More polar bear catastrophe hype: bears use four times more energy than expected

polarbearscience

Last week (24 February 2021), The Guardian was promoting a study that claims polar bears now use four times more energy than expected to survive because of ‘major ice loss’ in the Arctic, as a way of suggesting that the animals are already on their way to extinction.

But like many papers of this type, this study by Anthony Pagano and Terri Williams (Pagano and Williams 2021) is yet another model describing what biologists think may be happening based on experimental data collected from individual bears, not a conclusion based on evidence collected from subpopulations with the worst amounts of ice loss.

This is actually a review paper: a summary of what is known about measured energy use by polar bears in lab or zoo contexts (i.e. experimental evidence) – not what happens to bears under a variety of circumstances in the real world on a regular basis. What real-life…

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