Google says many people ask this question so here is the correct answer: polar bears are not going extinct. If you have been told that, you have misunderstood or have been misinformed. Polar bears are well-distributed across their available habitat and population numbers are high (officially 22,000-31,000 at 2015 but likely closer to 26,000-58,000 at 2018): these are features of a healthy, thriving species. ‘Why are polar bears going extinct?’ contains a false premise – there is no need to ask ‘why’ when the ‘polar bears [are] going extinct’ part is not true.1
It is true that in 2007, it was predicted that polar bear numbers would plummet when summer sea ice declined to 42% of 1979 levels for 8 out of 10 years (anticipated to occur by 2050) and extinct or nearly so by 2100 (Amstrup et al. 2007). However, summer sea ice has been at ‘mid-century-like’ levels since 2007 (with year to year variation, see NOAA ice chart below) yet polar bear numbers have increased since 2005. The anticipated disaster did not occur but many people still believe it did because the media and some researchers still give that impression.
Arctic sea ice at the middle of winter (January-March) is a measure of what’s to come because winter ice is the set-up for early spring, the time when polar bears do most of their feeding on young seals.
[Mid-winter photos of polar bears are hard to come by, partly because the Arctic is still dark for most hours of the day, it’s still bitterly cold, and scientists don’t venture out to do work on polar bears until the end of March at the earliest]
At 12 February this year, the ice was similar in overall extent to 2013 but higher than 2006.
This aerial shot of six fat polar bears lolling around on a sand beach on the coast of the Southern Beaufort Sea, Alaska, was taken by NOAA employees in July 2019. It exemplifies the reality that bears in this subpopulation are currently abundant and healthy, negating the suggestion that numbers have continued to drop since 2006 because bears are starving.
The above picture of polar bear health is not an exception but the rule for all 31 bears recorded onshore last July, as the photos below from other locations testify. Those who would blame this abundance of bears on lack of sea ice in 2019 should note that ice retreated as early and as extensively in 2017 yet only 3 bears were spotted onshore. Results of a recent (2017-2018) population survey, which have not yet been made public, will of course not reflect conditions seen in 2019.
2019 is now the third year in a row in which the refreezing of Western Hudson Bay (WH) ice has come earlier than the 1980s average date of November 16, as reported by polarbearscience.com.
Livecams over at explore.org have confirmed a key indicator that the ice is back — the polar bears of WH have begun their winter trek back onto the bay.
The redeveloping sea ice may be good news for the bears, but it’s bad for tourists — after a short five months with the Sailors of the Floe on land, their departure now means the ‘polar bear viewing season’ in Churchill, Manitoba, is ending early, just as it did last year, and the year before. In fact, on the back of what have been five good sea ice seasons in succession for WH polar bears, this year’s repeat of an early freeze-up means a sixth good ice season is now likely for 2019-2020 — less kerching for the region.
by Uutiset, October 8, 2019 in ClimateChangeDispatch
Environmental NGO WWF Finland has apologized for using a retouched photo of a polar bear and cub standing on a tiny ice floe, apparently adrift in an ocean.
However, the organization’s communications head, Anne Brax, also defended the use of the image as an advertising tool commonly used as shorthand for climate change and its impact on arctic regions, rather than as a news item.
The photo was used as part of an anti-climate change fundraising campaign aimed at students participating in Finland’s annual “taksvärkki” or “day’s work” program, where middle schoolers work for a day to collect money for worthy causes.
Alongside the manipulated image used in the WWF Finland campaign is the text “sulaa hulluutta kun ilmasto lämpenee”, which roughly translated means “pure madness as the climate warms”, with a play on the word “sulaa”, which also means “to melt” in Finnish.
Polar bears have survived several periods of less ice than there is now as well as periods with more ice. Most ice seal species and walrus, which have existed in the Arctic much longer than polar bears, have lived through many of these extreme sea ice cycles. The low ice extent this year – whether it ends up being second-lowest or third-lowest since 1979 – is merely a blip compared to what these species have experienced during the Pleistocene.
This new video explains that polar bears are important ecosystem indicators that are taking reduced summer sea ice in their stride. My new book, The Polar Bear Catastrophe That Never Happened, explains why this has caught polar bear specialists off guard.
Summer sea ice loss is finally ramping up: first year is disappearing, as it has done every year since ice came to the Arctic millions of years ago. But critical misconceptions, fallacies, and disinformation abound regarding Arctic sea ice and polar bear survival. Ahead of Arctic Sea Ice Day (15 July), here are 10 fallacies that teachers and parents especially need to know about.
As always, please contact me if you would like to examine any of the references included in this post. These references are what make my efforts different from the activist organization Polar Bears International. PBI virtually never provide references within the content it provides, including material it presents as ‘educational’. Links to previous posts of mine that provide expanded explanations, images, and additional references are provided.
The cartoon above was done by Josh: you can drop off the price of a beer (or more) for his efforts here.
It was written and translated into French for a special climate change feature issue (July) of the monthly French magazine Valeurs Actuelles (reviewed here) and reprinted by the French hunting magazine Chasses Internationales.
It has also been translated into German for a dedicated climate change issue (11 July) of the Swiss weekly magazine Die Weltwoche.
I have added a couple of figures to illustrate this English version of the essay.
Here we are at the middle of June, when most polar bears are pretty much done with hunting seals for the season. And despite hand-wringing from some quarters, sea ice extent is down only marginally from average at this time of year and certainly not enough to impact polar bear survival.
Given the large expanse of open water in the Southern Beaufort so early in the season, one resident pessimist insists those polar bears are “challenged” by the lack of ice. If he is right, there should be reports of dozens upon dozens of skinny and dying bears along the coast of Alaska this summer. If not, he will pretend he never suggested any such thing.
So far, despite the early loss of ice in some regions, there have been no reports of polar bears ashore unusually early. Hudson Bay still has lots of thick first year ice, so despite the overall reduced Arctic ice coverage, none of the three Hudson Bay polar bear populations are facing the earlier-than-usual sea ice breakup this year as we keep being promised will show up. In fact, there hasn’t been a significantly early breakup in Western Hudson Bay since 2010 (see previous posts here and here).
In 2010 Nunavut’s Minister of Environment Daniel Shewchuk wrote, “Inuit hunters have a close relationship with the land and wildlife. They have observed that the overall population of polar bears in Nunavut is not declining as some suggest, but rather is thriving. No known environmental or other factors are currently posing a significant or immediate threat to polar bears overall. Furthermore, Inuit knowledge and science corroborate that the species can and will adapt to changing and severe climatic conditions, as it has done for centuries.”
The Inuit truly practice the concept of “it takes a village”. Hunters sit down in kappiananngittuq and respectfully share their observations of wildlife and their movements. Kappiananngittuq is the Inuit word for a “safe place to discuss”. Based on community discussions, Inuit have steadfastly claimed it is “The Time of the Most Polar Bears”. Overhunting has been one of the world’s greatest threats to wildlife. And the growing number of polar bears is testimony to wise hunting regulations now honored by the Inuit.
Researcher says attempts to silence her have failed
Polar bear numbers could easily exceed 40,000, up from a low point of 10,000 or fewer in the 1960s.
In The Polar Bear Catastrophe that Never Happened, a book published today by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, Dr Susan Crockford uses the latest data as well as revisiting some of the absurd values used in official estimates, and concludes that polar bears are actually thriving:
Abundant ice in Svalbard, East Greenland and the Labrador Sea is excellent news for the spring feeding season ahead because this is when bears truly need the presence of ice for hunting and mating. As far as I can tell, sea ice has not reached Bear Island, Norway at this time of year since 2010 but this year ice moved down to the island on 3 March and has been there ever since. This may mean we’ll be getting reports of polar bear sightings from the meteorological station there, so stay tuned.
The 2018 State of the Polar Bear report, published today by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, confirms that polar bears are continuing to thrive, despite recent reductions in sea ice levels. This finding contradicts claims by environmentalists and some scientists that falls in sea ice would wipe out bear populations.
The report’s author, zoologist Dr Susan Crockford, says that there is now very little evidence to support the idea that the polar bear is threatened with extinction by climate change.
From 1972 until 2010,1 the Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG) of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) published comprehensive status reports every four years or so, as proceedings of their official meetings, making them available in electronic format. Until 2018 – a full eight years after its last report – the PBSG had disseminated information only on its website, updated (without announcement) at its discretion. In April 2018, the PBSG finally produced a standalone proceedings document from its 2016 meeting, although most people would have been unaware that this document existed unless they visited the PBSG website.
This State of the Polar Bear Report is intended to provide a yearly update of the kind of content available in those occasional PBSG meeting reports, albeit with more critical com- mentary regarding some of the inconsistencies and sources of bias present in the corpus of reports and papers. It is a summary of the state of polar bears in the Arctic since 2014, rela- tive to historical records, based on a review of the recent and historical scientific literature. It is intended for a wide audience, including scientists, teachers, students, decision-makers and the general public interested in polar bears and Arctic ecology.
There is now enough sea ice off southern Labrador and the northern tip of Newfoundland for Davis Strait polar bears to come ashore looking for food. Baby seals won’t be available for months yet. And since winter is the lean season for these bears, some may seek food sources onshore. The bears come down from the area of Hudson Strait and southern Baffin Island: as the sea ice expands south, so do the bears.
Not all polar bears are in the same dire situation due to retreating sea ice, at least not right now. Off the western coast of Alaska, the Chukchi Sea is rich in marine life, but the number of polar bears in the area had never been counted. The first formal study of this population suggests that it’s been healthy and relatively abundant in recent years, numbering about 3,000 animals.
The study by researchers at the University of Washington and federal agencies is published Nov. 14 in Scientific Reports, an open-access journal from the Nature Publishing Group.
“This work represents a decade of research that gives us a first estimate of the abundance and status of the Chukchi Sea subpopulation,” said first author Eric Regehr, a researcher with the UW’s Polar Science Center who started the project as a biologist in Alaska with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Despite having about one month less time on preferred sea ice habitats to hunt compared with 25 years ago, we found that the Chukchi Sea subpopulation was doing well from 2008 to 2016.
by Bob Weber, November 12, 2018, updated, in HuffingtonPost
There are too many polar bears in parts of Nunavut and climate change hasn’t yet affected any of them, says a draft management plan from the territorial government that contradicts much of conventional scientific thinking.
The proposed plan — which is to go to public hearings in Iqaluit on Tuesday — says that growing bear numbers are increasingly jeopardizing public safety and it’s time Inuit knowledge drove management policy.
“Inuit believe there are now so many bears that public safety has become a major concern,” says the document, the result of four years of study and public consultation.
THE CANADIAN PRESS
A draft plan from the Nunavut government says growing bear numbers are increasingly jeopardizing public safety.
Ten years ago, polar bears were classified as an endangered species due to model-based assumptions that said the recession of Arctic sea ice would hamper the bears’ seal-hunting capabilities and ultimately lead to starvation and extinction.
The Inuit, who have observed these bears catch seals in open water for generations, disagree. At least this is what scientists have found upon investigation.
“There is no evidence that the fast reduction of sea-ice habitat in the area has yet led to a reduction in population size.” (Aars et al., 2017 )
Inuit observations: “… back in early 80s, and mid 90s, there were hardly any bears … there’s too many polar bears now. Bears can catch seals even—even if the—if the ice is really thin … they’re great hunters those bears … they’re really smart … they know how to survive.” (Wong et al., 2017)
We’ve hit the seasonal Arctic sea ice minimum for this year, called this morning by US NSIDC for 19th and 23rd of Septmeber: 4.59 mkm2, the same extent as 2008 and 2010. This is not a “ho-hum” year for polar bears: it means that since 2007, they have triumphed through 10 or 11 years1 with summer ice coverage below 5.0 mkm2 — levels that in 2007 were expected to cause catastrophic declines in numbers.
Opinion: New facts have emerged from the filmmaker behind the cruel and deliberate exploitation of a dying bear in quest to advance climate change agenda.
It was tragedy porn meant to provoke a visceral response — the gut-wrenching video of an emaciated polar bear struggling to drag himself across a snowless Canadian landscape made billions of people groan in anguish. Taken in August 2017 by biologist Paul Nicklen, a co-founder of the Canadian non-profit SeaLegacy, the video was posted on Instagram in December 2017, stating “This is what starvation looks like” as part of a discussion about climate change.
Also FoxNews: Photographer behind viral image of starving polar bear raises questions about climate change narrative
Il y a juste un an, l’image d’un ours décharné et titubant avait fait le tour du monde. Elle était supposée représenter la réalité du réchauffement de l’atmosphère. Pourtant cette hypothèse n’était pas plus probable qu’une autre, par exemple: ours vieux, malade, mourant de mort naturelle.
SPOTLIGHT: The iconic magazine is now a purveyor of propaganda.
BIG PICTURE: On her PolarBearScience.com blog last week, zoologist Susan Crockford called our attention to a startling admission over at National Geographic. It acknowledges publishing fake news. Or, as it more delicately puts it, we “went too far in drawing a definitive connection between climate change and a particular starving polar bear.”
An “Editor’s Note” explains the magazine added a wholly misleading caption to a video of an emaciated polar bear filmed last August. When it published this video on its website in December, National Geographic declared: “This is what climate change looks like.”
Actually, this is what dishonesty looks like. Neither the magazine nor the person who did the filming knew anything about that bear. It might have been stricken with disease. It might have sustained an injury that impeded its ability to hunt. As the Editor’s Note now admits: “there is no way to know for certain why this bear was on the verge of death.”
Remember that video of an emaciated Baffin Island polar bear that went viral last December? In an unexpected follow-up (“Starving-Polar-Bear Photographer Recalls What Went Wrong“; National Geographic, August 2018 issue), photographer Cristina Mittermeier makes some astonishing admissions that might just make you sick.
Susan Crockford uncovers the truth behind that “starving polar bear video”
According to the Guardian (9 July 2018), there is a “global heat wave” going on right now.
In Siberia, the heat is supposedly “completely unprecedented” and will surely (we are told) impact Arctic sea ice — the habitat of the iconic polar bear. Yet a comparison of previous years shows little to no impact on sea ice: there is more ice present than there was in 2007.
Les ours polaires (Ursus maritimus) sont souvent utilisés dans le débat concernant le réchauffement climatique qui serait provoqué par l’homme. Selon les écologistes et les partisans du GIEC ils sont en grand danger. Mais n’est-ce pas aller un peu vite?
La géologie, une science plus que passionnante … et diverse