Posted onAugust 31, 2023|Comments Off on New study that claims it can directly link GHG emissions to polar bear cub survival is poppycock
A global warming miracle has happened. While no scientist worldwide has ever drawn a straight line between greenhouse gas emissions and population declines in a species considered at risk due to climate change, a new paper just published in Science Magazine claims to have performed this unlikely feat for polar bears. It’s called “Unlock the Endangered Species Act to address GHG emissions.”
Note this analysis has not been peer reviewed: as a “Policy Forum” contribution, it’s considered by the journal to be a public interest commentary, not a research paper.
One might be forgiven for asking whether this work represents solid, reproducible science or simply well-timed, sciency-looking rhetoric ready-made for the litigious Center for Biological Diversity to pressure the US government to increase protections for polar bears before the 2024 US election. It is surely no coincidence that this paper made its appearance near the seasonal low for Arctic sea ice as well as during the 15-year anniversary of the ESA listing of polar bears as ‘threatened’ and the 50th anniversary of the ESA itself.
Moreover, knowing this paper was in the pipeline might explain why the 2022 government report on the most recent Western Hudson Bay polar bear decline, which I discussed yesterday, has been kept secret for so long: the results of that report are cited in this new Science paper as supporting evidence that sea ice declines are responsible for recent population declines, which Reuters said in December was clearly not the casefor the period 2017-2021.
Posted onMarch 20, 2023|Comments Off on 15 years after ESA listing as ‘threatened’ due to sea ice loss polar bears are abundant & thriving
Experts who used the American Endangered Species Act (ESA) to list polar bears as ‘threatened’ in May 2008 were mistaken: sea ice authorities got their predictions wrong about future ice extent and polar bear specialists erroneously declared that two-thirds of polar bears would disappear if summer sea ice declines continued unabated.
By 2007, there was even less summer sea ice than computer models of the day had predicted (Stroeve et al. 2007, see red line on graph below) and in 2012, it dropped to just above 3 mkm2.
Updated sea ice predictions published in 2014 by the Stroeve team (see below) went to the other extreme, using totally implausible RCP 8.5 scenarios to predict a virtually ice-free Arctic (< 1 mkm2 ice extent) before 2040, which seem just as likely to be just as wrong as their 2007 attempt (Hausfather and Peters 2020; Pielke and Ritchie 2021; Stroeve et al. 2007, 2014; Swart et al. 2015).
In fact, for 12 years out of the last 15, summer ice extent has been below 5.0 mkm2 (often well below), which polar bear experts had not anticipated would happen until at least 2050 (Amstrup et al. 2006).
Despite this dramatic decline in sea ice, polar bears are still abundant and thriving because polar bear specialists got it wrong about the bears’ need for this habitat in summer (Crockford 2017, 2019; Crockford and Geist 2018). Polar bear turned out to be more flexible and resilient than predicted and many subpopulations are better off than before. Davis Strait and Chukchi Sea bears are doing very well: Barents Sea bears in particular are thriving despite by far the most sea ice loss of any Arctic region (e.g. Conn et al. 2021; Frey et al. 2022; Haavik 2022; Lippold et al. 2019; Peacock et al. 2013; Regehr et al. 2018; Rode et al. 2014, 2018, 2021, 2022).
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/
Crockford, S.J. 2019. The Polar Bear Catastrophe That Never Happened. Global Warming Policy Foundation, London. Available in paperback and ebook formats.
Crockford, S.J. and Geist, V. 2018. Conservation Fiasco. Range Magazine, Winter 2017/2018, pg. 26-27. Pdf here.
Frey, K.E., Comiso, J.C., Cooper, L.W., et al. 2022. Arctic Ocean primary productivity: the response of marine algae to climate warming and sea ice decline. 2022 NOAA Arctic Report Card, https://doi.org/10.25923/0je1-te61
Haavik, E. 2022. ‘Svalbard’s polar bears persist as sea ice melts — but not forever. The World, 21 July.
Hausfather, Z. and Peters, G.P. 2020. Emissions – the ‘business as usual’ story is misleading [“Stop using the worst-case scenario for climate warming as the most likely outcome — more-realistic baselines make for better policy”]. Nature 577: 618-620. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00177-3
Lippold, A., Bourgeon, S., Aars, J., et al. 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.
Rode, K.D., Olson, J., Eggett, D., et al. 2018. Den phenology and reproductive success of polar bears in a changing climate. Journal of Mammalogy 99(1):16-26. here.
Rode, K. D., Regehr, E.V., Bromaghin, J. F., et al. 2021. Seal body condition and atmospheric circulation patterns influence polar bear body condition, recruitment, and feeding ecology in the Chukchi Sea. Global Change Biology 27:2684–2701. https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.15572
Rode, K.D., Douglas, D.C., Atwood, T.C., et al. 2022. Observed and forecasted changes in land use by polar bears in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, 1985-2040. Global Ecology and Conservation 40: e02319. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2022.e02319
Posted onOctober 26, 2022|Comments Off on 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.
Though emperor penguins are not found naturally in the U.S., the endangered species protections will helpincrease 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…
Posted onMay 10, 2021|Comments Off on 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.
Posted onJune 14, 2020|Comments Off on No early breakup for W Hudson Bay sea ice again this year: polar bears still on the ice
No early breakup of Hudson Bay sea ice again this year: there is still extensive thick first year ice over most of Hudson Bay and all female polar bears fitted with tracking collars in Western Hudson Bay are still on the ice:
W Hudson Bay polar bears still out on the ice that’s packed together by winds. AE Derocher, 12 June 2020
Breakup of Hudson Bay sea ice as it relates to polar bear movement to land has been about the same since 1999 (about 2 weeks earlier than in the 1980s) and this year is shaping up to be no different: there is still no declining trend in date of sea ice breakup in Western Hudson Bay despite repeated predictions of imminent doom. An especially ‘early’ breakup year would have bears ashore before 15 June. Last year (2019) the first WH bear onshore was caught on film 5 July and problem bears were not recorded onshore in Churchill until the 2nd week of July.
Posted onMay 8, 2020|Comments Off on Sea ice more than 1.2m thick over Hudson Bay portends a good year for polar bears
The chart below shows what sea ice thickness over Hudson Bay was like at the first week of May in a so-called a‘good year’(2019) – when polar bears came off the ice in excellent condition late in the summer and left early in the fall (‘thick first year ice’ is dark green and indicates ice greater than 1.2m thick):
Hudson Bay ice conditions this year appear to be shaping up to be as good or better than last year for polar bears yet specialist researchers and their cheerleaders have still been claiming that bears in this region – Western and Southern Hudson Bay – are doomed because of poor ice conditions. It’s no wonder they still haven’t published the data they’ve been collecting on polar bear body condition and cub survival over the last 15 years or so (Crockford 2020). With most field work cancelled for this year, what’s their excuse for not getting that done? Continue reading
Comments Off on Sea ice more than 1.2m thick over Hudson Bay portends a good year for polar bears
Posted onMay 5, 2020|Comments Off on New Paper: Body condition of Barents Sea polar bears increased since 2004 despite sea ice loss
A recent paper that attempted to correlate pollution levels and body condition in Barents Sea polar bears reports it found body condition of female bears had increased between 2004 and 2017 despite a pronounced decline in summer and winter sea ice extent.
“Unexpectedly, body condition of female polar bears from the Barents Sea has increased after 2005, although sea ice has retreated by ∼50% since the late1990s 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” [Lippold et al. 2019:988]
Posted onSeptember 29, 2019|Comments Off on New polar bear horror emerges out of advice to parents on eco-anxiety in kids
Unbelievably wrong: A psychologist has told parents to assure their children that rising sea levels might be an immediate threat to polar bears – but not to kids in the UK. She says this is “putting things into perspective” for anxious kids but is horrifyingly and almost laughably far off the mark.
Amstrup’s model predicted that 2/3 of the world’s polar bears would be gone if sea ice got as low as it has been since 2007 but it was spectacularly wrong: polar bears are healthier and more numerous than 50 years ago.
Global polar bear population size estimates to 2018. From Chapter 10 of The Polar Bear Catastrophe That Never Happened (Crockford 2019).
“This year’s polar bear season is going to be big for our team, perhaps our biggest yet. Not only do we have an amazing schedule of Tundra Connections webcasts and live chats, but we’re also working with an array of media to tell stories and spread awareness about polar bears and the threats they face in a warming Arctic. This is especially important following another summer of massive sea ice loss in the Arctic and amidst overwhelming global momentum pressuring world leaders to address the climate crisis.”
Below is an excerpt from an interesting story from 2010 on how PBI controls the ‘polar-bears-are-doomed/save-our-sea-ice‘ narrative presented to the media and innocent tourists who just come to see polar bears in the wild.