All you can do is laugh, really. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has been pushing for years to position itself as a valid scientific authority but the kinds of projects they get involved with generally have little to do with real science and more to do with promoting their brand and its doomsday climate change narrative. The most recent example is a ‘Count walrus from space‘ ploy that is enlisting elementary school aged children and other members of the public to count Atlantic walrus from satellite photos, which the Washington Post obligingly promoted last week (proving the WWF massive free publicity).
WWF roped someone from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) into the four year scheme, which makes it seem like legitimate, real science. With this initiative, the WWF are strongly pushing a story that walrus throughout the Arctic are threatened by climate change due to melting Arctic sea ice. They have been doing this actively since 2015, as seen with their collaboration with Netflix and Sir David Attenborough in the ‘Our Planet’ Pacific walrus extravaganza that blew up into a massive controversy. I have more to say on that in my next book, whose publication is unfortunately behind schedule but will hopefully be out soon.
The first problem with this plan is that evidence is lacking to support the claim that walrus have been harmed by recent declines in sea ice. Despite current low numbers, Atlantic walrus are more abundant today than they were 100 years ago, after decades of commercial hunting reduced populations to near extinction levels (Born et al. 1995; Wiig et al. 2014).
The second problem is that walrus at land haulouts in summer or fall are notoriously difficult for professional scientists to count even from aerial photographs. The idea that children as young as nine years old can contribute to generating a more accurate count from satellite images is ludicrous.Continue reading