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Delingpole: Climate Alarmists Maul Inconvenient Polar Bear Expert

April 11, 2018

By Paul Homewood



Dellers weighs in the latest episode of the polar bear saga:



Susan Crockford is a polar bear expert with a message that climate alarmists don’t want to hear: polar bear populations are thriving and are certainly in no danger from thinning summer sea ice supposedly caused by ‘man-made global warming.’

That’s why the alarmist establishment is currently trying destroy her.

First came a hatchet job in Bioscience, described by climate scientist Judith Curry as “absolutely the stupidest paper I have ever seen published.”

Crockford’s rebuttal is epic and can be read in full here.

Now, the New York Times has weighed in with a piece entitled ‘Climate Change Denialists Say Polar Bears Are Fine. Scientists Are Pushing Back’.

The headline has been poorly subbed. “Scientists” should be in danger quotation marks.

Its introductory paragraph will give you a taste of its quality:

Furry, button-nosed and dependent on sea ice for their survival, polar bears have long been poster animals for climate change.

But at a time when established climate science is being questioned at the highest levels of government, climate denialists are turning the charismatic bears to their own uses, capitalizing on their symbolic heft to spread doubts about the threat of global warming.

Yep, the “furry, button-nosed” and “charismatic” are dead giveaways. This is not an article remotely interested in the actual species Ursus maritimus, only the fantasy creature that appears in David Attenborough documentaries and the like in order to serve one overriding purpose: to act as the cute, fluffy, white ursine harbinger of man-made climate doom.

The reality is rather different, as Dr Crockford, a Canadian zoologist and polar bear expert, summarized in a recent paper for the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

Its findings are summarized here:

• 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.

Naturally this all went down like a cup of frozen narwhal sick with the climate loons. Hence this current series of very personalized attacks, designed to discredit Crockford’s expertise. They can’t attack Crockford’s science because it’s rock solid. So instead they have resorted to the usual ad hominem.

There’s perhaps one person in the world who knows more about polar bears than Crockford: Mitchell “Mitch” Taylor who has been studying polar bears since 1978.

His verdict on this sorry affair is well worth a read:

It has become a lot more difficult to talk about polar bears since they became an icon for climate change as a cause.  The information has become secondary to the mission for a number of people who were formerly chiefly concerned with research and management of polar bears.  The mission is nothing less than saving the planet by saving the polar bears, and ironically the biggest obstacle to this initiative has been the polar bears themselves.  The real story has been the extent to which polar bears have managed to mitigate the demographic effects of sea ice loss so far.  In retrospect this is perhaps not so surprising because polar bears have been around since the Pliocene which means they have persisted through not only glacial cycles, but also through all the natural climate cycles during the glacial periods and interglacial periods.

Did Susan misrepresent the predictions from Amstrup’s “Belief Network”?  Has she misunderstood the population estimates provided by the various technical committees and specialists groups?  That is easy to check, because these paper are published.  They are part of the record.   I have been active in polar bears since 1978.  I didn’t recognize 12 of the 14 names on the paper written criticizing Susan for publishing an article about polar bears because she does not have any direct experience in polar bear research or management.  Does anyone need to point out how hypocritical this is?  Since when does anyone need to tag a polar bear to compare what was predicted to what has happened, based on published information?

It is also germane that the IUCN Redbook authority was unwilling to continue listing polar bears as a “vulnerable” species based on current population estimates and Amstrup’s Bayesian Network model expectations.  This was somehow not mentioned in the article criticizing Susan.  Polar bears remain an IUCN “vulnerable” species, but now that is based on a Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG) polar bear population model that is driven by speculation but is also presented as “expert” predictive. The new guarantees that polar bears will decline was achieved by decoupling the model population projections from climate model forecasts of sea ice conditions … and just using the time-series regression of sea ice decline since 1980 to forecast sea ice (index for polar bear carrying capacity) forward.  And the IUCN went for it.

There is an International Agreement for the Conservation of Polar Bears, and occasionally the parties to that Agreement (USA, Canada, Denmark-Greenland, Norway, and Russia) have a formal meeting.  The signatory nations (parties) have no independent scientific advisors, and they take their information only from the IUCN/SSC Polar Bear Specialists Group (PBSG).  If you don’t believe that climate science is settled, you can’t be a member of the PBSG, even if you started working on polar bears in 1978.  Susan is also not a member.

There are two ways to get a scientific consensus.  One is to present the data and the analysis in a manner that is so persuasive that everyone is convinced.  The other way is to exclude or marginalize anyone who does not agree.  This occurs so commonly now that it has become an accepted practice.  The practice of science has become secondary to governments, NGOs, journals, and scientists who feel that the ends justify the means.

The response to Susan’s work is politically motivated, not an argument against her conclusions.  The journal’s response to this article and to her complaint was also political.  Sadly, BioScience not a credible scientific journal anymore.  We have fake news and fake science.  Is it really so difficult to see what the Amstup predictions were indexed to, to see if that index has changed, and see if the demographic data are consistent with Amstrup’s predictions or not?  Susan has already done the work to show that the polar bear demographic data and sea ice data (all collected and reported by others) do not support the Amstrup et al. (2007) predictions.

If you can’t refute the argument, the only thing left is to discredit the author.  Where did they get their funding?  How many bears have they tagged?  Are they in the club or not? … and if not in the club, what the hell are they doing voicing an opinion.  How are right-thinking good people like us going to maintain the impression of omnipotent knowledge and scientific consensus if people like Susan are allowed to hold us accountable for what we publish?  Bad enough that the IUCN won’t do as its told, at least not without a new crystal ball.

There are currently some valid indications that some polar bear subpopulations may be experiencing demographic impacts from reduced sea ice.  There are also methodology issues and high variance associated with those studies.  Much of the past work has become dated and much of the population work in the last decade is either agenda driven and unreliable, or compromised by data collection issues to the point that accurate population demography estimates are not possible.  However, there are also many new studies that report their findings objectively.  So just because some researchers and journals have lost perspective does not mean polar bears are not currently impacted by sea ice decline or never will be.

To me the loss of credible information is the real harm that has resulted from turning scientific inquiry into an agenda driven exercise … even for a good cause.

Some may see parallels within climate science world to the polar bear experience.

There are a number of crimes which have been committed by the climate alarmist establishment. Not the least of these is the damage these charlatans, cheats and bullies have done to the integrity of science and scientists.

  1. Broadlands permalink
    April 11, 2018 12:32 pm

    This is not the first time that environmental alarm zealots have acted to silence critics of polar bear endangerment…

    The truth about polar bears…in 2012


    “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.”

    • Curious George permalink
      April 11, 2018 4:36 pm

      Inuits are not an authority on polar bears. Only PBSG is.

      • Broadlands permalink
        April 11, 2018 4:47 pm

        What makes you think so George? Where do these “experts” live to get their “expertise”? Who are their authorities?

      • Bitter@twisted permalink
        April 11, 2018 5:06 pm

        I’m assuming this is sarcasm?

    • Gerry, England permalink
      April 12, 2018 12:57 pm

      Echoes what Jim Steele wrote in Landscapes and Cycles where he shows some of the scandalous actions of the warmist bear lovers.

  2. April 11, 2018 12:44 pm

    Reblogged this on Wolsten and commented:
    This post says it all about the shameful state of politicised climate “science”. The more light is shone on this the better.

  3. HotScot permalink
    April 11, 2018 1:02 pm

    Bear faced lies from Mann et al………… 🙂

    Sorry, couldn’t resist it.

  4. April 11, 2018 1:20 pm

    Susan Crockford wrote a rather enjoyable novel with the title, “Eaten”.

  5. lloydr56 permalink
    April 11, 2018 2:07 pm

    Where can I find the Taylor piece you are quoting from?

  6. Athelstan permalink
    April 11, 2018 4:24 pm

    I know that, I’ve said this before but, I do rather admire Ms Susan Crockford, with her ‘Louisville slugger’ she bats ’em right back and a home run everytime. Ms Crockford, she hasn’t backed down as some would (and indeed perhaps understandably so). Because, it’s tough taking on the alarmunist claque; such a bunch of cynical, manipulatively powerful but downright liars who as per always play the man (in this case Lady) never the ball.

    Imho, you’re up there with Jo, Judith, Donna and Jennifer, now add Susan!

    bloody heroic, all of yers, I kneel in awe.

  7. Bitter@twisted permalink
    April 11, 2018 5:08 pm

    We shouldn’t forget the lesson of history provided by Lysenko and what happens when science becomes political.
    Alarmists are already calling for “deniers” to be sent to the Gulags.

  8. John Scott permalink
    April 11, 2018 7:30 pm

    The believers see one photo of an old, probably diseased bear, as proof they are right and the deniers wrong. A picture is worth a thousand words and very good at promoting the believers message , no facts just an image – pictures do not lie. Too many people form opinions based of Facebook, 140 letter messages on Twitter, Snapchat, and etc.

    The picture of a cuddly baby “whitecoat” seal destroyed the Sealing Industry while enriching the professional protest charities.

  9. Duker permalink
    April 11, 2018 9:12 pm

    I looked at the NY Times online headline and the article , at the bottom, also refers to the print headline for same story.
    In print its ‘climate skeptics’ while online its ‘Climate Change denialists’

  10. April 16, 2018 6:08 pm

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections.

  11. swan101 permalink
    April 20, 2018 2:47 pm

    Reblogged this on UPPER SONACHAN WIND FARM and commented:
    A site always worth visiting…………

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