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Partisan ‘Fact Checkers’ Spread Climate-Change Misinformation-Bjorn Lomborg

January 27, 2023

By Paul Homewood

Bjorn Lomborg falls foul of the fact-checkers!



Partisan “fact checks” are undermining open discourse about important issues, including climate change.
Earlier this month I wrote an accurate post on
Facebook about the growing polar-bear population. The post undercut alarmist climate narratives, so it was wrongly tagged as a falsehood.
Activists have used polar bears as an icon of climate apocalypse for decades, but the best data show that far from dying out, their numbers are growing. The official assessments from the leading scientists who study these animals—the Polar Bear Specialist Group within the International Union for Conservation of Nature—peg the global population today at 22,000 to 31,000. That’s higher than the 5,000 to 19,000 polar bears scientists estimated were around in the 1960s.
The main reason has nothing to do with climate. An international agreement enacted in 1976 limits polar-bear hunting, always the key threat to polar bears’ numbers. Polar bears
survived through the last interglacial period, 130,000 to 115,000 years ago, when it was significantly warmer than it is now.
None of that means climate change isn’t real or doesn’t affect people or the planet. But to deal effectively with these problems, we need to use good data rather than defaulting to ideologically inspired narratives. It does more good for polar bears, and the rest of us, if those trying to help them use accurate facts.
Agence France-Presse, the world’s oldest news service, has found new relevance in marketing itself as an online “digital verification service.” It
stamped “MISLEADING” over the top of my post and declared I’d used “unreliable data.” Other media platforms quickly followed suit, with Facebook flagging multiple posts and newspaper columns in which I made these points as “partly false” and “could mislead.”
But the AFP is verifiably wrong. It based its finding almost entirely on an interview with a retired scientist, Dag Vongraven. He accepts that I referenced the correct findings, but claims that because of the scientists’ limited ability to track animals back then, the 1960s data are “guesswork” that can’t be trusted. The implication is that the rise in the estimated number of polar bears reflects improved tracking, not real population growth.
That’s a politically convenient smoke screen. The 1960s data come from the First International Scientific Meeting on the Polar Bear, in 1965, and are based on three peer-reviewed estimates that extrapolate their totals from well-documented regional populations of polar bears. The pattern is borne out in other data, including a 1970 finding from the International Union for Conservation of Nature and five other sources I referenced. All show that the number of polar bears has risen. AFP and Mr.
Vongraven never offer up an alternative estimate; they simply reject the best data available because they don’t match their political narrative.
Even if you throw out all the 20th-century data, the Polar Bear Specialist Group in its latest (2021) report 
documents that polar-bear numbers have increased over the past two decades. AFP simply ignores this, and instead emphasizes that estimates are difficult.
Yet AFP quickly loses its sense of caution about data extrapolation as soon as it’s politically convenient.
Midway through the article, the outlet inserts a huge graphic that declares that polar bears “could be extinct by the end of the century.” AFP doesn’t clearly indicate a source for this claim, but it likely comes from a
2020 article in Nature that was widely reported as demonstrating the potential extinction of polar bears.
Here, again, AFP oversteps the data. Even in its worst-case scenario, the Nature article doesn’t show that polar bears would become extinct.
Relying on the data I referenced used to be uncontroversial. When a CNN science journalist did an
investigation similar to AFP’s in 2008, he spoke to numerous scientists and they agreed “that polar bear populations have, in all likelihood, increased in the past several decades.” When polar bears in 2008 were listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, the decision noted that the population “has grown from a low of about 12,000 in the late 1960’s to a current worldwide estimate of 20,000-25,000.” The data here haven’t changed, only the media’s willingness to disregard annoying facts.
The result is that the public is denied access to accurate data and open debate about these very important topics. Ridiculous points on one side are left standing while so-called fact-checking censors inconvenient truths. If we’re to make good climate policy, voters need a full picture of the facts.
Besides, even today
some 700 polar bears are killed by hunters each year. If we want to help polar bears, why not stop shooting them?

You will recall that Agence France Presse are signed up Partners of the Covering Climate Now organisation, committed to making sure the public don’t get the real facts on climate.

  1. January 27, 2023 3:56 pm

    The polar bear game is surely over, even Attenborough in Frozen Planet has shifted the focus to baby seals, which apparently in the past never died from bad weather.

    So-called Fact Checks are never really about the facts, they are targeting individuals deemed to be a threat to The Narrative.

    • Ian Johnson permalink
      January 27, 2023 4:27 pm

      Maybe he’s realised that a large number of polar bears isn’t good for baby seals.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        January 27, 2023 5:03 pm

        He could start by thinking about walruses.

  2. Broadlands permalink
    January 27, 2023 3:59 pm

    “The implication is that the rise in the estimated number of polar bears reflects improved tracking, not real population growth. ”

    So.. there is a rise, but reduced recreational hunting had no effect? Nor apparently did “global warming”.

  3. GeoffB permalink
    January 27, 2023 4:43 pm

    Ministry of Truth springs to mind (George Orwell 1984).

    • In The Real World permalink
      January 27, 2023 5:01 pm

      And funnily enough , George Orwell based his ” Ministry Of Truth ” on the time he had worked at the BBC , which I believe was during the war . And he wrote “1984” a few years later in 1948.

      So who can see a connection there ?

      • Harry Passfield permalink
        January 27, 2023 7:42 pm

        And AGW statisticians are outliars.

      • Bernard Taylor permalink
        January 30, 2023 9:40 am

        Yes. Room 101was the room where Orwell met his ‘handlers’ when he worked for the BBC. It was in 55 Portland Place.

  4. Gamecock permalink
    January 27, 2023 5:19 pm

    C’mon, Bjorn, climate change is misinformation.

  5. John Hultquist permalink
    January 27, 2023 6:20 pm

    Follow Susan Crockford . . .

    . . . to keep up with what is going on with the topic.
    Her current post is also about Bjorn Lomborg’s response to being ‘fact-checked’

  6. January 27, 2023 6:33 pm

    the 1960s data are “guesswork” that can’t be trusted.

    So claims of a decline also fail a fact check, as there are no reliable *facts* available to check?

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      January 28, 2023 8:28 am

      Yes but to be fair they are saying claims about an increase are “false”.

      But whilst the past is “guesswork” the future is bizarrely “certain”!

      • catweazle666 permalink
        January 28, 2023 3:52 pm

        Which just goes to show stupid and mendacious they are.

  7. Joe Public permalink
    January 27, 2023 6:52 pm

    BBC Telly-Tax payers finance an army of the parasites.

    Its so-called “Reality check” team even writes an article that included outright falsehoods.

    @MariannaSpring boasts of being BBC’s ‘Disinformation and Social Media Correspondent’, but didn’t give a hoot when notified about the recent Turtle/Fake plastic bag image.

    @MarcoSilva is a ‘Senior journalist for @BBCNews reporting on climate change mis / disinformation’

    @MerlynThomas is a ‘Journalist looking at climate change disinformation @BBCNews’

    Neither noticed Justin Rowlatt’s pair of bloopers reported here:

  8. catweazle666 permalink
    January 27, 2023 7:06 pm

    It is becoming increasingly evident that so-called “fact checkers” are anything but.

    • January 27, 2023 10:16 pm

      Gatekeepers not fact checkers. Focus is on pushback against sceptics.

  9. Douglas Dragonfly permalink
    January 27, 2023 8:53 pm

    “Fat cheques over fact checks” –
    Boris Johnson / BBC / CCC / WEF / UN

  10. liardetg permalink
    January 27, 2023 9:21 pm

    I detect a whiff of panic here

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      January 28, 2023 8:26 am

      Sadly not. They are on the verge of total victory. They have overthrown freedoms and protections I thought would never disappear in the West and corrupted virtually the media, every political party and every institution. Every charity, quango, council, branch of the civil service, NHS, university, school, most businesses and even the Armed Forces now have tackling climate change as their priority. They have won. All that is left is a dwindling resistance that is entirely ignored by virtually everyone.

      • Jack Broughton permalink
        January 29, 2023 3:52 pm

        Janet Daley is trying to attack the group think, a lone voice in the media. When midlands towns and cities can “Declare a climate emergency” when no climate effects are discernible shows the power that the “philanthropic billionaire” (P-Bs) group have now. GB News is the sole media fight-back and the P-Bs are trying to starve it of advertisers.

  11. MrGrimNasty permalink
    January 27, 2023 10:54 pm

    As someone else once said, fact checkers are just another form of censorship.

  12. Gamecock permalink
    January 28, 2023 12:14 am

    They check ‘facts’ like Antifa fights fascism and Democrats support democracy.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      January 28, 2023 8:22 am

      Black-clad street thugs using violence to restrict freedom of speech, overthrow democracy and impose their collectivist politics on everyone…sounds nothing like Germany in the 1930s!

  13. John Hultquist permalink
    January 28, 2023 3:05 am

    I have facts and if you don’t like them, I have others.

  14. January 28, 2023 8:11 am

    The Times “fact checkers” denied that The Times itself once had a front page article saying there was a new ice age on the way and that scientists “forecast 20,000 cool years ahead”.

    And so they banned me for pointing out it was in their own archive – 1st December 1976

    • Jack Broughton permalink
      January 29, 2023 4:00 pm

      Great article. The comment earlier about fat-chequers” seems right.
      Do you know who published the article about CO2 causing global cooling in the 1970s as, while I remember being half-convinced by it at the time, I can’t locate it?

      • Jack Broughton permalink
        January 29, 2023 4:37 pm

        Thanks, very useful as a lot of the information was removed by Connelley.

      • catweazle666 permalink
        January 29, 2023 5:21 pm

        Here is one of many peer reviewed papers by eminent climate scientists predicting a coming ice age.

        Effects of Large Increases on Global Climate.


        Effects on the global temperature of large increases in carbon dioxide and aerosol densities in the atmosphere of Earth have been computed.

        It is found that, although the addition of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere does increase the surface temperature, the rate of temperature increase diminishes with increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

        For aerosols, however, the net effect of increase in density is to reduce the surface temperature of Earth. Because of the exponential dependence of the backscattering, the rate of temperature decrease is augmented with increasing aerosol content.

        An increase by only a factor of 4 in global aerosol background concentration may be sufficient to reduce the surface temperature by as much as 3.5 deg.K.
        If sustained over a period of several years, such a temperature decrease over the whole globe is believed to be sufficient to trigger an ice age.

        The rate at which human activities may be inadvertently modifying the climate of Earth has become a problem of serious concern . In the last few decades the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere appears to have increased by 7 percent . During the same period, the aerosol content of the lower atmosphere may have been augmented by as much as 100 percent .

        How have these changes in the composition of the atmosphere affected the climate of the globe? More importantly, is it possible that a continued increase in the CO2 and dust content of the atmosphere at the present rate will produce such large-scale effects on the global temperature that the process may run away, with the planet Earth eventually becoming as hot as Venus (700 deg. K.) or as cold as Mars (230 deg. K.)?

        We report here on the first results of a calculation in which separate estimates were made of the effects on global temperature of large increases in the amount of CO2 and dust in the atmosphere.

        It is found that even an increase by a factor of 8 in the amount of CO2, which is highly unlikely in the next several thousand years, will produce an increase in the surface temperature of less than 2 deg. K.

        However, the effect on surface temperature of an increase in the aerosol content of the atmosphere is found to be quite significant. An increase by a factor of 4 in the equilibrium dust concentration in the global atmosphere, which cannot be ruled out as a possibility within the next century, could decrease the mean surface temperature by as much as 3.5 deg. K. If sustained over a period of several years, such a temperature decrease could be sufficient to trigger an ice age!

        Schneider S. & Rasool S., “Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and Aerosols – Effects of Large Increases on Global Climate”, Science, vol.173, 9 July 1971, p.138-141

        Those results were based on a climate model developed by none other than James Hansen, incidentally.

      • January 29, 2023 5:46 pm

        Thanks, just what i was looking for.

  15. Phoenix44 permalink
    January 28, 2023 8:20 am

    There has been no point in the history of mass media where truth and facts were the point of the mass media. But until recently at least there were opposing sides willing to battle over what was true and what was not. With Climate Change, there are no sides. The mass media is entirely on one side and entirely given over to convincing the public of imminent doom unless we stop doing all the things we enjoy and want. These absurd fact-checkers are nothing more than censors by another name.

  16. ancientpopeye permalink
    January 28, 2023 9:48 am

    Misrepresentation is one thing they are expert at and I might add, bare-faced lying on a massive scale. The reason being, little chance of making money or zealotry out of natural phenomenon, the Sun rules OK?

  17. Mitchell Taylor permalink
    January 28, 2023 6:19 pm

    I agree that fact checkers are mostly biased and should not be trusted. But in this case, the Dag Vongraven of the Polar Bear Specialist’s Group is correct. The circumpolar estimates from the 1960’s were based on extrapolations to the entire corcumpolar basin based on from aerial surveys done mainly in Alaskan sea ice sector. At that time it was believed that polar bears moved freely throughout he circumpolar basin, and they were regarded as one big population. The first population estimates were based on American modeling of the size that the polar bear population must be to sustain the existing polar bear hunt. That estimate was 2500. However, when it was pointed out that because polar bears do not reproduce at adut rates until age 6, have only 2 cubs per litter, and keep their cubs for about 2.5 years (3 year reproduction cycle) their productivity was about half what was assumed for the 2500 estimate.

    The response was to increase the estimate to 5000. 🙂 That number does not even qualify as a guestimate because it was based on false premises. Polar bears occur as some 19 subpopulations, each with their own population dynamics. It became clear that harvest rates in some subpopulations (including Alaskan subpopulations) were greater than was sustainable. Harvest management practices were modified by the arctic circumpolar nations that have polar bears within their national boundaries. Improved harvest management led to increased numbers, but some subpopulations have never been accurately estimated; and most recent estimates for most populations are now too old to provide a reliable estimate of trend.

    Polar bear demographic research has collapsed as researchers became more interested it showing climate effects on polar bear subpopulations than in estimating current subpopulation numbers accurately. The data are currently insufficient to determine if individual populations are increasing or declining; or if polar bears as a whole are increasing or declining. The field has returned to the 1960’s. Polar bear trends are “expert opinion” driven by one narritive or another.

    Mitch Taylor

  18. January 29, 2023 10:13 am

    You could always ask the Inuit about polar bear numbers. What’s that Sooty? They already have! And they didn’t like the answer that ‘this is the time of the most polar bear’.

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