news, although you wouldn’t know it from the headlines.
Let me paraphrase the ‘sperts:
“After 10 years of ice conditions we didn’t expect would happen until mid-century (a worst-case scenario we said would cause more than 30% of the world’s polar bears to die – except they didn’t), we have now determined (using a new model and a brand new definition of sea ice specific to polar bears) that by mid-century, there is only a 70% chance that 30% of polar bears will die.”
This is how they explain away all the bears that didn’t die as they should have when summer sea ice declined to about 5 mkm2 and below after 2006.
Posted in Conservation Status, Uncategorized
Tagged crystal ball, ESA, experts, future threats, polar bear, predictions, Red list, Regehr, sea ice, USGS
A polar bear paper just out in Science concludes the experts were wrong, polar bears are not “walking hibernators” – in summer, they slow down and live off their accumulated fat just like other mammals. Take home message: experts are not infallible and spring fat is critical for polar bear survival over the summer.
This paper presents no compelling evidence that Southern Beaufort polar bears, or those in any other region, lack the ability to survive predicted summer sea ice declines in future decades – although they claim it does. See what you think.
Posted in Life History, Sea ice habitat
Tagged Alaska, Amstrup, Arctic Fallacy, Beaufort Sea, Ben-David, fast, fat, hibernation, polar bear science, polar bears, Regehr, sea ice, Southern Beaufort, summer, temperatures, walking hibernator, Whiteman
Polar bear habitat in the eastern Bering Sea has expanded since the official spring “maximum extent” was called for late February, and Davis Strait sea ice is tied for 2nd highest since 1971 for this week. Both regions have healthy polar bear populations and spring conditions suggest this will continue into this year.
Although the melt season is underway, as of yesterday (22 April, Julian day 112) overall Arctic sea ice extent (Fig. 1) was higher than it was on the same date in 2014, 2007, and 2004 (see also Fig. 2). Despite the record low extent in February (Fig. 3), that pessimists at Polar Bears International suggested was relevant to polar bear heath and survival, I showed that was misleading.
Figure 1. Sea ice extent at 22 April (Julian day 112) for 2015, at 13.976 mkm2, was well within 2 standard deviations and higher than 2007 (shown), as well as higher than 2004 and 2014 (not shown – see it for yourself here). Click to enlarge.
Sea ice maps and charts tell the story of current polar bear habitat throughout the Arctic.
It takes a special kind of gall for biologists to plead for more funds to count and study Arctic marine mammals they claim are endangered by the use of fossil fuels, when their proposed field work cannot be done without the use of fossil fuels.
A new Arctic “policy” paper was promoted last week by academia (press release here), blogged about by those who were unimpressed (“Another ‘polar bears are in trouble’ story….yawwwn”) and highlighted by a few who were impressed (the magazines SCIENCE: “Huge data gaps cloud fate of Arctic mammals” and SMITHSONIAN (“It’s Hard to Protect Arctic Mammals When We Don’t Know How Many Live There”) — but covered by only one media outlet that I could find (e.g., here).
The paper is a decidedly odd mix: a plea for more research funds for increased monitoring of animal populations plus strident advocacy for regulating “greenhouse gases.”
The authors repeatedly used the phrase “greenhouse gases” in their paper (seven times) but did not mention “fossil fuels” even once, despite the clear relationship between fossil fuel use and the phenomenon known as anthropogenic global warming (AGW), examples here and here. Are they self-deluded — or deliberately disingenuous about their own contributions to a problem they insist is the greatest threat to survival of Arctic marine mammals?
Posted in Advocacy, Sea ice habitat
Tagged boats, climate change, declining sea ice, field work, fossil fuels, global warming, greenhouse gases, helicopters, hypocracy, Laidre, Regehr, research, satellite radio collars, surveys, Vongraven
I have finally secured a copy of the 2013 Western Hudson Bay mark-recapture study produced by Environment Canada.
The pertinent figure is below: as you can see, there was no declining trend in Western Hudson Bay polar bears between 2000 and 2011. Click to enlarge.
I have relatives visiting so I don’t have time to do an in-depth summary but the report’s opening “Summary” is copied below and a pdf provided. More later when I have had time to look at it more closely. Background on the issue here.
Posted in Advocacy, Conservation Status, Population
Tagged Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada, Lunn, mark-recapture, misleading, Nunavut, polar bears, population estimates, Regehr, stable population, Stirling, western hudson bay, withholding data