Delingpole: Polar Bears Doing Just Fine Shock

A World Wildlife Fund photograph taken along the western shore of Hudson Bay in November 2010 shows a female polar bear with two cubs near Churchill, Canada, in this file image released to Reuters on February 9, 2011.
Reuters/Geoff York/WWF

Susan Crockford, arguably the world’s greatest polar bear expert, has some really bad news for environmentalists.

Their favorite ursine poster child of climate doom is doing great. Polar bear populations are stable, if not growing. That stuff you read in the liberal media about bears starving to death because thin summer sea ice is pure nonsense. The only evidence we have that polar bears are in any kind of trouble is the fake evidence of activists’ computer models.

Crockford’s full State of the Polar Bear Report 2017, produced for the Global Warming Policy Foundation, can be read here.

Here is a summary of its conclusions:

• Global polar bear numbers have been stable or risen slightly since 2005, despite the fact that summer sea ice since 2007 hit levels not expected until mid-century: the predicted 67% decline in polar bear numbers did not occur.

• Abundant prey and adequate sea ice in spring and early summer since 2007 appear to explain why global polar bear numbers have not declined, as might have been expected as a result of low summer sea ice levels.

• The greatest change in sea ice habitat since 1979 was experienced by Barents Sea polar bears and the least by those in Southern Hudson Bay, the most southerly region inhabited by bears.

• As far as is known, the record low extent of sea ice in March 2017 had no impact on polar bear health or survival.

• Some studies show bears are lighter in weight than they were in the 1980s, but none showed an increase in the number of individuals starving to death or too thin to reproduce.

• A just-released report of Southern Beaufort Sea bears having difficulty finding prey in 2014– 2016 suggests that the thick ice events that have impacted the region every ten years or so since the 1960s have continued despite reduced summer sea ice.

• Claims of widespread hybridization of polar bears with grizzlies were disproven by DNA studies.

• Overly pessimistic media responses to recent polar bear issues have made heartbreaking news out of scientifically insignificant events, suggesting an attempt is being made to restore the status of this failed global warming icon.

Or – short version – pretty much everything that Greenpeace, the WWF, the IPCC, the IUCN, the Guardian, CNN and the New York Times have ever told you about polar bears is a lie.

This video tells the truth.

What particularly interests me about Crockford’s report are the extraordinary similarities it shows between global warming alarmism and polar bear alarmism.

In theory, there ought to be no connection whatsoever. Global warming studies, after all, involve scientific specialities like meteorology, climatology, atmospheric physics, palaeoclimatology. Polar bear studies, on the other hand, tend much more to lie in the realm of zoology.

In reality, however, the scientists involved in each of these fields have reached their alarmist conclusions using the same method: computer models based on flawed assumptions.

The computer models for climate change don’t work because they overestimate the impact on global temperatures of anthropogenic CO2.

The computer models for polar bear populations don’t work because they overestimate factors like the thinness of summer sea ice.

Crockford sums up the issue here:

One reason that the 2007 predictions of future polar bear survival were so far off base is that the model developed by American biologist Steven Amstrup (now at Polar Bears International, an NGO) assumed any polar bear population decline would be caused by less summer ice, despite the Beaufort Sea experience. Moreover, Amstrup and fellow modelers were overly confident in their claim that summer ice was critical for the polar bear’s survival and they had little data on which to base their assumption that less summer ice would devastate the polar bears’ prey.

Consequently, many scientists were surprised when other researchers subsequently found that ringed and bearded seals (the primary prey of polar bears) north of the Bering Strait especially thrived with a longer open-water season, which is particularly conducive to fishing: These seals do most of their feeding in summer. More food for seals in summer means more fat seal pups for polar bears to eat the following spring, a result that’s probably true throughout the Arctic.

As long as polar bears have lots of baby seals to eat in spring, they get fat enough to survive even a longer-than-usual summer fast. And while it’s true that studies in some regions show polar bears are lighter in weight than they were in the 1980s, there is no evidence that more individuals are starving to death or becoming too thin to reproduce because of less summer ice.

It gets worse. Not only have alarmists overestimated the significance of summer ice on polar bear populations, but they have also underestimated (or deliberately ignored because it doesn’t suit their narrative) the effects of thick spring ice.

My close examination of recent research has revealed that serious inconsistencies exist within the polar bear literature and between that literature and public statements made by some researchers. For example, Canadian polar bear biologist Ian Stirling learned in the 1970s that spring sea ice in the southern Beaufort Sea periodically gets so thick that seals depart, depriving local polar bears of their prey and causing their numbers to plummet. But that fact, documented in more than a dozen scientific papers, is not discussed today as part of polar bear ecology. In these days of politicized science, neither Stirling nor his colleagues mention in public the devastating effects of thick spring ice in the Beaufort Sea; instead, they imply in recent papers that the starving bears they witnessed are victims of reduced summer sea ice, which they argued depleted the bears’ prey. There are also strong indications that thick spring-ice conditions happened again in 2014–16, with the impacts on polar bears being similarly portrayed as effects of global warming.

In other words, polar bear zoology is yet another scientific field which has become hijacked for political reasons by alarmists who choose to ignore real world evidence in favor of a specious narrative.

How else do you explain the extraordinary fact that the polar bear has made its way on to the danger list of a number of conservation bodies?

The IUCN Red List (in 2006, then again in 2015) calls it “vulnerable” to extinction

The US Fish and Wildlife Service (as recently as 2016) has listed it as “threatened” with extinction under the US Endangered Species Act.

Environment Canada (2008 and 2011) has listed it as of “special concern.”

These designations are a flat out lie.

There is no credible real world evidence whatsoever to suggest that the polar bear is in any kind of trouble. The researchers and conservation bodies that pretend otherwise are participating in fraud.

 

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