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The BBC’s Latest Climate Porn

September 19, 2016

By Paul Homewood 

 

image

https://polarbearscience.com/2016/09/17/polar-bear-tragedy-porn-dressed-up-as-science-features-in-new-bbc-earth-video/

 

Dr Susan Crockford attacks the latest dreadful piece of propaganda from the BBC: 

 

This new effort by the BBC would make the PR department of the Center for Biological Diversity proud, with it’s prominent use of animal tragedy porn pretending to be science. In contrast, the actual science shows something quite different: though summer sea ice since 2007 has declined to levels not predicted until 2040-2070, there has been virtually no negative impact on polar bear health or survival, a result no one predicted back in 2005.

 

bbc-video-15-sept-2016-screencap-breaking-ice-02

 

Bizarrely entitled A 3-million-year ice age is coming to an end (15 September 2016), this slick video pretends it’s promoting the recently released paper by Harry Stern and Kristen Laidre (2016) that got a lot of media attention last week (see here and here).

Who exactly suggested the profound prophesy stated in their chosen title, the BBC Earth folks don’t say: the Stern and Laidre paper certainly does not. And the use of a bear that appears to drown before our eyes is Hollywood-style emotional manipulation. Note the careful use of “might” (above) and “could” (below).

 

bbc-video-15-sept-2016-screencap-breaking-ice-01

 

Watch the videos below and weep not for the plight of the polar bear, but for the downfall of science journalism.

A 3-million-year ice age is coming to an end : A dramatic animation shows how much of the Arctic sea ice has melted away in the last 35 years. The ice loss poses a terminal threat to polar bears” (15 September 2016, BBC Earth).

 

 

Compare the above to the  2014 TV ad run by the Center for Biological Diversity to generate cash donations, which I discussed here:

 

 

 

About the paper

That summer ice loss has occurred is not news: this paper simply defines a new standardized method of describing summer sea ice loss across all polar bear habitats. As I pointed out previously, the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG) added this metric to it’s polar bear status table in early 2015 (more than a year before this paper describing the method was submitted for peer review).

The Stern and Laidre method includes June as “summer” for Lancaster Sound through Southern Hudson Bay (even though bears in the Central Canadian Arctic (like Lancaster Sound) continue to feed successfully in June and July but bears in Southern Hudson Bay have pretty much finished feeding by the end of May): most Arctic analyses consider June to be spring (e.g. Pilfold et al 2015).

Stern and Laidre re-define “Summer” sea ice as June through October. Their supplemental data provide details of sea ice changes for all polar bear subpopulations but not a region by region prediction of future ice loss.

Stern and Laidre (2016:13) state (my bold):

“General circulation models (GCMs) predict ice-free Arctic summers by mid-century or sooner (IPCC, 2013; Overland and Wang, 2013). Spring sea-ice retreat will continue to arrive earlier and fall sea-ice advance will continue to arrive later, with no reversal in sight. Barnhart et al. (2015) used daily sea-ice output from a 30-member GCM ensemble, driven by the business-as-usual emissions scenario (RCP 8.5), to map the annual duration of open water in the Arctic through 2100. They found that by 2050 the entire Arctic coastline and most of the Arctic Ocean will experience an additional 1 to 2 months of open water per year, relative to present conditions, which is consistent with extrapolation of the trends in Table 3.

This study offers standardized metrics with which to compare polar bear habitat change across the 19 subpopulations and provides a starting point for including sea-ice habitat change in circumpolar polar bear management and conservation plans.”

There is no proof provided in the paper that this new method of defining sea ice changes is biologically significant or superior to a region-by-region analysis – no one has ever done such a thing before and it remains to be seen if it is a useful addition to science.

The University of Washington video promoting the Stern and Laidre paper is below:

 

 

References

Pilfold, N. W., Derocher, A. E., Stirling, I. and Richardson, E. 2015. Multi-temporal factors influence predation for polar bears in a changing climate. Oikos 124 (8):1098-1107.  http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/oik.02000/abstract

Stern, H.L. and Laidre, K.L.. 2016. Sea-ice indicators of polar bear habitat. The Cryosphere doi:10.5194/tc-10-2027-2016 Pdf here, Supplemental data here. [Open access]

https://polarbearscience.com/2016/09/17/polar-bear-tragedy-porn-dressed-up-as-science-features-in-new-bbc-earth-video/

12 Comments leave one →
  1. September 19, 2016 7:36 pm

    Porn aside, the statistics of growing polar bear populations are a fact.
    Bottom line:
    https://polination.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/polar-bear-and-al-gore-meme.jpg?w=875&h=572

  2. Broadlands permalink
    September 19, 2016 7:54 pm

    Indeed Ron…

    Polar Bears are doing fine? The truth about polar bears…in 2012

    http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/magazine/dec12/polar_bears3.asp

    EXCERPTS…

    “Terry Audla, the president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Canada’s national Inuit organization, says that when it comes to really understanding how healthy the polar bear population is, it makes no sense to pit the feelings and hunches of far-flung conservationists against the direct observations of local people who deal with the bears all the time. As far as overhunting goes, says Audla, “if you’re reliant on something as a source of food, you’re going to make darn sure that you’re keeping that source healthy.” When you live in Resolute Bay, Nunavut, it’s hard to give a lot of weight to a conservation organization in southern California or a worldwide endangered species treaty that is signed in Qatar.”

    “Consider Mitch Taylor’s story. He spent more than two decades as a polar bear researcher and manager for the Nunavut government and has published around 50 peer-reviewed papers. That should garner widespread respect. But Taylor has been highly vocal about his belief that polar bears are mostly doing fine, that cub mortality varies from year to year and that the much ballyhooed predictions of extinction by 2050 are “a joke.” He also alleges that a lot of the “exaggerated decline” is just a way to keep certain scientists well funded and to transfer control of the polar bear issue from territorial to federal hands. In response, Taylor’s critics disinvited him from meetings of polar bear specialists that he’d been attending since 1978. They also like to point out that he’s a signatory of the Manhattan Declaration, which questions the very existence of climate change. But amidst all the heated charges and countercharges, it’s hard to argue the fact that few people know polar bears the way Taylor does. And while it might be inconvenient for current political posturing, there’s no denying that certain subpopulations of polar bears are managing to survive, even thrive.”

    “The current scientific consensus places the worldwide polar bear population between 20,000 and 25,000 animals. Prior to the 1973 worldwide restriction on commercial polar bear hunting, that number was dramatically lower, so low that a meeting of polar bear specialists in 1965 concluded that extinction was a real possibility. Some reports even estimated the number of bears as low as 5,000 worldwide. Yet by 1990, Ian Stirling — at the time, the senior research scientist for the Canadian Wildlife Service and a professor of zoology at the University of Alberta; basically, one of the most respected polar bear scientists on the planet — felt comfortable answering the question as to whether polar bears are an endangered species by stating flatly: “They are not.” He went on to say that “the world population of polar bears is certainly greater than 20,000 and could be as high as 40,000 … I am inclined toward the upper end of that range.” Although old studies are sketchy, clearly more polar bears are alive today than there were 50 years ago, an essentially heartening fact that has not managed to pierce the public consciousness.”

  3. markl permalink
    September 19, 2016 8:24 pm

    “… clearly more polar bears are alive today than there were 50 years ago, an essentially heartening fact that has not managed to pierce the public consciousness.” The MSM is completely devoid of facts when it come to so called “Climate Change” for reasons that are obviously political.

  4. Adrian permalink
    September 19, 2016 9:17 pm

    Look guys just stop paying their tax. It’s simple. Then you aren’t responsible for funding the b…ards.

  5. Bloke down the pub permalink
    September 19, 2016 9:35 pm

    Prof Brian Cox appearing on Newsnight talking about people ignoring what scientists say.

    • Gerry, England permalink
      September 20, 2016 1:05 pm

      Well if they didn’t keep getting things completely wrong they might deserve a hearing. How many areas have we seen claims keep changing? No butter – yes butter, low fat, high fat, gluten free, it is all constantly changing.

  6. September 19, 2016 9:35 pm

    ”A 3-million-year ice age is coming to an end” – says who? Apart from the BBC crackpot climate propaganda team that is.

    • CheshireRed permalink
      September 20, 2016 10:06 am

      ….and if it is, what the hell has that got to do with man? We can’t prevent it, slow it or stop it. Irrelevant posturing from political activists. Just send them money!

  7. September 20, 2016 8:31 am

    The BBC seems to be ramping up its climate propaganda again, after a bit of a lull following the Paris “triumph”, the last 2 days (incidentally, both of which have seen essentially zero wind and solar electricity in the UK, anticyclonic gloom for the renewable industry) have seen long propaganda pieces about Arctic ice (Northabout), China building 2 wind turbines per hour, and “concern” about meeting 1.5C (Myles Allen), all of which is about controlling CO2 levels, which apparently is the only thing that controls climate, no dissenting voices allowed, except in staged ambushes where the dissent can be dismissed.

    But besides the BBC we should not forget education, where all this stuff is now being taught to children as fact.

  8. Malcolm permalink
    September 20, 2016 9:37 am

    The BBC are a fully paid up team of ambulance chasers. Across the board, life is either a tragedy waiting to happen or a catastrophe being enacted. This is a larded socialist principal insinuating that you need us to keep you abreast of the awfulness of the world and that we are the source of the correction of evilness which you cannot possibly cope with. You need us. Socialism depends on adherents concussed adherents unable to think things through. The more catastrophic the situation defined, the more apparent the feebleness of your intercessions and concerns, the greater the place for the politics and the need for their powerful forces to correct that which has slipped away from us. To this end you have to accumulate the sum of all the infractions and present them as a failure, generally, for capitalism and its rapaciousness. The problem is, of course, that without capitalism these people would not have the time to grind and moan or the equipment to proselytise through.

    In an age when any individual has access to powers of broadcast, hitherto undreamt of, all that they seem to be able to conjure is the sort of necromancy that would have been prevalent in the ancient world. The use of signs and portents is a major player in this technological world oddly in denial of the opportunity it has afforded. Perhaps it is that of the Shaman, it is good for an individual to be the source of knowledge. It is good for the Shaman to deal in tragedy rather than positivity. If you promise good and it does not happen you lose power if you promise evil and it does not occur then you can claim that your powers have averted that condition through your awareness. When an organ such as the BBC has control of the agenda, as it does, superseding even the powers of the state in its ability to attenuate and to serve some internal, covert political view, then truth will belong to them.

    Their presenting of facts in the embroidered dramatically attenuated way that broadcasters have is far more persuasive than the address of the politician who has to annunciate clearly and whose assertions of are of record and can be tested to destruction. In the media the facts are transitory and are either lost in time or their bearing modified over time. Whereas a reporter can be sacked or quietly replaced for views that they have presented at their master’s request, the politician is part of a political entity of responsibility and forever open to opprobrium. As a matter of historic fact people are still arguing Churchill’s formulation of the Dardanelles campaign whereas the BBC’s reporting of a huge movement of HSBC bank staff following Brexit was reported as a BBC exclusive and then quietly dropped.

    The media are also conflicted in that drama has to be conjured from facts. Trained voices read scripts in soppy stage vicars’ voices colouring actions with practised mood sounds. The public are susceptible to such creativity, it is the basis of stage drama a means of conveying inner emotion. That the theatre of climate change is so played upon adds distortion to what, elsewhere, is a recounting of statistics, studies, observations, number crunching and projection. The fact of climate change is that we are in stasis. If there was a fact to tell and a date to tie it to it would have been stated but currently it is little but a theory and as such can be denied when events do not concur with the supposition. The BBC simply denies contrary facts and will not give them air time, it has banned sceptic talk, and as such has free rein to develop the story as it sees fit beyond science (which it invariably says that it is quoting). This medieval scepticism plays well in the drama beset world of the media and perhaps we should not let facts get in the way, something that the BBC proves conclusively.

  9. Nordisch-geo-climber permalink
    September 20, 2016 9:46 am

    Brilliant analysis totally concur.

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