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#GettingWorse: Polar bears edition

08 May 2024 | Science Notes

Remember the polar bears? Those cute, cuddly, incredibly dangerous apex predator icons of the climate emergency that once roamed the frozen wastes of the far north until climate change wiped them all out? Well, in the late 1960s there were an estimated 12,000 polar bears spread out around the Arctic. But with disappearing sea ice causing the bears not to be able to feed in the spring and summer, numbers have plunged to... 32,000. Wait a minute.

In her report for the Global Warming Policy Foundation, zoologist and polar bear expert Susan Crockford points out that the “official” estimate from the Polar Bear Study Group is 26,000, but it was last produced in 2015 and hasn’t been updated since then. Perhaps they fear good news… and if so rightly because new regional surveys since 2015 have added thousands to the estimated sub-populations and by her reckoning the current population is likely around 32,000.

The progress since the 1970s in polar bear conservation is undeniable:

Source: Crockford 2023

Note that among its other virtues, Crockford’s paper shows error bars rather than implying more certainty than is justified. But even if the actual number is less than 32,000, and of course it could also be more, Crockford points out that back in 2007 the US Geological Survey forecast the polar bear population would fall by two-thirds to about 7,500 by now, due to disappearing sea ice, due to you wanting to fly to your holiday destination, though not as far nor as often as John Kerry or Justin Trudeau fly to theirs.

It was a spectacularly wrong forecast which at the time inspired a now-apparently defunct activist group called Plane Stupid to make a plain stupid video showing polar bears falling from the sky to their deaths on a city street below as a “J’accuse” against selfish polar bear killers who travel by fossil fuel-powered jets. But if climate change is what drives polar bear population change then hurray for climate change because the polar bear numbers are not #Gettingworse, they’re getting better.

Enjoy… from a safe distance.

3 comments on “#GettingWorse: Polar bears edition”

  1. I would suggest that placing polar bears on the endangered species list thus banning the shooting of polar bears has a lot more to do with the rise and the previous decline of these bears. They are quite aggressive and verry dangerous to the locals...who used to defend themselves with traditional native 338 Lapua Express Magnum rifles....very persuasive! I agree that it is nice to see one of these ecology scientists displaying some uncertainty in the face of contradicting data! BTW, some years ago, I took my kids on a safari to Alaska, during that trip I spoke with an outfitter who took a bunch of guys on a fishing trip, they offered to take him on a polar bear hunt. The outfitter asked how do you hunt polar bears, his customers said, "you don't", instead a helicopter flies you out to a piece of drift ice outside US territory and they leave you there. The polar bears will definitely come to eat you, but you shoot them before they do.....this all happens miles out to sea!

  2. I recall a letter that CDN uncovered a number of years ago from the native Inuit population in northern Canada asking the Canadian government for a cull of the polar bear population. Seems there were so many they were decimating the seal population.

  3. Wow I never seen that plain stupid video before.Sickening and in poor taste.Some commenters actually thought it was funny!Sick!

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