Denialism doesn’t work: Polar bears still in trouble

Is there a climate change denialist blog that hasn’t tried to claim that the rest of the world is crazy, and that polar bears are in no danger at all?

As a tactic to save polar bears, denial doesn’t work.  Arctic Economics reports on research showing polar bears often go without food, a bad tactic for long-term survival.

Polar bear in the open ocean, Los Angeles Times photo

Polar bear in the open ocean, Los Angeles Times photo

You want that in English?  Sure:  Polar bears are starving to death because of climate change.  Shifts in the ice have ruined their hunting.

And, as often these days, I mention that here because it is one more case where “falsified data” or “badly placed measuring stations” can’t affect the outcome.  Polar bears don’t read The Economist. Last I checked ticket sales, no polar bear had ever seen Al Gore’s movie, let alone been misled by it.  It cannot be the case that polar bears starve because they believe hyped and false claims about global warming.  Polar bears starve because it’s really warmer.


Update, 3-5-2009 — One of the signs of insanity among warming disbelievers is their practice of censoring comments on their blogs, when the blog owner edits the comments of opponents to make them look silly and, importantly, to keep contrary views backed by reason from infecting the blog.

9 Responses to Denialism doesn’t work: Polar bears still in trouble

  1. mark says:

    Those “800 people”…would they be the ones on The List (discussed here? Not very impressive.


  2. Ed Darrell says:

    Stankirkwood, each of the concerns raised in that news article from 2007 was addressed specifically in the documents the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service used to make the determination that polar bears need special treatment. I think the documents demonstrate that, while some data are lacking, there is quite enough data on key points to justify action now to save the bears.

    Here is the response to each of the issues raised in your article, and to some other issues: “United States Fish and Wildlife Service responses to comments on USGS reports prepared in support of the Polar Bear Listing Decision, February 25, 2008”
    ( )


  3. Ed Darrell says:

    BTW, Isn’t most of Alaska in dark 24 hours a day during winter time?

    No, only those parts ruled by creationists and climate denialists. And those parts are in the dark nearly 24 hours a day, all year ’round.


  4. stankirkwood says:

    Polar bear numbers up, but rescue continues
    Don Martin in Ottawa, National Post
    Published: Tuesday, March 06, 2007

    Their status ranges from a “vulnerable” to “endangered” and could be declared “threatened” if the U.S. decides the polar bear is collateral damage of climate change.

    Nobody talks about “overpopulated” when discussing the bears’ outlook.

    Yet despite the Canadian government ‘s $150-million commitment last week to fund 44 International Polar Year research projects, a key question is not up for detailed scientific assessment: If the polar bear is the 650-kilogram canary in the climate change coal mine, why are its numbers INCREASING?

    The latest government survey of polar bears roaming the vast Arctic expanses of northern Quebec, Labrador and southern Baffin Island show the population of polar bears has jumped to 2,100 animals from around 800 in the mid-1980s.

    As recently as three years ago, a less official count placed the number at 1,400.

    The Inuit have always insisted the bears’ demise was greatly exaggerated by scientists doing projections based on fly-over counts, but their input was usually dismissed as the ramblings of self-interested hunters.

    As Nunavut government biologist Mitch Taylor observed in a front-page story in the Nunatsiaq News last month, “the Inuit were right. There aren’t just a few more bears. There are a hell of a lot more bears.”
    – or –

    From Polar Bears International

    Answered by Dr. Andrew Derocher
    Some recent media reports have cited inaccurate data concerning polar bears. For clarification on polar bear numbers, we turned to Dr. Andrew Derocher, Chair of the IUCN/SSC Polar Bear Specialist Group.

    Dr. Derocher is a polar bear scientist with the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. He also serves on PBI’s Scientific Advisory Council.

    Question: The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has proposed that the polar bear be listed as a threatened species. Yet some news reports state that polar bear numbers are actually increasing. For example, the following paragraph appeared on the Fox News Web site:

    “In the 1950s the polar bear population up north was estimated at 5,000. Today it’s 20- to 25,000, a number that has either held steady over the last 20 years or has risen slightly. In Canada, the manager of wildlife resources for the Nunavut territory of Canada has found that the population there has increased by 25 percent.”

    If this is true, then why are scientists worried about population declines?

    Answer from Dr. Derocher: The various presentations of biased reporting ignore, or are ignorant of, the different reasons for changes in populations. If I thought that there were more bears now than 50 years ago and a reasonable basis to assume this would not change, then no worries. This is not the case.

    The bottom line here is that it is an apples and oranges issue. The early estimates of polar bear abundance are a guess. There is no data at all for the 1950-60s. Nothing but guesses. We are sure the populations were being negatively affected by excess harvest (e.g., aircraft hunting, ship hunting,self-killing guns, traps, and no harvest limits). The harvest levels were huge and growing. The resulting low numbers of bears were due only to excess harvest but, again, it was simply a guess as to the number of bears.

    After the signing of the International Agreement on Polar Bears in the 1970s, harvests were controlled and the numbers increased. There is no argument from anyone on this point. Some populations recovered very slowly (e.g., Barents Sea took almost 30 years) but some recovered faster. Some likely never were depressed by hunting that much, but the harvest levels remained too high and the populations subsequently declined. M’Clintock Channel is a good example. The population is currently down by over 60% of historic levels due only to overharvesting. Some populations recovered as harvests were controlled, but have since declined due to climate-related effects (e.g., Western Hudson Bay). In Western Hudson Bay, previously sustainable harvests cannot be maintained as the reproductive and survival rates have declined due to changes in the sea ice.

    At this point, we lack quantitative data for an overall assessment of trend in Canada or Nunavut as a whole.

    Even those who entire life is dedicated to the preservation of the polar bear (not just climate change but also other factors like harvesting) say there is not enough quantitative data to make the assertions you are making.


  5. boggy4062 says:

    One more question… If the Bear in in the “open ocean” and can stand, how talk is he/she? Speaking about winter – great lighting for a “Winter in Alaska” picture.


  6. boggy4062 says:

    Actually, NOBODY has denied that climate may be changing, however there ARE plenty of real scientists who dispute that men has any influence on the subject. Have you missed reports from early January UN conference in Poznan, Poland? There was about 800 guys from all over the world, saying Bull…! to man-made climate change. The Czech president Vaclav Klaus made some fun of Goracle and his “global warming” claims to fame.
    BTW, people are also noticing one change:the “global warming” folks, who used to be “global freezing” (mid 1970), who now cry “global change” are the same loonies.

    BTW, Isn’t most of Alaska in dark 24 hours a day during winter time? Didn’t we watch a movie or two on this evenement? How come the Goracle supporters always talk about ice melting during summer time? Isn’t this normal? I bet, the is plenty of ice during winter, i.e. now.


  7. Colleen says:

    Maybe if the polar bears did read the Economist we wouldn’t be dealing with global warming at all. If they were in charge surely things would be better. Not like they could be a whole heck of a lot worse. :0)


  8. kindlingman says:

    Well, Palin speaks in print much better than in voice; no annoying nasal tones. Unfortunately, it is still fatuous.


  9. mark says:

    If polar bears can’t find seals, then let them eat cake.
    Or denialists.


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